When you mention the word “sauna” all that comes to mind is a calm, relaxed, spa-like atmosphere where you’re sweating away your long, tiring day. However, often, sauna users are left wondering if an infrared sauna is safe to use and what is the best temperature for an infrared sauna.
An infrared sauna, as the name suggests is a device that makes use of infrared sauna instead of steam. While people may consider “infrared” to be dangerous, in fact, it’s completely the opposite.
The sun’s rays contain natural infrared light and unlike UV rays, infrared rays are therapeutic and prolonged exposure to them is not harmful. Even several hours of exposure to infrared light does not have any adverse effects. In fact, infrared light is so safe that hospitals make use of it to keep newborn infants warm.
In general, infrared saunas are reported to be safe and don’t have any harmful effects. However, as with every device, you must use an infrared sauna cautiously because the overuse of a sauna can cause overheating, dehydration and heatstroke. And, pregnant women and people suffering from heart disease and other medical conditions and intoxicated with alcohol and drugs must avoid using the sauna.
Generally, the ideal temperature for an infrared sauna is around 110°F – 130°F. Lower sauna temperatures help in detoxification, while higher temperatures help to stimulate sweat production that is great for cleansing.
Typically, an infrared sauna unit does not reach higher temperatures like the steam ones because to be effective, steam saunas need to produce more heat, around 160°F – 200°F. On the other hand, infrared saunas provide gentler heating at around 110°F – 130°F (43.33°C – 54.44°C).
Sweating achieves 2 main functions. It cools your body and flushes out the waste products from the system. This is essentially done via two main types of sweat glands in the body i.e. the apocrine glands and eccrine glands.
The apocrine glands are located in the scalp and armpits and secrete sweat that is higher in organic compounds and fat, while the eccrine glands are more in number (around 2 million) and are located all over the body and handle most of the perspiration process.
The eccrine glands produce almost a quart of sweat on a normal day; however, at a temperature of 180o or more, they produce a quart of sweat in just 15 minutes. This not only helps to clean the skin and pores, but it also eliminates a higher amount of electrolytes. So, if you’re sweating at 180 degrees or more, then you must ensure that you replace the fluids and electrolytes that are lost because of sweating.
However, when you use an infrared sauna at a lower temperature between 110°F and 130°F, the sweat is more fat-laden and stickier and the lower temperature ensures that there is not much of electrolyte loss. In fact, when you perspire in an infrared sauna, the sweat consists of around 20% of toxins, as compared to only 3% of toxins eliminated when sweating in a high-temperature steam sauna, which is why the lower temperatures of an infrared sauna are a better choice for purposes of detoxification.
Often, users report starting their sauna session at a low temperature of around 110°F to 125°F for around 20 minutes and then raising the temperature to around 133°F – 135°F to produce profuse sweating for the final 10 minutes of the therapy. The 133°F (56°C) is hot enough to raise the core temperature of the body and induce a good sweat detox, but at the same time, it is not too hot, where your nervous system is shocked and cannot handle the heat, where the heat is simply unbearable and you want to get out of the sauna.
The operating temperature of your infrared sauna will depend on the temperature of the room. If the room temperature is above 64°F, then the operating temperature of the infrared sauna must be between 122°F and 140°F. The size of the sauna also plays a very important role in how quickly the sauna will reach a particular temperature. For instance, a 4-person sauna will take longer to heat when compared to a 2-person sauna.
While the ideal temperature, as mentioned earlier is between 110°F – 130°F, the temperature is not the only important factor. The amount of healing infrared heat that you’re receiving makes all the difference to your sauna experience. After all, less is more!