Infrared saunas are hot, and this is not just because of all the bulbs emanating heat. Yes, they are the flavor of the season and there is much debate happening to decide which of the three kinds of infrared rays—near, mid or far—is the best kind.
In traditional saunas, which was popular around the globe from historical times, there were rooms that would be heated up and men and women would enter to benefit from the sweating it caused. This has undergone many variations till in the 1960s, infrared saunas came into being.
In infrared (IR) saunas, the infrared rays are used to heat the body directly instead of heating the room. Therefore, you tend to sweat even though the temperature inside the sauna is cooler.
Infrared is a spectrum of light that the human eye cannot detect. The rays are emitted by the sun in the spectrum of 700-100,000 nanometers (nm). The range from 700 nm to around 1400 nm is called near infrared and 3,000-100,000 nm is called far infrared. The range in between is called mid-infrared.
In a near infrared sauna, heat of up to 400 degrees is generated by the use of light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are more effective for the purposes of saunas as they generate it in the range of 700-800 nm.
There are claims that near infrared saunas are great for health, right from detoxification due to the sweating to being beneficial for cardiac health and several other conditions. So we decided to explore a bit and review some products.
Since SaunaSpace claims that it has developed bespoke near infrared sauna after a lot of research and we read rave reviews about its products online, we decided to dig a little deeper. It asserts that near infrared radiation is the best as it penetrates the skin deeper and provides many health benefits.
The beautiful design and the features were alluring. The product descriptions and the images looked as if it was indeed a dream come true. But our research threw up facts that soured the dream and turned it into a nightmare, crashing all myths about the benefits.
Before we review their products and assess the merit of their claims, let’s first look closely at this very popular near infrared sauna brand and what they offer.
SaunaSpace was started in 2008 when the founder, Brian Richards, experienced the benefits of near infrared sauna therapy that he underwent for acne, insomnia and adrenal fatigue. Since he was unable to find one easily, he put together his own and soon, his ideas expanded to become the independent enterprise that it is today, with a team of 10 who work in two locations totaling an area of 3,500 square feet.
Knowing that it is not just a matter of connecting wires but that there are risks to be considered such as chemical off-gassing, non-native electric fields and magnetic fields that could potentially harm the users, he has put in the research needed to develop a product that is safe, uses natural materials and is aesthetically designed. The products have definitely won several followers and customers who have only superlative terms to describe their experiences. It has been endorsed by a cross-spectrum of people, from entrepreneurs, doctors to sports people and, of course, the common man.
SaunaSpace products profess to offer safe, comfortable and beautiful saunas that have a sleek and minimalistic design. There are two variants:
- Illuminati (formerly called Pocket Sauna)
It also has light panels that promise full body photomodulation and mitochondrial stimulation. These two come in two varieties:
- Tungsten (formerly 4-Light Panel)
- Photon (Single Light Panel)
And it has designed a ThermaLight near infrared incandescent bulb.
Currently available is the second generation design, claimed to be an upgraded version of the earlier Faraday model. It comes with a stainless-steel 5G-rated RF shielding system for better EMF protection along with a new grounding mat for better earthing.
It is said to have been subjected to third-party testing for up to 40 GHz and offers 69x effective shielding protection.
Featuring ThermaLight technology, it promises 89 mW/cm2 irradiance that benefits the entire body.
This is a near infrared incandescent bulb designed by SaunaSpace, made by artisans using the traditional mouth-blown technique. It has a custom-made tungsten filament covered by red-stained hard glass offering two to four times greater irradiance than competing products, or sothe company claims.
The portable sauna from SaunaSpace is sleek and minimalistic, made with handmade and hand-tailored components that come with a promise of a lifetime of service.
The complete package includes:
- Stools: Solid wood portable stools that are durable, with three-dimensional contouring for a rotation protocol of quarter turn every five minutes.
- Enclosure: Made of dual-layer covers created using hypoallergenic natural materials such as basswood and organic cotton, it provides insulation to retain heat and ensure full-body sweat and detoxing. It is easy to install anywhere indoors. When not in use, it can be packed and stowed away anywhere.
- Access for All: A curtained entrance seems a well-thought-out design as it allows a wheelchair to be wheeled in, thus ensuring accessibility.
- Panel Clamps: The panel clamps are custom-made and the pole design is such that you can align the lamp panel to a suitable height with 18-30 inches of clearance.
- Door Lamp: The door lamp is made safe with a grill that lets you close to the light without fear of burning your skin through accidental touch.
- Light Control: The light controls allow deciding how many lights you want to switch on for the right temperature.
SaunaSpace also offers two varieties of stand-alone light panels, one that accommodates four lights and one that has a single light. This can be fitted anywhere easily, making every room a potential sauna. They come with light guards that make them safe, and panel clamps to let you adjust the height as per your need. The bulbs used are their own ThermaLight that they claim offers improved near infrared radiation promising greater effectiveness.
Electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation is the radiation emitted by electrically powered devices. Even the electrical wires powering the electrical appliances generate EMF. Since only the lamp panel has wiring and the lamps do not emit much EMF near infrared saunas are safer. In case of SaunaSpace, this is further enhanced by their using the Faraday design with an RF shield that protects the user from any possible radiation.
SaunaSpace makes it attractive to purchase their products by allowing you to pay over 6, 12 or 24 months at competitive interest rates as low as 0 percent affordable monthly plans. In fine print, they add that the interest would range from 0 to 29.99% APR depending on credit approvals.
They also have a provision to allow you to try the products for up to 100 days and return it if it does not match up to your expectations. They offer to replace or refund provided the products are returned without damage and with all the packing materials as well.
The images, the descriptions and the reviews by users will make it sound like not buying the near infrared sauna is a crime. There is much research being quoted to suggest that near infrared is the best type of light for enjoying a host of health benefits too, not just by SaunaSpace but by all those who offer these products.
This is hardly surprising, but this reiterates the need for vigilance on part of the buyer. For starters, deeper search revealed that all the claims are not to be believed, and that there is no substantial research to prove unequivocally that these saunas do actually impart the benefits the manufacturers quote selectively. Yes, they may help in destressing, in relaxing and improving your mood. But do they actually detoxify you? Certainly not.
A Harvard study categorically states that skin is not a medium for eliminating toxins from the body and no amount of sweating is going to change that. In fact, its function is to act as a barrier preventing the entry of toxins. So whether you sweat mildly or perspiration flows down in rivulets, the toxins that got in will remain put. Kidneys are meant to throw out the toxins, and you need enough water to flush the system. Infrared saunas, in fact, can cause overheating and dehydrate you, which is harmful.
Health Canada has clearly advised Canadians against using infrared saunas for treating medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or autism. They are not to be used even for weight loss, pain relief, cancer prevention or anti-aging, since there is no clinical evidence proving their effectiveness in promoting these benefits. It has cautioned businesses against advertising or selling these devices making any false health claims. Non-compliance would entail penalty.
There are several health conditions that are not conducive to exposure to the sauna heat. If you are pregnant, if you have a skin condition, genetic disorders, diabetic, certain coronary conditions, it is better to consult your physician. Here is a list that you can tick off to make sure you are safe:
- If you are recovering from a heart attack
- If you are suffering from aortic stenosis
- If you have had a stroke due to bleeding in the brain
- If you suffer from lupus erythematosus
- If you have a brain tumor
- If you suffer from angina pectoris
- If you have multiple sclerosis
- If you are diabetic
- If you have had any implants
- If you have a pacemaker fitted in
That’s not all, the moment you feel any discomfort or pain consult a physician. Do not expose yourself to near infrared radiation if you are under heavy medication, are under the influence of alcohol or drugs as that has contraindications.
Next let’s look at how it compares to the original sauna and the purposes they serve.
First is the claim about infrared itself. The manufacturers make it sound as if it is exclusive to their model, emitted by some magical material they have discovered. In reality, any energy input used to generate heat will also produce IR radiation as a by-product. And given the high temperatures of the traditional saunas, the IR is also higher in these saunas. Needless to say, they are therefore more effective in serving the purpose than a few strategically placed bulbs.
Secondly, traditional saunas also serve the need for socialization, a practice still prevalent in Finland. In the modern infrared saunas, a maximum of four people can be accommodated depending on the design. And portable ones are meant only for one. Therefore, they do not really provide the psychological advantage they claim. Of course, now the designs are being changed to accommodate music players and other forms of entertainment. But that is not so in a portable sauna like the one on offer by SaunaSpace.
Thirdly, a traditional sauna is tailor made to suit the taste and needs of the individuals using it. The balance between humidity and temperature is determined by what the person is comfortable with. In the near infrared sauna from SaunaSpace, you can at the most fiddle with the number of bulbs given to achieve the desired effect and be satisfied with the results.
Aromatherapy is a feature that traditional saunas could provide as an added feature because of the way the heat was produced. Of course, the traditional sauna is more expensive as it requires experts who know how to design and construct it. Ventilation needs to be proper since, unlike popular belief, it is not just dry heat but steam. But it is a fine art that needs to be appreciated.
Near infrared saunas, on the other hand, are mass produced. Even a ‘bespoke, artisan-made’ sauna such as the one offered by SaunaSpace has only one design. And this design is cast in stone. So it cannot change as per your mood or needs.
Fourth, in a traditional sauna, stones are heated to make the temperatures go up to 70°C and 110°C, which in turn makes the person hot and sweat. Water is then poured to generate steam such that the humidity is around 5% to 15%. After an exposure of around 30 minutes, the bather may step out to take a cold shower or submerge in cold water. This process is repeated several times, and this is what causes blood circulation to improve, muscle function to strengthen, the immune system to be stimulated and endorphins to be released. Near infrared saunas, on the other hand, heat up the body directly, and the temperature hardly ever gets so high. It is also dry heat, creating the possibility of overheating and dehydration.
Finnish societies do not even accept infrared ‘contraptions’ as saunas because of these fundamental differences.
Third-party testing and RF shield are two misleading terms that mean nothing when it comes to EMF in the saunas. Even tin foil can reduce RF by 50%, but that has no bearing on the EMF itself.
In the light of these revelations, let us reconsider the near infrared saunas again. Are they really that great a buy? Especially when they are priced $5,499.99 (Faraday) and $2,999.99 (Luminati)?
We think not. Even if they are cheaper than a bespoke sauna would be and it serves a limited purpose of being relaxing, it conforms neither to science nor tradition.
Investing in a sauna is a once in a lifetime investment. Even if a product like the one from SaunaSpace comes with a 100-day trial offer, APRs and return policy, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. There is no doubt that sitting by yourself in an aesthetically designed area enjoying some heat can be beneficial. But if you are doing it believing you are somehow going to overcome more serious health conditions, then reconsider the investment.
The rotary stool sounds cool as it slowly takes you around so that all parts of your body can be exposed to the heat. But thinking about it, it seems a bit like the earth’s rotation, where one part gets all the sunlight while the other is in the dark. One part of your body is heating up while the other is away, cooling down. That can’t have the desired effect in a uniform manner as a traditional sauna, or even a far infrared one, would provide.
Also, it is better to evaluate other sauna options that can truly make you sweat better than the near infrared ones. Where the EMF levels are concerned, do your own testing or research thoroughly instead of falling for the claims by the manufacturers.
While the internet is flooded with research reports on the benefits of saunas, there is much conflict between the benefits and risks of near and far infrared saunas. Taking them with a pinch of salt and doing your own independent study may prove beneficial in the long run.
Also, the studies are on limited sample groups and so not backed by sufficient validation. While infrared is not ultraviolet, and so safer, how much is safe is something that time alone will tell.
No sauna comes with any health warnings, making it sound as if it is pure bliss. And yet, it can prove hazardous too.
So, yes, weigh your options and if you still feel that you want to own one, at least lower your expectations and take the plunge with your eyes wide open.
Rimba Sweat recommends that first-time users should spend roughly 15 minutes in the sauna. As your body becomes more used to the process, you'll experience maximum results anywhere from 25-40 minutes in the sauna. The optimum temperature for infrared sauna usage sits at around 40 to 55 degrees Celsius.Is infrared sauna a gimmick? ›
Myth: Infrared Saunas Fight Cancer
The more militant promoters of infrared sauna say that it can help the immune system better fight cancer, remove carcinogenic chemicals from the body, and even directly kill cancer cells. However, there's absolutely no evidence to support any of these claims.
One of the most common reasons why people don't sweat in infrared saunas is because they are not hot enough. This is especially true for those who are new to using these saunas. If you find that you are not sweating after a few minutes in an infrared sauna, try turning up the heat.Is it OK to infrared sauna everyday? ›
There is no one answer for the amount of sessions per week, but infrared saunas are safe to use every day. In fact, you will see wellness improvements sooner if you use it daily. On average, most people partake in 30-45 minute sessions, 3-4 times a week.Is it better to do infrared sauna in morning or night? ›
Best Times for infrared sauna sessions are early in the morning or before bedtime in the evening, although anytime is good. When you first begin to use your infrared sauna, Start Slowly. After you begin to break a sweat, a 20 -30 minute session is recommended.What not to do after infrared sauna? ›
DON'T – SIT TOO LONG IF YOU PLAN TO EXERCISE AFTER YOUR INFRARED SAUNA SESSION. Far infrared saunas are designed to relax your body and muscles, which is the opposite thing your body needs before a workout.Should you shower after infrared sauna? ›
However, we do recommend that you should shower after an infrared sauna too. Because you sweat during your session and toxins are released, having a shower after your sauna will help to cleanse the skin and close pores.Should you drink water in infrared sauna? ›
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Most people do not drink enough water to begin with and now that you are using an infrared sauna and sweating, it is even more important to stay properly hydrated. Always drink plenty of water before, during and after your sauna session.Are there negative effects of infrared sauna? ›
On the other hand, no harmful effects have been reported with infrared saunas. So if you're thinking of trying a sauna to relax, an infrared sauna might be an option.Why am I so tired after infrared sauna? ›
If you find yourself feeling exhausted after an infrared sauna session, don't worry – it's normal! In most cases, fatigue is simply because your body is working hard to sweat out toxins and rehydrate itself.
A sauna is an excellent way to flush out various toxins that collect in the fat cells of the body. When you sit in a sauna, you excrete a massive amount of perspiration. This high level of sweating is important because it eliminates one-third of the toxins from the kidneys.Should you wear a towel in infrared sauna? ›
We suggest wearing clean, loose clothing (cotton or any breathable material preferably) or your bathers but you may choose to wear a towel or no clothes at all if that's your thing! The benefit of having your very own sauna in your home means you have the privacy to enjoy your sauna exactly the way you want to.What is the optimum time in an infrared sauna? ›
Use at least twice a week starting with 10-15 minutes at a time and work up to 30-40 minutes at a time slowly. Best practices say not to use the infrared sauna more than twice a day. It's not recommended to stay in longer than about 20-45 minutes at a time even when you're used to it, but we will get into that shortly.What is the best temp for infrared sauna? ›
The ideal temperature for your infrared sauna is generally between 60-70 degrees. different reasons. higher settings, you'll certainly break out into more of a sweat. typically much hotter.Can infrared sauna burn belly fat? ›
Studies have shown an infrared sauna session can burn up to 600 calories. As the body works to cool itself, there is a substantial increase in heart rate, cardiac output, and metabolic rate. Sunlighten saunas showed a reduction in belly fat in just a 3-month period.
It may seem too good to be true to lose weight by simply sitting in a hot space, but it can really happen! In fact, one study showed that the average person will lose four percent of their body fat over four months with regular use of an infrared sauna. Regular use means 45 minutes a day, three days a week.Is infrared sauna good for inflammation? ›
Infrared sauna therapy has been proven to help lower inflammation levels in as little as minutes. The infrared light is also able to get to the root cause of your inflammation and help repair that as well.How much water should I drink before infrared sauna? ›
We highly recommend drinking a minimum of 1 litre of water prior to entering the sauna, 1 litre whilst using the sauna and a minimum of 0.5 litres of water after sauna use. DURING YOUR SESSION DON'T SWEAT THE TEMPInfrared saunas are a wellness experience where the results are cumulative.What should you not do before an infrared sauna? ›
- It's ok not to sweat too much in your first session. ...
- Stay hydrated. ...
- Don't use the sauna if you have been drinking alcohol heavily prior to your session. ...
- Wear or bring loose clothing to put on after your session. ...
- Schedule your sauna on your needs.
Depending on the type of sauna you are using, you may be able to take your phone into a sauna, however, bear in mind that high temperatures and humidity/moisture can cause damage.
According to Finnish tradition, it's customary to jump right into a cold lake after the sauna. If you have that at your disposal, go for it! If not, a cold shower serves as a strong substitute. The objective is to bring your body temperature down to the normal range while improving blood flow.What toxins are released during infrared sauna? ›
While most sweat is comprised of water and little salt, studies show that 15-20% of infrared sauna-induced sweat is composed of cholesterol, fat-soluble toxins, heavy metals, sulfuric acid, and ammonia (as well as sodium and uric acid.)Should you moisturize after infrared sauna? ›
After your final rinse, dry off and then moisturize; the hot temperature can have lasting drying effects on your skin, so now is when you can restore hydration.Should you drink water while in the sauna? ›
We can't stress this enough! When you sweat in the sauna, your body can lose up to a pint of fluid, so it's important to make sure you're making up for lost water and electrolytes.Can you bring your phone in an infrared sauna? ›
The longer the room temperature stays above 35 degrees Celsius, the more (permanent) damage will be done. Also, remember that infrared saunas achieve heat intensities of 45-60 degrees Celsius (113 - 140 F). With those temperatures, you'll be killing your phone over time.Should you wipe your sweat after sauna? ›
You can wipe sweat during your sauna but we do recommend ensuring your cloth is clean for health of your skin. We also recommend having a shower after your session to help cleanse your skin (if you have a cold shower, this will help to close up pores and can also activate cold shock proteins which can aid weight loss).Does infrared sauna damage your hair? ›
Infrared Saunas and Hair
Because infrared saunas use infrared light to heat your body instead of dry heat this is less damaging for your hair. In fact, the benefits of using an infrared sauna may actually help to promote healthier hair.
Eye Damage from Light: YES
Like looking at the sun, staring down a bulb in your infrared sauna can damage your vision. To keep your eyes safe, don't look directly at the bulbs or heaters, keep your eyes closed, or consider wearing sunglasses.
If you have an insensitivity to heat, have a fever, have a condition that inhibits your ability to sweat or have a pacemaker or defibrillator - we don't recommend using an infrared sauna.Is infrared sauna good for arthritis? ›
Studies have shown the effects of infrared saunas in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, resulting in short-term improvement of pain and stiffness, and a trend towards long-term beneficial effects.
Eat a Nutritious Meal or Snack
You might crave something salty post sauna session because you lost a good amount of sodium via sweating. Although tempting, don't reach for a bag of chips. Instead opt for foods that are nutrient dense like leafy greens, nuts, bananas or fruits high in water like pineapple or watermelon.
One of the biggest perks is the reported calorie-burning benefits-up to 600 calories per 30-minute session, according to Duncan.Do saunas clean your lungs? ›
Recap. There is limited evidence that saunas are therapeutic for lung conditions. However, several smaller-scale studies have suggested that saunas may benefit people with COPD, asthma, pneumonia, allergies, and even COVID-19.Are saunas full of bacteria? ›
Bacteria thrive in warm and moist areas, making a steam room a hot spot for risky organisms. Contact with them can cause a variety of health complications, such as skin problems or upset stomachs.Does sauna improve skin? ›
Sweating is highly cleansing for your pores and glands, because it flushes out any toxins or impurities you may have living in your body. After a session at the sauna, you'll find that your skin feels and looks healthier and is less prone to acne, blackheads, and other pesky skin blemishes.Should I cover my hair in infrared sauna? ›
#1 Take cover
Wrapping a towel around your head is more than just aesthetics; it's the best known way to prevent the heat reaching your hair in it's full power and drying it out. Covering your hair will keep it moist and avoid dehydration.
Cotton is the perfect cloth for relaxing in the sauna, as it absorbs excess heatwaves and allows the skin to breathe properly. Even if they are cotton, avoid wearing any tight clothes, including underwear. Any bras worn into the sauna should be loose-fitting, breathable, and free of underwires.What happens if you do sauna everyday? ›
In fact, people can see improved cardiovascular health from sauna use. Research shows that people who regularly use a sauna (at least four times a week for 20 minutes) have a significantly lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and dementia, notes Dr. Parikh.What temperature should I sauna for weight loss? ›
Experts estimate that the high heat of a sauna (around 150 degrees) will boost your metabolic rate by roughly 20%. This effect will last while you are in the sauna and for a couple of hours afterward. To keep the fat burning effects going, try to work up to a 30 minute sauna every day.How many calories do you burn in infrared sauna for 20 minutes? ›
Even your infrared sauna 15 minutes calories and 20 minutes sauna calories would be more impressive. In 15 minutes, you could burn 100-300 calories, and in 20 minutes, you could burn 132-396 calories.
Your heart rate increases while you're in a sauna, thanks to the dry heat. It's been suggested that spending 20 minutes in a sauna can help you lose up to 500 calories. This happens because your body's metabolism speeds up in a similar way as it does when you exercise.How long should you use an infrared sauna? ›
Use at least twice a week starting with 10-15 minutes at a time and work up to 30-40 minutes at a time slowly. Best practices say not to use the infrared sauna more than twice a day. It's not recommended to stay in longer than about 20-45 minutes at a time even when you're used to it, but we will get into that shortly.How many calories does a 30 min infrared sauna burn? ›
Infrared saunas have shown to burn 400-800 calories in a single 30-minute session — that's in the same calorie-burning range as marathon running, racquet ball, and rowing!Is sauna good for losing belly fat? ›
#3 Increased Metabolism
Experts estimate that the high heat of a sauna (around 150 degrees) will boost your metabolic rate by roughly 20%. This effect will last while you are in the sauna and for a couple of hours afterward. To keep the fat burning effects going, try to work up to a 30 minute sauna every day.
It may seem too good to be true to lose weight by simply sitting in a hot space, but it can really happen! In fact, one study showed that the average person will lose four percent of their body fat over four months with regular use of an infrared sauna. Regular use means 45 minutes a day, three days a week.Should I drink water in the sauna? ›
We can't stress this enough! When you sweat in the sauna, your body can lose up to a pint of fluid, so it's important to make sure you're making up for lost water and electrolytes.Should you shower after sauna? ›
Relax, recover, refresh
Cooling off after the sauna is important because you can catch a cold if you sweat too much. Sauna-goers should leave enough time to cool down before warming up again. If you can, don't have a shower straight after the sauna. It's better for the body if you cool off in the fresh air first.
Best Times for infrared sauna sessions are early in the morning or before bedtime in the evening, although anytime is good. When you first begin to use your infrared sauna, Start Slowly. Users average 25-35 minute sessions. You may not sweat a lot during your first 2-3 sauna sessions.Can you overdo infrared sauna? ›
Dr. Sharma says the dry heat generated in an infrared sauna can cause you to become overheated, and if used for a prolonged session, it can also cause dehydration and even heat exhaustion or heat stroke.How often should you use an infrared sauna for weight loss? ›
Based on your individual health and wellness goals, you may consider going to the sauna 2-3 times a week. Sometimes even 4-5 times a week.
Saunas may sound fun and an incredible way to lose weight, but here is what you must keep in mind while using a sauna or steam room for weight loss. Sauna enables you to burn fat but does nothing about the muscles.