How Hot Should A Sauna Be? The Perfect Temperature for Wellness and Relaxation

ideal sauna temperatures

‘How hot is a sauna?’ Well, this straightforward question has a not-so-simple answer. Traditional dry saunas run as high as 220°F (crazy!), while infrared saunas top out at about 140°F, and steam saunas hover around 120°F. Discovering your ideal sauna temperature balances personal comfort within these ranges, ensuring each sauna session is a great experience without compromising safety.

Key Takeaways

  • The ideal temperature a sauna should be varies by sauna type and personal preference, with traditional Finnish saunas usually between 150-195°F, infrared saunas between 100-140°F, and steam saunas at a lower 90-120°F with high humidity.

  • Sauna temperatures should be personalized based on health and wellness goals, comfort, and tolerance levels. If you start to feel lightheaded or severely dehydrated get out of the sauna and take a break.

  • Safety in the sauna is paramount, involving gradual temperature increases, monitoring physical responses, and ensuring proper hydration before and after sessions.

Understanding Sauna Temperatures: A Comprehensive Guide

woman in hot sauna temps

Ever wondered why some people revel in the heat of a sauna while they're just too hot for others? This is because an ideal sauna temperature isn’t one-size-fits-all, but rather tailored to each individual person. And it totally depends on the type of sauna you're in. Whether it's an infrared, traditional or steam sauna will affect your experience due to the way each sauna type works and the specific impacts on your body.

Traditional Finnish Saunas

Traditional Finnish saunas are beloved for their high temperatures, usually ranging from 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (65-93 degrees Celsius). A preferred temperature range among sauna lovers is often between 150 and 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Traditional saunas encourage sweating as well as evaporation on the skin’s surface, which aids in keeping the body cool despite the high heat.

To maximize health benefits when using a Finnish sauna, it’s best to keep its temperature within a range of 155 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit (65 to 90 degrees Celsius).

Infrared Saunas

If you love saunas but like them at milder temperatures, an infrared sauna is the way to go. They work efficiently within the temperature range of 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 60 degrees Celsius), with a pleasant spectrum from 100-125 degrees Fahrenheit great for prolonged sauna sessions.

In contrast to traditional saunas that elevate air temperature, infrared saunas use lamps emitting infrared light (just like the sun) that directly warms up your skin, effectively transferring high heat even at lower air temperatures. This allows you to soak in the heat of your infrared sauna without being overpowered by high heat—a perfect balance!

Steam Saunas

A steam room, or steam sauna, known for its high humidity levels and lower temperatures compared to your standard traditional sauna, offers a distinct experience. Steam rooms are far more humid and operate at a lower temperature range, which makes them easier to sit in for long periods of time. But, similar to an infrared sauna, steam rooms feel much hotter than the air temperature would suggest.

To find the right feel for yourself in a steam room you can try the Rule of 200. It’s a guideline suggesting that for optimal comfort during your steam sauna session make sure the humidity level combined with the actual temperature totals around 200. For example, if the air temperature is 120 degrees, you would want the steam room set at 80% humidity (120 + 80 = 200).

How to Determine Your Ideal Sauna Temperature

Figuring out your ideal sauna temperature is certainly a trial and error kind of thing. I personally prefer my sauna at 175 degrees and am able to do about 20 minutes in it before I need to take a break. But your sweet spot in terms of sauna temperature is probably going to be different. Some people can not only handle their sauna over 200 degrees, but actually love it!

What temperature you like your sauna at may also be dictated by your health and wellness goals. Using a sauna four times a week at around 175 degrees, for at least 20 minutes per session, has been shown to reduce your chance of cardiac event or stroke. But, some people just like to set their sauna at 150 and relax for a bit after a work out. It all depends on what you're after.

Safety Tips for Enjoying Your Sauna Experience

While saunas are typically safe for the majority of people, ensuring a positive experience requires following some rules. These include slowly increasing the temperature of your sauna, staying in tune with your body, and maintaining adequate hydration levels - drink lots of water! Prior to starting your sauna journey—especially if you’re expecting, advanced in age or dealing with pre-existing medical issues—it’s advised that you seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Gradual Temperature Increase

Starting your sauna with a lower temperature is ideal for people new to saunas, allowing one to slowly raise the heat instead of immediately jumping in to a super hot sauna. This kind of approach minimizes any possible discomfort or health concerns by giving your body an opportunity to progressively acclimate to increasing levels of heat, which enhances both comfort and enjoyment during the sauna session. As you use the sauna more and more you can start off at a higher temperature.

It is also absolutely essential to stay in tune with your body during your sauna sessions. Especially watch out for any indications of unease, including feelings of nausea, dizziness or lightheadedness. If you feel uneasy or lightheaded even in the slightest get out of the sauna and take a break. The more you use your sauna you will likely build up a tolerance and your sessions will probably start to get longer.

Proper Hydration

Staying hydrated is essential while using your sauna. Make sure you drink at least a pint of water before getting in the sauna and feel free to bring in a glass of water or a water bottle to drink during your sauna session. Drinking lots of water prior to, or during, your sauna session makes sure you're replacing all the fluids you're sweating out in the sauna.

It’s also equally important to replenish fluids after using the sauna since approximately one pint of sweat can be lost during a sauna session. To restore potassium levels diminished by sweating, grab a coconut water, Gatorade or something else with lots of electrolytes.

The Therapeutic Effects of Different Sauna Types

Sauna Therapy

Did you know that various types of saunas can offer a range of therapeutic benefits? That's right! These benefits include positive cardiovascular health, reduced stress and anxiety, better respiratory functioning and clearer skin – all available through the use of a sauna!

Traditional Finnish Sauna Benefits

Members of the Finnish Sauna Society can vouch for the numerous advantages associated with traditional Finnish saunas, which are not limited to better cardiovascular health and an increased life expectancy. The benefits include mental relaxation and stress alleviation, as well as enhanced detoxification processes, improved blood flow, and boosted immune system function. Finnish sauna use has also been linked to potential relief from migraines along with better skin—underscoring their multifaceted contribution to both physical and mental well-being.

Steam Sauna Benefits

Steam saunas provide lots of benefits distinct from other types of saunas. With their high humidity and relatively lower temperatures steam saunas are easier to sit in for longer periods of time. All that steam and heat is great for your body. Some of the benefits of a steam sauna include:

  • Lowering blood pressure

  • Improving joint stiffness

  • Better skin

  • Help with congestion

Infrared Sauna Benefits

In addition to providing all the benefits described above, an infrared sauna possesses unique benefits that sets it apart. They can facilitate muscle recuperation, boost athletic performance, and may provide therapeutic relief for those suffering from chronic pain.

The heat exposure is also beneficial in alleviating depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms, which contributes to better mental and emotional health. Learn more about the different types of infrared saunas.

How to Maximize Your Sauna Experience

Let’s delve into optimizing your sauna experience by exploring the different types of saunas, understanding their temperatures, and reaping the rewards they offer. To do this effectively, you need to determine the ideal length and regularity of sessions along with appropriate activities after using the sauna to maximize relaxation and recuperation.

Session Duration and Frequency

The optimal length of time for a session in a traditional sauna is 15-20 minutes, followed by periods of cooling down before getting back in. It’s suggested that newcomers to sauna bathing begin with shorter stints and slowly increase their exposure over time.

Those who regularly use their sauna can increase their time in it up to or beyond 45 minutes, depending on the temperature of the sauna and the person's stamina. This can include undergoing three separate rounds within the sauna, interspersed with cold plunge or cold shower breaks.

Post-Sauna Activities

woman, blonde, young

After a sauna session it's essential to cool down in order to return your core body temperature to its normal level. If it's cold outside I'll hang out outside and let my body temperature come back down. If it's a hot day then a dip in the pool or a cold shower will help stabilize your body temp.

Once you've cooled down, give yourself 5-10 minutes to just rest and relax. You could even do breathing exercises like the Wim-Hof method. Proper post sauna practices can help maintain equilibrium within the nervous system.


It’s important to note that the perfect sauna temperature can differ based on whether you’re using a Finnish sauna, an infrared sauna, or a steam sauna. Each of these has its distinct range of temperatures and associated health benefits. Your choice should take into account your wellness objectives, comfort level, and personal heat tolerance.

As you start off in the sauna world always remember to keep yourself well-hydrated as you gradually increase the sauna temperature during your session and pay really close attention to how your body responds. Enjoy your sauna!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal temperature for a traditional Finnish sauna?

For a traditional Finnish sauna experience, the optimal temperature range is usually 140 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (60-93 degrees Celsius), although most people prefer their saunas in the range of 150 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

How do infrared saunas differ from traditional saunas?

We've discussed the difference between infrared saunas and traditional saunas before. But for just a quick recap, infrared saunas use infrared lamps to deliver heat directly to your skin within a temperature range that is much more mild than what a traditional sauna offers.

The result is a more uniform and gentle distribution of heat. A traditional sauna uses an electric or wood fired heater to heat the air in the sauna. Sitting in the hot sauna causes you to sweat.

How long should a sauna session last?

Typically, a session in a traditional sauna is anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, with short breaks in between to cool down and re-set. I like to do three 20 minute sauna sessions with 3 minute breaks in between.

During these breaks I usually hop into a cold shower to cool down and bring my body temperature closer to normal. Using a cold plunge for 3-4 minutes during your sauna breaks is a great way to do it as well.

What safety precautions should I take when using a sauna?

When using a sauna it’s important to incrementally raise the temperature, maintain hydration, and keep an eye on your physical state. If you're pregnant or trying to become pregnant, a little more seasoned in the age department or dealing with pre-existing medical issues, seek advice from your healthcare provider beforehand hopping into a sauna. Saunas also shouldn't be used by children.

How often should I use a sauna for maximum health benefits?

To gain the maximum benefits from your sauna I would recommend using it four times a week for at least twenty minutes per session. There is a lot of evidence out there that that level of use significantly reduces your chance of a stroke or cardiovascular event.

How hot is a sauna?

Depending on what kind of sauna you're using the air temperature will get somewhere from 120 degrees to over 200 degrees. Steam saunas will get up to 120 degrees. Infrared saunas will get up to 140 degrees and traditional saunas will get up to over 200 degrees.

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