Infrared Saunas vs. Steam Rooms (Similarities, Differences, Benefits)

Are you curious how infrared saunas and traditional steam rooms compare? You have come to the right place!

The main difference between infrared saunas and steam rooms is how they are constructed and heat the body. Infrared saunas are wood-based rooms using infrared rays that warm the body directly. Steam rooms are air-tight rooms that heat the body indirectly using moist heat. Both include detoxification and relaxation among their potential benefits.

Keep reading to learn more about the key differences, similarities, and benefits of infrared saunas and traditional steam rooms.

Is an infrared sauna or steam room healthier?

Both infrared saunas and steam rooms are popular forms of relaxing, particularly after an intense workout, but is one actually healthier than the other?

Infrared saunas are considered healthier than steam rooms because they offer greater health and detoxification effects.

Infrared saunas are healthier than steam rooms because of the way far-infrared waves penetrate the body. Using infrared saunas causes more intense sweating than steam rooms, so people looking for more intense sweat should try using infrared saunas instead of steam rooms. 

Infrared saunas increase blood flow, promote detoxification and offer excellent health and skin benefits, such as better breathing and weight loss. 

Generally, infrared saunas promote more sweating because they can raise the internal body temperature. Steam rooms can raise the room temperature more. However, they struggle to increase body temperature like infrared saunas because the heat does not penetrate the skin.

Infrared saunas vs. steam rooms – which should you choose?

If both infrared saunas and steam rooms offer health benefits, which is the better choice?

Infrared saunas are a popular choice for most people, given their affordability, user-friendliness, and functionality. Most people consider infrared saunas the healthiest detox method because they easily raise the internal body temperature. 

Most people view infrared saunas as the healthier option for home use and therefore are purchased more frequently by home buyers. In comparison, it is more common for industrial and commercial buyers to purchase steam rooms because of their large size.

People with health issues are more likely to choose infrared saunas over steam rooms because many people claim they are less likely to cause health complications.

Infrared saunas are easy to maintain, given they contract fewer bacteria than steam rooms. They are easier to clean and less likely to build harmful bacteria due to their dry heat compared to steam rooms’ wet heat.

Comparing infrared saunas and steam rooms

Infrared saunas and steam rooms generally have the same overall purpose, although they go about achieving that end in very different ways.

Overall, both infrared saunas and steam rooms are meant to promote detoxication through heat and sweat, and are great for muscle relaxation. However, they are very different kinds of heat and are better used for different types of pain.

Let’s dive into the similarities and differences between these two so can decide whether an infrared sauna or steam room is the best choice for you.

Similarities

There are many similarities between saunas and steam rooms.

Here are the primary features that infrared saunas and steam rooms have in common:

  • They operate in an enclosed space – Both saunas and steam rooms require an enclosure to capture the heat. Infrared saunas are typically built of wood and can come in a wide range of sizes. Steam rooms tend to be larger, and must be air-tight to promote steam retention.
  • They increase the body temperature to induce sweating – While they operate at different temperatures, both saunas and steam rooms aim to create intense perspiration, which then leads to the detoxification most people visit a sauna in search of.
  • Promote health benefits – Infrared saunas offer benefits like increased metabolism, and regulated blood circulation. Health benefits of a steam room include improved skin health and muscle relaxation. Both help reduce stress.

Differences

Infrared saunas and steam rooms have many differences, like the type of heat and room material. The two heating devices can significantly vary in price. Although, the price is primarily dependent on the size of the heating device. 

The following includes some of the differences between infrared saunas and steam rooms:

  • Type of heat
  • Room material 
  • Temperature
  • Price
  • Cleanliness

Paying attention to the differences between these two heat rooms can help you decide which will work best.

Heating technology

Infrared saunas and steam rooms use two very different heating methods.

Saunas heat using infrared heat wavelengths, and steam rooms heat with hot rocks and water, which create steam. These heating methods vary in intensity, causing different reactions in the body.

Room material 

One of the main differences between infrared saunas and traditional steam rooms is the materials of the room.

Standard steam rooms are made from non-porous, air-tight material, allowing the steam to heat up without damaging the walls. On the other hand, infrared saunas are made of porous wood, which you cannot damage with heating technology. 

Temperature

Steam rooms are typically around 110-115°F, while infrared saunas are much hotter at 120-130°F.

The main difference between these two temperatures is how people claim steam rooms feel hotter than infrared saunas despite infrared saunas having a higher room temperature.

Because of the wavelengths, infrared saunas increase your body temperature more than steam rooms, but they do not feel as hot.

Price

Infrared saunas are more affordable than steam rooms because they are transportable and smaller.

Steam rooms are often large and take up more space, making them more expensive than infrared saunas.

Cleanliness

The high-temperature steam of steam rooms often holds more bacteria than infrared saunas, making them a breeding ground for bacteria.

Steam rooms can be more challenging to clean than infrared saunas, however, wood is typically more difficult to clean than the tile used in most steam rooms.

Wondering how to clean your sauna? Check out this article for tips – no matter which type of sauna you choose!

Key characteristics of an infrared sauna

Infrared saunas use wavelengths to heat the body.

They emulate natural sunlight to warm the body and raise body temperature to create rigorous sweating. Infrared saunas are typically more common than steam rooms because of their lower costs and home uses. They are accessible to home users and are easy to use.

The infrared sauna is a modern solution to heat rooms. They have recreational and medicinal uses, making them excellent options for homes.

Potential benefits of infrared sauna

Infrared saunas have many benefits that can improve your health and way of living. Among many other things, using infrared saunas can be great for reducing anxiety, improving circulation, and helping you relax. 

The following are potential benefits of using an infrared sauna: 

  • Detoxification 
  • Improved sleep
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Skin rejuvenation
  • Weight loss

Studies suggest using infrared saunas is excellent for improving sleep because it raises body temperature and stimulates sweating. Infrared saunas raise body temperature by using wavelengths to increase blood circulation and help reduce muscle soreness. As muscle soreness reduces, the body relaxes and therefore improves sleep. 

Do infrared saunas help you lose weight?

Infrared saunas can help you lose weight, but any immediate weight loss during a session is likely to be water weight and not fat loss.

Infrared saunas can boost your metabolism, helping you burn more calories in the same amount of time. They can also help reduce stress, which is a major factor in fat retention.

Infrared saunas can help you burn roughly 1.5 the number of calories you would at rest while in the sauna. To find out how many calories you could burn during a sauna session, calculate your resting metabolic rate and multiply by 1.5.

What are the disadvantages of an infrared sauna?

Infrared saunas can cause problems for people with pre-existing health issues, but they can also be an issue for those who do not experience regular heat. Infrared saunas raise blood pressure, increasing blood flow and promoting heavy sweating. 

The following are potential disadvantages of using an infrared sauna: 

  • Becoming overheated
  • Dehydration
  • Heat exhaustion or heat stroke
  • Health complications
  • Increased blood pressure

Intense sweating can become a major problem for people who do not drink enough water. It causes dehydration and heat stroke in many people who do not experience high heat regularly. In many cases, people do not recognize the symptoms of heat stroke or dehydration. They may become overheated, suffer from heat exhaustion, or experience dehydration as a result, making it important to drink water and use saunas in short intervals.

People with health issues may have potential health complications from using infrared saunas. High heat raises blood pressure, thus creating problems for people with high blood pressure and some heart conditions.

Who should not use an infrared sauna?

Unfortunately, infrared saunas are not safe for everyone. The results of using infrared saunas vary from person to person, so you should always be careful. Before using an infrared sauna, consider your pre-existing health issues, like heart conditions, heat sensitivity, and inability to sweat.

You should not use an infrared sauna if you:

  • are a minor
  • have major health issues
  • are unable to sweat
  • are sensitive to heat
  • have a pacemaker or defibrillator 
  • are intoxicated
  • have a fever
  • have a heart condition 
  • have high blood pressure
  • are pregnant

Children should never use infrared saunas because they can be dangerous to operate and strenuous on the body. Most young children are sensitive to heat, which can be a significant problem when using infrared saunas.

You should avoid using infrared saunas if you have major health problems, mainly because your reaction to using an infrared sauna can be unpredictable. If you have a serious medical problem, you should consult your doctor before using an infrared sauna to ensure that you do not face fatal complications.

People with blood conditions, heart conditions, and minor sicknesses like fevers or colds should consult their healthcare providers before trying to use an infrared sauna.

Key characteristics of a steam room

Steam rooms are common heat rooms that use moist heat to warm the exterior of the body.

They feel hotter and are and less popular than infrared saunas, often used in industrial areas like spas and gyms.

Since steam rooms use humidity to heat the space, they are great for using essential oils and aromatherapy.

Potential benefits of a steam room

Using steam rooms has many benefits, like lowering blood pressure and reducing stress. Steam rooms can improve the health of your body by improving expiratory flow, detoxifying, and promoting better skin health.

The following are potential benefits of using a steam room:

  • Relaxation
  • Detoxification
  • Weight loss
  • Decongestion
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Aromatherapy 

Steam rooms can promote relaxation as they raise your body temperature. A common claim by many people is that they reduce stress and promote positive mental health. 

Additionally, the heightened body temperature raises body temperature and promotes better sleep. Raising the body temperature causes the body to relax, preparing you for a good night’s sleep.

What does a steam room do for your body?

Even though they can be less popular than other types of saunas, steam rooms can have major benefits.

Steam rooms raise body temperature, improving circulation and promoting stress reduction.

People claim they benefit people looking for deep relaxation and basic health benefits. 

Can you lose weight in a steam room?

Steam rooms cause you to sweat intensely – even more so than the infrared sauna – but does it actually lead to weight loss?

The immediate weight loss after a sauna session is water weight, not fat loss. This weight loss is only temporary as the weight will return once you rehydrate.

However, the steam room can aid in weight loss when used in conjunction with a diet and exercise routine.

Are steam rooms good for your lungs?

Steam rooms encourage deep breathing and can help soothe some respiratory conditions, including a bronchial infection.

Using a steam room can warm the mucous membrane and break down congestion inside the lungs. The heat and humidity break down the loose phlegm in your lungs, alleviating symptoms, and improving expiratory flow. 

Using a steam room is not always a good idea if you have respiratory conditions like asthma. Therefore, you should be cautious when using steam rooms. Stay aware of your bodily reactions and consult your doctor when necessary. 

Who should not use a steam room?

Some people should avoid using steam rooms because they could face severe complications from the humidity and high temperatures. People with pre-existing health conditions like an inability to sweat or sensitivity to heat should avoid using steam rooms because it can cause further health complications. 

You should not use a steam room if you:

  • are dehydrated
  • are a minor
  • have major health issues
  • are unable to sweat
  • are sensitive to heat
  • have a pacemaker or defibrillator 
  • are intoxicated
  • have a fever
  • have a heart condition 
  • have high blood pressure
  • are pregnant

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is better to consult your doctor before using a steam room. Your medical practitioner will inform you whether using a steam room is good for you.