Spending time in a sauna is a fantastic way to relax, rejuvenate, and recover. Saunas are great for people who want to forget about all their worries and just want to let go for a while. Not only that, but saunas can be extremely helpful for people who are suffering from insomnia or physical pain.
We all know that saunas are hot, but exactly how hot is a sauna? In this article we’ll look at the various major types of saunas, and the temperatures they typically hit. We’ll also consider the types of heating, and how the blend of heat and humidity interact.
How Hot is a Sauna?
Since saunas can ultimately reach a very high temperature, it is important to know your limit. Before getting into a sauna, you should also be aware of the humidity of the room. Most saunas modeled around Scandanavian style sauna buildings are very dry.
Evidence shows that this dry heat can be very beneficial, with potential major improvements to lifespan and cardiovascular health. However, not all saunas heat in the same way, and different types of saunas have different heat and humidity levels. Let’s break down the
For example, the four main types of saunas are: traditional, electrical, infrared and steam and they all have varying temperatures. For a general comparison of all saunas, see our article here.
Traditional Sauna Temperature
Traditional Saunas heat up to between 160-190 degrees. Some even cross the 200′ threshold.
Traditional saunas create warmth in the sauna by heating the sauna with a wood/charcoal stove. Sauna rocks typically sit on top of the stove and radiate heat out as well. This combination quick heats up the room to a temperature between 160 to 190 degrees. In some parts of the world such as Russia, the sauna temperature may go up above 200′.
Users pour water (sometimes with essential oils) over the rocks to produce the level of steam they desire.
Traditional saunas have been around for centuries. Many individuals prefer traditional or wood-fired saunas to electric or infrared saunas because the wood-burning smell is quite soothing and tends to relax the person further.
A wood-stove sauna is typically priced around the same level as an electrically-heated sauna. However, electric heated saunas require a special electrical connection and therefore a visit from an electrician, which may add multiple thousands of dollars to the price.
The downside of a wood-fired sauna is that you’ll have to manage, handle, and store wood or charcoal fuel for the sauna.
And keep in mind that for a traditional or wood-fired sauna, you will need a vent or a chimney for ventilation since it can get hard to control the temperature inside the sauna. Often these style saunas are outbuildings or barrel saunas. Traditional saunas also take a bit longer to heat the whole room as compared to electrical saunas.
Electric Sauna Temperature
Electric saunas heat up to around 190 degrees, and some cross the 200 degree line.
Electric saunas are very popular as compared to other types of saunas because they are not only efficient and low maintenance. Electric saunas have a temperature of 190 to 200 degrees, a very similar level to traditional saunas. And an electric sauna stove can warm the room in a few minutes!
Electric saunas are also much safer as compared to all the other saunas. These units use an electric stove to provide heat to the room, and have sauna rocks for steam. The end result is a very similar experience to a traditional sauna but without the need to deal with a wood stove.
The biggest drawback of an electric sauna is that you need a dedicated 200v power line to make them work. This almost certainly requires a costly visit from an electrician. The upside to an electric sauna is that you don’t have to deal with moving, storing, and carrying wood or charcoal for that authentic sauna experience.
Infrared Sauna Temperature
Infrared Saunas heat up to around 130 degrees.
Infrared saunas essentially produce heat using infrared light which is then absorbed by your body directly. Eventually, the temperature of your body rises and you start feeling hot. The waves that are produced by infrared saunas are on the same wavelength that the human body emits, so it is easier to feel hot when you’re inside an infrared sauna.
Infrared saunas have a temperature of 90 to 130 degrees. A major reason why you start feeling hot in an infrared sauna at a lower temperature is that the infrared sauna doesn’t heat the room. Rather, it heats the body directly through radiant heat. This means that the infrared sauna can work at a lower temperature.
These units typically don’t require a specialized electrical outlet.
As you start sweating, your muscles will automatically relax and make you feel much calmer. The difference between an infrared sauna and a wood-fired sauna is that the former can make the room hot but at a lower temperature. Also, there is usually no steam involved in an infrared sauna, as there are no sauna rocks.
Steam Sauna Temperature
Steam Saunas heat to somewhere around 120 degrees.
Steam saunas are quite different from traditional or infrared saunas. The difference is that steam saunas make you feel hot with high humidity rather than dry heat. Steam saunas are heated up with a generator that produces steam by boiling water. After the water is done boiling, it starts releasing steam into the air.
Unlike traditional saunas, which come with some sort of ventilation, steam saunas have no ventilation so that humidity levels can get really high. However, as compared to infrared and traditional saunas, steam saunas have a much lower temperature, but it may not seem that way. The humidity is much higher in these saunas as compared to infrared and wood-fired saunas that have a dry heat. Steam saunas have moist heat. The temperature in steam saunas varies from 90 to 120 degrees.
Why Sauna Temperature is Important
Heat is great for your body, and this is why saunas are a great way to relax, but always make sure to be safe because things can go wrong if the sauna is too hot. Extremely high temperatures are not always great for your body and can elicit a reaction that you may not expect. If the temperature is too high and you start feeling dizzy, it’s best to leave the sauna.
Using a sauna after a workout can be a great recovery method.
It’s wise to get your body prepared before you walk into the sauna, make sure to walk in when it’s getting hot so your body has time to adjust to the temperature change. A drastic temperature change may result in unconsciousness. Make sure to keep your body relaxed and stay still when you’re inside the sauna. If you move too much, the temperature of your body may change, so try to stay still once you’re inside.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re planning to stay in the sauna for a long time, don’t forget to take little breaks in the middle.
During these breaks, make sure to drink plenty of water so you have something to sweat out when you go back inside. Since saunas make you sweat out all the toxins, it is very easy to get dehydrated and lose water weight.
Many people fall asleep in a sauna since it is so relaxing, but what they don’t realize is that it can be quite dangerous. Try to stay alert of where you are and your surroundings, and keep the sauna etiquette in mind. If you start feeling nauseous or dizzy, walk out of the sauna room immediately because too much heat can cause a stroke.
Benefits of Using a Sauna
Saunas are a great way to relax your body and mind. Regular sauna use can cause your stress level to gradually drop, and you may see some marked improvements in cardiovascular health.
Additionally, some studies have sown that the immune system will improve and sleep will come easier. If you have trouble sleeping peacefully, a sauna is a great idea since they relax all your muscles, which helps you sleep.
The Bottom Line
Saunas can get hot depending on the time you spend in there and the type of sauna you are using. Before opting for a sauna session, always do your research and choose the best sauna for yourself. If you feel more relaxed by dry heat, it’s better to go for infrared or traditional saunas, but if you prefer moisture – steam saunas are your best bet. The perfect sauna temperature depends entirely on you. Remember, saunas are for relaxation, not discomfort, so be cautious for high temperatures.