A sauna is the epitome of relaxation.
You go into it tensed, exhausted, and tired and come out calm, fresh, and invigorated.
It is almost like magic, except it isn’t.
We like to see the sauna as the culmination of our most basic physiological needs and our tendency to experiment.
In its essence, a sauna helps us capitalize on our capability to maintain a relatively constant core body temperature with minimal deviation for a period.
This helps improve our overall health and strengthens our immune system.
How Saunas Came to Become a Distinct Tradition in the Modern World?
Since the advent of saunas in 2000 BC in northern Europe, the idea has been to create a place where people can sit back and relax.
And as we all know, sitting back and relaxing requires work.
And work we did.
The first saunas were man-made caves with a fire burning inside beneath a pile of rocks during the daytime.
The fire heated the stones, allowing people to bask in the steam that rose when they poured water over the rocks.
The fire warmed the caves, and the smoke sterilized them, making them a sustainable place in inexorable landscapes.
People used these early saunas as kitchens, washrooms, clinics, and much more throughout the year. And during harsh winters, they became a haven.
And it wasn’t too late when saunas started to become a distinct tradition across many cultures.
Over the years, saunas developed into holy places. People started seeing them as places that bestowed magical powers.
It was not until the enlightenment movement that we discarded the magical element behind the sauna.
Soon, we realized the superstitions behind the sauna as a hoax and the ‘magical powers’ that it supposedly gave people as actual health benefits.
And that realization gave birth to the modern saunas.
Today, we have an astronomical number of benefits associated with saunas and steam rooms.
And saunas, as we know it, have evolved into better, more sophisticated relaxation spots.
This article will cover the different types of saunas, how each differs from another, and which one is the best choice for you (according to your requirements).
But before we get into it, let’s understand how saunas work and what makes them beneficial to our health.
After all, isn’t a sauna just an enclosed steam-heated room where you go to sweat?
Well...yes, with emphasis on sweat.
When you enter a sauna, your skin temperature rises, and so does your pulse rate.
Your blood vessels expand as the heart pumps more blood. And you sweat more.
This entire experience leads to a range of benefits, including pain relief, stress relief, and skin cleansing, to name a few.
Different saunas use different methods to provide you with this experience.
Let’s see how:
What are the Different Types of Saunas?
Modern saunas come in a range of varieties. You can distinguish them according to the style of construction, source of heating, and level of humidity.
Generally, you can classify saunas into four categories: Traditional Finnish Saunas, Dry Saunas, Steam Saunas, and Infrared Saunas.
Traditional Finnish saunas are the most familiar saunas. They have rocks heated by charcoal, water, and a ladle. You can control the humidity of the sauna by pouring water onto the rocks.
Dry saunas are similar to Finnish saunas, except they don’t have water, only heated rocks.
Steam saunas are quite unconventional. They are mostly made with glass and have a hundred percent humidity, making them hotter than other saunas.
Infrared saunas don’t have humidity. They use a light waveform to create heat in the room and increase your body temperature.
But, since we are addressing saunas for homes, we will discuss them based on technology.
Traditional Finnish Sauna
Also called, wood-burning sauna, a Finnish sauna is a dry sauna, which means there is no humidity inside.
A traditional Finnish sauna is powered by a fire in the woodstove that heats the stones and, in turn, heats the sauna.
Using the stove, you can heat the sauna from 140°F to 200°F. There is also a ladle and bucket of water to pour onto the heated rocks to create steam.
A wood-burning sauna is excellent for outdoor settings.
If you reside in a single-family home in an uncongested area, you can install a wood-burning sauna in your home.
However, make sure the smoke doesn’t bother your neighbors.
An electric sauna provides the same experience as a wood-burning sauna, except it runs on electricity.
Electricity heats the stone and stove. You can still pour water on the rocks to create steam.
These saunas are great for indoor settings.
They come in various sizes and are priced similarly to the wood-burning saunas.
Infrared saunas are the newest addition to the long and diverse culture of sauna tradition.
Some sauna purists don’t even consider infrared saunas the real thing as it uses light waves to heat the compartment instead of fire or electricity.
However, these saunas are also the most modern of the bunch.
Instead of heating the air around you, infrared saunas heat your body directly.
The use of light waves also makes the infrared saunas less hot and more tolerable.
Infrared saunas are another great option to install in your home if you want to reap the benefits of a sauna without feeling too hot.
Steam saunas are known by many names, including Turkish sauna, hammam, and steam room.
They make use of moist heat from the boiling water that releases the heat into the chamber.
Steam saunas are usually covered in ceramic tiles or some non-porous surface to keep the heat from escaping.
They are usually heated up to 110°F and are said to be especially beneficial for our respiratory system.
You can install a steam sauna in your home.
However, the installation might require professional help, which could add up to the overall cost.
If you are looking for some heat therapy without adding a bulky sauna to your home, a shower-sauna combo might be the best option for you.
You can convert your existing shower into a shower-sauna combo.
You can use it as your shower or add some steam and heat using the features that come with it.
A shower-sauna combo comes in a variety of sizes and features.
Portable Steam Saunas
If you only want to give the sauna a try for the sake of it, you can consider an inexpensive, portable sauna.
These saunas are only suitable for one person.
You can sit down in them with your head sticking out of the top, which looks a bit ridiculous if we are being honest.
However, they offer the benefit of a steam sauna without the expense or commitment of a full-fledged sauna.
What Happens to Your Body When You Enter a Sauna?
Regardless of which sauna you choose, the effects on your body are similar.
All the saunas help you reap various health benefits, including improved blood circulation and the release of ‘feel good’ endorphins.
The amount of time you spend in a sauna also determines what happens to your body.
Firstly, you will notice an improvement in blood circulation similar to when you moderately exercise your body.
Your heart rate will increase, and so will the release of growth hormones in your body.
After a while, you will sweat and feel the stress and pain leaving your body.
You might also feel dehydrated, so it is better to keep a bottle of freshwater around you.
What are the Benefits of Sauna?
The use of private saunas, especially infrared saunas, is increasing.
Massage centers, health spas, and beauty salons also use saunas for heat therapy.
There is a substantial benefit that suggests sauna bathing can be profoundly beneficial for our physiological health.
Short-term, intense exposure to heat increases our skin and core body temperature, activating the autonomic nervous system.
The activation of the autonomic nervous system leads to improved cardiovascular health with increased heart rate, blood flow, and sweating.
On a cellular level, sauna therapy induces discrete metabolic changes that include the production of heat shock proteins.
Sauna therapy also reduces reactive oxygenated species, oxidative stress, and inflammatory pathway activities.
Here are ten proven benefits of sauna therapy:
Charges Your Cells
Heat therapy is an effective way to positively impact your mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell). Middle school science, anyone?
The entire sauna experience helps produce more energy in the body, which enables you to be more proactive in your day-to-day activities.
Slows Down Ageing
Another great benefit of sauna therapy is that it regenerates cells, slowing down the aging process.
Detoxifies Your Body
We come in contact with harmful chemicals and toxins every day, which leads us to develop a range of diseases and conditions over time.
With regular sauna bathing, you can excrete these toxins out of your body and live a healthier life.
Improves Heart Health
According to a 2018 study, regular sauna bathing helps improve cardiovascular activities.
Regular sauna experience can help alleviate the risk of heart-related issues by up to 58%.
Reduces Blood Pressure
Sauna helps expand blood vessels, thus improving blood circulation in your body.
Optimizes Athletic Performance
With blood flow improvements, more blood is sent to the heart.
This increases plasma and red blood cell volume, delivering more oxygen throughout the body and improving athletic performance.
Promotes Weight Loss
Regular sauna use helps improve appetite, increase metabolism, and enhance oxygen reception in the body.
This entire process leads to weight loss and fat reduction in the body.
Boost Brain Functions
With regular sauna use, the brain-derived neurotic factor (BDNF) increases.
The increase in BDNF helps grow new brain cells, better maintain existing cells, and improve neuroplasticity.
Strengthens Immune System
Heat shocks from sauna exposure help in the production of heat-shock protein, which helps in stimulating antigen-presenting cells and strengthening your immune system.
Sauna therapy helps you relax and regulate the cortisol levels in your body.
Cortisol is a hormone that our body releases when we are under duress. High cortisol levels can cause several health issues.
With regular sauna bathing, cortisol level remains in check, and serotonin (the happy hormones) level increases, helping us feel good.
Helps Sleep Better
The release of endorphins in your body with sauna therapy helps you sleep better.
In a sauna, the body temperature rises along with the endorphins.
As the endorphin level declines and your body temperature returns to normal, you become more relaxed and more likely to fall asleep.
Which Sauna is the Right One for You?
It all comes down to your particular requirements and convenience.
Some of the factors that can affect your decision include:
If you are looking to sweat more, a traditional Finnish sauna should be the right choice for you.
It offers all the health benefits of a sauna, including detoxification, immunity build-up, and stress relief.
However, if you have a condition such as high blood pressure that can come in the way of your sauna therapy, it is better to consider an alternative.
Infrared saunas are also increasingly becoming popular among sauna enthusiasts as the next-gen, cutting-edge sauna experience.
However, in terms of overall benefit for personal experience, tradition is better.
The point is there is no ‘better than others’ when it comes to saunas.
All the saunas provide you with the same experience, regardless of how they function.
Therefore, it all comes down to your choice.
Hope this helped you understand more about the types of saunas and how they can be beneficial to you.
If you are looking for a sauna or steam room installation, we can help you with that.
No matter which sauna you choose, Sauna & Steam Center will deliver and install it wherever you want it to be installed.
We have more than 17 years of experience designing, installing, and repairing saunas and steam rooms.
Thanks to our years of quality work with builders and consumers, we are widely recognized as the go-to sauna and steam room installation service in South Florida.
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 guide you to make the right choice from different types of woods to Himalayan salt accent walls to state-of-the-art heaters and Custom Italian Mosaic Glass tile.
We are A+ with the Better Business Bureau, and our client list is extensive.
Happy customers range from designers to homeowners and developers asking for sauna and steam solutions for jobs as extensive as the Seminole Hard Rock Casinos saunas, steam rooms, and ice fountains.