Why Are Infrared Saunas so Popular?
Far Infrared saunas (FIR saunas) have become extremely popular the past few decades due not only to their convenience, but the high levels of relaxation, detoxification and healing they provide. They have replaced the traditional steam saunas in many cases and instead of steam and hot rocks, use either ceramic or Carbon heaters, providing a lower temperature and more pleasant sauna experience.
The best brands such as Clearlight and HealthMate use a heater which is s combination of ceramic and carbon offering even more benefits. These two brands are mentioned later under the “Top Far Infrared Saunas” and two of the saunas covered on the Sauna Reviews page.
Many Infrared Sauna Benefits -Why FIR Saunas?
These saunas are vastly different from traditional steam saunas in that they use Far Infrared (FIR) which is the same radiant energy emitted by the Sun that produces life and energy on the earth. It contains many beneficial attributes without any of the harmful radiation from the sun. FIR is a very narrow band of energy that can penetrate up to 1.5-2″ into the tissues of the body providing many health benefits.
FIR Saunas provides these in a few main ways.
- The first is fatty tissue detoxification. Studies have shown that while sweat produced from being in a steam sauna is 97% or more water and less than 3% toxins, the sweat produced from an infrared sauna detox session is up to 20% toxins. This tremendous difference is perhaps the greatest benefit of the FIR sauna. It is this crucial difference that also makes the choice of an individual sauna critical, as discussed below under “Top Infrared Saunas.”
- Secondly, similar to the vibration of glass when it is exposed to certain voice and sound frequencies, a quality infrared sauna with the proper heaters will reach a certain resonance frequency, causing cells to vibrate and thereby release toxins. This along with the corresponding better absorption of the smaller water molecules will result in better cell respiration (taking in oxygen).
- Thirdly, as blood is circulated better and over time additional capillaries are created, more oxygen reaches the deeper tissues and injured tissue.
- A final main pathway is that by being gradually and safely warmed up in a manner related to that of exercise, the body, in addition to sweating which cleanses the glands and skin, begins the cooling process of driving blood to the lungs and surface of the skin. This mimics physical exercise and includes increased heart rate and resulting cardiovascular conditioning.
Far Infrared Sauna Heaters – The Difference
To produce these FIR benefits, the saunas use either Ceramic or Carbon heaters, both of can be effective. Ceramic heaters are usually vertical, rectangle-shaped heaters with a ceramic rod encased by reflectors and a mesh cage covering the front. The mesh is needed as these heaters get extremely hot with surface temperatures of 200+ degrees. The nature of this heater produces a penetrating and focused heat, heats up very quickly and produces rapid sweating.
Carbon heaters are recognizable as black panels on the back and sides of the inside of the sauna. These heat at lower temperatures and require longer sauna warm up times. However, they also are more effective at a deeper detox as the lower temperatures produce a micron frequency closer to the desired 9.4 microns, ideal for cell resonance.
Combining ceramic and carbon into a single heater, when done properly, can result in a very effective heater.
The Importance of Low EMF
Electro Magnetic Fields (EMFs) are a constant occurrence in today’s electricity-driven world. Cell Phones, hair dryers, computer screens and power lines all produce EMFs. Due to the time spent in a sauna and the closeness of the heaters to the user, the EMF levels emitted by the brand of sauna should be a crucial factor in the buying decision. The newer Carbon panels were initially known for having very high levels of EMFs and the best brands began methods to reduce these during the past several years. The Clearlight brand mentioned earlier was, and remains, the leader in lowering the EMF of carbon panels. Dr. Raleigh Duncan, the founder of the company, has been one of the most outspoken about both the need to lower the levels and methods to accomplish this.
In fact this is the only brand which posts independently tested and verified EMF results on its website.
While the safe level of exposure for a sauna remains under 3.0 Milligauss (mG), the market is flooded with cheap brands which have high levels of EMF of 30 and higher. Some brands even currently have levels of over 150 mG. Price cannot always be an accurate indication, however, as one expensive and extremely popular brand has had 30-50 EMF levels in one of its models until very recently.
Ensuring a low EMF level is one of the four top critical criteria when selecting a far infrared sauna.
How to Choose the Right Sauna for You – Important Considerations
- Low EMF – As just mentioned, purchasing a FIR sauna with Low EMF is extremely important. Otherwise you could likely be exposed to levels damaging to your health while attempting to improve your health.
- True FIR – The true feature you should be trying to obtain is the actual far infrared. Weak heaters produce little FIR thereby greatly reducing the health benefit you will receive.
- Non-tox Wood and Glue – The best saunas are made with a few selected varieties of kiln dried wood and use only water based, non toxic glues. Many cheaper brands use toxic glues and poorly treated woods that have tremendous amounts of out-gassing of harmful fumes when heated. This can be very counterproductive to the desired detoxification of the user.
- Lifetime Warranty – 95% of the far infrared saunas on the market are very cheaply made and many of the companies go out of business within 2-3 years and as a result the warranty is lost. It is interesting to note that one of the highest priced and most popular brands that has a very poor customer experience, has also voided all of its warranties at least once in recent years by changing its company name.
Lesser considerations include ergonomic backrests for comfort and safety, chromotheryapy lights, control panels on both the outside and inside, front heaters on the inside of the front wall panels to also warm the front of the body, heaters under the bench to heat the lower legs, heaters that do not directly heat the cranium (your head), the correct seating capacity for your situation and if the sauna will fit in the space you have available. Also units that have excessive wood slats covering 50% or more of the heaters should be avoided. Wood absorbs the FIR, preventing it from reaching the user. These units look appealing yet offer far less benefit.
Another thing to consider for those in apartments is that the smaller 1 and 2 person units often operate on a normal 15 amp outlet while the larger units require a special 20 amp outlet that needs to be installed by an electrician.
The Top Far Infrared Saunas
For those interested in a simple Infrared Sauna purchase decision, Clearlight and HealthMate are the top two brands that include all of the previously-mentioned critical considerations.
A Clearlight Sauna utilizes carbon heaters that are infused with ceramic fibers, heat relatively quickly, have extremely low EMF levels of below 1.0 mG a few inches from the heaters and are one of the few brands with substantial front heaters. Their heaters also stop at the shoulder level, eliminating the overheating of the user’s head. Their heaters are powerful enough that heaters all the way to the ceiling are also not required to warm the inside of the sauna cabin.
Lifetime warranty on the entire sauna and quality construction are also features of this brand. Their three product lines provide a good range of features and price.
A HealthMate Sauna uses an ecoloy-coated ceramic heater design with carbon alloy in the center of the ceramic rods. These saunas heat very quickly, provide lifetime warranty on the heaters and electrical components and have all the critical considerations covered. PLH, the parent company of Healthmate also supplies the wood for Clearlight Saunas.
These two companies make excellent saunas you will be glad to own.
Regular use of a carefully selected, quality far infrared sauna is not only a pleasant experience, but also provided substantial health benefits.