Some people assume that far infrared saunas and steam rooms are the same, but they are dissimilar. Actually, for some decades, there’s been an continuous sauna vs steam room discussion between those endorsing sauna use and those who presume steam rooms are better.
Before plowing into the sauna vs steam room comparisons, it is important to set apart a wet sauna from a steam room. In a wet sauna, water is ladled onto hot rocks, which increases the humidity a tad, but not as much as the humidity levels existing in a steam room. Indeed, in a wet sauna, the relative humidity is roughly 20%, as opposed to 100% in a steam room.
Saunas and steam rooms are basically unlike types of hot baths, but a sauna has dry heat and a steam room has moist heat. Essentially, saunas have remarkably low levels of humidity, which allows them to be a lot hotter than steam rooms. You know how 90 degrees outside with reduced humidity is a lot comfortable than 90 degrees outside with increased humidity? The same principles pertain in the sauna vs steam room comparison. Saunas contain dry heat, and the body can sustain high temperatures if the humidity is low enough. Steam rooms have moist heat, and since sweating is far less effective (since it can’t vaporize easily) in a steam room, the temperature have to be kept lower.
In an infrared sauna, the temperature can be 180 degrees Fahrenheit and remain safe since the heat is dry. In a steam shower, the temperature is kept at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, due to the fact if it were much hotter it could blister the skin.
Far infrared sauna and steam showers are manufactured differently because of their varying heating methods and the varying conditions inside steam showers and dry saunas. Steam showers use a generator to steam the water and diffuse it throughout the air, creating 100% humidity. Far infrared sauna use stones placed up on a heater, which is mostly electric or wood-burning (even though gas and propane powered far infrared sauna heaters exist too). When water is drenched onto the hot rocks, the steam quickly dissipates.
Steam showers have to be made in certain ways to cope with the raised moisture levels created by the steam. Typically they are sheathed with ceramic tile, and they are mostly made with bent ceilings so that steam build-up does not “rain” onto the steam bathers.
So what is the message in the infrared sauna vs steam shower debate? The following are some major points.
1. Steam showers feel hotter, considering they’re cooler, because sweat can’t evaporate. You won’t actually have more perspiration more in a steam room; it’s just that when the sweat doesn’t evaporate, you’re more conscious of how much you’re sweating.
2. Persons with sinus complications or asthma may desire the moist heat of steam baths. Steam inhalation is relieving to bothered respiratory passages, and dry heat can possibly make them feel more bothered.
3. However, if steam showers are not thoroughly and regularly disinfected, they could be reproducing grounds for germs such as MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) and the fungus that results in athlete’s foot.
4. Some people believe that saunas over-dry the epidermis and can result in irritation and ruptured capillaries.
5. Dry saunas use can be greatly dehydrating, so it is critical to drink water prior to and after using an infrared sauna. The same is true to a smaller extent for steam showers.
It is not likely that the infrared sauna vs steam shower debate will have a distinct winner anytime soon. There are benefits and restrictions of both. If, for example, you are a guest at a health club that has both, you should make your selection based on your particular health history and on considerations such as cleanliness and sanitation.
If you found this article helpful or informational please take a moment to also visit these pages, and give us your feedback where appropriate: Sauna vs Steam Room and Far Infrared Sauna Benefits