Are infrared saunas safe? What you need to know.

An infrared sauna can make a wonderful addition to your home – but are they safe? In this article, we explain some things to be aware of before you decide whether to buy one or not.

If you’re looking at getting an infrared sauna you may be wondering about infrared heat and if it’s safe. The short answer is, yes, infrared heat is safe.

As with any sauna, however, there are some things you should be aware of before you buy. Keep reading to learn more.

Watch: Vortex™ Infrared Sauna Review

What is an infrared sauna?

People have known for thousands of years how beneficial ‘sauna bathing’ is for the mind, body and soul.

While traditional steam saunas have been around for thousands of years, infrared saunas are a comparatively new innovation - with the first models sold commercially from around the 1960s.

Since then, infrared saunas have fast grown in popularity for their many health and wellbeing benefits.

Typically, an infrared sauna is a wooden cabin equipped with infrared heaters designed to detoxify and heal the body.

Infrared saunas offer the same benefits of a traditional steam sauna plus much more, without the extreme heat. Learn more about infrared saunas, how they work and their benefits in this detailed article.

Is infrared heat safe?

Infrared heat is completely safe. In fact, it is so safe, hospitals use similar heaters to warm newborn babies.

Infrared is a part of nature and essential for life. All objects give off and receive infrared heat.

The human body gives off and receives infrared in the far-infrared band. When a mother rubs a babies stomach to relieve pain, it is the infrared heat from her hand that is causing the healing effect.

What is infrared?

The largest source of infrared heat is the Sun. Infrared is a safe wavelength of light (or energy) which we feel as heat. Infrared heat is all around us.

You can feel it from sources like fire, heated sand on the beach, and the sun (without the harmful ultraviolet waves that the sun gives off).

The infrared spectrum consists of near (NIR), mid (MIR), and far (FIR) infrared waves, each with distinct characteristics and frequency ranges.

What are the infrared waves?

Just as visible light has a range of wavelengths (running from red to violet), so does infrared light.

The infrared spectrum consists of near (NIR), mid (MIR), and far (FIR) infrared waves, each with distinct characteristics and frequency ranges.

Longer wavelengths (or far infrared waves) are thermal, while short or near-infrared waves are not hot at all, in fact, you cannot even feel them.

How do infrared saunas work?

Infrared saunas offer the same benefits of a traditional sauna plus much more, without the extreme heat.

In fact, many people consider infrared saunas more comfortable than traditional saunas because of their lower temperatures and dry environment.

Infrared saunas have carbon or ceramic panels that generate infrared heat. This infrared heat can easily penetrate human tissue, heating your body before the air.

The infrared heat waves penetrate more deeply than warmed air, allowing you to experience a more intense sweat at a lower temperature.

In fact, infrared saunas usually operate between 46 to 57 degrees while traditional saunas can get up to 85 degrees.

What is EMF and ELF in an infrared sauna?

Most infrared sauna users are looking to improve health, making safety an important consideration when deciding what sauna to buy.

When purchasing an infrared sauna, it is important to consider the Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and Electric Fields (ELF).

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

EMF are energy waves with frequencies below 300 hertz or cycles per second. Magnetic fields are present whenever an appliance is using an electrical current. The US Environmental Protection Authority has put a 3mG (milligauss) safety limit in place for EMF levels for human exposure.

Extremely low frequency (ELF)

ELF is the electric field with frequencies from 3 to 30 hertz. The most common ELF field is radiated by utility power lines.

You’re exposed to these fields whenever you’re near electrical appliances of any kind. The Threshold of Concern level for ELF is 1,000 mV.

Although the current scientific evidence provides no definitive answers regarding EMF, there is enough uncertainty that some people want to reduce their exposure to EMF.

To reduce your exposure and minimise potential harm, it is important to choose a low EMF infrared sauna.

Extremely low frequency (ELF) is the electric field with frequencies from 3 to 30 hertz.

The most common ELF field is radiated by utility power lines. You’re exposed to these fields whenever you’re near electrical appliances of any kind. The Threshold of Concern level for ELF is 1,000 mV.

Health benefits of infrared saunas

Saunas have long been used for therapeutic and relaxation purposes and have been a part of traditional medicine for many centuries.

Because of the way infrared saunas work, they’re believed to deliver greater health benefits than traditional saunas.

Infrared saunas benefits:

  • Relieving stress
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Relieving muscle and joint pain
  • Weight loss
  • Improved circulation
  • Reducing fine lines and wrinkles
  • Detoxification
  • And more...

Learn more about infrared sauna benefits and have a look at the medical reasearch into saunas and infrared therapy.

Difference between wet saunas and dry saunas

The main difference between infrared or 'dry' saunas and traditional steam or 'wet' saunas, is how they use heat. Learn more here.

Traditional saunas use a single heater that heats the air and that hot air heats the user.

In contrast, infrared saunas use advanced infrared heaters to warm your body directly. As your body absorbs the infrared heat, this increases thermal energy, inducing a deep and relaxing sweat.

The infrared environment is cooler than traditional saunas, allowing you to stay in the sauna longer and get more benefit from each session.

Should I use an infrared sauna?

Infrared saunas can make a meaningful and positive difference to your overall health and wellbeing.

If you are looking to de-stress, relieve muscle and joint pain, detoxify and more; then an infrared sauna could be just what you need.

However, while many people use saunas as part of a healthy lifestyle, what’s best for you may not be what’s best for someone else.

Certain health conditions are not compatible with saunas or steam rooms. As a rule, we always recommend consulting with your medical practitioner before buying a sauna.

In summary

We hope this article has answered your questions about the safety of infrared saunas and infrared heat.

As mentioned above, infrared heat is safe and natural. Infrared heat is essential for all life and all objects give off and recieve infrared heat – including the human body. The largest source of infrared heat is the sun.

There are some wonderful health benefits from infrared saunas including:

  • Stress-relief
  • Weight loss
  • Detoxification
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Rejuvenation and more...

As with any sauna - whether infrared or steam - we always recommend consulting with your medical practitioner before buying a sauna to ensure it is right for you.

If you have any more questions or would like some advice about saunas, please contact our customer care team or visit your nearest Spa World showroom. We are here to help!

Related Articles

Traditional Steam Sauna vs Infrared Sauna (Detailed comparison, cost, benefits and more…)

Thinking about a home sauna? Want to know the difference between a traditional steam sauna and an infrared sauna? This article covers all the key points about buying a sauna including what they're good for, how much they cost to run and more.

Best infrared saunas in New Zealand – Top 5 brands reviewed

Thinking about buying an infrared sauna? Wondering which one to buy and which are the best brands? This article lists the top infrared saunas in New Zealand and compares features, prices, pros, cons and more.

What to look for in an outdoor umbrella (Tips, top features and more)

Thinking of buying a new outdoor umbrella? In this article you’ll learn about the top 9 things to consider when umbrella shopping.

What is a fire table and should I buy one? New Zealand

Looking for a stylish, versatile and energy efficient outdoor heater in New Zealand? How about a fire table? In this article you will learn about the features and benefits of a fire table and why it could be an ideal heater for you.

Five Star Trust Pilot Rating

We are proud that Spa World customers have given us a Five Star Trustpilot rating.