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:

CategoryTraditional SaunaInfrared 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 rocksInfrared 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 use10-15 minutes optimal time for use, but bathers often stay 25-30 minutes (due to lower temperatures)  

Health benefits
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 useLow energy use
Other notable mentions  Proper ventilation will be requiredSince 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 tubsused hot tubsportable spasswim spassaunashot tub accessorieshot tub water care, and more. Our Brands Include: Hot Spring SpasCaldera SpasFreeflow SpasEndless Pools Swim SpasFinnleo SaunasCovanaLeisure Time, Fresh WaterSilk Balance, and other brands you can trust.

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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!

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