The new year is upon us, which means it is the perfect time to commit to bettering yourself. And one of the best ways to do it is by incorporating a sauna into your daily routine. When you hear the word sauna you may first picture a traditional dry sauna room, complete with hot rocks and a water basin to pour over them. While these are the more well-known type of saunas – their usage dates back to nearly 2,000 BC – there is also another option, infrared. 

Read on as we explore the differences between traditional and infrared saunas to help you decide which type of sauna you’d most benefit from, and why, as you start the new year off right and focus on your health and wellness resolutions.  

What Is a Traditional Sauna?

A traditional sauna, also known as a dry sauna, is a wooden structure or room that utilizes heated stones and water to create a hot and humid atmosphere where people can relax in dry heat. The sauna is usually heated with an electric unit that heats the stones on top of it, the walls enclosing the structure, and the air within it. 

A traditional sauna is typically heated to between 160 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s the heat from the room that causes the bather to become warmer, allowing them to sweat out the toxins. Throughout your sauna bath, water is poured onto the heated stones to create a hot and humid atmosphere that brings a relaxing effect. 

This atmosphere can be as humid or dry as the sauna bather wishes, but it’s typically kept to around 5 to 15 percent. Traditional saunas provide many health benefits, including increased circulation, reduced stress levels, and improved cardiovascular health. 

Other benefits associated with traditional saunas include:

  • Fat burning
  • Detoxication
  • Pain reduction
  • Elimination of bacteria and viruses
  • Relaxation and a positive mindset

What Is an Infrared Sauna?

Infrared saunas provide a more modern spin to the traditional sauna experience. Also known as far infrared or IR saunas, infrared saunas use ceramic, Incoloy, or carbon panel heaters to emit infrared light. This light is then absorbed by the skin’s membrane as radiant heat, causing the sauna bather’s core temperature to rise and create sweat. 

Infrared saunas utilize radiation rather than the heat current conduction employed in traditional saunas. Because of this, you want to be sure that you are using a safety-rated infrared sauna (Low EMR/Low EF). The infrared heat emitters keep temperatures between 100 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is slightly cooler than their traditional counterpart. The infrared spectrum is invisible to the naked eye but felt as heat. 

While infrared saunas offer the same health benefits as traditional saunas, they do provide a few additional advantages, such as:

  • Increased comfort (If you aren’t someone who tolerates high heat levels, an infrared sauna may better suit your needs)
  • Penetrates tissues, joints and muscles which increases blood flow to promote better circulation. 
  • Reduce pain and muscle spasms to help the body to relax and heal naturally.
  • More affordable running costs
  • Reaches optimal heat faster
  • Less maintenance and cleaning

Differences Between Traditional and Infrared Saunas

The primary difference between traditional and infrared saunas is their temperature and heating methods. Traditional saunas use a modern electric heating unit to heat the air throughout, which raises the temperature of the unit and slowly raises your core temperature. An infrared sauna emits infrared radiation which penetrates the skin and heats your body without raising the temperature of the room. 

Temperatures in traditional saunas are high, ranging from 160 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, the heat range in infrared saunas is usually between 100 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, the highest temperature in an infrared sauna is about 10 degrees lower than the lowest temperature in a traditional sauna. 

Traditional saunas also can be used at much higher humidity levels due to water being added to the rock heater. In contrast, infrared saunas have very low humidity levels (typically between 10% and 20%). 

The Hybrid Sauna 

If you find yourself wanting the benefits of both the infrared and traditional sauna and can’t decide on one over the other, then a hybrid sauna may be the best option. The Finnleo 2-in-1 InfraSauna offers the best of both worlds, allowing you to experience both a traditional sauna soak or an infrared option for milder heat therapy. 

Your East Rochester Sauna Experts

Because traditional and infrared saunas are both beneficial to your health, you can’t go wrong with either one. But knowing your body and why you’re incorporating a sauna into your daily routine will help you choose between a traditional or infrared sauna. 

Give the sauna experts at Pettis Pools a call or stop by one of our two showrooms in East Rochester or Greece to learn more about the different models we carry and how you can benefit from a routine sauna bath today. We’re excited to share our expertise with you to help you determine the right fit for your needs.


Pettis Pools & Patios is a Greece pool builder proudly serving East Rochester, Wayne County, Ontario County and the surrounding areas. Family-owned and operated since 1962, Pettis Pools & Patios specializes in all pool and hot tub services, including new pool construction, hot tub sales & installation, and swim spa sales & installation. Pettis Pools & Patios also serves as a leading pool & hot tub service provider throughout the area, specializing in regular pool service, inground vinyl liner replacement, hot tub service, LOOP-LOC safety cover installations, and much more. Pettis Pools & Patios is proud to have two conveniently located pool supply stores in Greece and East Rochester, where pool owners can find all of their pool and hot tub care needs. 

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