Difference Between Steam & Infrared Saunas:  Benefits of Both?

Difference Between Steam & Infrared Saunas: Benefits of Both?

Pilates Blog 12 minute read


In today's fast-paced world, self-care has emerged as a paramount necessity. From mindfulness meditation to intense fitness regimens, everyone has their go-to relaxation routine. Among the myriad of choices, steam and infrared saunas have risen in popularity, providing spa-like pampering right at home. But what sets them apart? Let's dive in and decode the difference between steam and infrared saunas and highlight the benefits of both.

Difference Between Steam & Infrared Saunas: Benefits of Both?

Steam and infrared saunas might seem similar at a first glance, but they operate on different principles and offer varied benefits.

Steam Saunas: The Classic Retreat

  • How They Work: Steam saunas, traditionally known as Finnish saunas, utilize a heater to warm up rocks. Water is then poured over these rocks to produce steam, increasing the humidity in the room.
  • Primary Benefits:
    • Deep Pore Cleansing: The humidity opens up pores, aiding in deep skin cleansing.
    • Respiratory Relief: Steam can alleviate certain respiratory issues by clearing airways.
    • Improved Blood Circulation: The heat enhances blood flow, potentially leading to better cardiovascular health.

Infrared Saunas: The Modern Makeover

  • How They Work: Instead of heating the air, infrared saunas use infrared light waves to directly warm the body. This results in a dry heat as compared to steam saunas.
  • Primary Benefits:
    • Deep Tissue Relaxation: Infrared rays penetrate deeper into the skin, providing profound muscle relaxation.
    • Calorie Burn: Some studies suggest infrared saunas can aid in weight loss by increasing heart rate similar to a workout.
    • Detoxification: Enhanced sweating can help eliminate toxins from the body.

Making the Right Choice for You

Deciding between a steam and an infrared sauna boils down to personal preference. Some relish the humid embrace of steam saunas, while others prefer the dry warmth of infrared. Assess your needs, space, and budget to make an informed choice.

Safety Precautions and Recommendations

No matter the type of sauna, safety should always be a priority.

  • Hydration: Saunas can dehydrate. Always hydrate before and after.
  • Duration: Limit sessions to 15-20 minutes initially, and listen to your body.
  • Medical Consultation: Consult with a physician, especially if you have medical conditions.


What are the core differences between steam and infrared saunas? Steam saunas use water on heated rocks to produce steam and increase room humidity. Infrared saunas use infrared light waves to directly heat the body, resulting in dry warmth.

Which sauna type is better for skin cleansing? Steam saunas, with their humidity, are generally believed to be better for deep skin cleansing due to the opening of pores.

Are infrared saunas more energy-efficient? Yes, infrared saunas tend to consume less energy as they heat the body directly instead of the surrounding air.

Can saunas help with weight loss? Infrared saunas can potentially aid in weight loss by increasing the heart rate, similar to physical exercise. However, relying solely on saunas for weight loss isn't recommended.

How often should one use a sauna? It depends on individual preference, but 3-4 times a week is generally deemed safe for most people.

Are there any health risks associated with using saunas? Overuse or staying too long can lead to dehydration or heat-related illnesses. It's crucial to hydrate and consult a physician before starting regular sauna sessions, especially if you have underlying health conditions.


Whether you lean towards the moisture-rich environment of a steam sauna or the deep, penetrating warmth of an infrared one, the benefits of both are undeniable. From skin cleansing, respiratory relief to relaxation, saunas have a lot to offer. The key is to make an informed choice, prioritize safety, and indulge in moderation. After all, in the quest for wellness, it's all about balance.

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