SAUNA BUYER’S GUIDE
Purchasing a sauna is a big deal and we hope to help you make the decision which sauna is right for you. Let us first review the definition of a sauna, the types of saunas available and their differences, you will then be able to determine what type of sauna is best suited for your needs.
What is a sauna?
A sauna is typically a room heated to between 70° to 100° Celsius, or 135° to 212° Fahrenheit.
Traditional (Finnish) saunas usually use dry heat, with a relative humidity that is often between 10 and 20 percent. In other sauna types, the moisture is higher. Turkish-style saunas, for example, involve a greater level of humidity.
A sauna use can raise the skin temperature to roughly 40° Celsius or 104° Fahrenheit.
As the skin temperature rises, heavy sweating also occurs. The heart rate rises as the body attempts to keep cool. It is not uncommon to lose about a pint of sweat while spending a short time in a sauna.
Types of saunas
There are several types of sauna, based on how the room is heated.
- Wood burning: Wood is used to heat the sauna room and sauna rocks. Wood-burning saunas are usually low in humidity and high in temperature; however, water can be manually poured over the hot rocks to increase humidity. If you are considering a wood burning sauna, please be aware these saunas have a fresh air intake vent, a chimney and fire-proof heat barrier around the wood stove.
- Electrically heated (traditional “Finnish” style saunas): Similar to wood-burning saunas, electrically-heated saunas have high temperatures and low humidity. An electrical heater, attached to the floor, wall, or celing heats the sauna room.
- Infrared: (recommended for inside use only) Far-infrared saunas (FIRS) and NEAR-infrared saunas are different than wood-burning and electrically-heated saunas. Special Carbon or Ceramic lamps use light waves to heat a person's body, not the entire room. Temperatures are typically lower than other saunas, but the person sweats in a similar way. Usually, infrared saunas are about 140℉, or 60°C. Far-infrared saunas have been recommended for people with mobility problems and health issues that make it difficult for them to be in the high temperatures normally found in a sauna.
- Steam room: These are different from saunas. Instead of dry heat, a steam room involves lower heat level, but high humidity and moist heat.
What is a steam room/steam shower?
A steam room is created when a water-filled generator pumps steam into an enclosed space so there is moisture in the air when people are sitting in it.
The temperature inside a steam room is generally between 110℉ and 115℉ with a humidity level of 100 percent.
A steam room provides additional health benefits than that of a sauna, the steam opens up the sinuses, loosens stiff joints (some athletes use a sauna prior to exercise and competitions), removes toxins below the skin and is a very good treatment for acne.
Sauna Wood Construction
The wood used to construct a sauna or steam room varies by manufacturer, location, availability and price. The ideal material is also somewhat subjective, many manufactures offer and recommend sauna models in several different materials, such as Aspen, Pine, Basswood, Poplar, Spruce, Hemlock, Redwood and Cedar. Generally, the most popular and most recommended is Hemlock, Cedar and Aspen (Aspen is not recommended for outdoor sauna use). Cedar and Hemlock are lightweight, resist moisture, does not split, crack, warp or shrink like some other woods, they resists decay, are comfortable and clean to sit on, have natural anti-bacterial resistance and anti-fungal qualities, as well a soothing rich aroma makes them an ideal material for a sauna. Aspen is also a good choice for indoor saunas as well, as it does not have any aroma and is ideal for those who have allergies. Western Red Cedar & Hemlock saunas may cost a little more than other wood constructed saunas; however, under normal circumstances, they usually last much longer.
Sauna selection-What is right for you
Now that you have a better understanding of the types of saunas available and the construction materials used, let’s look further into what choices would be best for you.
As stated above, the traditional style sauna (a dry sauna) of either wood-burning heat source, or electric stove type heat source (most have rocks on top of the heater that you can pour water over to increase humidity levels (a wet sauna)) can heat up to aproximately 200 ℉ in approximately 30 minutes. These types of saunas are excellent for providing maximum heat levels and are a true “Finnish” style sauna experience.
Traditional style wood-burning heated saunas are ideal for larger saunas and are generally used outside, as they obviously require a chimney exhaust system and a fresh air intake.
Traditional style electric stove heated saunas can be used inside or outside.
Infrared saunas provides a different type of heat source and sauna experience. Instead of providing a peripheral heat from heating element or stove, infrared saunas provide heat from a light source similar to the sun’s rays, which travel into our skin giving an amazing effect. An infrared sauna can heat up to and over 130℉ in just a few minutes and you feel the effect immediately. Typically infrared saunas heat to a maximum of 140-150℉, or 66°C. Infrared saunas offer a lower temperature than traditional style saunas; however, many prefer the effects over the traditional stye saunas and claim the results are superior (although very subjective).
For those who may have health issues, mobility issues, recovering from an injury, or those do not want to experience maximum sauna temperatures over 150℉, the infrared saunas are an excellent choice.
Well the aforementioned saunas provide a dry heat, a steam room (or steam shower as some call them) provide a moist heat (100% humidity) and offer increased health benefits.
Questions you should ask yourself when determining what type of sauna is right for you.
Q) Do I want an inside sauna or outside sauna?
Traditional style electric stove type (wet and dry) saunas or infrared saunas are ideal for in-home use.
For out-door sauna use, traditional style wood-burning (wet or dry) or electric stove type (wet or dry) are ideal; however, if you want a large sauna, then a wood-burning sauna may be a better choice. Infrared saunas are not a good choice for out-door use in most areas, as this type of sauna does not heat the interior of the sauna well in colder winter climate areas.
Q) Do I want the maximum heat and experience of a traditional “Finnish” style sauna?
Many prefer this type of traditional experience of a fully heated sauna interior, for maximum weight loss, health benefits and also want the option of a dry or wet sauna (pouring water over the heated rocks to create humidity).
Traditional wood-burning or electric stove heated type heated saunas are ideal for for the traditional “Finnish” style sauna experience.
Q) Do I have any health issues, mobility issues, recovering from an injury, or do not want to experience maximum heat temperatures over 150℉?
If yes, then an infrared sauna is ideal for you and is also the most popular type of sauna we sell.
Q) What type of wood constructed sauna would I prefer?
Saunas come in several options. If you have allergies, then Aspen is a great choice (for indoor use) as there is no smell; however, Cedar and Hemlock are excellent choices, they resist decay, won’t warp or crack, are anti-fungal, easy to clean and have soothing aromas. This is personal preference.
Q) What size sauna is best for me?
Saunas come in various sizes and shapes. You need to determine where your sauna will be set-up and how it will fit in your space. Many people put their new in-home sauna in a bathroom, which works well should you have the space available. Corner units work well as we always seem to easily find a location for them. A suggestion would be to take a measuring tape and some tape (such as green painters tape) and place the measured tape lines on the floor where your sauna placement options may be to ensure you have satisfactory space and like the location. Sauna actual measurement are on each and all of our product pages.
Remember that your indoor sauna will require a power source, so make sure there is a outlet nearby, or plan to run a cord from a suitable source. It is not recommended to put your sauna directly on carpet as there will be some drainage.
Saunas come in sizes from a single person unit, to larger 8+ person units and there are also various seating configurations available, such as opposite facing, single bench, double bench, U-shaped bench seating, lower and elevated benches. Determine what seating configuration would work best for you.
Many sauna users like to lay down, so it’s important to have the foresight and purchase a sauna that has the room for not only you to lay down, but enough room for anyone else that may use the sauna at the same time.
It is much more enjoyable to spread out and have a little extra space in your sauna, than to be cramped.
Q) What is my sauna budget?
Saunas come in various styles, sizes, materials and price ranges. Some prefer to spend the least amount of money and the infrared saunas offer excellent value for your money.
Some prefer larger infrared saunas, or traditional style saunas, which do cost a little more. Some people prefer to purchase saunas made in the USA (which we are proud to offer).
Lifestyle Saunas is pleased to offer what we feel are quality products and great value for every budget.
If you have any further questions regarding our saunas, your sauna purchase, or saunas in general, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.
Also, we would suggest you read our Saunas 101 web page for further understanding and lessons on all things sauna.