Infrared Sauna vs. Traditional Sauna vs. Dry Sauna: Detailed Comparison, Cost, Benefits, And More

When you hear the word “sauna”, you might immediately think of exposure to heat, sweating, and the benefits that come with the process. But did you know that in the world of heat therapy, there are three different types to choose from?

There are dry, infrared, and traditional saunas. Each has its own heat range, heating method, health benefits, costs, and drawbacks which we’ll talk about in this blog post.

What Is A Sauna?

Having originated in Finland around 7000bc, a sauna is a small room or building that uses heat and moisture to promote good health.

Its earliest forms were dug into the earth with stones lined around the hole. The word “sauna” comes from the Finnish language, which means “room for sweating.”

Saunas have been used for years across different cultures as a therapy to improve circulation by increasing blood flow, relaxation, and stress reduction. They help detoxify your body by eliminating impurities through sweat glands in your skin.

Some studies have shown that regular sauna use lowers heart disease risk factors like cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and depression symptoms.

A study done at Karolinska Institute showed that just 20 minutes of infrared saunas increased metabolic rate more than exercise does! Saunas can be beneficial for pain relief too, especially if you suffer from chronic ailments like rheumatoid arthritis.

3 Different Types Of Saunas

There are three main types of saunas- dry, traditional, and infrared saunas.

Dry Saunas

The oldest type of sauna, a dry sauna is heated with either wood or electric heaters. This produces very high temperatures (up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit) and low humidity levels.

Because the air is so hot and dry, it can be difficult to breathe in regular dry sauna bathing which is why they’re not as popular as infrared and traditional saunas.

Traditional Steam Saunas

A traditional steam sauna heats up using an electric heater or stove and has higher humidity levels than a dry sauna. Steam rooms usually have wooden benches and walls, and a sauna bather often sits on top of towels to avoid getting too wet from the steam.

Infrared Saunas

The newest type of sauna, an infrared sauna produces intense heat with low dry air levels. Infrared heat up your core body temperature with penetrating light rays that are significantly more powerful than those produced by a traditional sauna stove.

Heating Method Further Explained

When comparing the different sauna types, the main highlight would usually be the heating method. In this section, we’ll dig deeper into the heating mechanism of each type and how it affects your overall sauna experience.

How The Dry Sauna Works

It is a common misconception that the heat in dry saunas is coming from burning wood. In fact, it has nothing to do with fire at all, despite its name “sauna”.

Instead, dry saunas produce heat from an electric heating element, just like a toaster or oven does. The dry sauna generates high temperatures and low humidity. Dry steam is created by pouring water onto hot rocks in a bucket.

Dry sauna users are advised to avoid direct exposure of their bodies to the air. Instead, they sit on a towel or bench made of natural materials like wood which provide support and prevent burning from the hot seat.

In addition, most saunas have a cold-water bucket in one corner where users can dip a washcloth if it gets too warm for them during the sauna session.

How The Traditional Sauna Works

A traditional Finnish sauna has one heater which heated air that warms and cools the steam rooms. In this type of sauna bathing, the user sits within a wood-covered space heated in the electric sauna by a heated pool of rock.

The rock is heated by adding water to it, creating steam. The sauna bather then sits on a bench in the sauna and bathes in the steam. The main difference between a conventional sauna and a dry sauna is that the latter doesn’t entail pouring water over hot rocks.

How The Infrared Sauna Works

Infrared saunas use electromagnetic radiation instead of direct flame to produce even temperatures throughout the room. An infrared heat therapy produces warmth by emitting near-infrared light, the same wavelength of visible light that is given off by our sun.

In contrast to traditional saunas, in infrared radiation, the temperature of the air has little influence on the temperature of infrared light. Because infrared energy is low-level energy and not high intensity like in a traditional dry sauna, you will feel warm but never hot inside IR saunas, especially in far infrared saunas.

The energized air warms your body by moving molecules within your skin up into cells closer to the surface where heat can escape more easily through pores in your skin or sweat glands than simply breathing out extra carbon dioxide as you breathe normally. This process is called convective heating.

Infrared produces light rays that penetrate into your body instead of warming you up from outside only as other types do. Since it doesn’t create much moisture, you can use this kind of heater with ease even if you’re not very athletic or fit since they don’t leave air humid enough to be uncomfortable when inhaled deeply.

Heat Range Or Temperatures

Find out which among the sauna types has the hottest heat range.

Traditional Sauna Heat Range

A traditional steam bath involves sitting on a bench with no backrest while being exposed to heat near or at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, typically for 10 to 20 minutes.

Modern saunas inspired by Finnish style normally go up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It requires a higher heat range since the air is heated first, followed by your skin and core temperature.

Dry Sauna Heat Range

The air temperature inside a dry sauna may reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 Celsius) or more. It has almost the same range as traditional saunas.

Infrared Sauna Heat Range

An infrared sauna is a type of dry sauna. The air temperature inside infrared radiation or an IR sauna may reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 Celsius).

Ideally, far infrared sauna units would be heated at a lower range, around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because lower heat provides the right mix of comfort and a sufficient amount of infrared energy just enough to offer the benefits of infrared saunas.

Heat Retention Time In The Sauna Room: What Is The Ideal Duration Of Each Type Of Sauna Session?

Each type has different requirements, even when it comes to how long one should bathe in a sauna.

Traditional Sauna

Traditional saunas or Finnish-style steam sauna bathing involves sitting on a bench with no backrest while being exposed to heat near or at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, typically for 10 to 20 minutes.


Dry Sauna

Fifteen to 20 minutes on average. Some people go longer and some shorter, but the usual time is 15 minutes (up to an hour maximum) in dry saunas.

The maximum amount of time that one can stay in a dry sauna before feeling faint is about 15 to 25 minutes. The best way to know if you are overheating is by being aware of how your body feels after each session and stopping when you feel uncomfortably warm.

Infrared Saunas

A session in an infrared sauna can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the amount of heat you want and how susceptible your body is to overheating at that time.

After a first-time exposure, some people might feel uncomfortable with their bodies feeling warmer than normal for several hours. This is completely normal as your body is getting used to the heat. Just like any treatment, first-time exposure would usually result in minimal side effects since you are introducing a new form of therapy to your system.

Some sauna users could also go 20 to 60 minutes depending on how hot they want it or need for their specific health concerns. However, note that longer sessions would commonly require the assistance or recommendation of a healthcare professional.

An infrared sauna session is ideal for those who like working out and exercising since it provides a good sweat that helps remove toxins and impurities within our body while releasing harmful chemicals stored up over years.

Heat retention time remains constant throughout the infrared sauna session because it is a constant temperature throughout. Traditional steam saunas use hot air while an infrared sauna uses only radiant heat.

Comparing Similarities Among Dry Saunas, Traditional Saunas And Infrared Saunas

To begin, we must look at the distinctions in the sauna room and the share of advantages. People who take a sauna bath may benefit from hot bathing in terms of relaxation and stress reduction, sweating, detoxification, and pain alleviation.

These characteristics are found in all three varieties; however, their effectiveness varies. The health benefits of heated bathing are partially due to saunas stimulating self-inducing symptoms.

Wonderful Health Benefits Of Each Type Of Sauna (Dry, Traditional And Infrared Saunas)

Health Benefits Of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing

Detoxification: Sweating in a dry sauna helps the body to get rid of toxins. The high temperatures cause you to sweat, which releases these toxins.

Relaxation: The heat from a dry sauna can help relax muscles and relieve tension.

Skin purification: The hot air in a dry sauna can soften skin, remove oils and dirt, and improve complexion. However, the effects might not be as impressive as other types can offer.

Weight loss: Just like infrared saunas, dry sauna bathing helps burn calories, especially when combined with a healthy diet and exercise program.

Health Benefits Of A Traditional Steam Sauna Bath

Detoxification: In the same way that dry saunas help you remove harmful substances in your body, the high temperatures and humidity help open up your pores, which expedites the detoxification process.

Pain relief: The heat and humidity from a traditional sauna can help alleviate pain and swelling.

Skin Purification: If you’re suffering from acne or want to get rid of wrinkles, the hot steam in a traditional sauna can be a great remedy to try.

Cardiovascular health: Exposure to the heat and humidity found in a traditional sauna can help increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. This is beneficial for overall cardiovascular health.

Health Benefits Of Infrared Sauna Benefits

Detoxification: Similar to a traditional sauna, sweating in an infrared sauna helps the human body to get rid of toxins. The infrared sauna benefits you by penetrating your skin more deeply than heated air, which allows for a greater release of toxins.

Pain relief: Infrared heat can help reduce inflammation and pain throughout the body. This is beneficial for those who suffer from chronic pain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Cardiovascular health: Infrared light has been shown to improve cardiovascular health. This is beneficial if you are aiming to improve your blood circulation and have a healthy heart.

Weight loss: Infrared saunas cause you to burn calories at a rate that is three times higher than when resting. When combined with a healthy diet and exercise program, this can lead to significant weight loss over time.

Skin purification: The infrared light in an infrared sauna helps remove oils and dirt from the skin, as well as soften it. Sauna can improve complexion and help reduce the signs of aging.

Enhanced comfort. Since infrared saunas work even with low levels of heat as compared to other types, you can engage in deep relaxation with reduced discomfort. This means you can endure longer sessions without sacrificing a relaxing wellness routine.

Portability. Unlike other sauna bathing methods that require you to use or build a sauna room, some infrared saunas come in portable devices you can use at home or carry on the go. These compact units combine practicality and cost-effectiveness.

Cost Of Each Type Of Sauna (Including Installation)

All three types of saunas have health benefits that are worth the investment!

Traditional Saunas

A traditional Finnish-style steam bath, which involves sitting on a bench with no backrest while being exposed to heat near or at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, typically for $2000 up to $4000. Constructing your own room would require you to spend around $3000 to $12000, including installation and extra costs.

Dry Saunas

The cost of a dry sauna is typically around $3000 to $6000. They are cheaper than traditional ones because there’s no need for special equipment inside the saunas (like in infrared).

Infrared Saunas

The average price for an infrared sauna is about $800 up to $2500. It is important to note that the price can vary greatly depending on size, features, and materials used. This pricing is usually applicable for customized infrared saunas built at your own home.

You can also find portable infrared saunas that cost only $150 to $350. These types of sauna are usually foldable and extremely lightweight, you can bring them wherever you go!

However, if you’re looking to put up commercial infrared saunas, they will cost you between $2000 and $4000.

Maintenance Of Saunas

The most significant consideration when purchasing saunas is that the customer will enjoy them and be unable to clean them. Although some saunas need cleaning, they are usually quite low-maintenance.

Infrared saunas would be a good way to keep maintenance to a minimum. Infrared sauna companies developed this dry heat technology to create only a little amount of water from the perspiration you produce and help to prevent mold and mildew growth. Especially if you’re buying portable at-home infrared saunas, extensive maintenance will not be an issue.

Other saunas are warm, wet places where, while sweating is beneficial, they’re also nice homes for molds and mildews.

Disadvantages Of Dry, Infrared And Traditional Saunas

There are a few disadvantages to using any of the three types of saunas.

In a nutshell, one main disadvantage of traditional and dry saunas is that they can be quite hot, which may not be suitable for everyone. Another disadvantage is that they can be quite expensive.

The main disadvantage of infrared saunas is that they require infrared heaters, which may not be widely available as compared to electric heaters and wood that other saunas use.

However, they offer many health benefits that are worth the investment.

Disadvantages Of A Traditional Sauna

The high heat and humidity can be uncomfortable for some people.

Traditional saunas require a lot of space.

Disadvantages Of A Dry Sauna

Dry saunas do not get as hot as traditional or infrared saunas, so they may not be as effective in terms of detoxification and pain relief.

Dry saunas do not produce as much steam as traditional saunas, so they may be less effective in terms of skin purification.

Disadvantages Of An Infrared Sauna

Infrared saunas require special equipment that is not found in traditional or dry saunas.

Infrared saunas can be larger than traditional and dry saunas, so they may require more space. That is if you’re planning to build your own infrared sauna room at home. Otherwise, portable infrared units will not eat up too much space.

Infrared light may lead to potential risks in relation to exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF).

These modern saunas rose into popularity later than traditional and dry saunas did so more research studies are needed to prove their claims. Some are saying they are only a fad and are only overhyped by marketing.

The Best Type Of Sauna For You

Conventionally infrared saunas have been found safe, but not significant compared with traditional saunas.

So comparing saunas to other types of water has a little bit of a practical advantage as far as convenience.

More Tips On Choosing The Best Sauna

When you are looking into buying sauna equipment read all of the information you need. Make logical decisions about whether certain products offer superior health benefits. In reality, all three types of saunas are good for heating baths.

You’ve got the goal of getting an optimal sauna for the right size, the available space, and the budget.

FAQs On Sauna

Check out these common questions by sauna users!

What Is The Difference Between A Wet And Dry Heat Experience In A Hot Tub?

A dry sauna, traditional sauna, and infrared sauna all use heat to relax the body. These three have heating systems that are designed to optimize your health.

While a hot tub may provide the same experience as traditional and dry saunas do, the benefits are not guaranteed to be of the same level since the former serves a different purpose, mainly for cleansing and relaxation. More especially, hot tubs cannot replicate the infrared energy that infrared saunas provide.

Why Do People Like Using An Infrared Sauna Vs Other Types Of Steam Rooms (Traditional Saunas And Dry Sauna)?

The infrared light in an infrared sauna penetrates your skin more deeply than heated air, which allows for a greater release of toxins.

Additionally, the heat from an infrared sauna is gentler on the body, making it a good option for those who are new to using a steam room.

Finally, because the infrared light waves are longer than the heated air, they allow you to stay in the sauna longer without feeling too hot.

Who Is Not Allowed To Use These Types Of Saunas?

People with high blood pressure, heart disease, or pregnant women should not use any form of sauna without a professional’s advice. It is always important to consult a doctor before using heat therapy or any type of new health regimen.


Saunas come in three different types. Whether you opt for dry sauna bathing, traditional saunas, and infrared saunas – you are sure to reap the benefits of heat exposure therapy!

Find a sauna that meets your health goals while still being affordable. It’s critical to choose the sauna you love most and find comfort in using.


Nothing beats the feeling of being able to enjoy a relaxing sauna session in the comfort of your home . Buy your own at-home infrared sauna now!