Sauna vs. Steam room: What should I choose? This has been an age-old question for heat therapy enthusiasts.
Also, is there any difference between the two? If yes, how do saunas and steam rooms differ from each other?
Well…yes and no.
If you look at a sauna and a steam room from outside, you probably wouldn’t find many differences.
Both saunas and steam rooms operate on the same principles: you go inside the cabin with little to no clothes on, sweat profusely inside, and come out refreshed and energized.
Regardless of whether you use a sauna or a steam room for your heat therapy, the results remain pretty much the same.
Your body temperature rises, heart rate elevates, blood circulation rate increases, and you sweat.
There are also a lot of internal bodily functions that take place when you are exposed to heat.
These bodily functions include vasodilation (widening of blood vessels), temporary dip in blood pressure, oxygen enrichment to the organs, and calorie burning.
Excessive sweating also helps get rid of toxins from your body and improve your skin and circulatory system.
So, shouldn’t you be okay with either of these as long as you are getting the results that you want?
But it is still important to know the underlying differences between a sauna and a steam room so you can make a more constructive decision.
Both saunas and steam rooms deliver the same result. It is how they deliver those results that sets them apart.
Saunas vs. Steam Rooms: What’s the Difference?
Saunas use dry heat.
What’s dry heat, you ask?
Dry heat is when the temperature is hot around you with little to no moisture in the air. (think Las Vegas in June)
Saunas are typically heated at 180°F to 195°F with the help of burning wood, gas, electric, or infrared technology.
Wood burning, gas or electric, works to heat a pile of rocks inside the sauna.
These rocks then continue to emit heat throughout the cabin and keep the air warm.
You can pour a ladle of water onto the rocks to create a bit of moisture but mostly saunas use dry heat as a form of heat therapy.
Infrared saunas, however, use infrared heaters to directly heat up your body instead of heating the air around you.
Steam rooms, on the other hand, use moist heat.
What’s moist heat?
Moist heat is when the hot temperature around you contains some moisture.
Steam rooms are usually kept at 100°F to 115°F but they seem much hotter than dry saunas, thanks to the 100% humidity in the air.
The heat and steam in steam rooms comes from a generator filled with boiling water.
Moist heat is also known to increase tissue elasticity and prevent dehydration in the body.
So, if you are using a steam room, you are less likely to feel thirsty and dehydrated.
On the contrary, when you are using a sauna, we advise you to carry a water bottle with you to avoid dehydration.
Saunas vs. Steam Rooms: The Benefits
When it comes to benefits both sauna and steam rooms are pretty much the same.
Heat therapy has long been the go-to for humankind to promote wellness in the body and remedy a range of health-related issues. It is also a popular way to improve your skin, hair, metabolism, immune system and more.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that saunas and steam rooms offer:
Improved blood circulation
Sitting in a sauna or a steam room widens your blood vessels, in turn, improving the flow of blood throughout your body.
As your body temperature rises, your heart starts to pump more blood, and thus your blood circulation improves.
Sitting in a sauna for a while is like exercising. Your body temperature rises and your heart begins to pump more blood to alleviate the rising temperature.
As a result, you feel pumped and energized.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Spending some time in a sauna or a steam room regularly can help lower your blood pressure.
However, people who are suffering from uncontrolled blood pressure should avoid heat therapy altogether.
According to studies, a sauna or steam room session gives similar effects to moderate exercise.
While during the session the blood pressure rises, on a long-term basis you can expect lower blood pressure and fewer heart-related issues.
People who use saunas or steam rooms at least four times a week are less likely to develop heart-related issues, strokes, and dementia.
Stress relief is one of the most vouched benefits of using a sauna or a steam room.
In fact, saunas and steam rooms are known to reduce the chances of depression and other mental ailments.
The heat from the sauna or steam room relaxes your muscles and joints and promotes the release of endorphins (happy hormones).
So, when you walk out of a sauna or steam room, all the happy chemicals are making rounds in your brain and you can’t help but hold the biggest grin ever.
If you have ever taken a hot water bath or washed your face with lukewarm water, you know that your skin tends to glow after coming in contact with mild heat.
When you are sitting in a sauna, the heat expands the pores on your skin, releasing all the toxins and other junks. This process helps clean your skin.
Moreover, the blood rushing through your veins during your sauna session also helps glow your skin.
Since steam rooms use moist heat, you can keep your skin hydrated while enjoying the benefits of heat therapy. Moist heat also helps improve the elasticity of your skin, helping you keep wrinkles and fine lines at bay.
Whether you are looking to remedy muscle soreness after a heavy workout or a way to reduce muscle pain, saunas and steam rooms can be extremely beneficial to you.
Heat penetrates deep into the muscle tissue, reducing soreness, inflammation, and stiffness.
According to a recent study, moist heat is more effective at reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) compared to dry heat.
However, that’s not to say that sauna therapy does not help with muscle pain.
Dry heat can help loosen up your joints and muscles, helping you warm up for the workout.
Improved Immune System
That’s right, heat therapy can also improve your immune system. Who knew, right?
However, sauna therapy works better in improving the immune system when you alternate between hot and cold stress.
Taking a cold bath after a sauna or steam room session helps build immunity and improves resistance to infections and infection-related diseases.
Now that we understand both saunas and steam rooms offer more or less the same benefits with some exceptions, let’s try to differentiate the two based on other factors.
Sauna vs. Steam Rooms: Cost
Both saunas and steam rooms require you to consider the cost on twofold: the price of the unit and installation charges.
You can’t just get yourself a sauna or a steam room, throw it in a corner of your house, and expect it to work.
No. There is an extensive installation process with both sauna and steam room, especially with the steam room.
First of all, you will have to figure out a place in your house where you can install a sauna or a steam room.
Secondly, you must figure out a way to get it working, i.e., figure out the electricity, wiring, drainage (in case of steam room), décor, and more.
On an average the cost of a sauna is somewhere around $3000 to $10000, depending on the kind of modifications you want.
Similarly, the cost of a steam room runs somewhere around $4000 to $15000.
Saunas vs. Steam Rooms: Installation
When it comes to installation, the process differs with saunas and steam rooms.
Saunas are easier to install.
With sauna installation, your focus should be on the internal components.
Find an electrician to fix the switches and heat control.
If you are getting an infrared sauna, the installation process will be faster.
Infrared saunas don’t require much modifications. You can simply buy one of your choice and install it in your home on your own.
For gas-powered saunas, you will have to contact a plumber along with an electrician.
Steam rooms, on the other hand, require a more complex installation process.
Since steam rooms require drainage, you will have to factor in the extra space needs.
If you are converting your existing shower into a steam room, it only gets more complicated.
Steam rooms require insulated shower space and a maximum ceiling height of 8 feet.
Moreover, in order to protect the light fixture from moisture, you should consider using vapor sealed lights.
All in all, saunas are easy to install and steam rooms are not.
However, with proper instruction and expertise, you can have either of them up and running in your home in no time.
Saunas vs. Steam Room: Size
Both saunas and steam rooms come in a range of shapes and sizes.
You can also get a custom-made sauna or steam room, depending on your particular requirements.
It goes without saying that the bigger the size of the sauna or steam room the more space you will need in your home.
Saunas vs. Steam Rooms: Which One Should You Choose?
Whether you should choose a sauna or a steam room comes down to your personal preference.
Saunas use dry heat and steam rooms use moist heat to achieve the same result.
Long-term exposure to dry heat can dehydrate you and therefore you must keep a bottle of water with you when taking a sauna session.
With that being said, if your sole purpose is to sweat and reap the advantages of heat therapy, you should go with a sauna.
However, if you have respiratory or dry skin issues, you should stick with a steam room.
At the end of the day, the choice comes down to your preferences and underlying medical conditions (if any).
We hope this piece of content helped shed more light on the difference between saunas and steam rooms.
At Sauna and Steam Experts, we are well-versed with the installation, repair, and maintenance of both.
So, when you have made your decision, reach out to us and we will install a sauna or a steam room in your home in a tick.
With more than 17 years of experience in installing and repairing in South Florida, you can trust us to offer impeccable service regardless of your requirements.
We also offer ADA compliance services to help you develop unique solutions for your sauna and steam room spaces to minimize installation challenges.
We can also help you make the right choice with the appliances, types of wood, heaters, switches, control unit, glass, tiles, and everything that goes into building a sauna or a steam room.