infrared versus steam sauna

What’s The Better Option For You? Infrared Or Steam?

between an infrared sauna and a steam sauna, on the surface, it might be hard to point out the differences between them and decide on the best option for you and your needs.  There are some big differences, especially the heating aspect. 

So to help you understand how they both work and the benefits they both offer, we are going to break them both down for you in this article and then you should have a better understanding of how they both work and which one might benefit you most. If you’re looking to buy a home sauna or even just do a little research on the differences, this article should help.

What’s The  Difference?

An infrared sauna is a sauna that is built with a wooden frame or room. The inside of the sauna is heated with what we call infrared rays, and these rays or heat penetrate your body. Whereas a steam room is totally airtight, the infrared sauna isn’t. And is made of a non-porous material. The steam is generated within the sauna filling up the room and that’s how the heat is created.

An Infrared Sauna Produces Dry Heat That Directly Heats The Body. The Steam Sauna Produces Steam That Creates Moisture That Heats The Room Not The Body

They are similar in the sense that they both create a relaxing environment that produces therapeutic benefits, relaxation and wellness properties, as well as detoxification and weight reduction. Plus they are both good for your skin.

Having said that, their similarities stop there due to their different heating methods. Below is all the information you should need to understand the difference between the two saunas.

The Infrared Sauna

As I’ve mentioned the infrared sauna is a wooden based room. And it heats the body through what is known as infrared rays. This is where infrared heat is very different from steam.

These infrared rays heat your body and penetrate into your skin right through to your bones. Approx 1.5 inches. Sounds a little scary but it’s actually pretty cool.  

Because the infrared rays heat you within, the heat you’re exposed to is generally lower than what you would get in a steam sauna. They operate around the 110-130 degrees Fahrenheit range. Whereas a steam sauna ranges around 170-200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although the heating range is much lower, it’s actually better. This is because the heat is directly heating your body and by doing this, it also offers a lot more benefits than the steam sauna doesn’t. 

Steam Sauna

Again as I mentioned above. A steam sauna is a room that is made of non-porous material. This could be glass or tiles, and it’s airtight, different from the infrared sauna. Being airtight, the heat fills the room with high heat and humidity, therefore heating the body with the moisture that’s created within the sauna. The steam is created by boiling water, hence the moisture inside the sauna. 

Temperatures on average sit around the 120 odd degrees Fahrenheit

Average temperatures hover around 120 degrees Fahrenheit, although it may feel much hotter due to the humidity levels that can reach up to 100 per cent. As opposed to infrared saunas which heat the user directly, steam rooms heat the outside environment, warming the user from the outside in.

Looking to buy your ideal infrared sauna? Check out our unbiased infrared sauna reviews

Health Benefits 

Now let’s look at the health benefits of both saunas.

They do both offer positive health benefits as well as other benefits like relaxation and de-stressing properties. They are a great way to escape the world and take the time to sit back and be in total relaxation, refresh the mind and body and recharge yourself for a better day.

Day to day life can get to us sometimes and there’s nothing better than recharging yourself with a good sauna. It’s also a great way to get some time for yourself away from the kids.

Infrared Sauna Benefits.

The infrared sauna offers a very unique heat that you cannot get from any other source. It’s very beneficial for you because of how far it penetrates into your body. Something the steam sauna cannot do. Let’s take a quick look at some of the health benefits associated with infrared saunas.


While both saunas have their detoxing benefits the infrared sauna does a little more. As I said before, when the rays penetrate deep into your body, your core heats up which allows for better blood flow. It also helps to oxygenise your muscle tissues which then also breaks up water molecules. 

With the lower heat levels that the infrared sauna produces and the way it does it through dry heat you tend to sweat more, it’s been called a deeper sweat. When this happens you help to extract out all the unwanted toxins that have built up in your system.

The infrared heat is the way to go for anyone wanting to use it as a way to reduce their weight and help with cellulite reduction. Because you sweat a lot more in the infrared sauna over the steam sauna you tend to burn more calories. 

As the infrared heat goes deeper into your body, the result is your body heat up and your metabolic rate increases. The natural reaction for your body is to cool itself down, and that is done with increased sweating, and because your body is working harder than it normally would you sweat more. And the result is that you burn more calories and help your skin to tone up. The more you go through this process along with other factors outside using a sauna you can start to see positive results.


When it comes to being able to relax and just chill out, the infrared sauna we feel has it over the steam sauna. Why? Because the infrared heat is much lower than the steam sauna you can stay there longer. And anyone who suffers from lung or even eye issues might prefer the infrared over the steam, as the steam and high heat can cause issues for anyone with these conditions.  

There are a lot more health benefits to using an infrared sauna, and I’ve covered it a lot more in this article. The benefits of an infrared sauna.

Steam Saunas

There are some really good benefits to a steam sauna. The high heat and humidity allow for a number of positive health-related benefits that the infrared sauna cannot provide. Let’s take a look.

Respiration Relief

One of the best things about a steam sauna is what it can do for anyone who is suffering from any sort of blockage. The flu, colds, sinus issues, that sort of blockage. The hot and moist air helps to relieve these blockages and clear the airways, I’m referring to the nose and throat. This will help with your overall respiration. 

Unlike the infrared sauna which only releases heat directly to the body, the steam can be inhaled, directly helping to clean and relax your airways.

Hydration Of The Skin

Did you know the skin is the largest organ in your body? And it’s often the one that gets overlooked. For a lot of people that suffer from any skin condition, the steam sauna might be very helpful. The moisture will get into your skin allowing your pores to relax and loosen up. This will help with better perspiration and help your skin to repair itself. It can also help with the production of your body’s natural oil, allowing you to feel fresh and more uplifting.

Having said that, the infrared sauna also helps to improve your skin as well but in a different way. 

Better Sleeping.

There’s no question, after a sauna session, that night you always seem to have a better sleep. Once the body starts the cooling process, it helps you to relax and therefore get a night of better and deeper sleep. You can achieve this with both the saunas and for different reasons. 

What To Think About Before Buying A Sauna For Your Home

Now that you have a good idea of the differences between the steam and the infrared sauna, and what might be the best sauna for you. There’s one more thing to think about that a lot of people forget to consider. And that’s the installation part.

Important Points To Consider

There’s more to installing them than just setting them up and you’re good to go.  When you first buy your chosen sauna it will arrive in a kit form with all the instructions on how to set them up. And when it comes to installing them there’s a massive difference between the two. 

The steam sauna will need a plumber and an electrician to help with the installation process. And for the steam sauna, you will need to buy a generator most of the time separately. Setting up requires a professional that knows what they are doing. Plus you’ll need to have a good place for the steam sauna to go. 

You’ll need to have proper drainage and the room will need to be airtight to keep in the moisture. On moisture, if not cleaned regularly mould will start to form so you’ll need to make sure you keep on top of that. That’s a bit to think about, isn’t it? So make sure you really want a steam sauna as there’s a bit to set up.

Buying An Infrared Sauna

There’s one similarity to the steam sauna. And that you’ll receive your infrared sauna in a kit. And that’s where the similarities stop. The process of setting up your new infrared sauna is so much easier than it is to set up the steam sauna. 

You can set it up yourself if you feel comfortable in doing so, otherwise, you can get help. The great thing about these saunas, you allocate a spot and set it up, inside or out. Just make sure the area is level.

Once you have it set up and in place all you need to do is plug it in, yep that’s right plug it in and you’re good to go. No stuffing around with plumber and electrical installation, it’s that easy. You can be in your infrared sauna and enjoying the benefits within a few hours of receiving it. Pretty cool.

Remember to factor in the long term costs. I’m referring to electricity, what they cost to run. The infrared sauna comes out on top for sure. They are very energy efficient and consume on average a third of the electricity of the steam sauna, making them a much better long term option.

Our Conclusion

When choosing your sauna look at the long term thoughts you have for your and your families health and if health is a priority we can highly recommend adding a sauna, especially an infrared sauna into your health routine. 

At the end of the day, both saunas do have their benefits. They both help to relax and de-stress your body from our busy day to day lives. And that’s a big plus. They also help to improve our general health with ongoing use, which leads to a better and happier life for you. 

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