Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna: Ultimate Comparison


In addition to being common fixtures in spas, fitness centers, and a wide range of health-related facilities, saunas have managed to find their way into personal homes. Made available via sauna-building kits and professional installs, two main types of saunas are often used – traditional and infrared saunas.

When choosing the type of sauna to use or install in their home, sauna users often have to compare infrared sauna vs dry sauna. In this infrared sauna vs traditional sauna comparison guide, we will help you understand the differences and similarities existing between both saunas. This should make it much easier for you to make your decision.

Comparing the Similarities of Infrared Sauna Vs Dry Sauna

To begin, we will help you understand the shared benefits and similarities of the infrared and traditional home saunas. The similarities of infrared sauna vs traditional sauna include:

Both Saunas Offer the Same Benefits

While different people will use saunas for varying reasons, the main goal of staying in the sauna is to enjoy the benefits offered by the heated rooms. These benefits include stress reduction and relaxation, sweating (featuring associated detoxification), relieving of pains and aches, and a wide range of other health benefits.

Both types of saunas do offer these benefits, although the conditions under which the benefits will be achieved do vary. The benefits are a result of the self-induced fever created by the 2 types of saunas.

Both Saunas Are Relatively Dry

Unless they have been on for a long time, the far-infrared saunas tend to have a humidity level that is close to that of a normal house. Traditional saunas are drier (10% or lower humidity level) with their humidity increasing only when water is sprinkled on the sauna rocks.

In the traditional sauna, it is possible to control the humidity levels, with the amount of water you sprinkle on the rocks determining how humid your sauna will be. While you can control the temperature in the far-infrared sauna, you cannot control the humidity. Both saunas, however, have low levels of humidity by default.

Both Saunas Can Help with Weight Loss

Both infrared and traditional saunas increase the metabolic rate – this helps burn calories. While the number of calories burned by sitting in the sauna is debatable and is largely dependent upon the individual, there is evidence that both the traditional and infrared saunas can help with weight loss.

It is important to note that sitting in the sauna does not burn as many calories as most people would want. To give you an example, a healthy 185-pound man can burn an average of only 30 to 40 calories after staying in the sauna for 15 minutes. This means that even if saunas can be an important part of your healthy weight loss program, you need to combine them with other weight loss methods, including exercise if your goal is to shed a significant amount of weight.

Comparing the Differences of Infrared Sauna Vs Dry Sauna


As noted at the beginning of this comparison guide, infrared and traditional saunas do have differences. Since we have already compared the infrared sauna vs traditional sauna similarities, we will go ahead and look at their main differences.


Traditional saunas feature a temperature range of between 1500 F and 1850 F. In the United States, the recommended maximum temperature is 1940 F at the ceiling level. This means that the hottest point of the traditional sauna – which is directly above the sauna heater – features a temperature range of between 1850 F and 1900 F.

Infrared saunas feature a much lower temperature – the temperature usually ranges between 1200 F and 1400 F. Unlike the traditional sauna, the goal of the infrared sauna is not to achieve a high temperature – the infrared saunas use deep penetrating infrared heat to raise the core body temperature. Even though the infrared saunas have lower temperatures, they still cause profuse sweating just like the traditional saunas.

Heating Method

When comparing infrared sauna vs dry sauna, the heating method is one of the most important considerations. The process of heating a traditional sauna involves an electric heater that heats the compartment of stones – the stones then radiate the heat throughout the sauna room.

When the high temperature is achieved in the traditional sauna, the electric heater turns off and on to maintain this temperature. The high room temperature will raise the body temperature and hence cause perspiration. Since the heat is radiated throughout the room, it is possible to get maximum benefits irrespective of where you sit.

Most traditional saunas users like to pour some water over the rocks to create steam – this raises the humidity levels. The benefits of sprinkling water on the rocks include moistening the nasal passages, making the sauna room more comfortable, and allowing aromatherapy by mixing sauna essential oils with the sprinkled water.

In an infrared sauna, heat waves penetrate the user’s body to raise the core body temperature. To achieve this effect, infrared emitters create infrared energy featuring the same wavelength as that emitted by the body naturally – this ensures that the energy is received well by the body.

The infrared energy will penetrate the skin deeply and warm both the joints and muscles. Once the infrared energy enters the body, it increases the temperature and hence causes perspiration.

In the infrared saunas, the infrared emitters must remain on all the time. Infrared saunas do not have a mass of rocks to retain the heat and hence the saunas tend to cool off quickly if the emitters turn off. To get the most benefit from the infrared sauna, the user has to position himself or herself in front of operating emitters.

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Heat-Up Time

The infrared sauna vs traditional sauna heat-up time is very different. For a traditional sauna, you need to wait for an average of 30 to 40 minutes for the sauna to achieve the desired temperature and to pre-heat the rocks properly.

It is important to note that the traditional sauna heating time is largely dependent on the ambient temperature from which the sauna starts heating, the ventilation in the room, and the amount of insulation on the sauna walls. For example, traditional saunas heating from a low ambient temperature may take longer to achieve the desired temperature compared to one that begins heating at a higher ambient temperature.

For the infrared sauna, you can wear your sauna suit and begin bathing the moment the sauna is turned on. This is because you do not need the room to get hot for you to enjoy the benefits – you only need the infrared energy to penetrate your body.

While some do use the infrared sauna from the moment it gets turned on, some prefer to wait until the temperature gets a little bit hot. Since the ideal temperature for the infrared saunas is lower than that of the traditional saunas, infrared saunas still take a shorter time to heat up.

Power Needs

Traditional saunas require more power to run compared to infrared saunas. Most traditional saunas will need three times the power needed by infrared saunas of the same size. For example, if a 2-person infrared sauna needs 1.5 KW to run, a 2-people traditional sauna may need over 4.5 KW to run. This indicates that the traditional saunas are more expensive to run.

Social Experience

Traditional saunas are typically large enough to accommodate numerous people. While sauna sessions are usually 15 to 20 minutes, this time is enough for social bonding.

Infrared saunas are much smaller, with 2 or 3-person infrared saunas being the biggest size in most areas. While it is possible to stay longer in the infrared sauna, their smaller size can limit the social experience.


Q: Is a Dry Sauna the Same as An Infrared Sauna?


While the dry sauna and infrared saunas are capable of offering the same benefits, they are not similar. Infrared saunas emit infrared energy that penetrates the body and raises the core body temperature. Dry saunas, on the other hand, use an electric heater to raise the room temperature – the high room temperature warms the body causing perspiration. In this infrared sauna vs dry sauna comparison guide, we have discussed further differences existing between the 2 sauna types.

Q: Which is Better, Infrared Sauna or Steam Sauna?


While both infrared and steam saunas do boast wellness and therapeutic benefits, most people tend to prefer infrared saunas. This is because the infrared saunas usually offer their benefits at a much lower temperature – this means that users can stay longer in the infrared saunas than in the steam saunas.

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While both the traditional and infrared saunas offer similar benefits, they differ in various aspects. In this article, we have looked at the infrared sauna vs traditional sauna similarities and differences.

If you intend to purchase a sauna, this comparison guide should help you choose a sauna that best suits your needs. For example, if you prefer a sauna that makes you sweat at a much lower temperature, the 1-person infrared sauna may be ideal for you and if you do like a sauna that allows you to control the humidity, a traditional sauna may be a good option.

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