The far infrared sauna is the most common type you will find on the market today, as it is able to penetrate the skin the deepest. Although all three infrared wavelengths offer specific health benefits, far IR heat alone is found in the majority of home saunas.
So chances are if you have been looking around the internet for a new infrared sauna for your home, you've seen mostly far infrared units...although some of the higher end companies offer all three wavelengths combined for enhanced benefits.
Far infrared simply refers to a particular wavelength of energy emitted by the sun. If we take a look at all of the wavelengths it breaks down like this (you can see it in the visual above as well):
You start with the short gamma, x ray and ultraviolet waves, which we all know can be very harmful to our health; you then have visible light waves, including all of the colors of the rainbow that we can see; then there are the longer infrared waves, including near, mid and far; beyond that you have the longest waves, including microwaves and radio waves.
There's a good overview here if you want to get a little more technical.
So far infrared is one of the longest wavelengths of energy, and it is capable of penetrating the skin very deeply, heating up the body and helping you to sweat and emit toxins...it's referred to as "warm energy".
This necessary energy is delivered to us from the sun, which is why it is so important to have regular exposure to sunlight. Our bodies need this energy to survive, along with the essential vitamin D that only the sun provides.
But because sun also emits dangerous ultraviolet or UV rays, it is important to protect our skin and limit the amount of time we spend in the sun.
Far infrared saunas have become quite popular because they harness the warm healing energy of the sun without the accompanying harmful UV rays. They employ far IR heating panels that, unlike traditional saunas, heat your body directly rather than heating up the room. As such, you can stay in them longer and many people find a less hot room more enjoyable.
The benefits of the infared sauna are similar to those of the traditional model. In addition to ridding the body of toxins through sweating, the therapeutic heat can improve circulation, relieve pain, reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen the immune system, clear up the skin and ease the mind.
Infrared heat can be found in traditional box shaped saunas, as well as in portable models like cabins and domes and even far infrared heating pads. So you can reap the benefits of infrared heat in many different forms.
Using a far infrared sauna is generally regarded as very safe, as there are no harmful rays being emitted and the room itself is a much lower temperature than the traditional Finnish sauna.
However, there are always dangers that you need to be aware of, and this applies to all sauna usage. For starters, you want to limit the amount of time you spend in the far infrared sauna to avoid overheating and dehydration.
You're not going to sit in there for hours on end, but rather a 15 -30 minute session is about average. Start with 10 minutes to see how you feel, and build you way up. If you feel dehydrated, woozy or confused, or otherwise uncomfortable, you should end your session.
Also, it is not recommended that you drink excessively before using the sauna, and if you have certain health conditions, are pregnant or are taking any medications, you should definitely consult with your doctor before using a sauna of any kind.
But the heat itself is safe and therapeutic, assuming the sauna or far infrared heating pad is of high quality. The safety and therapeutic value of a lesser product is questionable, which is why you should always make sure you are buying a good product from a reputable company.
Because the benefits of far infrared heat are so well established, more and more products utlizing this technology are becoming available to the public.
In addition to the regular modular saunas that you can set up in your basement or gym, there are far infrared heating pads, personal domes and cabins, lamps, mats and more. They are even exploring clothing that incorporates infrared heating technology.
But which should you choose? It really depends on your budget and what you are looking for. If your budget is more open and you have the space for it, a full-sized far infrared sauna is a great choice.
You can see our top infrared sauna brands here, where you will find lower priced options at around $1000+ and some of the higher end choices in the $3000+ range. The more expensive saunas are much better quality, so the benefits that you will reap are superior to what you can achieve with the lower quality models.
If it's just you using the sauna, then you might be better off with one of the personal infrared saunas, where you actually sit inside a zip-up "box" with your head and arms outside. These run around $100-$300, and you can take advantage of the infrared heat without having to spend a lot of money.
There are also the more expensive domes, which typically put you on a far infrared heating pad and enclose you in a dome shaped sauna. Here you are lying down which some people find quite comfortable, and your head is outside the unit.
The infrared pad or mat might also be sold on its own, without the dome or enclosure.
So you should choose the product that makes the most sense for you. Just be aware that not all far infrared saunas are created equal, and you absolutely get what you pay for.
Absolutely. There's no reason why you can't use your infrared sauna every day, and you will likely reap more benefits with regular usage. As we mentioned, there are no dangers to regular sauna usage, as long as you are cleared to use one by your doctor and you take the necessary precautions to avoid any issues such as dehydration.
Here at Sauna Talk we take a sauna as often as we can, as part of our regular wellness program. There's nothing like a long workout followed by a nice sauna session afterwards to relax the mind and ease the muscles.
So if you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to use your far infrared sauna every day, you'll certainly reap the benefits over time.
In this case, all things being equal, better is a matter of opinion. far infrared waves penetrate the deepest, but near IR and mid IR also have their benefits. So if you can find a sauna with all three, like those offered by Clearlight and Sunlighten, you can enjoy all of the potential benefits.
Traditional saunas are a very different experience, using wood, electric or gas stoves to heat up the room around you rather than heating the body directly. They are typically hotter and take longer to heat up, but the Finns wouldn't have it any other way. They are likely to laugh at those that call an infrared a real sauna, but there are many proponents on both sides.
So you can't say that one is better than another...it really comes down to which one you prefer. We love the hot traditional sauna steam, but we can also appreciate the healing powers of the far infrared sauna.
Which sauna do you prefer? Drop us a line and let us know.