The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Infrared Sauna for Your Home
Are you looking for a great source of motivation and inspiration? Consider subscribing to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daily email. It’s a quick read, and always offers a great lift and some positive insight.
Arnold has long been known for his devotion to staying fit and healthy.
The rising popularity of infrared saunas hasn't escaped his notice.
Arnold’s June 15th newsletter was titled See You In The Sauna.
In it, he mentions a few of the known benefits of sauna use, noting that several studies indicate that sauna use has been associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and reduced mortality rates. He even mentions a few specific studies.
- People who spent roughly 15 minutes in a sauna four to seven times a week reduced their rates of fatal coronary heart disease by nearly 50 percent.
- Just 30 minutes of sauna time improved arterial function and lowered blood pressure.
- A third study evaluated two groups of people for eight weeks. Both groups were regular exercisers. One group added sauna use to their fitness regimes. The second did not. At the end of the study, the sauna users had lower blood pressure and enjoyed more cardiovascular health than the others.
Infrared saunas aren’t quite as hot as the tub of molten metal Arnold’s character was lowered into at the end of Terminator 2, but they do reach pretty high temperatures … and trigger several beneficial changes in the human body.
Sauna Use: Health Benefits Overview
Sauna use is nothing new: the use of various types of heat therapy have been used since the beginning of recorded history. Health benefits are likely the biggest reason to consider getting an at home infrared sauna.
Here are a few things regular sauna use can do:
- Relieve muscle tension
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Reduce stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Help with weight loss and fat loss
- Provide better sleep
- Improve immunity
- Relieve pain
- Aid Muscle Recovery
No wonder saunas are so hot right now … literally and figuratively!
Why Should I Get A Home Infrared Sauna?
You'll get the same benefits from an IR sauna regardless of whether you're using a home infrared sauna or going to a gym or spa.
Why get your own?
Cost is one reason.
Booking regular sessions can get pricey. A single session may cost $25 or more. If you go several times a week, that can very quickly add up to a $400-$500 monthly bill.
That would be $4000-$5000 a year.
While saunas range in price, according to things like size, number of heating panels, and materials, buying a sauna is going to save money in the long run.
Not only do regular sauna users end up saving money by installing an at home infrared sauna, they also save themselves the time, gas, and hassle of driving to a gym or spa.
Many people find that once they start seeing and feeling the benefits of sauna use, purchasing their own IR sauna just makes more sense.
Infrared Saunas Turn Your Yard Into A Spa
Saving money is great, but that isn’t the only reason to buy a sauna.
We also can't overstate how beneficial a sauna can be for your emotional well-being.
Let’s face it: we live in stressful times.
According to data from The American Institute of Stress, a whopping 77 percent of people report experiencing stress that affects their physical health.
We all know that taking time to unwind is crucial for mental and emotional health, and that your mental and emotional health will in turn affect your physical health.
Spending time in infrared saunas can help people relax and shake off the stress of the day.
Your home is your respite from the world: it's where you go to relax, recharge, and spend time with your family and pets.
The term ‘chill’ has entered the common vernacular as a way to talk about relaxing.
As it turns out, the best way to relax may not be to chill, but to heat.
Just taking as little as 20 minutes in a sauna can make a huge difference. The heat can literally make you feel like your stress is melting away. The integrated sound system allows you to play your favorite music.
You’ll immediately feel more relaxed after using your infrared sauna. That will help you sleep better and perform better at work. Better sleep is also good for your immune system.
Infrared Saunas: Health Benefits For Athletes
If you work out regularly, infrared saunas can also help with your post-workout recovery.
Heat naturally soothes stiff muscles, helping them relax and open up. This can improve overall fitness and reduce sprains, strains, and injuries. Many professional athletes incorporate sauna use into their routines.
The convenience is also hard to beat, especially for those who run and/or work out at home.
After all, you won't have to leave the comfort of your own home, and you won't have to share the space with strangers.
Benefits Of Choosing An Infrared Sauna
While traditional saunas are still a tried and true option, many people are finding that the far infrared sauna is the superior option.
Infrared saunas use infrared light to heat, unlike steam saunas. The light penetrates further below the skin than ambient heat from the air.
That infrared heat sparks a few additional benefits.
Temperatures in a traditional sauna typically reach between 140 and 195 Fahrenheit, with the maximum temperature of about 220 Fahrenheit. (Some sauna users prefer their sessions even hotter than that, but that’s another topic.)
The air in an infrared sauna is cooler than that in a regular sauna, with a typical maximum temperature of about 150.
However, your body will heat up more than that.
Infrared heaters heat you, not the air around you. The light also penetrates deep below your skin.
Why Choose An Infrared Sauna?
Far infrared saunas also have a few other perks over traditional saunas.
Let’s look at a few reasons they’re becoming so popular.
Many people find an infrared sauna more comfortable than regular ones. If the heat and humidity of a steam sauna is too much for you, an infrared sauna may be a better fit.
Believe it or not, you may find that putting your infrared sauna together is easier than assembling a desk or crib.
Most of our customers are able to assemble their infrared saunas in a few short hours.
No matter how much space you have to work with, or what kind of room you have, you’ll be able to find an infrared sauna that suits your needs.
Want to put one in a corner? We have those. Want to turn your extra bathroom into a sauna? We can find one that fits.
They preheat faster and are more energy efficient than traditional saunas, and don't need as much space.
Why would you install an infrared sauna at home?
The real question may be why wouldn’t you?
What Is The Best Infrared Sauna?
There are quite a few things to consider when choosing a personal infrared sauna.
Let’s start with the basics.
Most infrared saunas have some standard features:
- Bluetooth Stereo and Speakers allow you to enjoy your favorite music or podcast on an integrated sound system
- Ergonomic backrests allow for a comfortable position, ensuring that your sauna experience is as relaxing as possible.
- Tempered glass doors are not just aesthetically pleasing: they contain the heat inside the sauna, and allow for light to enter. They’re also safer, as people can see in and out of the sauna.
- Low Emf Far Infrared Heating Panels
- Adjustable roof vents allow the user to control the temperature inside the sauna.
There are also many features that vary a bit, depending on what sauna you get.
Let’s start with size.
If you live by yourself or with only one other person, you likely aren't going to need a large sauna.
Two person saunas are also perfect options for those with smaller homes.
Don't assume that a 2-person infrared sauna will feel cramped: there's ample room for one or two. In fact, many couples find that enjoying light therapy together is a wonderful way to spend time together.
These are also a great option for someone who uses a sauna for private time.
And while many smaller saunas are only the size of a phone booth or small bathroom, they offer that beautiful, relaxing feel of larger ones in an energy efficient unit. You'll still get to enjoy the breathtaking look and feel of natural wood, whether it's reforested Canadian hemlock wood, red cedar, or a different type.
You don't have to sacrifice functionality for size. A two person sauna can be a stunningly attractive addition to your home.
- One or two-person households
- People with smaller homes or yards
- People who want saunas for private time, rather than social time
- Those who have space constrictions
Are Outdoor Saunas The Best Infrared Saunas? They May Be!
Looking to elevate your backyard or patio? Do you want to go all-in, and get a luxury infrared sauna?
Many people feel that the best infrared saunas are those made for outdoor use.
There are some benefits to choosing an outdoor sauna.
Sitting inside a gorgeous wood sauna while looking at pretty scenery or the yard you’ve worked so hard for can immediately soothe you. Add your favorite music, and you’re immediately going to find yourself melting into a calming, relaxing frame of mind.
Cold Bath Integration
If you want to integrate your sauna use with swimming and/or ice baths, incorporating a sauna into your pool area is a great option.
Even the best luxury infrared sauna often costs less than many typical upgrades, such as remodeling a bathroom.
Choosing an outdoor space also allows you to have more versatility in where and how you place your sauna. You can set it off your pool, or tuck it into a more secluded corner.
You don’t need a huge yard, either. You can fit an outdoor sauna into many small urban yards.
- Nature enthusiasts
- Those who don’t want to give up interior space
- People interested in incorporating pools or ice baths into their sauna time
4-8 Person Infrared Saunas
Do you have a larger family? Do you regularly get together with friends or siblings? Love fitness and hosting parties?
A four to eight person infrared sauna may be your best bet.
Many people consider that the best infrared saunas are those that can fit four or more people, because of the added versatility.
And, if you're looking for the best outdoor infrared sauna, it may also just make more sense to go for a larger one.
This is also a great choice for athletic families. If your children are on sports teams, they may benefit from both the mental and physical perks of regular sauna use.
Saunas are a great place for anyone to spend quality time with their closest friends.
This is also a good choice for athletes and those who want to rent their homes out via Airbnb or similar services.
Some people work out inside their saunas. If you’re a fan of hot yoga, for instance, you may find that installing your own outdoor sauna actually saves you time, money, and gas, as you won’t be traveling to a studio.
Larger infrared saunas work the same way as the smaller units do: they just have more heating panels. You can also customize the features and materials. One person may prefer a hemlock infrared sauna, while another may want cedar.
- Large and/or athletic families
- People who like to socialize in saunas
- Fitness/Yoga Integration.
- Airbnb hosts
- People considering an outdoor infrared sauna
Want A Portable Infrared Sauna? Try An Infrared Sauna Blanket
There are also infrared sauna options for those who don't have a lot of room.
An infrared sauna blanket is a great option for renters, and those in small spaces.
Portable saunas do exist.
However, we think that the best and most convenient form of portable infrared sauna is the sauna blanket.
Infrared sauna blankets are legit infrared saunas. Just like the full-size infrared saunas, they use far infrared rays to create heat, and provide the same benefits as any other infrared sauna.
A sauna blanket isn't much larger than the typical sleeping bag. Your portable sauna will also typically come with a remote control and a carry bag. Many infrared sauna blankets also come with a heating foot pad and foldable chair.
You'll also find that an infrared sauna blanket is much easier on the wallet than a full-sized infrared sauna.
Of course, the best thing about a sauna blanket is the fact that you can bring your own personal portable sauna along when you're going on vacation or even just visiting friends or family.
There often isn't much cost difference between the best portable infrared sauna and the smallest home sauna. They both use far infrared heating technology.
However, a tent-style portable sauna doesn't even come close to the look of a Canadian hemlock wood against a tempered glass door.
Sauna blankets are also easier to use and set up than many portable saunas. This is a great option for college athletes, people who travel frequently, renters, and those who don't plan to stay in their current homes very long.
The sauna blanket is also pretty popular with people who just can't function without saunas.
Many sauna enthusiasts choose to install a far infrared sauna, and then get a sauna blanket for travel.
- People With Small Spaces
- Condo Dwellers
- Those who move or travel a lot
- People who want a more affordable option
What Materials Are The Best Infrared Saunas Made Of?
Wood is hands down the best material for infrared saunas. It’s been the material of choice for saunas for hundreds of years, long before the far infrared sauna was invented, and with good reason.
It doesn't get hot to the touch, which helps make them comfortable.
It's durable, which means it's able to withstand the high temperatures in a sauna without cracking, swelling, or breaking.
Many of the woods used in infrared sauna construction also have antifungal properties.
Certain woods also provide aromatherapy benefits.
And, unlike tile, porcelain, or glass, wood won't crack or break, even if you crank that heater up to the maximum temperature, which may be as much as 220F.
Wood also offers that beautiful, natural aesthetic. Certain woods also get darker over time, which offers a pleasing aesthetic. Wood also has natural patterns which add to the beauty and soothing feel. It also matches any style of décor.
That said, some woods are better than others.
For instance, pine can be knotty. This is fine for some parts of a sauna, but you don't want a bench made of knotty wood, as this can cause skin issues. You also want to avoid woods with sap.
What Kind Of Wood Is Best For An Infrared Sauna?
Saunas can be made from a variety of different woods, including pine, basswood, and eucalyptus.
But when it comes to the best, there are two clear contenders: cedar and hemlock.
Also known as Pacific Cedar, or Giant Cedar, Western red cedar is one of the best possible options for infrared saunas. Its beautiful red color offers an immediately relaxing feel. It's resistant to fungus, and won't swell or crack.
Cedar also offers great insulation. It's used in many of the best infrared saunas, and is popular for outdoor saunas. The surface of your infrared sauna will stay cool, even while the heating panels raise your body's core temperature.
Another reason that red cedar is considered top of the line? It won’t rot, which means it will last a very, very long time.
Hemlock offers that minimalistic, natural Scandinavian look that is so synonymous with the essence of hygge. (That means cozy).
It’s a very hardy wood, and is stable and water resistant, which makes it a great choice for saunas. Canadian hemlock is one of the most popular woods for sauna construction.
Not only is it beautiful to look at, it’s durable and, overall, an excellent choice.
Should I Get A Far Infrared Or Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna?
Another thing to decide is whether to go with far infrared or full spectrum.
Both types use infrared heat.
Full spectrum incorporates near, mid, and far infrared light.
Far infrared saunas, as the name suggests, only use far infrared light. In fact, many people refer to far infrared saunas simply as infrared saunas, because saunas need to incorporate far infrared light for that heating effect.
Near infrared is the nearest to visible light, while far infrared is closer to microwaves.
While shorter, near infrared wavelengths are microscopic, far infrared wavelengths are about the size of a pinhead.
Only far infrared light produces enough heat to trigger reactions inside the body.
Full-spectrum infrared saunas use far, mid, and near infrared light wavelengths. These different wavelengths reach various depths in your skin.
What Are The Benefits Of Choosing A Full-Spectrum Over A Far Infrared Sauna?
A full spectrum sauna may be more helpful in addressing certain health issues, such as chronic pain, arthritis, inflammation, and joint pain.
Far infrared saunas are still helpful here. However, a full spectrum sauna may provide additional relief in these areas.
- Those battling chronic pain or certain medical issues
- Athletes looking to improve muscle recovery
- Anyone coping with joint pain, stiffness, or soreness.
Other Infrared Sauna Features
There are a few other things you may want to consider. Ideally, you want to customize your ir sauna experience so that it works for you.
Different types of saunas also utilize different heating elements and heating panels. Some use carbon heaters or carbon heating panels. Others use ceramic. You may also want to incorporate infrared stones.
You'll want to do some research, and determine what type of heating element you prefer.
Does Joe Rogan Use An Infrared Sauna?
Arnold isn’t the only celebrity sauna fan.
Joe Rogan is also a fan. The popular podcaster is very interested in health and fitness, and often invites experts in various aspects of wellness care onto his show.
Rogan’s discovery of sauna use has been well-documented. After an early session, he posted a video on Facebook describing the experience, and noting that he immediately saw an improvement in his tendonitis.
Now a regular sauna user, Rogan has discussed the benefits of sauna with a few of his regular guests.
The podcaster also incorporates regular sauna use into his physical fitness regimen, and has noted that sauna use increased his endurance.
He has had several discussions about sauna use with repeat guest Rhonda Patrick, a biomedical scientist.
Patrick, who is the host of the Found My Fitness podcast, is also a devout sauna user. She has delved deeply into the research about saunas and their benefits, both as a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience and on her own podcast.
A keen sauna user herself, Patrick is well-versed when it comes to research about sauna use. Some of the studies she has discussed are pretty impressive, including one that linked sauna use to a whopping 40 percent reduction in all causes of mortality.
One study by Harvard found that sauna use:
- Aids removal of metabolic waste by-products, such as carbon dioxide
- Promotes a rise in heart rate
- Improves cardiac output
- Aids release of toxins, such as nitric oxide
- Increases vasodilation
- Promotes overall cardiometabolic health
We also know that sauna use is helpful for treating certain issues, such as high blood pressure. Patrick is also monitoring new research, stays up to date with ongoing studies about the benefits of sauna use.
She’s interested–as we are–in investigating the potential of sauna use for treating specific conditions. Some of the issues sauna use may potentially be used to treat include depression, muscle atrophy, dementia and Alzheimer's disease, headache, Type 2 diabetes, and arthritis.
The two also discussed the findings that, although sauna use and physical activity are both beneficial, a combination of the two provides the most benefits.
Back to Joe Rogan.
Currently, Rogan has saunas both at his house and at his podcast studio. He uses both infrared saunas and traditional saunas, alternating between them depending on what benefits he is looking for on that particular day.
“The Sauna is a GAME CHANGER.” Joe Rogan says. "It really makes a big difference in my cardiovascular activity."
How Do I Use My Infrared Sauna?
The best infrared sauna in the world is really just the best infrared sauna for you.
No matter which one you choose, or what kind of heating elements it incorporates, you still need to use it properly.
Here are a few tips for that:
If you aren't used to ir saunas, start with shorter sessions. About 15 or 20 minutes is a good start. You also want to work your way up heat wise.
This is one benefit of infrared saunas, as they aren't as hot as traditional sauna.
This is key to maximizing the health benefits of infrared sauna use. Drink lots and lots of water before, during, and after using your infrared sauna.
Don't Drink And Sauna
Having a cold margarita while relaxing in that infrared heat may sound nice, but is actually dangerous. The heat inside the sauna can exacerbate the effects of the alcohol. This is bad for the heart, and can also lead to slips, falls, or even unconsciousness.
Enjoy It: Saunas are a place to center yourself, soothe your thoughts, and just relax.
Who Can Use Infrared Saunas Safely?
Infrared saunas offer some amazing benefits.
However, health and wellness isn’t one-size-fits-all.
Although sauna use will benefit most people, that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.
It’s important to know what is and isn’t normal.
Sweating? Definitely normal.
But there are some red flags to watch for, that could indicate your body isn’t coping with the high temperatures well. These include dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea.
If you notice any of these things, immediately end your session and drink some water. Call your doctor just to be safe, as these things could be indicative of a yet-undiagnosed medical issue.
You should also consult your doctor before using the sauna if you have low blood pressure, are pregnant or nursing, or have chronic pain or illnesses, particularly heart disease or diabetes.
Should You Wipe Sweat In Sauna?
Let's face it: you're going to sweat in your infrared sauna. That's the whole point.
That deep, detoxifying sweat is a key element of sauna use.
But it can get messy.
Yes, you should wipe your sweat periodically during your sauna session. Use a body towel as needed during the session.
This will actually prompt your body to sweat even more, as it will want to replace that cooling moisture on your skin.
Putting a clean towel down on the bench is important for sanitary reasons, but it can also help prevent skin irritation.
You should also shower after your infrared sauna session, both to cleanse your skin and help your pores close up again.
Is It Ok To Sit In An Infrared Sauna Every Day?
It is safe to use an infrared sauna every day. You may even see some of the health and wellness benefits more quickly with daily use.
Purchasing a sauna is definitely a logical move for anyone who wants to use saunas daily.
However, that doesn't mean you have to use infrared saunas every day.
How Long Should I Stay In A Sauna?
Sauna sessions don't have to take long: even spending 15 minutes in one a few times a week can prove beneficial.
Most sauna users aim for about 3 or 4 weekly sessions, with the average time spent in a sauna ranging from about 20 to 45 minutes. Many people need time to work up to longer IR sauna sessions.
We would recommend starting slow, and taking time to decide what the perfect infrared sauna session looks like to you.
Should You Moisturize After Infrared Sauna?
Moisturizing your skin after sauna use isn't just something you can do, it's something you should do.
One reason sauna use has been growing in popularity is that it is great for your skin.
In fact, saunas are becoming all the rave with many models, actresses, and celebrities. Lady Gaga, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Selena Gomez, Cindy Crawford, and Elle Macpherson are all known sauna users.
They also all have great skin.
It's probably safe to say that many both have at home infrared saunas, and portable infrared saunas, such as the sauna blanket.
Getting rid of those toxins can make a huge difference to your skin tone. Your skin will need some TLC before and after your sauna session, though.
Moisturizing after infrared sauna sessions is important for skin rehydration. You lose a lot of water sweating in an infrared sauna.
You should moisturize with your favorite lotion or serum after your sauna.
It's also important to wash your face before using infrared saunas. This helps keep your pores from clogging.
Can I Eat Right After Using My Far Infrared Sauna?
Yes, you can eat right after an infrared sauna session. In fact, your body may need that nourishment to replenish itself after your sauna session.
Keep in mind that you may crave salt. Your body loses sodium during sweat sessions, which it will need to replenish.
Don’t give in to the urge to dig into a bag of chips or French fries.
That won't exactly undo all of the benefits of your sauna session, but it isn't going to help.
What Should I Eat After A Far Infrared Sauna Session?
Ideally, you'll want to reach for a healthy treat, like nuts or bananas. Because rehydrating is important, fruits that have a high moisture content, such as melons, are also a good choice for a post infrared sauna session snack.
If you want salt, try putting some on a veggie, such as a cucumber, or a boiled egg.
You don't want to eat just before using a sauna, either.
For the first few hours after a meal, your body is spending energy breaking that food down. In the sauna, your body is trying to adjust and react to the temperatures. Doing both at once may be a bit too much.
It's best to wait a few hours after eating a heavy meal before going into the sauna.
Shopping For The Best Infrared Saunas: Final Tips
Do you have questions about choosing an infrared sauna? Are you stuck trying to pick between a few potential best infrared saunas?
Reading infrared sauna reviews is a good start.
You can also give us a call here at Sun Valley Saunas.
We're happy to go over features and specifications, discuss health benefits infrared saunas provide, or go over some of the nerdy aspects of far infrared technology, like the oxygen ionizer or ceramic heaters versus carbon heaters.