Your Complete Guide to Saunas

The many health benefits, and a complete guide to what to look for when buying a sauna.


Other things to remember when buying a far infrared sauna

The Micron Range

Your body absorbs infrared optimally at about 9.4 microns. This stimulates your lymphatic, immune and cardiovascular systems. 9.4 is also the frequency at which a water molecule resonates or vibrates. This vibration of the water in our cells causes a release of cellular toxins such as mercury, aluminum, cholesterol and other toxic gases such as sulfur and formaldehyde. This optimal micron output also allows for deeper penetration of far infrared heat, which improves pain relief, detoxification, circulation, and increased peripheral blood flow.

Is it plug-and-play?

If you’re in the USA, look for saunas that are 110 or 120 volts / 15 amps or less (they’ll plug into any outlet, just like any appliance would) to avoid a potentially costly wall-socket upgrade to 220V / 20 amps. (Some saunas are 220V which means they’ll only plug into the 220V socket you have in your kitchen, otherwise you’ll need an electrician to specially wire an outlet for it.)

Is glue or chemicals used?

There is no safe/non-toxic glue. Look for a sauna that has untreated wood on the inside, and does not use any glue.

Chromotherapy Lights 

This is an alternative healing method using colored LED lights which impact specific organs, body systems & Chi energy centers. Chromotherapy, benefits are well documented and include enhanced relaxation, energy balance, improved healing and emotional well being. It is a centuries-old concept used successfully over the years to cure various diseases. Read more about Chromotherapy here.

Your Complete Guide to Saunas

Chromotherapy Lights

AVOID: Oxygen Ionizers

These come with some saunas, but should be avoided, as all ionizers can create ozone (some emit more than others). Some people mistake ozone’s sweet smell for a sign of cleaner air, but it is actually super toxic and kills your cells and lung tissue. More about this technology.

AVOID:  Magnetic Therapy

Magnetic field therapy research is a controversial arena of study because many experts are at odds over what is considered to be safe. Studies on how well magnetic therapy works have been mixed, and the safety of this therapy has not been proven.

Your Complete Guide to Saunas

The best saunas have heaters on the front and bottom, too

Inferior saunas

Low quality far infrared saunas will have:

  1. High EMF ratings with unsafe limits (anything over 5mg)
  2. Micron ratings that span above 11 or 12
  3. 80-90% emissivity rating
  4. Ceramic heaters, weak or mixed-material carbon heaters, fiberglass panels with carbon fiber sprayed on, or ‘carbon panel heaters’ that are made of a plastic sheet with a paint-thin coating of carbon
  5. Wood treated with chemicals, or glued together (which creates toxic VOC’s in the air when heated using infrared)

The cheapest saunas are often made with inferior wood which may warp over time, may contain glue (which is toxic and, for obvious reasons, is not the best thing to inhale if you’re aiming to detox), may not have a safe electrical system, etc.

Good saunas

High quality far infrared saunas will have:

  1. Zero/very low EMF ratings
  2. A high percentage of microns at 9.4
  3. 97-99% emissivity rating
  4. Front carbon heaters as well as, back, sides, feet and calves (front of the bench)
  5. 100% organic nano-carbon heaters (that are 0% plastic or metal)
  6. Thick wood that has not been treated, and is not glued together

Bottom line: Make sure the company stands by their product, preferably with a lifetime warranty and nationally recognized safety certification.

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 38 Comments

  1. Rita Hajjar

    I live in a cold climate. I’m looking for an outdoor infared sauna. Does anyone own one of these in the upper states where we have brutal winters? I really want to know if they are usable in the winter months. Any advice is appreciated!! Rita

  2. We have an extra room at home and it’s just where we keep random stuff. I’m thinking of turning it into an at home spa.

  3. Cristina Bernal

    Thanks for making this very detailed guide about saunas. My only question is, I can’t really buy my own so I usually just result to going in saunas that are in my city. How do I know if the saunas they have are safe just like what you said in this article? Is it proper to ask them? It’s not like they will tell the truth anyway. Most concierge employees wouldn’t even disclose such matters to the public or they don’t really know anything about the equipment there.

  4. Can my grandparents use saunas too? My only concern is that it might be too hot for them and instead of reducing the risk for Alzheimers, I might end up making them sick.?

  5. Even in the old times, people really benefit from traditional hot saunas. No wonder!

  6. NIR therapy seems the best fit for me. I want to age gracefully and I could use elastin and collagen boost in my body. I want younger looking skin that won’t look tired despite stress. I bet a lot of women would agree to that because it’s a luxury to have great glowing skin nowadays, becase of environmental factors such as pollution and intense UV rays. Saunas could revive our skin with continued use. It would be really worth it to spend a lot from this tech.

    • Rosalie Wade

      I’m one of those ladies who need it too.

  7. Jessi

    Those are very solid claims. I just think that saunas aren’t for everyone. Personally, I don’t like heat because I feel dizzy and claustrophobic.

  8. I’m just going to go on a spa and sauna place. I don’t really plan on purchasing my own sauna and add up to my electricity bill.

  9. Are hot baths the same? I know it’s not as hot or as effective as saunas, but the natural steam that comes out of warm baths make our bodies feel good.

  10. Just wanted to remind everyone that you shouldn’t overuse saunas no matter how great the effects are. I even do a certain diet whenever I would use my sauna. I would snack on electrolyte rich foods/snacks and hydrate properly. Or else, your body will feel worse instead of better.

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