Infrared Saunas vs Steam Rooms

Jun 20 | Tom Harvey

Exposing the body to very high heat therapy can offer plenty of therapeutic benefits like detoxification, weight loss, and relaxation. There are quite a few treatments that use heat therapy, with two of the most popular being infrared saunas and steam rooms.

Infrared saunas are wood-based rooms that use infrared rays to penetrate the body, heating it from the inside out. A steam room is an airtight room that fills with hot steam from a generator. The main difference between the two is that infrared saunas use dry heat while steam rooms use moist heat.

So, which of these forms of heat therapy is best? Here is our comparison of infrared saunas and steam rooms to help you decide for yourself.

Infrared saunas vs steam rooms: what’s the difference?

Infrared saunas

An infrared sauna is a type of heat therapy that’s often conducted in a wood-based room, where infrared rays are used to warm the body by penetrating the tissues from the inside out. This allows the infrared sauna to remain cool, which many users find more comfortable.

Infrared saunas usually run at between 115 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a much lower starting temperature than many other heat therapy methods. Despite this, the body heats up effectively so you can still benefit from all of the benefits that come from sauna usage.

Benefits of infrared saunas

The aim of infrared saunas is to use heat stress to induce a number of benefits within the body. Here are some benefits of regular infrared sauna use:


One of the biggest benefits of using far infrared saunas is that they promote more sweating than a traditional steam sauna. The infrared rays penetrate the body before heating it, allowing the strongest heat to hit your body tissues without wastage. This concentrated heat can increase blood flow and promote the release of more harmful toxins from the body than steam rooms.

Weight loss

When using infrared saunas regularly, many people notice a decrease in both weight and cellulite appearance. As the infrared sauna heats the body so effectively, weight loss is often a by-product of how much sweat you produce. It can also benefit from the release of toxins from the body and higher metabolic rates that come from infrared sauna use.

Studies have shown that we can burn around 73 calories in just the first ten minutes of any infrared sauna usage, but the more we use the sauna regularly, we can burn around 134 calories after a number of regular sessions.


When walking into an infrared sauna, you might be surprised at how cool the room is compared to a steam room. There’s no outside heat here, which some users find much more comfortable than steam rooms. People who have difficulty breathing in high humidity and heat might be able to remain in an infrared sauna for longer, therefore benefiting from the longer exposure to heat stress.

Steam rooms

A steam room is made from a non-porous material, like tile or glass, so that none of the heat can escape while you’re using it. Steam is then created within the room, and as it has nowhere to go, it heats up the air around you to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it often feels even hotter than this as humidity levels can reach as high as 100 percent!

When you’re using a steam room, the hot steam heats the environment around you to warm your body tissues from the outside in.

Benefits of steam rooms

Steam rooms heat the environment around you as well as your own body tissues, offering external benefits as well as internal. Here are some of the benefits of steam rooms:

Respiratory and heart health

Studies have found that users of steam rooms may experience respiratory health benefits such as a reduction in allergies, sinus issues, and cold symptoms. The moist heat opens the airways, allowing for better and clearer breathing. One study conducted on healthy adults found that regular steam room usage boasted a significant improvement in spirometric parameters.

Another study conducted on 80 healthy participants found that regular steam baths could improve cardiovascular health and function by reducing blood pressure. It’s likely that regular steam room use could be an effective method of preventing health concerns from occurring in the future.

Skin health and hydration

The moisture in the air within steam rooms can help to balance the oil production on your skin, leading to healthier and clearer-looking skin. This, along with the detoxification benefits of heat exposure, can help keep skin looking clearer for longer, improving not only skin health but also self-confidence.

Thanks to the moisture around you during your treatment, people with dry skin might also benefit from more hydrated skin afterwards, which can reduce itchiness, inflammation, and cracking.

Improved sleep

The steam room induces a state of heat stress onto your body, which must work to cool down after you get out of the sauna. The body will be working overtime to reduce your internal temperature, which might improve your night’s sleep after the session. Steam rooms can also promote relaxation which can contribute to your great night’s sleep!

Infrared saunas vs steam rooms: which is best for you?

Both infrared sauna and steam room use can offer you plenty of benefits, from deep relaxation to cardiovascular health improvement. More and more people are beginning to use heat therapy to improve their everyday lifestyle, and for good reason! Regular use has been shown to benefit multiple aspects of life – but which should you book yourself in for?

One of the first questions you should ask yourself here is whether or not you want to use dry heat or moist heat. Some people find dry heat to be more comfortable while others enjoy the skin health benefits and respiratory improvements that can come along with exposing themselves to moist air.

Traditional steam saunas and infrared saunas often offer the body similar benefits, although the latter can penetrate the body deeper to create a more effective detoxification process. If you have a pre-existing health condition, we recommend talking to your doctor before undergoing any heat treatment. Your physician will be able to recommend which option is best for you based on your cardiovascular health and function.

Frequently asked questions

Which is healthier, a steam room or an infrared sauna?

Both steam rooms and infrared saunas are very beneficial, but saunas often go one step further in offering better health benefits because of the deeper heat penetration. They can offer cardiovascular benefits, improve circulation, detoxify the body, and reduce cortisol levels. They can also help the body after exercise, improving muscle recovery and pain after stress.

Is it safe to use infrared saunas every day?

Yes, one of the many benefits of infrared saunas is that they’re gentle enough to use every single day. However, most people find that spaced-out sessions work just as effectively and are more manageable around their busy schedules, so don’t think you won’t benefit if you’re not in the sauna every day. Some find it most beneficial to start off slow with one or two sessions a week, slowly working their way up to between four and seven sessions a week.

Final thoughts

Both infrared saunas and steam rooms offer excellent benefits for both physical and mental health. The main differences between the two are the type of heat that’s used and how they warm the body. Infrared saunas use dry heat and warm the body from the inside out, while steam rooms use moist heat and warm you from the outside in. These can offer various different benefits which will determine which is the best option for you. For example, if your main goal is to detoxify the body during your time in the saunas and steam rooms, we recommend an infrared sauna as the heat penetrates the body more effectively. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in skin health and appearance, a steam room might be the best treatment plan for you.