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Traditional Finnish Sauna VS Infrared - What's The Deal?

The differences between true Finnish sauna "sweat bathing" and infrared heat therapy might surprise you!

So you're ready to add a sauna, one of today's hottest wellness amenities, to your home and not sure what to look for. You've visited saunas that are hot and steamy, heating up your body to extreme temperatures and know it feels good for you, especially when combined with cold therapy, but you've also been seeing a lot of Instagram posts about "infrared saunas" and you're curious. What's the difference?

Turns out a whole heck of a lot!

First, a true "Finnish" sauna is HOT, at least 185°F, and will have a dedicated heater or stove that houses a basket of hot rocks for ladling water on. This can be done by hand or automatically - with or without the addition of aromatherapy - and will create a little steam (now more trendily referred to by its Finnish term "löyly").

This small increase in humidity not only makes the sauna feel even hotter, but it also creates that sauna atmosphere you're familiar with. The heated rocks hiss and crackle as they emit steam and aroma. This sweat-inducing, primarily dry heat targets your entire body.

Infrared heated rooms, on the other hand, are not saunas at all. They are low heat, typically just 98°F (cooler than a standard hot tub), and the heat targets specific body parts, not the whole body. Say, for example, you'd like some heat on your back, then an infrared chair or light that targets your spine would be lovely.

In a traditional sauna, users actively go in and out, heating themselves up and then cooling themselves down. Often this will be 2-3 sessions, with up to 15 minutes in the sauna, followed by a cold shower/bath, and repeated.

The list of proven physical and mental benefits of sauna bathing are long, and include relaxation, stress reduction, decreased muscle pain, improved circulation, respiratory health, reduced hypertension, and lots more.

Infrared heat, which has some very specific and enjoyable benefits - like reducing joint and muscle pain - does not need to be contained in a sauna-like room. Instead, infrared heat's benefits are best enjoyed by targeting specific body parts. This can be through a heat lamp, a heating blanket, ceramic heat loungers and, cleverly, in a KLAFS sauna outfitted with infrared seat backs or panels.

If you want the option of both types of heat, KLAFS hybrid saunas (with infrared seat backs) is the way to go.

To learn more about the differences between a traditional Finnish sauna and an "infrared sauna," read this.


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