Have you ever shared a community sauna and thought, "Boy, it'd be nice to enjoy this at home?” People are becoming aware of the health benefits of heat exposure and relying on saunas to remedy everything from joint pain to skin conditions. Not to mention it’s super relaxing after a long day.
A sauna is no longer considered a mere add-on to spa sessions but rather a form of therapy. That's why purchasing a sauna for your home is a step toward investing in your long-term health. If you can spare the space (indoors or outdoors) and the expense, you can invite the spa experience into your home by investing in a high-quality sauna.
Several saunas are available these days, from traditional saunas to infrared saunas. We explain each in detail so you can make an informed decision about purchasing a sauna. First, let's delve into their background.
A Brief History Of The Types of Saunas
Saunas have been around for thousands of years, having origins in several parts of Northern Europe, including:
If we go back to the earliest point in sauna history, the first sauna would have been a simple cave heated by a roaring fire. Once the fire was extinguished, the warm stones atop them radiated heat throughout the cave. Today's traditional saunas are based on the same principles as the first "cave" sauna.
People used traditional wood-fueled saunas for years before the industrial revolution transformed the sauna landscape. Wood-fired saunas morphed into electric equivalents, performing the same function in half the time. More modern versions sprang from this model, elevating the efficiency of basic saunas. Despite their modern counterparts, traditional saunas stand out for their health benefits and rustic atmosphere even today. Let's look at each of these types of saunas to see how they compare.
The Best Type of Sauna For Purists: Traditional Finnish Sauna, aka Wood-burning Sauna
Wood-burning saunas, also known as traditional Finnish saunas, are among the oldest saunas. They're as simple as a sauna can get, yet their rustic appeal makes them popular. They're powered by wood and feature a pile of stones on top. When you light the fire, it warms the stones and, subsequently, the room.
Wood-burning saunas are classified as dry saunas because they create heat without humidity. They can reach temperatures of up to 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
Traditional wood-burning saunas emit a lot of smoke, so they're best placed outdoors. They also consume plenty of wood to generate and sustain adequate heat. Some of the common types of wood used in this sauna include:
Traditional sauna users believe the combination of wood, the crackling fire, and the scent of smoke yields a therapeutic quality not found in other types of saunas. This is why sauna purists prefer classic wood-burning saunas.
Despite their earthy benefits, wood-burning saunas can be hard to maintain. They leave ash and coal behind that requires cleaning before the next session. Another concern with wood-burning saunas is temperature control. One needs to constantly monitor the flames in the heater to stabilize the temperature. This can disrupt the relaxed vibe of the sauna.
Here's a glance at the pros and cons of a wood-burning sauna:
Eco-friendly (if sustainably harvested wood is used)
Potent health benefits
No precise temperature control
More heating time
Needs access to wood
Requires regular maintenance and cleaning
A Note on Smoke Saunas
Smoke saunas are dubbed the 'original Finnish sauna' or savasana. Their defining feature is that they run on stored heat. They also don't feature a chimney to release exhaust. Instead, the smoke is let out of the door before entering the sauna. As a result, the room remains warm and creates a unique experience from the scent of smoke. Smoke saunas are common in Northern European regions.
The Best Types of Saunas for Practical Users: Electric Sauna
Electric saunas are a clever upgrade to wood-burning saunas. Like a traditional wood-burning sauna, they have a heater topped with stones. The only difference is it generates heat using electricity.
Electric saunas are more flexible than wood-burning saunas. You can install them indoors or outdoors. They also offer better temperature control. The sauna heater in an electric sauna has a thermostat-like switch. This allows you to adjust the temperature to your liking. While wood-burning saunas require at least 45-60 minutes to heat up, electric saunas only take half the time.
Humidity in an electric sauna is also low, although you can create steam by pouring water over the heater stones. Electric saunas appear similar to wood-burning but may not deliver the same rustic sauna experience.
If having regular access to a sauna is your primary goal, an electric sauna is a practical choice. They're also simpler to use. You don't have to worry about procuring wood or managing temperature.
Here's a summary of the pros and cons of an electric sauna:
Easy to install and maintain
Does not produce exhaust
Quick heating time
Accurate temperature control
Increased power bills
Difficult to use in off-grid locations
Rustic sauna ambiance is absent
The Best Types of Saunas for Modern Users: Infrared Sauna
Infrared saunas are a revolutionary sauna design. They have a contemporary appeal. Instead of heating the room, an infrared sauna employs infrared light rays to directly heat the body.
An infrared sauna's ambiance differs from a regular wood-fired or electric sauna. The air in the room isn't as warm, but this doesn't imply the sauna isn't working. In fact, with an infrared sauna, you sweat at a lower temperature. The temperature range of an infrared sauna is between 80 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
An infrared sauna uses two types of light to heat your body:
Far-infrared saunas are known to provide light therapy without penetrating the body. Near-infrared saunas combine heat and light therapy. The latter is also known to emit a lower EMF (electromagnetic field), making it a safer option. While there isn't much research on infrared saunas, some studies suggest near-infrared treatment can help tissue and wound healing. It can also stimulate collagen formation, resulting in younger-looking skin.
Infrared saunas are popular due to their ease of use and accessibility. If you don't want an immersive sauna experience but still want its health benefits, an infrared sauna is an excellent option.
Here are the pros and cons of infrared saunas:
Easy to use
Direct body heating
Smaller than regular saunas
Authentic ambiance is missing
It can be expensive with upgrades
How do I Choose the Right Type of Sauna for Me?
There is no definitive answer to the question, "What is the best type of sauna?" We can attest to the benefits of a traditional sauna over an infrared one. Historically, traditional saunas have been known to provide a more holistic experience.
Still not convinced? Don't worry; you can still find the perfect sauna for you. Read ahead to find out how.
Assess Your Sauna Goals
Make a list of the sauna benefits you want to achieve. Do you want to unwind after a long day? Are there any specific health issues you'd like to address? Are you looking for a social experience in a traditional sauna setting?
Addressing your sauna goals can help you decide what type is best for you. For example, a barrel sauna is a classic outdoor sauna that accommodates a small group of family or friends. It's a suitable choice for individuals who wish to bond over sauna time and enjoy the coziness of a traditional sauna.
There are many affordable saunas on the market. Prices can range from $2,000 to a cool $12,000. The price depends on the quality, type, and upgrades you opt for. Your budget should correspond with your sauna goals, so compare the two to find a happy medium. Budget for high-quality saunas to avoid expensive repairs later.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Installation
If you're a homeowner, you might have less space for installation than a commercial sauna business. Accordingly, examine the benefits of indoor vs. outdoor saunas. For an indoor setting, an electrical sauna is a good option. If you can accommodate an outdoor sauna, you will need new plumbing or electrical hookups during installation. Prefab saunas are also a convenient option. They're self-contained units you can install in a day, and they typically come with an installation manual and assembly instructions.
FAQs About Different Types of Saunas
What Type of Sauna Provides the Most Health Benefits?
Each type of sauna provides distinct health benefits. Traditional saunas provide a more immersive experience and improve general well-being. Infrared saunas offer similar health benefits as traditional saunas but at a lower temperature.
Dry Sauna Vs. Wet Sauna: Which Type of Sauna is Best?
The humidity level is high in wet saunas. This combination of heat and humidity can be too much for some people. Humidity in wet saunas also results in a cooling effect, which may suppress some health benefits. Dry saunas provide more heat exposure and health benefits.
What are the Best Types of Sauna for Home?
Many sauna users want a stress-free sauna experience. To that end, electric or infrared saunas are a convenient option for in-home sauna users.
What's The Best Type of Sauna: Key Takeaway
Traditional saunas have shown consistent benefits compared to other types of saunas.
However, the ideal sauna type boils down to personal preferences and needs. No sauna caters to universal needs and cannot be deemed 'the best' in absolute terms. Review each sauna type carefully before selecting one.
Whatever type of sauna you choose, you want to ensure you get a high-quality one from a reputable retailer. My Sauna World is a leading retailer offering a range of traditional, outdoor, and indoor saunas. Browse the website or feel free to contact us for more details. We'll gladly help you select the most suitable model for your needs.
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