Sauna Blanket vs Infrared Sauna (Similarities and Differences)

When you think of a sauna you may get images of a wood-paneled room with hot rocks and a bucket of water to create a little steam for relief from the dry heat. A sauna blanket and an infrared sauna have similar benefits to a traditional sauna, but function in a way that may offer solutions for those needing portability and lower temperatures. 

The difference between a sauna blanket and an infrared sauna is the method of delivery. While both types of sauna use infrared energy to heat the body itself rather than the air around you, a sauna blanket is portable, costs much less to acquire, and may be easier to make time for than your local spa. Both provide comparable health benefits.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the similarities and differences between a sauna blanket and an infrared sauna. Plus, we’ll throw in some info about the risks and benefits of each. 

Which should you use: sauna blanket or infrared sauna?

Both sauna blankets and infrared saunas operate using the same basic technology. Typically, far infrared (FIR) light heats the body internally rather than raising the ambient air temperature like in a traditional sauna. So which should you use?

Whether you should choose an infrared sauna or a sauna blanket depends on your specific situation. A sauna blanket is a great choice for those who want to experience the benefits of an infrared sauna in the privacy of their own home or have the ability to take it with them when traveling. 

In contrast, an infrared sauna cabin may be an amenity included at your gym or spa. Sauna cabins can also be installed in your home, but come with a much higher price tag and a bit more maintenance. 

Is a sauna blanket or infrared sauna better?

Infrared rays are generally well tolerated by most adults. So, what makes a sauna blanket better than an infrared sauna or vice versa?

Sauna blankets allow you to keep your head outside of the infrared rays. This may be an advantage for some, lessening the impact of the heat. However, some may feel constricted by the sauna blanket and feel more at ease in an infrared sauna. 

Overall, most reports agree that the general wellness benefits of a sauna blanket and an infrared sauna are similar as they use the same technology.  

Comparing sauna blankets and infrared saunas

Looking for a snapshot of the details to compare a sauna blanket to an infrared sauna?

Sauna blankets and infrared saunas have a lot in common given that they operate using the same FIR technology. However, there are some key differences, including size, portability, and price.

Read on and learn what the studies, reviews, and specifications say about each. 


If you’ve never seen a sauna blanket you may be wondering how it can be similar to an infrared sauna since it just wraps around your body.

Both the sauna blanket and infrared sauna use infrared light to penetrate the skin, into the tissue and raise your core temperature. The optimal temperature for each is somewhere around 120°F.

Session lengths are also similar, with new users advised to ease into the experience at 10-15 minutes at a time. Eventually, users can work up to 45 minutes sessions. 


While the basic functionality may be similar for both sauna blankets and infrared saunas, there are some significant differences.

Here are some of the stand-outs differences between sauna blankets and infrared saunas:

  • Cost
  • Portability
  • Space
  • Head unexposed/claustrophic


Overall, sauna blankets are much more affordable than infrared sauna installation.

While you can grab a sauna blanket for an average cost of about $600, they range anywhere from $120 to upwards of $3000. This is a lot easier on the bank account than installing an infrared sauna cabin that can range from about $2,000 to $10,000. 

That being said, most health clubs or spas offer some kind of sauna therapy. You may be able to access an infrared sauna for the price of your existing gym membership.

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One of the biggest differences between sauna blankets and infrared saunas is portability.

Sauna blankets are designed for portability. You can easily stow it in its carrying case to take with you on vacation, work travel, or even when you’re visiting relatives for the holidays and need a little extra something to help you relax. 

An infrared sauna is a stationary, stand-alone cabin.


Another big difference between sauna blankets and infrared saunas is the space requirement.

Infrared sauna cabins designed for in-home use can be purchased to fit one, or up to around six people. This takes up a significant footprint and can easily take over a spare room. 

On the other hand, you can roll out your sauna blanket just about anywhere you can fit while lying down. It then will fold up to be stored in a bag that can be put away in a closet or under a bed. 

Head unexposed/claustrophobic

Since a sauna blanket doesn’t cover your head, you may decide to use the time for dual purposes.

Catching up on an episode of your favorite show, listening to an audiobook, or enjoying a good meditation are all possibilities. It also allows for some cool air to circulate around your head, making it easier for some to manage the intense heat created inside the blanket. 

On the flip side, an infrared sauna allows you to move about inside the cabin, shifting positions. Some who feel constricted being enveloped in the sauna blanket may prefer the relative space of the infrared sauna. 

Key characteristics of a sauna blanket

So you’ve seen sauna blanket ads all over your social media feeds, but what are they exactly?

A sauna blanket uses radiant heat from invisible infrared light to penetrate the skin and heat your body from the inside out. Its uses range from relaxation to promoting heart health. 

Check out this article for specifics on how sauna blankets work.

Potential benefits of a sauna blanket

If you’re new to the sauna world, or even if you’ve been using traditional saunas for a while, you likely don’t have all the facts on all the ways a sauna blanket can be helpful.

Here are some of the potential benefits of a sauna blanket:

  • Improved circulation
  • Elevated mood
  • Faster muscle recovery
  • Detoxification
  • Refreshed skin
  • Heightened relaxation
  • Pain relief
  • Increased metabolism

Do sauna blankets really work?

Sauna blankets may sound too good to be true, but they really work!

Science has proven that the infrared technology used in sauna blankets really does offer health, beauty, and wellness benefits. 

In fact, infrared technology has even proven to be effective in reducing inflammation and improving arthritis symptoms

Are sauna blankets as effective as infrared saunas?

Being able to use a sauna blanket is very convenient, but is it actually as effective as a full-size infrared sauna?

Due to the use of the same infrared technology, a sauna blanket will still boost circulation, stimulate the release of serotonin, create calorie burn, and decrease blood pressure, in the same ways an infrared cabin sauna can.

Some infrared saunas also offer chromotherapy, a type of color light therapy that affects the body’s energy fields. The structure of a sauna blanket doesn’t offer this, but some do include crystals, coal, and clay within their layers. So, the effectiveness may depend on the outcome you’re looking to achieve. 

What are the risks of using a sauna blanket?

Any tool used to affect health and wellness may pose risks in certain situations. While sauna blankets are generally considered safe, talking with your healthcare provider if you are on medications or have any chronic health conditions is advised.

Other potential risks to consider are:

  • Dehydration
  • Overheating
  • Possible risk of miscarriage or reduced potency while trying to conceive
  • Not following manufacturer recommendations

Key characteristics of an infrared sauna

Like the sauna blanket, an infrared sauna uses invisible infrared light rays to raise the body’s core temperature, producing a beneficial sweat. 

An infrared sauna produces temperatures that range from about 100°F to around 150°F. The air around your body is not heated, making it more comfortable than a traditional Finnish dry sauna, for some.

Wearing loose clothes made of natural fibers is recommended in an infrared sauna, and actually helps to produce a better sweat.

Potential benefits of infrared sauna

Multiple studies have shown that consistent infrared sauna use can produce health benefits.

Some of the more common benefits include:

  • Better sleep quality
  • Increased blood flow for improved heart health
  • Detoxification
  • Improved immunity
  • Relaxation
  • Faster muscle recovery
  • Chronic pain relief

What are the risks of using an infrared sauna?

If your infrared sauna uses near infrared (NIR)  technology, it may be necessary to wear eye protection. Some evidence has shown a link between NIR use and the development of cataracts. However, many infrared saunas use far infrared, which has not been linked to the same outcome. 

Some additional risk factors to consider include:

  • If you’re trying to conceive
  • Risk of overheating or dehydration
  • Mild respiratory symptoms
  • Overuse
  • EMF exposure

Sauna blanket vs. infrared sauna: What to consider before purchase

Now that we’ve thoroughly explored the similarities and differences between a sauna blanket and an infrared sauna, here is a checklist to consider before deciding on which to purchase.

When buying a sauna, ask yourself:

  • Do I need it to be portable? If yes, the sauna blanket is for you. 
  • What is my budget? A good quality sauna blanket is about $600, while a 2-person infrared is around $2000.
  • How much space do I have to allot to my sauna experience? A sauna blanket can be stored in a closet, but you’re typical infrared sauna will need about a 6×5’ space. 
  • Do I need to move about during my sauna session? If you have trouble lying still or suffer from feeling confined, a sauna blanket may not be your best choice. 
  • Do I need to multi-task during my session? No electronics are allowed inside an infrared sauna, but a sauna blanket allows your head to be exposed, allowing you to watch TV, listen to music, etc.