WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SAUNA AND STEAM ROOM?
Steam rooms and saunas have many similarities, and many think they are the same thing, as they are commonly called steam saunas, steam showers, and saunas. Still, there are actually many differences between a sauna and steam room. The great thing is you can easily install saunas and steam rooms in your house, but which one is right for you?
Read on to learn more about the differences between a sauna and steam room, the health benefits, and which is best for you.
Similarities and Differences Between a Sauna and Steam Room
Many people believe that saunas and steam rooms are the same things. Some people will even use the terms interchangeably, but they are different from each other. Let’s dive deeper into what makes them similar and what makes them different.
No matter which you choose, a sauna or a steam room will require a dedicated free-standing room. This means if you install a sauna or steam shower in your home, it will basically be its own structure within whichever room you decide to put it in.
However, the exception would be if you used a steam generator to create a steam shower. You don’t need to assemble a structure within your home with a steam shower, as it will hook up to your bath or shower via a steam generator (like the one pictured below).
All you really need is some space in your attic, closet, or under a built-in shower bench, as long as it isn’t directly exposed to the steam being generated in your steam shower. Additionally, the space you plan to put your steam shower should be enclosed to keep the steam in. It should also be constructed of tile, marble, or other non-porous material and have a water-tight shower drawer and a drain.
The similarity between specifically steam saunas and steam showers is that they will always be inside your home, whereas a traditional sauna can be outdoors or indoors. Typically, steam saunas will accommodate one person or two people, whereas traditional saunas can accommodate more people, which is also a key difference between these two saunas.
Many people assume that heat is heat and that steam rooms and saunas are kept at the same temperature, which is not the case. In fact, saunas are kept much hotter than steam rooms, and saunas are typically kept between 160 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas steam rooms are kept around 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
A sauna will use completely dry heat, whereas a steam sauna will use wet heat from steam. As we discussed above, a steam room will offer a lower temperature. Still, it also boasts 100 percent humidity that keeps your sweat from evaporating, so you feel much hotter than you are. On the other hand, saunas will have a five to 10 percent humidity level and will rise only briefly when pouring water over the hot stones, so you are getting a completely dry heat.
Difference Between a Sauna and Steam Room: How to Use Them
Using a Sauna
Many people use saunas for different time durations; if you only have 15 minutes to cram in a sauna session, more power to you! However, if you want to properly utilize your sauna, you should put aside 1.5 to 2 hours from start to finish.
Before entering your sauna, the first pro tip is to drink a bunch of water in the hours leading up to your sauna session. When it comes to food, you definitely don’t want to enter a sauna session on an empty stomach because that can cause lightheadedness and nausea. Still, you don’t want to indulge in a huge meal either because your blood will rush toward your stomach to aid in digestion, affecting your body’s circulation. If you eat a huge meal, waiting at least two hours before you start your sauna session is recommended. A light snack is all you need for the sauna. Some experts recommend a shower beforehand to wash away the grime and prepare your skin, but you don’t have to do this.
Then you should wait about 45 minutes to ensure your sauna is properly heated between 180-220 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, be sure to prep wood if it requires a wood-burning stove or fill buckets of water, so you don’t have to leave the sauna to create steam.
Next, enjoy your dry sauna session for about 15 minutes. After that first session, you want to enjoy a cold shock, so you can take a 15-minute cool shower, jump into a plunge pool or hot tub that hasn’t been heated, or roll in the snow if you have access. After that, return to the sauna for a heat and steam session, and you can create steam by pouring water over the rocks. Mix some essential oils with the water for added health benefits and relaxation.
You can choose to exfoliate during this round or sit for roughly 20 minutes and enjoy the sauna. Lastly, take a cold plunge again, but this time make sure to sit or lie down to finish the cool off. If you feel up to it, you can repeat this entire process a couple of times or stop after one round – typically, sauna goers repeat this process two to three times, while sauna enthusiasts will repeat it four to six times. Be sure to rehydrate when you finish, and refrain from putting clothing on until your core is completely cooled down.
Using a Steam Room
There are many similarities when using saunas and steam rooms. With a steam room, you should hydrate before entering and not indulge in a huge meal. Many say you should absolutely shower before stepping foot into a steam room, especially if you had a workout before your steam room session. If others use your steam rooms, it is also hygienic as bacteria thrive in the hot humidity that a steam room offers.
As you might have noticed, a steam room has a tighter range of temperature than a sauna does as a steam room’s heat typically stays between 110 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is lower, the steam room will fail to deliver the same health benefits of a balmy steam. If the temperature is higher, the steam room can put you at risk for dehydration and heat-related illness and injuries.
There is some dispute on how long you should stay within a steam room, but the absolute maximum should be no longer than half an hour as dehydration becomes a major concern beyond that. The sweet spot for the duration of a steam room is typically 15 to 20 minutes. However, newbies should maybe opt for 10 to 15 minutes. You should also know that if you ever feel uncomfortable or lightheaded, leave the steam room immediately, sit down, and have a glass of water.
Unlike a sauna, extra rounds aren’t necessarily recommended because it is incredibly easy to become dehydrated in a steam room. Like a sauna, when your session is finished, sit down and have a glass of water. Refrain from putting your clothing on until your entire body is cool. This includes your core, not only your skin.
Health Benefits of a Sauna
There are a plethora of health benefits attributed to sauna usage. Some studies link improved skin health, increased relaxation, improved circulation, reduced blood pressure, and promoting mental wellness as a few of the health benefits regular sauna sessions offer.
A sauna session will help loosen any debris or dirt in your pores, which leads to clearer skin. It will also dramatically decrease the amount of stress you have in your life, especially if you have a high-stress job, as one study shows. A sauna will additionally dilate and/or enlarge your blood vessels, which helps move blood from your core area to your skin, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. Finally, it will divert your thoughts from stress and doomsday news stories and focus on mindfulness, and your breath, which promotes mood boosts, stress reduction, and sleep improvement.
Is a Steam Room or Sauna Best for You?
Steam rooms and saunas have many reasons for investing in them, but there are some differences between a sauna and a steam room that would cater to the experience more toward what you are looking for. Both will offer the health benefits listed above, but saunas are also excellent for relieving tense muscles and deep relaxation. Still, steam rooms offer skin moisturizing, congestion relief, and reduced soreness. Here are the pros of steam rooms and saunas to make your decision easier.
The pros of a sauna are that they are much easier to maintain than a steam room since bacteria love the humidity of a steam room. Also, installing a sauna in your home is pretty easy as it only requires an outlet and some space. Finally, if you are sensitive to humidity, a sauna uses dry heat instead of steam heat.
The pros of a steam room are that if you suffer from heat sensitivity, it is the better option as its temperature isn’t as high as a sauna. If you have skin with many blemishes, a steam room will greatly help you clean your pores and expel toxins -- it’s also great for treating dry skin because of the high moisture levels. Finally, installing a steam room can be as easy as hooking up a steam generator to your tub or shower.
Final Thoughts on the Difference Between a Sauna and Steam Room
There are so many benefits in investing in either a steam room or a sauna, but differences could make one a better fit for you than the other. If you want a steam sauna or traditional sauna in your home, check out the our wide array of steam generators that you can attach to your shower and traditional saunas. If you have any additional questions, please contact our team for more information.
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