Go Back

The infrared sauna is quickly becoming a wellness center favorite thanks to the specific benefits it entails. Taking the right choices in terms of design will make a difference in any installation.

As competition among wellness centers and other leisure options grows, operators look for new ways to improve their facilities and offer unique experiences to their users. The infrared sauna represents an outstanding option to surprise and improve clients’ experiences, building up from the traditional wellness sauna practice.

Learn what an infrared sauna is and how to make sure your facilities can access the right type.

1. The infrared sauna: a definition

The infrared sauna , meaning the addition of infrared radiation to the sauna experience, represents one of the latest innovations that wellness centers can provide to their users.

While some may find that the high temperatures of a traditional finnish sauna are too extreme for them to enjoy the experience, an infrared sauna offers the benefits of a sauna without the excessive heat typically associated with it. In fact, an infrared sauna can operate at a lower temperature (usually between 40ºC and 60ºC ) than a traditional sauna (typically at temperatures between 70ºC and 100ºC).

Unlike a traditional sauna, where air is heated, an infrared sauna uses infrared lamps (which employ electromagnetic radiation) to generate heat. The working principle of the infrared sauna is actually based on the functioning of infrared radiation. This type of radiation presents a longer wavelength and is not visible to the naked eye. As such, its wavelength is shorter than that of microwaves but longer than the visible light wave.

We can distinguish between three types of radiation:

  • IR-A or short wave: has the highest penetration of the three and the least absorption. Its rays range from 750 to 1500 nm.
  • IR-B or medium wave: with a superficial absorption and, consequently, less penetration, its main benefits remain at skin level. This type of radiation ranges from 1,500 to 3,000 nm.
  • IR-C or longwave infrared: ranging between 3,000 and 10,000 nm, this type of radiation has practically no therapeutic use, and is mainly employed for sterilization and heating purposes, as it’s able to create pleasant and comforting sensations.

The use of infrared light generates a warm temperature, which not only generates a warm atmosphere in the space and those within it, but also penetrates deep into the body’s tissues, providing the user with a relaxing experience with beneficial health effects. Thus, infrared rays promote the elimination of toxins, improve blood flow, relieve pain and heal bone problems.

2. Key considerations when designing an infrared sauna

The first thing to be considered is that it’s possible to adapt a traditional sauna and turn it into an infrared one. The result is an appealing solution with great functionality and which can be completely customized.

In fact, many options to meet different needs are currently available, including aesthetic design choices, sizes, and infrared configurations such as blanket panels behind the sauna structure and panels and traditional heater options.

These saunas are often made of wood (spruce, redwood, hemlock, poplar, basswood or cedar). Cedar continues to be the top option of infrared saunas today. Cedar is resistant to cracking and splitting when heated and cooled since it’s a soft wood. It’s also the longest lasting sauna wood available. It naturally eliminates the presence of moulds and bacteria – an important consideration in warm and moist environments such as saunas. However, wood maintenance operations are always necessary.

The heater in your sauna is also an important sauna material for obvious reasons. There are two main types of heaters to consider: carbon and ceramic. Carbon panel heaters are larger in size, distribute infrared heat more evenly, and produce high quality, long wave infrared heat, but typically, at a weaker level. Ceramic-based heaters emit a greater amount of infrared heat than carbon panels, but create hot spots in the sauna and produce lower quality shorter infrared waves. A combination of the two provides the best of both worlds.

Another thing to consider is the amount of electromagnetic fields (EMF) . In everyday life we are subject to EMF exposure. From the moment we turn on the lights to our time spent in front of a computer. Fortunately, the level of EMF exposure is relatively low in normal work or home environments. Infrared saunas ensure low exposure rates stay within the threshold of what is considered safe.

3. Benefits of infrared radiation

There are many advantages to integrating an infrared sauna into your wellness space. First of all, users experience the following benefits offered by this experience:

  • Prevents aging, as it’s been shown to stimulate the production of collagen.
  • Enhances physical recovery after intense sport or rehab processes.
  • Improves life quality when incorporated into wellness routines.
  • Helps relax and recover while reducing stress.
  • Increases cardiovascular health in several areas, adding positive effects in endothelium-dependent dilatation, the autonomic nervous system and systemic blood pressure.
  • Reduces muscle and joint pain, as it causes blood vessels to relax and dilate.
  • Allows for greater detoxification, that is, the removal of toxins, through a cleansing process in which the skin is detoxified.
  • Performance improvement of sportsmen and women. Muscular pains have been reduced together with a better muscular recovery. At the same time, the sessions have allowed a greater sensation of improvement in sleep.

Secondly, there are a number of advantages for operators that integrate this kind of solution to their business, the main one being that the infrared sauna offers a more unique and exclusive experience compared to traditional (and better-known as) Finnish saunas. And it also adds a note of originality to the facilities, which can attract users looking for new experiences in their wellness routines.

4. How to use an infrared sauna

Today, the fact is that infrared sauna treatments can both be found at wellness centres , sport clubs or spas. If you decide to give it a try, there are certain overall guidelines that it’s preferable to follow when using saunas.

Here are some tips that can get you started:

  • Make sure you drink water. Being hydrated before going into an infrared sauna is essential, as water loss can take place quickly due to sweat.
  • Choose the right temperature. The average temperature for an infrared sauna ranges from 40˚C to 60 ºC˚, with beginners starting out at the lower end and more experienced users at the higher one.
  • Decide on the length of time. First-time users are advised to start at 10 to 15 minutes. It’s possible to add time in each session until you reach the suggested time of 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Take precautions for the after-sauna process. When it’s time to stop, the body should be allowed to cool down naturally. Again, it’s necessary to drink plenty of water.
  • Keep track of the number of sessions per week : most facilities will recommend using the sauna three to four days per week. However, some users may see that they’re able to handle the use of the sauna every day.

There are also some precautions to be taken into consideration before using, in particular, an infrared sauna:

  • Avoid using an infrared sauna if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
  • If you feel ill or have a fever, it’s best to wait to use the sauna until you’re feeling better.
  • If you have any health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems, or are under medical care, get cleared by your doctor before your first session.
5. Pick the right infrared sauna for you

As seen, in wellness facilities with hydrotherapy equipment and other aquatic design installations, design and implementation choices can make a significant difference in terms of operational and maintenance costs, as well as the overall performance of the installation. It is also the case in saunas.

If you’re thinking of installing an infrared sauna, it’s key to get in touch with professionals in sauna design. They will be able to ensure a successful installation that deals with each project’s specific needs and possibilities.

How to clean a sauna: key tips
The right design decisions can make the…
Finnish saunas: how they work and their health benefits
Finnish saunas, also known as a dry…
What is floatation therapy and why you should offer it to your clients
While spa and relaxation centres continue to…
Choosing the right wood for sauna installations
Saunas provide a range of major health…