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As part of their namesake, infrared saunas use wavelengths of infrared radiation to heat the body directly, promoting a range of benefits for health and wellness. Better blood circulation, lowered stress levels, and chronic pain relief are just some of the results that can be expected with regular infrared sauna sessions. 

So, how exactly does an infrared sauna work? Does the infrared light actually affect your body, or is it just a reaction that happens in the ‘heat’ of the moment? You’ve got the questions; we’ve got the answers. Let’s take a closer look at how infrared saunas work. 

What Is Infrared Radiation?

Let’s begin by understanding the main component of infrared saunas — infrared radiation.

Infrared radiation isn’t merely a red-coloured light. In fact it’s not possible to ‘see’ infrared radiation as it falls outside of the wavelength of visible light, just after red-coloured light. Like light, infrared radiation is a type of electromagnetic radiation that is emitted in relation to heat. Think of the heat that radiates from a fire towards you — that’s what infrared radiation is. 

Infrared saunas utilise a safe and moderated level of this ‘radiated heat’ through specialised infrared lamps to directly heat the body, providing the signature hot and sweaty experience that many have come to love. 

What Are Far Infrared Saunas?

You’ll be forgiven for thinking that far infrared saunas have infrared lamps placed a distance away from you. ‘Far infrared’ actually refers to the specific range of wavelength of infrared radiation from 15 μm (micrometres) to 1 mm. At this range, far infrared radiation is able to penetrate the body’s skin up to 3.8 cm, allowing the inside of the body to become heated up rather than just the skin. 

Far infrared saunas are the most common type of infrared saunas, and are the closest alternative to traditional saunas with the added benefit of being suitable for those with sensitive skin or other skin conditions.

What Are Near Infrared Saunas?

Near infrared saunas use, you guessed it, near infrared wavelengths that come close to red-coloured light on the visible spectrum. As a result of the longer infrared wavelengths they use, near infrared saunas don’t radiate as much heat as infrared saunas do. Instead, they have a focus on red light therapy, which can help with sleeping disorders and improve some skin conditions. 

Are Infrared Saunas Safe?

Yes, infrared saunas are completely safe for use. However, some individuals with severe skin conditions or sensitivity to heat may experience some discomfort while using sauna sessions due to induced sweating and level of heat. 

If you are thinking of using an infrared sauna but have a history of skin-related conditions or heat injury, you should consult your doctor before going for a session.

How Long Has Infrared Technology Been Around?

Infrared technology use for saunas has been around for a long time — since 1891 where the first radiant heat sauna was first proposed in the form of a bath. The technology underwent a revival in 1970’s Japan offering a “soothing warmth” for attendees, eventually evolving into the infrared saunas we have today!

What Happens to Your Body in an Infrared Sauna?

It gets hot! As the infrared sauna radiates heat into your body, you’ll feel your body temperature rise, and your blood vessels will expand, increasing the level of blood circulation in your body. With heat comes sweat, and your body will be producing lots of it, helping to get rid of nasty toxins in your pores and system.  

Despite all this internal activity, it’s very common to feel a sense of relief and relaxation during a sauna session. Many users report feeling a sense of mental wellness after an infrared sauna session and frequently use it to de-stress. 

Benefits of Infrared vs. Traditional Saunas

So, how does an infrared sauna compare to a traditional one, and is there a clear winner between the two? 

Well, since radiation is applied directly to the body, the air in infrared saunas are not heated up like in traditional steam saunas, the ambient temperatures in far infrared saunas are usually at a more comfortable range of 40 – 60 °C. In comparison, the environment in a traditional steam sauna can is can get as hot as 70 – 90 °C. 

Infrared saunas also take less time to become ready for use (15-20 minutes), while traditional saunas can take up to 40 minutes before they are sufficiently heated up. 

Last but not least, modern infrared saunas come with a suite of tools that add the experience, including speakers that play your favourite tunes and comfortable seating that you won’t find at a traditional sauna. 

For those who prefer to sweat it out in comfort, infrared saunas are the better choice. At Rimba Sweat, we have private infrared sauna suites in Cronulla, Manly, and Neutral Bay that offer the perfect environment to experience all of the benefits that infrared saunas provide. After all, the best way to see how infrared saunas work is to try them for yourself — book your session with us today!