Your Complete Guide to Saunas

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


Questions to Ask When Buying a Sauna

Here are some important questions to ask to help you select the best sauna:

What is the total square inches of the actual carbon heaters?

Keep in mind that most companies use very tall carbon heaters so there is a large area of heater in the sauna, but the infrared heat is wasted, as half of the heaters are above your head. Unless you’re only measuring from the neck down, that number is really not representative of the effectiveness of an infrared sauna. The idea with infrared therapy is to heat your body directly. The heat up over your head is wasted infrared heat.

What are the heaters made of? What percentage of the panels is actual carbon?

Cheaper manufacturers will use 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.

What is the % effective output / emissivity rating for the heating panels in this sauna? In other words, what is the percentage of far infrared heat waves the heater emits?

The infrared output of 100% carbon heaters is about 97%.

What percentage of the waves produced by your heaters is at 9.4 microns?

The highest percentage at 9.4 microns, the better.

Are they 100% organic nano-carbon heater panels?

The answer you’re looking for here is yes.

Is there any plastic in the heaters or sauna?

The answer should be no, and all components should ideally be ROHS certified.

What is the EMF rating? Is the wiring EMF shielded?

Ideally, the level, when measured directly on the heater, is below 1mg. The wiring that runs in the wall should be EMF shielded.

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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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