Types of Saunas: A Simple Guide

sauna types

Saunas have been a cornerstone of wellness practices for centuries, offering numerous health benefits and relaxation opportunities. Today, there are various types of saunas, each with unique features and advantages.

We’ll explore saunas in their different varieties to help you choose the one that best suits your needs.

Different Sauna Types

Traditional Finnish Saunas

Traditional Finnish saunas are the most iconic type of sauna, often associated with the classic sauna experience. They use a heater, either electric or wood-burning, to heat a stack of stones. Water can be poured over these stones to create steam, increasing the humidity and overall heat in the sauna.


  • High Heat: These saunas can reach temperatures between 150°F and 195°F.
  • Cultural Experience: Offers an authentic sauna experience rooted in Finnish tradition.
  • Versatile Heating: Options for wood-burning or electric heaters to suit different preferences.


  • Maintenance: Wood-burning models require regular maintenance and a supply of firewood.
  • Installation: May require a dedicated space and more extensive setup.

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Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas use infrared heaters to emit light that is absorbed by the skin, generating heat directly in the body rather than the surrounding air. This results in a more comfortable experience with lower overall temperatures.

  • Energy Efficiency: Lower energy consumption compared to traditional saunas.
  • Deep Penetration: Infrared light penetrates deeper into the skin, promoting detoxification and improved circulation.
  • Lower Temperatures: Typically operate between 120°F and 150°F, making them more comfortable for longer sessions.


  • Heat Preference: May not satisfy those who prefer the high heat of traditional saunas.
  • Electromagnetic Fields (EMF): Ensure the model has low EMF emissions for safety.

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Steam Saunas (Steam Rooms)

Steam saunas, also known as steam rooms, use a steam generator to produce humid heat. The environment is moist and the temperatures are typically lower, around 110°F to 120°F, but the high humidity creates a more intense heat experience.


  • Skin Health: The moist heat is excellent for skin hydration and detoxification.
  • Respiratory Benefits: Steam can help with respiratory issues by clearing congestion and opening airways.
  • Relaxation: The humid heat can be very relaxing and soothing.


  • Humidity: Some people may find the high humidity uncomfortable.
  • Maintenance: Steam generators require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent mold and mildew.

Hybrid Saunas

Hybrid saunas combine traditional and infrared heating elements, providing the benefits of both types in one unit. Users can switch between or combine the heating methods based on their preferences.


  • Flexibility: Enjoy both the high temperatures of traditional saunas and the deep heat of infrared saunas.

  • Customized Experience: Tailor your sauna session to meet your specific health and relaxation needs.

  • Enhanced Benefits: Combines the health benefits of both sauna types for a comprehensive wellness experience.


  • Cost: Typically more expensive due to advanced technology and dual heating systems.
  • Complexity: May require more sophisticated installation and maintenance.

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Popular Sauna Styles

Barrel Saunas

Barrel saunas are characterized by their distinctive cylindrical shape. They are typically made from high-quality wood such as cedar or pine and can be either wood-fired or electric.


  • Efficient Heating: The rounded design promotes better air circulation and faster heating.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Adds a rustic and unique look to your backyard or garden.
  • Space-Saving: Compact design makes them suitable for smaller spaces.


  • Assembly: The unique shape may require more effort to assemble.
  • Insulation: Proper insulation is crucial to maintain consistent temperatures.

Portable Saunas

Portable saunas are designed for ease of use and mobility. They are typically compact, lightweight, and can be set up and taken down quickly, making them an excellent option for those with limited space or who travel frequently.


  • Convenience: Easy to set up and move, ideal for renters or those with limited space.
  • Cost-Effective: Generally less expensive than permanent saunas.
  • Versatility: Can be used both indoors and outdoors.


  • Durability: May not be as durable as permanent structures.
  • Limited Capacity: Often designed for one or two people at most.


    Choosing the right sauna depends on your personal preferences, health goals, and available space. Traditional Finnish saunas offer an authentic experience with high heat, while infrared saunas provide deeper skin penetration and energy efficiency.

    Steam saunas are excellent for skin health and respiratory benefits, while barrel saunas add a unique aesthetic appeal. Portable saunas offer flexibility and convenience, and hybrid saunas provide the best of both worlds.

    By understanding the different types of saunas and their unique benefits, you can make an informed decision and enjoy the myriad of health and wellness benefits that come with regular sauna use.

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