There are a lot of options on the market for home or recreational spas, but there are a few unique things that set saunas apart. There are different types of sauna rooms that utilize heat and/or steam to promote relaxation and increased wellness benefits. These typically include electric and wood/smoke saunas.
Saunas are almost always made from high-quality wood so that they absorb heat while remaining cool to the touch. The biggest differences between all the types of saunas and spas you may have heard about are the ways in which heat is generated inside the room.
Inside an electric sauna, you can expect dry heat (about 20 percent humidity or lower). They use an electric heater to heat stones, that in turn heat the entire room. There is usually a thermostat and a timer (typically with eight hours’ maximum delay time, followed by one hour’s continuous heating time) on the electric stove.
The temperature in a dry sauna can range from 150°F to 200°F+, with the higher end being the typical temperature. If the dry sauna experience leaves you feeling a little parched, you can also pour water on the stones to create a “wet” sauna. Ladling water carefully onto the stones releases a burst of steam and raises the humidity inside.
For Europeans or sauna “purists,” this traditional method is the true way to sauna. Smoke sauna, also known as the Finnish savusauna or Estonian suitsusaun, is one of the earliest forms of the sauna.
This method is just like an electric sauna, except that it uses burning wood to generate embers to heat the sauna rocks. There is no chimney in a smoke sauna; once the fire has gone out, the ashes and embers are removed from the hearth, the benches and floor are cleaned, and the room is allowed to air out and freshen before it is ready for a session.
Like an electric sauna, a wood sauna also produces low humidity and dry heat, at least 150ºF. Again, you can always enjoy a “wet” sauna experience by adding ladles of water onto the rocks.
Unlike a traditional sauna, infrared saunas don’t heat the air around you. Instead, they use infrared lamps (that use electromagnetic radiation) to warm your body directly and raise your core temperature. It heats you from the inside out, whereas a traditional sauna heats from the outside in. An infrared sauna usually operates at a lower temperature, typically between 80˚F to 140˚F, and has very low humidity.
Because of these things, infrared therapy is not considered a “sauna” by many European sauna societies. But if you’re looking for the cozy warmth of a sauna in a slightly less intense environment, this could be a good option for you.
Steam Room/Steam Shower
Steam rooms are similar to saunas and are often confused as the same thing. The big difference is in the type of heat that they provide. As the name suggests, steam rooms are heated by a generator filled with boiling water, providing high humidity and moist heat. Saunas, whether electric, wood or infrared, create dry heat.
Steam rooms are small, airtight, and designed from materials such as tile, acrylic, or glass which can withstand the wet heat and be easily wiped down after a session.
The temperature inside a steam room is typically less than 120ºF. However, because their humidity hovers at around 100 percent, they may feel much hotter than saunas.
The Sauna That Suits You
Any Finn or Estonian might argue that enjoying a blissful, body heat in the privacy of your home sauna is an essential and much needed part of everyday life. Now, you don’t need to travel to Europe to experience a sauna; you can build your own personal oasis right in your backyard.
While there are many options, there are a few that can get you as close to that authentic experience as possible. Thermory is the global leader in thermally-modified timber for exteriors, interiors, and sauna. Sauna by Thermory offers a range of sauna materials and ready to assemble saunas that can be delivered right to your door. Our freestanding electric saunas are easy to install and can be set up in just 4 to 6 hours by a team of three to four people with moderate DIY skills.
For an optimal sauna experience, we recommend HUUM sauna heaters in electric and wood fire options to give you a long-lasting heat in a minimalist, elegant design that shows off the beauty of the sauna stones. Whether “dry” or “wet”, we’re here to help bring you that authentic sauna experience that is soon to become a staple in your routine.