W hether you’ve decided to join the sauna community at a gym or a spa or took the commitment to get great relaxation even further and installed a sauna at home, it is essential to follow some rules that will help you stay safe throughout the sessions. And while good hydration and hygiene are already considered ground rules, there’s still an important thing you need to adjust to ensure you get the best results without bringing your body to heat exhaustion. Yes, the heat in a these units can be regulated, and most models come with a thermostat that allows you to set the desired value. When this option is selected, the heater will turn on and off several times to maintain the temperature with minimal power costs.
But do all the sweating rooms reach the same values? This is a good question and, as you are about to discover, distinctive types of heaters will produce more or less heat. So, let’s analyze this subject and clear out what are the limits for each type.
Keep an eye on the heat inside your wood chamber with a sauna thermometer. Designed to withstand the moist environment while providing accurate data, it can help you maintain an efficient but safe heat level.
How Do Saunas Increase Temperature?
You have seen them. Wooden rooms of different sizes with benches and a heating source that, in a way or another, make you sweat. This is actually the secret. They send heat towards you, and this leads to a higher heart rate and your organism using all the extra resources (fat deposits) to try and cool itself down. Nevertheless, if you are up to trying each type, you will soon discover that not all of them function the same. Traditional models, for example, use a wood-fire or electric heater, which basically heats the air. The heat source works as any home heating system, only the heat it emits is considerably higher.
FIR models come equipped with ceramic heaters, able to emit Far radiation. Thus, they don’t put heat inside the wood room but send radiation waves to your skin, helping the body become warmer from the inside. Users appreciate that they don’t dry the air and usually imply lower thermal readings that make the sessions more bearable.
The third type of unit that can be included in the sauna category, although its functioning mode is different, is represented by steam rooms. These models use steamers to fill the wood chamber with warm vapors and create the sensation of high temperature.
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Traditional Sauna Heat Limits
As these models need to heat the air first for it to further act upon your body, they reach the highest heat values in the class. The heating source acts upon the rocks and the heat radiates from them, increasing the thermal readings to values between 150 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit. In some cases, it can be even higher, reaching values of up to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
Old-fashioned models that use a wood-burning heater do not offer many heat control options. Basically, you will need to stop feeding wood to the stove when you feel the heat is getting too high. A special thermometer that is resistant to heat and moisture could help you assess if your sweat room is functioning efficiently.
On the other hand, electric heaters provide automatic heat control, and some of them come with an auto shut-off option, which activates after an hour, to prevent accidents.
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They take the most to get hot, so you will usually need to wait somewhere between 30 to 40 minutes until you can enjoy the heat. Moreover, if you have opted for an outdoor model and the weather is particularly cold, it may take even longer. The good news, though, is that they stay warm long after the heater has been turned off, so you can relax for longer with lower wood/energy consumption.
The sessions usually last between 10 to 45 minutes, and cooling breaks are recommended. These would imply getting out of the wood chamber and finding a way to cool down. Snow can be a good means, if available, or a bath in the pool or a lake. Or you could just sit on a nice terrasse and enjoy a glass of refreshing lemonade.
Infrared Sauna Heat Limits
As it doesn’t need to heat the room, a unit of this type will usually reach values of 80 to 130-150 degrees Fahrenheit. The infrared waves have almost the same wavelengths as those emitted by the human body, and this is one of the reasons for which they cannot alter the natural balance. Instead, they reach the muscles and push the heat inside them, offering relief for pain and tiredness.
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Ceramic infrared heaters are incredibly fast, and some models can be ready in 10 minutes. Nevertheless, most of them require around 25 minutes, and some may even reach 30. But still, they are faster than conventional models. And the great advantage is that, even if you install one of them outdoors, the heating time will remain mostly the same.
Furthermore, as the the heat is lower, the sessions can be longer, with intervals of 30 or even 45 minutes. Cooling is only required after the session to restore body balance.
Portable IR Sauna Heat Limits
The traveling version of a wooden infrared unit, this option uses infrared panels to produce heat, and the values usually range between 100 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Once again, the waves heat directly the body, and this is how sweat is activated.
The main advantage of this unit is that it can be easily turned into a more compact item, and this makes it easy to transport and store. Moreover, it makes it an excellent choice for homes where the space is tight and cannot accommodate a full-size model.
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Just like their bigger siblings, they take 10 to 15 minutes to warm up, while some models may require 25 minutes. This is exactly the amount of time you need to get prepared. While the unit gets ready for the session, you can take a short shower and gather all the accessories or set up the cooling area, which could be arranged in a well-vented room.
Once again, you can stay inside for up to 45 min and get all the relief you need, but this depends on how accustomed you are with this therapy. If you are a beginner, shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes are recommended.
Steam Sauna Heat Limits
The technology is different, and the way heating is produced is different as well. You are dealing with wet sessions instead of dry, and this is because of the heating source. These units use a boiler instead of a heater, which brings water to a boiling point when it starts to evaporate. Thus, the humidity is increased up to 100%, in some cases, but the heat readings usually remain between 90 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The impression of heat is given by the increased air moisture, which doesn’t allow sweat to evaporate and makes your body hotter.
It takes time until the water starts boiling, so you will be waiting for up to thirty minutes until the steam generator starts putting warm steam into the air. The sweating is more intense in these rooms and the increased air moisture makes everything a bit more uncomfortable, so the sessions are usually shorter or imply cooling breaks.
Sauna Temperature Regulations
When it comes to heat regulations inside a sauna, things are different depending on the country you found yourself in. European countries, especially the Northern states, where the sweating in wooden rooms is an old tradition, accept values of 200 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because the inhabitants of these countries have built a higher resistance to heat and can stand longer and higher exposure.
In America and Canada, the law allows a maximum of 194 degrees Fahrenheit, as the citizens do not have the required training yet. The models produced in these countries usually come with a timer that turns the heat off after a certain time to prevent heat exhaustion and burns.
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The Bottom Line
If you are going to use a sauna make sure to follow the safety rules. Do not go inside if you are drunk, do not go inside if you are sick, and do not set the heat higher than you can bear. All these will keep you safe and guarantee that you will be able to enjoy the room on other occasions as well. Heat is a serious deal. Note that the annual World Sauna Competition that used to be held in Finland got canceled since 2010 when a Russian competitor died while exposing himself to a heat value of 230 degrees Fahrenheit. And it only took 6 minutes for this to happen. So, follow our guide and stay safe. These units have so many good things to offer, but you need to learn to receive everything gradually.