The Difference Between an Infrared Sauna and Steam Sauna? Comparing Health Benefits and Functions

In recent years, saunas have gained popularity as a means of relaxation, detoxification, and overall wellness. When it comes to choosing between different types of saunas, infrared and steam saunas are two popular options. Understanding the key differences between these two sauna types can help you decide which one is best suited for your particular needs and preferences.

Infrared saunas use infrared heaters that emit infrared light, which is directly absorbed by the body, creating dry heat. This type of sauna is known for providing numerous health benefits, such as relaxation, improving circulation, and promoting muscle recovery. On the other hand, steam saunas, also known as steam rooms, are airtight rooms made of non-porous materials like glass or tiles, where a steam generator boils water to create a moist and warm environment. The heat in steam rooms is much more humid and offers its own set of therapeutic and health benefits.

While both infrared and steam saunas aim to improve overall wellness through the application of heat, their differences in the type of heat they generate lead to distinct experiences and benefits. Choosing between these sauna types ultimately depends on individual preferences and desired outcomes. In this article, we will explore the core distinctions between infrared saunas and steam saunas to help you make an informed decision.

Infrared Saunas

An infrared sauna is a type of sauna that uses light to directly heat the body, unlike a steam sauna which relies on hot, moist air. Infrared saunas penetrate deep into the skin and muscles, providing an intense yet gentle, dry heat experience. In this section, we'll explore how infrared saunas work, their benefits, and potential risks and precautions to consider.

How Infrared Saunas Work

Infrared saunas utilize infrared light to generate heat, which is then absorbed by your body. The light emitted from the infrared heaters directly warms your body, without heating the ambient air around you. Since the heat is directly absorbed by the skin and muscles, it can penetrate deeper than the heat produced by a traditional steam sauna.

Benefits of Infrared Saunas

There are several benefits associated with the use of infrared saunas:

  • Detoxification: Infrared heat helps promote sweating, which aids in the release of toxins from the body.
  • Stress reduction: The gentle warmth of an infrared sauna can help relax the mind and body, reducing stress levels.
  • Energy-efficient: In general, infrared saunas are more energy-efficient than steam saunas, as they heat up quickly and have lower electricity usage.
  • Deep tissue heating: Infrared warmth penetrates the skin almost instantly, warming up the deeper tissues of your body more effectively than steam saunas.

Risks and Precautions

While infrared saunas can offer several health benefits, it is important to be aware of potential risks and precautions:

  • Medical conditions: If you have a medical condition or are pregnant, consult your healthcare provider before using an infrared sauna.
  • Overheating and dehydration: Be mindful of the duration and temperature of your sauna session to avoid overheating or dehydration. Always drink water before, during, and after using the sauna.
  • Quality of sauna: Choose high-quality infrared saunas, like those available from Body Flow Health, to ensure you're getting the most benefits and a safe experience.

Steam Saunas

How Steam Saunas Work

Steam saunas, also known as traditional saunas, generate heat by warming the air inside a closed space, usually made of wood, through an electric heater or a stove. The heated air raises the temperature to about 150 - 190°F (65 - 90°C), increasing your skin temperature and causing you to sweat. Sometimes, hot rocks are placed on the heater, and water can be poured on them to create steam, increasing humidity levels in the sauna.

Benefits of Steam Saunas

Steam saunas provide several health and wellness benefits. The high temperature and humidity promote sweating, which helps flush out toxins from the body and rejuvenates the skin. Regular sauna sessions can also:

  • Relieve muscle tension and improve joint mobility, making it beneficial for athletes and people with arthritis or other types of joint pain [source].
  • Boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies.
  • Relax the mind, reducing stress and improving mental well-being.

Risks and Precautions

While steam saunas offer many benefits, there are some risks and precautions to consider:

  • Dehydration: Due to the high temperatures and excessive sweating, it's essential to drink water before, during, and after a sauna session to prevent dehydration.
  • Heat exhaustion and heat stroke: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause dizziness, nausea, and faintness. It's essential to pay attention to your body and leave the sauna if you begin to feel unwell.
  • Pregnant women, young children, and people with medical issues such as heart problems, high blood pressure, or respiratory conditions should consult their doctor before using a steam sauna.

Find a variety of premium-quality steam saunas for your home at BodyFlowHealth and enjoy the benefits of a traditional sauna experience.

Key Differences

Heat Sources

An infrared sauna uses light to directly heat the body, while a steam sauna relies on hot, moist air to create heat. Infrared saunas only require energy to run the heating elements, while a steam sauna consumes about a third more power per session due to needing heat to create steam (Sunrise Specialty).

Effects on Body

Infrared saunas penetrate deep into the skin and muscles, providing an intense yet gentle dry heat. On the other hand, steam saunas take a longer time for heat to reach and warm deeper tissues due to heat being carried by moist air (The Sauna Life).

Health Benefits Comparison

Both types of saunas offer health benefits, but they have unique effects:

  • Infrared saunas: promote detoxification, reduce stress, and improve skin health
  • Steam saunas: provide respiratory benefits and help with muscle relaxation

Suitability and Personal Preferences

Individual preferences play a role in the choice between infrared and steam saunas. Some people prefer the dry heat of infrared saunas, while others enjoy the moist heat in steam saunas. Additionally, infrared saunas are generally more energy-efficient and can often be set up at home more easily with the help of products like those available on BodyFlowHealth.

Making a Choice

When deciding between an infrared sauna and a steam sauna, consider various factors to determine which option best suits your needs.

Consider Your Health and Wellness Goals

Infrared saunas provide unique health benefits, such as increased flexibility, pain relief, and detoxification. These benefits result from the sauna's dry heat, which directly penetrates your body tissues. On the other hand, steam saunas offer health advantages like improved respiratory function, increased circulation, and enhanced relaxation.

Consider which health benefits align with your personal wellness goals when choosing between an infrared and steam sauna.

Think About Space and Maintenance Requirements

In general, infrared saunas require less space and are easier to maintain than steam saunas. Infrared saunas don't produce moisture, reducing the risk of mold and mildew, while steam saunas require proper ventilation and regular cleaning due to the high humidity levels.

Consider the available space in your home and the amount of time you can dedicate to maintenance when deciding on your sauna choice.

Weigh the Costs and Investment

Both infrared and steam saunas come with varying costs. Infrared saunas tend to be more energy-efficient than steam saunas, leading to lower operating costs. However, up-front costs can be significant for both types of saunas.

Check out the range of infrared saunas available on Body Flow Health for more information and pricing details.


In summary, the main difference between infrared saunas and steam saunas is the way they generate heat. Infrared saunas use infrared heaters to warm the body directly, while steam saunas rely on steam or dry heat to warm the air, which then heats the body. Infrared saunas typically operate at a lower temperature, making them a more comfortable option for some users.

Both types of saunas offer health benefits such as relaxation, pain relief, and improved circulation. However, personal preference and individual needs should guide your decision on which sauna to choose.

To explore sauna options for your home or wellness routine, visit BodyFlow Health's sauna collection. They offer a variety of high-quality infrared and steam saunas designed to suit your needs and preferences. Begin your journey towards enhanced relaxation and wellbeing with the right sauna for you.