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How Infrared Saunas Work

T he Finnish introduced saunas somewhere near 1112 BC, and this system of relaxation and toxin release has only become more popular since them. The ancient inhabitants of Finland used to heat a room by using a wood-burning stove. Thus, the air would get warmer, reaching high temperatures of up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and made the sauna users sweat. As the atmosphere tended to become a little dry, they used to bring stones inside, let them heat, and then pour water over them to produce vapors and humidify the air.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, it is because these types of sweating chambers are still built and used today. They are called traditional Finnish saunas, and you will find them more often outdoors.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that technology hasn’t made an impact in this field. Although the sauna room is still made of cedar or other wood that is resistant to moisture, the heating source and the way sweat is produced have changed with the discovery of infrared waves. How? We will explain everything in this article.

When it comes to installing a sauna at home, space is usually the biggest problem. However, alternatives do exist, and they are even cheaper. Find one among our portable sit-down infrared saunas. They are insulated tents that come with an IR heating element and a nice comfy chair. And the main advantage is that they are super compact.

Sketch showing the difference between infrared and traditional sauna Image

What Is an IR Sauna? FIR Technology Explained

As we have explained, a conventional sauna would heat the air around you, which will eventually heat you and stimulate sweating. But this means that throughout the session you will inhale dry and hot air that can make you feel highly uncomfortable. Even if water is being poured on the stones for moisture, it is still difficult to accommodate with the environment, as the heat is extremely high.

The secret of IR models is that they don’t heat the air. This is not required as these waves can get through the skin and reach muscles, transferring the heat directly into your skin and making it heat up from the inside. Thus, the sweating begins when your core has become hotter, but you won’t deal with dry air. Even the temperatures are lower, settling somewhere between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, what are infrared waves anyway? They may seem like something that was created in a lab and shouldn’t have left it. But the truth is that these waves exist naturally in nature, and they are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The light that comes from the sun includes waves with different lengths. Some are visible, and this is why you can see the colors of the rainbow, while others remain hidden to the eye, and infrared waves are part of this last category. Furthermore, they can be divided into Near, Middle, and Far, and saunas of this type usually use the last type of waves as they can reach more profoundly into the skin.

A FIR unit uses a ceramic heater, which can produce Far IR waves. The effect is similar to staying in the sun on a cold autumn day. The air around you remains chill, but you feel the sun rays penetrating your skin and making you feel warmer. This is natural infrared technology at work.

Did you know that you can take your sauna session while finishing one of those stressful projects at work? Check out our high-quality infrared sauna vests and offer your back the relief it needs at work. This therapy is just perfect if you spend long hours in an office.

Woman laying in an infrared sauna Image

What Happens With Your Body When Exposed to FIR?

In all types of sweating rooms, the organism getting hotter results in an increased heart rate, which can become as high as one hundred to one hundred and fifty beats per minute. This is the equivalent of practicing a moderate sport for the same amount of time. Other effects include blood vessel dilatation and sweating. Regular exposure to IR waves can help burn up to six hundred calories per session, studies say, and this appears as a result of the body having to work harder to maintain a balanced temperature. At the same time, the skin will excrete a large part of the toxins that have accumulated in the blood and on the surface of the skin.

At the end of the session, you will feel cleaner and more relaxed, and even happier as it has been proven that IR waves boost the production of serotonin, a hormone that is responsible for keeping you happy.

These saunas can help you lose weight, but if you don’t have the time for a complete sweating session, you could try an infrared sauna belt. It will make you sweat around your waist and, in time, make you look slimmer.

Is This Type of Sauna for Everyone?

All healthy people can use this technology for relaxation, detoxification, and overall body health improvement. Moreover, it is recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure or chronic pain. These types of saunas have been used in medical facilities to help relieve pains caused by cancer. Moreover, Lady Gaga seems to have found good relief in them for her fibromyalgia, while athletes take advantage of its pain relief power to get in shape faster after tiring training.

Who Should Avoid Using It?

The main effect of a sauna is sweating, so dehydration is a problem that must be considered. This is why the sauna is not recommended for people suffering from kidney diseases or dermatitis. In the last case, the skin getting dryer may actually aggravate the condition. Furthermore, specialists recommend for individuals who have suffered a heart attack or have low blood pressure to avoid IR sessions.

If you are not sure if you should include it on your treatment list, it is better to check with your doctor and get advice about exposure time and eventual extra care measures.

Woman sitting in a portable infrared sauna and holding a phone Image

How Often Should You Use an FIR Sauna?

The frequency of exposure depends on your ability to cope with the heat. If you are a beginner, you can start by using it three times a week, for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, you can progressively increase exposure up to 25 minutes while making the sessions more frequent. You can even reach 7 sessions a week, as long as your health allows it. Your physician can help you determine how long and how often you should use the sauna.

If you have the space, why not invest in a permanent model? Find one among our selection of IR saunas and bring the spa to your house. Thus, you will have everything at hand and will be able to relax at any hour, day or night.

Sketch showing the benefits of infrared saunas Image

What Are the Advantages of an IR Sauna?

Some people were so impressed by the effects a sauna can have on their health and wellbeing that chose to install or build one in their homes. Some even went for an outdoor model that would allow them to relax and admire nature while sweating. So, what are the benefits an infrared model can bring that make it an excellent investment? Here’s a short list:

It relieves pain

Pain can appear in a wide range of circumstances. Whether it is caused by an old injury, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other diseases, it is sometimes difficult even with drugs. Plus, too many painkillers can lead to addiction and attack the heart and other organs. This is why some hospital or recovery centers offer infrared therapy for their patients, who are exposed to sauna sessions several times a week. IR heat can reach the muscles and provide relief, with results that last for a longer time. Moreover, it affects mental wellbeing as well, making the patients feel less stressed and more confident.

It improves blood circulation

When the body temperature increases, the heart’s beats increase just as if you were in the middle of an activity that requires a moderate effort. Thus, the heart starts pumping more blood and this lowers the blood pressure. Saunas are recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure and heart failure. Nevertheless, if you have suffered a heart attack, you should first ask your doctor’s advice, just to ensure you are not going to make your situation worse.

It can help with weight loss

Although the action is mostly indirect, regular infrared sessions can help you slim down. First of all, the effort the body needs to put to regulate the body’s temperature will result in some calory burn. But, at the same time, the quick recovery and increased relaxation which are triggered by a sweating session could encourage you to keep up with your training and diet, thus resulting in a healthier lifestyle and weight loss.

It stimulates the production of serotonin

The action of the IR waves doesn’t limit to the body but it can trigger responses in the brain. Thus, recent studies have proven that it can increase the production of serotonin, an action that translates in enthusiasm, happiness, and relaxation. Most people who use IR saunas regularly feel less stressed and more optimistic after each session.

It helps eliminate toxins

How do toxins get inside our bodies? The ways are diverse and multiple, but primarily through food and water. Aliments that don’t come from sustainable sources are usually packed with chemicals, while the municipal water filtering systems are not always the most reliable. On the other hand, if the air is polluted, we will inhale the toxins and some of them will end up in the bloodstream.

During a single day, our body absorbs large quantities of pollutants and this is why it is important to eliminate them, and the skin, also called the third kidney and known as the organ of the body with the largest surface, is an excellent way out.

Why not take things to the next level and get a good sweat while admiring a breathtaking panorama? Check out our top-rated outdoor saunas and get relaxing the ancient Finnish way.

The interior of an infrared sauna Image

Are There Any Drawbacks?

The main disadvantage is actually related to the sauna’s primary purpose, namely to cause sweat. This leads to the loss of important quantities of water and, if not treated properly, it can quickly lead to dehydration, especially for individuals who suffer from kidney problems. At the same time, it is known that saunas decrease blood pressure, so people who already have it low, may experience dizziness and nausea as a consequence of increased blood circulation.

Should you look for a water type that can hydrate you better? Find out all about alkaline water here and assess if it is time to include it in your diet.

The Bottom Line

Is investing in an IR sauna worth it? If you are committed to get all the benefits and plan on using it often in the future, installing or building one at home may be a clever investment, as it will reduce spa or gym subscription costs. As shown, the advantages are excellent and the dry technology makes the sessions easier to bear, while the lack of vapors and moisture makes the chamber last longer and reduces maintenance time.

Nevertheless, you should first ask yourself if this type of therapy is suitable for you. And even better, ask your physician if your body can handle the high heat. If the answer is positive, then go for it. The relaxation and pain reduction effects are unmatchable.

Lillian Davies
Lillian Davies
Lillian is a fresh college graduate who has lived in Tucson for most of her life, battling the torrid heat ever since she was a child. She is quite versed in the topic of thermal comfort and what solutions work to make conditions more bearable when the temperatures go haywire, which makes her knowledgeable in the topics she writes about here. Since she is a perfectionist, Lilian always takes time to polish her articles before release, which makes her an irreplaceable part of the team.

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