Infrared saunas have enjoyed a huge surge in popularity over the past few years, with touted benefits for inflammation, skin health, and muscle recovery. Traditional steam saunas are also thought to benefit circulation and heart health, so you might be left wondering, “what’s the difference between steam and infrared sauna?”

On the surface, they seem pretty similar – they both make you hot and sweaty, so if you’re unsure whether to choose infrared sauna or steam sauna, keep reading as we dive into how they work, their benefits, and which is the best for you.

The Difference Between Steam and Infrared Sauna

So, what’s the difference between infrared sauna and steam rooms? While they both create warmth in the body, they produce this reaction in quite different ways. One way of thinking about the differences is that steam saunas generate heat from the outside, which works its way into our system. Infrared saunas warm you from the inside out, with the use of infrared rays that penetrate the skin.

What's the Difference Between Steam and Infrared Sauna?

The Benefits of a Steam Saunas

Steam rooms work by generating hot and humid air in a closed environment. Ambient temperatures in a steam sauna can range from anywhere between 75 – 100 degrees celsius but can sometimes feel even higher because of the humidity present in the air. The hot environment warms the body from the outside in and triggers a sweat response in participants. They are sometimes referred to as wet sauna.

A fundamental point to consider when thinking about the difference between infrared sauna and steam rooms is that the presence of steam is widely believed to be beneficial for cardiovascular health and lowering blood pressure. The hot and humid air is also hugely helpful if you have respiratory complaints or blocked sinuses as the mucous membrane is warmed up and cleared away.

What About Infrared Saunas?

On the other hand, infrared saunas make use of light to penetrate the skin with dry heat, triggering the same sweat response as a wet sauna but from the inside out. The infrared rays penetrate three cms deep and heat the body efficiently from the inside out without the need for extremely high temperatures. Infrared sauna rooms are usually from 40 – 55 degrees celsius. The heat from the infrared rays penetrates directly into your skin tissue, muscles, and cells and creates an intense sweat that will detox your system, relax your muscles and joints, decrease inflammation, and boost the radiance of your skin.

Another critical difference between steam and infrared sauna is that light in the form of infrared radiation is felt as heat in the body but is entirely invisible to the naked eye. Although invisible, infrared waves are incredibly powerful and support essential biological processes like:

1. Improved Circulation

When the body is heated, the heart rate increases and capillaries under our skin dilate to expel excess heat. This natural function increases blood flow around the body, meaning that the heart, lungs, and muscles function more efficiently, transporting blood around the body to where it’s needed. High blood pressure is a precursor to cardiovascular illness and stroke; improving circulation will reduce blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing disease and illness.

2. Stress Reduction

Studies have drawn a link between chronic stress and chronic inflammation, leading to a myriad of other health complaints over time. Infrared light releases your physical body of stiffness and pain while giving your mind time to switch off and recover. This allows you to naturally manage your cortisol levels, bringing them down into a more manageable range. An increased heart rate also means our body will release its feel-good chemicals – endorphins, which will make you feel great!

3. Better Sleep Quality

The heating and then cooling process that occurs after an infrared sauna will heighten melatonin production in your body, encouraging more restful sleep at night. With regular attendance, an infrared sauna will also reduce toxins in your system, allowing you to relax more quickly and have a better nights sleep.

4. Detoxification

We are all exposed to and even consume toxic materials daily. From heavy metals in our soil and air, to air pollution and chemicals sprayed on the fresh produce we eat. As a result, we often have a build-up of toxic material in our systems, infrared heat breaks up these toxins, and they are purged through the intense sweat from the infrared light. Flushing out toxins through sweat will also improve the tone and firmness of your skin, giving you a fresher and more youthful complexion.

5. Muscle and Joint Recovery

Heat penetration encourages muscle dilation, which relieves stiffness and prevents injuries. Improved circulation means joints and muscles have greater access to oxygen, decreasing the effects of lactic acid and allowing for a quicker recovery.

Decreased stiffness and pain will allow you to work harder and build more muscle, improving your balance and coordination, and strengthening your bones and tendons, meaning less chance of injuries in the future.

6. Boosts Metabolism

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, regular sauna use can boost your cardiovascular system with benefits similar to that gained by running. This is because sitting in a hot environment will engage your metabolic process, which means you burn calories faster as blood pumps around your body at a faster rate. This increase in blood flow will burn fat over time as your body increases sweat production to cool itself. Moreover, infrared sauna use can also reduce the appearance of cellulite.

infrared sauna benefits

So, Infrared Sauna or Steam Sauna: Which is Best for You?

Both steam and infrared saunas are beneficial for your overall health and wellbeing. The difference between steam and infrared saunas is that infrared saunas produce a deeper sweat and more intense detoxification thanks to infrared lightwaves that efficiently and effectively penetrate directly into human tissue. This creates improved circulation, stress relief, detoxification, improved joint and muscle recovery and improved metabolism.

Another significant difference between steam and infrared sauna is the presence of steam in a traditional sauna, which is particularly beneficial for clearing lungs and sinuses. This is most relevant during the winter months when cooler temperatures and dryer air exacerbate respiratory complaints. The difference between steam and infrared saunas will mean that depending on the state of your current health, either will definitely be a good option.

At our exclusive studio on the Northern Beaches, Rimba Sweat has both standard and large Sydney saunas, so you can enjoy the relaxing benefits of the sauna alone or with company. We have three standard rooms that offer a full-spectrum infrared sauna. These rooms are a sanctuary where you can stretch out, relax, and embrace some time alone in a private setting. We also have two larger rooms that offer the same full-spectrum infrared sauna with more space to stretch out or practice yoga with a friend. The choice is yours!

Are you ready to enjoy a private, calming oasis? Book online now and enjoy access to our luxury infrared sauna studio in Manly.