Many people love listening to music on their AirPods but wonder if it is okay or even safe to use them in a steam room due to the excess moisture and heat.
AirPods should not be used in the steam room because it will likely cause damage that will not be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. They are IPX4-rated which makes them water-resistant but not waterproof. Furthermore, saunas often reach temperatures of around 110 °F which is 15 °F higher than Apple’s recommended maximum temperature of 95 °F.
Read on to learn more about why you shouldn’t use AirPods in a steam room, how sweat and moisture affect them, and which headphones are recommended to be used in a steam room safely.
Can you use AirPods in the steam room?
Steam rooms have a lot of moisture, and even worse than that – heat. These two elements, when combined, can easily damage electronics and cause corrosion. Keep in mind that most electronics are designed to function in a day-to-day environment, which is not consistent with the conditions of a steam room.
AirPods are not fully waterproof, and they definitely aren’t heatproof. It is not recommended to bring your AirPods into a steam room, sauna or any other conditions that are outside of the manufacturer’s specifications.
Steam rooms are full of water droplets, and the water-resistant function of the AirPods is not made to last. Therefore, it is not guaranteed that your AirPods will be safe upon exposure to even small amounts of water.
Even if your AirPods are brand new and you’re absolutely sure their water-resistant seals are still intact, heat is the worst enemy when it comes to exposing your electronics to unsavory conditions. Steam room temperatures can be at about 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 15 degrees higher than the manufacturer’s maximum temperature recommendation.
I know what some of you may be thinking. “But, I have a great warranty!” – Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be so confident about that. Firstly, Apple explicitly advises against bringing your AirPods into the steam room.
To add, although their warranty policy doesn’t have clear and concrete information on whether or not the warranty would cover this type of damage, it does say that damage caused by accidents is not covered. I certainly would not want to risk that type of expense or have to tell the repairman that I damaged the device doing something I was warned against!
Most steam room enthusiasts seem to agree with my sentiment, although a select few lucky individuals have done something similar and have no regrets. It’s great that these mad lads escaped the risk unscathed, but there will always be some outliers in any situation. It’s better to follow the manufacturer’s advice than an internet story that someone could have made up.
Are AirPods Waterproof?
AirPods are NOT waterproof! They are water-resistant. This means that if you decide to go for a jog in the rain or get extra sweaty from a workout, they’re not going to be ruined. IPX4 rated devices, like the AirPod, are only meant to withstand minor splashes of water.
Even then, protection from water isn’t fully guaranteed, as the water resistance features can wear down over time just from normal use.
Will AirPods hurt your ears in the steam room?
Although this is a very uncommon occurrence, there have been reports of AirPods and similar types of earbuds overheating and catching fire as a result. This is caused by the lithium-ion battery that powers AirPods and other similar devices.
The reason for this is because of how lithium-ion batteries work. Lithium-ion batteries contain organic solvents that will combust if exposed to oxygen. Lithium batteries contain both solvents and oxygen, but they are separated into different compartments.
So, if exposed to extreme conditions such as excess heat or moisture, there is a small chance that the oxygen in the battery could be released and come in contact with the organic solvents and cause a fire.
This isn’t meant to scare you – after all, it’s an extremely rare occurrence. However, the chances do increase if you happen to have gotten some fake AirPods.
The most likely scenario in which AirPods can pose a danger is by creating the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow. Everyone has beneficial bacteria on every surface of their body, but the bacteria could easily overgrow and potentially cause an infection given the right conditions.
When you use a steam sauna, sweat and oil are released from your pores and deposited on any surface they come in contact with. Bacteria love to feed on these organic substances, and your AirPods would provide a lovely little home for the bacteria to grow in. Throw in a little extra heat and moisture, and you’ve got the perfect conditions for the usually beneficial bacteria to become pathogenic.
Can you use AirPods in the dry sauna?
There is a unique and interesting problem that dry saunas pose when it comes to AirPods. Because dry saunas operate with dry heat, there is potential for the air to be very arid. In such conditions, static electricity occurs and can build up in your AirPods.
This phenomenon is similar to what happens when you shuffle your feet on some dry carpet and touch something afterward. After enough static electricity builds up it will release as a little zap in your ear. This isn’t dangerous, but it isn’t exactly a comfortable sensation either.
Not to mention, the heat of a dry sauna is even worse than a steam room. Dry saunas average at about 150-175 degrees Fahrenheit, which is nearly twice the temperature the AirPods are intended to operate within.
Does sweat affect AirPods?
Even without steam as a factor, dry saunas are no exception to the moisture problem, either. In this case, the moisture factor instead comes from your own sweat.
The sweat from your body can affect the AirPods in various ways. Sweat has a high salt content and is conductive, so it can make the wiring inside the AirPods damp and cause even more problems than just plain water, such as corrosion. This could lead to problems with connectivity and charging.
Because you’ll be sweating excessively, the AirPods are just about guaranteed to be exposed to this type of excess moisture and salt after you’ve spent some time in the sauna. There is no guarantee that your AirPods’ water resistance will hold up, so it’s best to avoid the risk altogether.
Will AirPods hurt your ears in a dry sauna?
Dry saunas pose the same risk as steam rooms when it comes to combining lithium-ion batteries with heat. Again, the risk is very low, but not entirely outside the realm of possibility. Because dry saunas tend to have much higher temperatures than the average steam room, keep in mind that the chances of a battery interacting poorly with the conditions are going to be higher.
As far as the static electricity problem goes – is that going to hurt you? No, static electricity isn’t injurious. It just doesn’t feel good and certainly doesn’t help you relax in a place where that’s what you’re supposed to be doing!
Are there special headphones for the sauna?
While there aren’t any headphones that were specifically made to be worn in a sauna, you’re in luck! There are a couple of brands out there that may as well have been!
My top pick is Aftershokz Titanium wireless headphones. They’re made of titanium, which is perfect for the hot conditions of a sauna. This is because titanium is a poor conductor of heat and electricity, so it will provide some insulation against static shock or overheating.
It’s water and dust protection of IP55 puts it slightly above that of AirPods – not only can it withstand splashes of water, it can also withstand a small jet of water. So, it’s likely to fare a bit better with the moisture. My favorite thing about Aftershokz is their bone conduction technology. Instead of going in the ear, it projects the sound as vibrations into your cheekbones. So, you can enjoy your music or podcast without worrying about introducing excess bacteria to your ear canal.
Finally, there is also some anecdotal evidence that these headphones can do okay in the sauna. Several of the reviewers mention that they’ve been using their Aftershokz in the sauna with no issues – just try and keep the time spent in the sauna limited.
A close second would be the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds. Their sleek design makes them comfortable to use and fits easily into your pocket.
Jabra earbuds are also made of titanium and have the same IP55 rating as Aftershokz. The most notable difference is that they go in the ear instead of around it. However, the rubber tips that go into the ear canal are flexible, which makes them easy to clean and disinfect.