Far Infrared Saunas vs. Mid and Near...What's the Difference?

Near vs mid vs far infrared sauna heaters

You may have heard that infrared saunas can provide the most health benefits of all of the types that are available.  But there are different wavelengths and each has its own unique therapeutic value.

Here we look at the difference between Far Infared (fIR), Near Infrared (nIR) and Mid Infrared (mIR) heaters so you know exactly what you are getting with each.

Far Infrared Saunas

For starters, it's important to know that in order to achieve any health benefits from a sauna, it needs to be over 90% effective at delivering whatever wavelength it purports to.  

If it isn't, you're simply having a "hot experience" rather than heating up your body's core temperature, where the health benefits lie.

So let's start off with the far infrared sauna, perhaps the most popular type.  fIR is the longest wavelength of the three, and as such penetrates the deepest.  It works on the cellular level, stimulating the sweat glands to release harmful toxins.

It is this process that increases your heart rate, cardiac output and metabolic rate.

Most of the top home sauna brands offer at least far infrared red heat, or a combination of the wavelengths. 

Mid Infrared Saunas

Mid infrared, as the name implies, is shorter than far but longer than near.  It can penetrate into soft tissue, helping expand blood vessels and increasing circulation to injured areas of the body.  Thus it is useful in treating inflammation in the body.

Full spectrum saunas, like those from Clearlight and Sunlighten, emit mIR heat.  You won't typically find heaters that only emit this wavelength.

Near Infrared Saunas

The shortest of the wavelengths is nIR, and penetrates the skin most effectively. When delivered properly it can promote wound healing, skin renewal and tissue growth.

Again, full spectrum saunas emit nIR wavelengths in addition to mIR and fIR, each offering its unique benefits.

Far Infrared vs. Mid vs. Near - The Health Benefits 

As we mentioned above, each of the three wavelengths of infrared penetrates the body to a different degree, and as such provides unique benefits that the others do not.

Here is a general breakdown of health benefits and which wavelengths offer it:

Relaxation: Far, Mid and Near Infrared

Detoxification: Far and Mid Infrared

Pain Relief: Far, Mid and Near Infrared

Cardio: Far, Mid and Near Infrared

Anti-Aging: Far and Near Infrared

Weight Loss: Far and Mid Infrared

So as you can see, your best bet is a full spectrum sauna where you can choose which infrared wavelengths you want depending on the desired results.  

If not full spectrum, far infrared is the most beneficial.

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