Pretty much the first thing that comes into people's mind when they hear about 'infrared sauna' is 'hot, wet, uncomfortable...not for me' followed by 'Infrared? Won't that do more harm than good?'
Let's find out how infrared saunas really work.
Okay, we’re probably all familiar with the traditional hot rock/dry/steam saunas...
So, let’s start there. Load up visions of that overweight dude with a towel that is too small trying to start awkward conversation with you. Got it? Perfect.
In traditional saunas, the heat is generated from the rocks. The hot rocks are heated using electric coils underneath them. Once the rocks get hot, the room is heated as air molecules meet the surface of the hot rocks. This is called conduction. It’s the simplest form of heat transfer, it’s very old school and very inefficient. That is why traditional saunas cost a fortune to run and heating them up takes time.
Look familiar? This is not a pleasurable sauna experience...
Once the rocks are hot, often water is poured over the rocks to add some humidity to the sauna. The hot air and steam then meet our body and transfer the heat via conduction to our skin, and we start getting hot.
This is a very inefficient way of heating the body and the heat creates only a surface sweat for the body. Because it is inefficient, these saunas need to be extremely hot to transfer the heat, which leads to what most people describe as discomfort and an inability to breathe properly.
As the sauna is so hot, the body goes into survival mode, putting stress on the cardiovascular system, increasing and or sometimes drastically lowering blood pressure and generally working the body in a negative way. Stress on the body is good. But 100 degrees for 30 minutes is pushing the body a bit much as far as I’m concerned.
Did I just lose all the readers with a European background?
Look, it’s not that I don’t like steam saunas. It’s not that I think they’re bad. I just know there are better, more safe ways of creating heat stress on the body. For many, steam saunas are too hot and too uncomfortable to even use and so they’re going to miss out of the benefits of heat stress on the body anyway.
The infrared sauna on the other hand...
uses infrared heat to heat the body. How? Electricity is run through the heaters on the walls, which through the resistance of the heater itself, increases the surface temperature of the heater. Once the heater reaches a certain temperature, the light (which we perceive as heat) emitted from the heater is far infrared heat. This light (let’s call it heat to save confusion) interacts with the body directly and penetrates 4 – 5 cm into the skin. Creating a cardiovascular workout on the body whilst removing heavy metals and toxins from deep within the skin. As the sauna heats the body directly, it wastes much less energy heating the air compared with a traditional sauna. You can put a bottle of water in front of an infrared heater and it won’t get warm, they are designed to heat YOU.
An iHealth Infrared Sauna is a comfortable place due to the type of heat used. iHealth Sauna - A beautiful space for meditation.
Since you are being heated more deeply the infrared sauna can work at much lower, more comfortable temperature than the traditional sauna, at a range from 45 – 70°. In fact, generally I recommend 45 – 55°. This means the body can work naturally to cool itself and not be in a shock state as in a steam sauna.
But Alex what do you mean it emits light? I’ve used an infrared sauna and I can’t see anything?
If we jump back to year 12 physics...
we recall that the sun emits the full spectrum of light. Light is a form of energy in the form of a wave or particle.
Side note: In fact, there is a wave model and a particle model for light, both of which stand up in different circumstances and are yet to be proven over the other. In this book if I use either of the term’s energy or light or particle or rays, I mean light, which means energy, which is a particle, or a wave, and we feel it as heat.…okay you get it.
The sun's spectrum includes gamma rays, x rays, radio waves, ultra violet light, visible light, infrared light and more. It’s a very wide spectrum of light and visible light, the light that human beings can see through our eyes, is just a small part of the full spectrum. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t other light out there that we can’t see. In fact, humans can see less than 1% of the light emitted by the sun. This explains why the infrared heaters can emit light without us seeing anything.
When the infrared heater gets to temperature (about 2 – 3 minutes), it emits infrared light/energy which when meeting our skin transfers that energy into the cell. As cells increase in energy, they begin to vibrate more which begins knocking into the next cell. This vibration transfers energy into the next cell which transfers energy into the next cell. This process begins causing heat as a bi product of the vibration, and guess what, we start feeling warmth. This all happens quickly and it’s quite amazing.
The infrared heat can transfer its energy more deeply into the body than other kinds of heat, which is why we feel like we’re ‘being warmed from the inside out’ when using an infrared sauna. When in fact, we are just being warmed more deeply than we normally feel because we don't normally sit in front of infrared long enough for it to have this beautiful effect. Because we’re being heated so deeply, we don’t need the sauna to be as hot which leads to a far more conformable sauna experience.
So, for all of you who hear the word sauna and think ‘too hot’, ‘wet’, ‘uncomfortable’, ‘wrecks my hair’, ‘not my thing’, think again.
Yes, you get sweaty from an increase in temperature, but aside from that, all the similarities between steam sauna and infrared sauna end there. This means we can use the infrared sauna every day. This is how the infrared sauna is the most powerful health product on the market now and for a long time. We can use it daily, experience all the benefits the sauna has to offer and not sweat ourselves to exhaustion.
There is always one person in the relationship...
who doesn’t want a sauna. They think it’s too hot, too wet, too much maintenance, we won’t use it etc. Once they can relax these fears and try the sauna, even just for 10 minutes, they experience the ‘aha’ moment. They always come out saying ‘it’s not as hot as I thought it would be. I can actually breath...’
Once this mindset is shifted, we can start talking about sauna and all the amazing health improvements they have to offer and how to achieve them.
Think it's time you look into a sauna for yourself?