Hippocrates once famously said: “Give me fever and I can cure every disease.” And it’s this very same power of increased body temperature that makes saunas so beneficial for your physical health, mental well-being, and overall relaxed state. While you are most likely somewhat aware of saunas, we wanted to go a bit more in-depth so that you can learn their backstory as well as modern-day saunas’ ability to transform your home into a 24/7 health and wellness oasis. Are you ready?
Saunas: A Basic Definition
Saunas are a therapeutic, heated, enclosed, wood-lined room with many different options for benches, seating, design, and size/capacity. The intense heat generated within the sauna encourages detoxifying perspiration, relief from aches and pains, and deep relaxation. And these are just a fraction of the benefits saunas deliver.
The Sauna Purpose: Rooted in History
Many cultures embraced the concept of “heat bathing” early on – especially the Finnish culture that is often credited as the “inventor” of saunas. This ancient bath was a big part of the Finnish culture. Women used to give birth in saunas, and it was also a pre-feast day ritual. It remains a cornerstone of daily life even in modern-day Finland.
Other cultures like Russian (banya), American (including the Native Americans), Spanish, Lithuanian (Pirtis), Swedish (Bastu), and Turkish (Hammam) have all used saunas for cultural reasons, social gatherings, as well as health and relaxation benefits. If you’d like to learn more, visit our sauna history page.
What Are Saunas Good For?
What saunas do for you is pretty comprehensive. Since there is so much detail around sauna benefits, we encourage you to check out two of our sauna resource guides:
6 key benefits of having a home sauna: Not only do you have 24/7 access to the ultimate health & wellness retreat, you can enjoy an escape from stressful reality, gain the best fitness ally, and enjoy a social oasis with friends and family – all at an affordable cost and easy maintenance.
10 amazing health benefits of saunas: Sauna health benefits range from cardiovascular health, mental health, pain management, powerful detoxification, immunity boosting, weight maintenance, better skin, better sleep, and the prevention/management of many health conditions and ailments.
What Do Saunas Do in Terms of Functionality?
Fundamentally, all saunas do the same thing: They heat the body to bring about the many physical and mental benefits to the bather. However, how they deliver heat is totally different in functionality—since it’s either via a traditional sauna or an infrared sauna.
To best break down what saunas do, their functionality, and their components, here’s a comprehensive side-by-side comparison that highlights it all:
|Category||Traditional Sauna||Infrared Sauna|
|Physical sauna product||Enclosed in a heated, wood-lined room with different options for benches, seating, design, and available person capacity.||Enclosed in a heated, wood-lined room with different options for benches, seating, design, and available person capacity.|
|Overall experience||If you enjoy steam in the sauna, higher temperatures and a more social environment, then a traditional sauna may be the best sauna for you.||If you prefer lower temperatures but with body-penetrating heat, an infrared sauna may be your best sauna choice.|
|Social experience||Traditional saunas are typically large enough to allow multiple people to enjoy the sauna for social time.||While it is possible to converse in an infrared room, due to the smaller room sizes and room design, the typical experience of the infrared room is often more of a private escape but some models can accommodate more people.|
|Indoor vs. Outdoor use||Designed for both outdoor- and indoor-use||Designed for indoor-use only|
|Heat source||Electric sauna heater filled with rocks||Infrared technology; an emitter produces infrared waves to provide heat.|
|Temperature||Median temperature between 185-190 degrees Fahrenheit||Optimum temperature between 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Heat & Humidity||Very dry until water is sprinkled over hot rocks. Both temperature and humidity are adjustable (by adding water to rocks); you can also incorporate essential oils into the water for aromatherapy.||Relatively dry with average humidity Temperature is controllable; humidity is not.|
|Pre-heating time required||30-40 minutes required to preheat rocks before use||No pre-heat time required|
|How it heats the body||Traditional saunas heat the air to heat the body.||Infrared saunas directly heat your body. The infrared energy penetrates the body and raises the core temperature – causing a more pronounced sweating.|
|Typical sauna session length||10-15 minutes optimal time for use||10-15 minutes optimal time for use, but bathers often stay 25-30 minutes (due to lower temperatures)|
See our huge Top 10 Health Benefits Guide here!
|Encourages detoxifying perspirationRelieves aches and pains, promotes relaxationRelieves symptoms of sinus congestion from colds and allergies (steam)||Encourages detoxifying perspirationRelieves aches and pains, promotes relaxationBecause of the lower heat threshold and the fact that it uses light instead of heat, infrared saunas are better for treating types of chronic muscle or joint pain; your body absorbs more of it, so it gets deeper into your body.|
|Energy Use||Low energy use||Low energy use|
|Other notable mentions||Proper ventilation will be required||Since water isn’t used with an infrared sauna, there’s no concern about ventilation. It’s a completely dry heat that maxes out at 150 degrees. The EMR (electromagnetic radiation) and EF (electrical field) on some models that utilize certain types of technology are lower than the ambient in your home. The EMR and EF levels are far below even Sweden’s toughest radiation standards.|
|Options, sizing, and pricing||Please check out both our options/sizing guide and our pricing article here to get started and please reach out directly to your local sauna dealer to talk more specifics!||Please check out both our options/sizing guide and our pricing article here to get started and please reach out directly to your local sauna dealer to talk more specifics!|
|What is right for me?||Test it out!||Test it out!|
Resources: Mainely Tubs: The Complete Guide to Buying Your First Sauna (PDF), finnleo.com/infrared-saunas, Customer chat with Collin Drake at Mainely Tubs, Traditional vs. Infrared Sauna Whitepaper
Ready to Get Your Own Sauna?
At Mainely Tubs, we’d love to work with you on the next steps of helping you find the sauna that is exactly right for you! We are here for you throughout the entire process – from initial consideration, to sauna comparisons, to delivery day. When you are ready, give us a call, email us, or stop in one of our showrooms in Scarborough, Maine or Rye, New Hampshire. We’re always happy to help you start your journey into becoming a sauna owner!
About Mainely Tubs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts
Mainely Tubs is a 100% Employee Owned premier Hot Spring Spas dealer. We sell and service new hot tubs, used hot tubs, portable spas, swim spas, saunas, gazebos, hot tub accessories, hot tub water treatment, and more. Our Brands Include: Hot Spring Spas, Caldera Spas, Freeflow Spas, Nordic Spas, Endless Pools Swim Spas, Finnleo Saunas, Covana, Pool & Spa Enclosures, Leisure Time, Fresh Water, Silk Balance, and other brands you can trust.
Related Sauna Articles
Sauna History 101: From Finnish Sauna to Modern-Day Home Saunas
While you’ve likely enjoyed a modern-day sauna, you may not be familiar with its origins. It’s a great story, and we share some of that here.
6 Key Benefits of Having A Home Sauna
A sauna is possibly one of the best investments that you can make for your physical and mental wellbeing. Here’s just a handful of the home sauna benefits.
Top 10 Sauna Health Benefits
The full scope of health benefits that your at-home sauna can bring to you is nothing short of amazing. Ready to be amazed? Start right here!
Download the Sauna Buyer’s Guide
Here’s Everything You Need to Know!
We’ve pulled together information about all things sauna. If you have questions, you’ll find the answers here. Get your free guide now!