9 Best Sauna Options of 2024: Comparing Sauna, Steam Room, and Infrared
The benefits of sauna heat therapy have been apparent to humankind for thousands of years, with evidence of sauna use in Finnish, Baltic, and even Mayan civilizations. Some of the known benefits of sauna use include improved cardiovascular health, lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, improvement in depression symptoms, reduced inflammation, decrease in cortisol levels, and reduced risk of stroke.
It's clear that there are a wide range of benefits associated with sauna and heat therapy that can help promote greater longevity in many. However, with a broad range of choices on the market, choosing the best method for implementing a regular heat therapy routine can be a headache. Should you choose the traditional sauna, go with a steam room, or hop on the latest trend of infrared technology?
A traditional sauna uses a heating device like an electric heater or wood burning stove to heat the air, which then heats your body. On the other hand, a steam room traps heated water vapor in a small space and heats your body that way. Steam rooms are typically not as hot as saunas, but the moisture in the air heats your body more directly when it touches your skin, so steam rooms need to be kept much cooler than traditional sauna rooms. Infrared saunas bypass external elements altogether and actually heat your body directly without warming the air around you.
In reality, any of these saunas can provide you with health benefits, it just depends on your preference and the specific health benefits you’re looking for. In the following article, we compare the best saunas, steam rooms, and infrared sauna options so you can decide which heat therapy setup is best for you.
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Best Sauna Options
The Muskoka Outdoor Cube Sauna by Sun Home Saunas is a custom, handmade sauna for outdoor use. Crafted from high-grade Canadian wood components, this might just be the best outdoor sauna overall, able to withstand exposure to all elements, including snow. Unlike many other home saunas, The Muskoka Outdoor Cube Sauna is aesthetically pleasing and can complement your home design. Most importantly, the sauna is equipped with a premium grade Harvia heater, which comes complete with volcanic stones. When combining these features with Western Canadian wood, this sauna certainly provides that classic sauna experience of blissful warmth and an odor of fresh cut timber.
Size: 78” x 78” x 78”
- Classic sauna experience of wood
- Enough room to fit a family
- Uses all eco-certified, non-toxic materials
- Extensive lead time of 65-75 business days
- Expensive price tag compared to others
The Cedar Barrel Sauna by Redwood Outdoors is a 6 foot long barrel shaped sauna that is perfect for outdoor use. The 6-person version is their best seller. It boasts a compact design to easily fit in most outdoor spaces, while still enabling plenty of room for up to half a dozen people to enjoy simultaneously. Crafted with 100% Canadian red cedar, this is certainly one of the best saunas for home that is able to provide that fresh pine smell. You’ll also get to choose between the Harvia electric heater or a more traditional wood burning stove to heat your sauna.
Size: 71” x 72 ¾” x 76 ½”
- Choice of heat source, including wood-burning for off-grid use
- 100% Grade-A Canadian Red Cedar
- Ability to pre-heat sauna remotely with Wi-Fi control
- Extensive lead time of 6 to 8 weeks
- You’re responsible for assembling your own sauna
- Barrel shape can inhibit taller people from standing
The SweatTent Outdoor Sauna is a pop up tent, wood burning sauna for outdoor use. This impressive sauna tent is capable of heating up to 200 degrees in just 30 minutes. This product by Sweat Tent is probably the best portable sauna on the market, weighing just 30 pounds and enabling an easy one person assembly experience in just 3 minutes. Considering just how affordable this sauna is while delivering impressive results, it’s a hard option to beat for those who aren’t set on a wood crafted home sauna.
Size: 72” x 72” x 84”
- Portable and easy assembly
- Made from Oxford 210D Nylon rated to 300F, so no risk of chemical leaching or melting
- Rapid heat up and capable high temperatures
- No option for electric, only wood
- Doesn’t come with flooring
- Should be packed away during times of extreme weather
Best Steam Room Sauna Options
The Auburn 3-Person Indoor Traditional Steam Sauna by Almost Heaven is a solid wood steam sauna meant for indoor use. Like other wood crafted saunas, this one provides that classic sauna vibe and pine odor, making this one of the best steam sauna for home options for those that prefer wood material. Auburn does an excellent job of minimizing its footprint while maximizing occupancy by utilizing two layers of seating. Almost Heaven Saunas has a solid reputation through over 40 years of sauna manufacturing experience, and is one of the few sauna manufacturers based in the United States.
Size: 78” x 70” x 47”
- Multi-level seating for maximum comfort
- Water and antimicribial resistant materials
- Harvia heater
- Self assembly required
- Sauna needs to be hard-wired by a licensed electrician
- Flooring not included
The SereneLife Full Size Portable Steam Sauna is a portable steam sauna that is large enough for a single person. With a 4.2 out of 5 start rating according to over 2,500 reviews on Amazon, this miniature steam room sauna has provided a positive experience for many. Boasting an energy efficient 4L steamer, the SereneLife Full Size Portable Steam Sauna can be a great option for those looking for an affordable steam room experience.
Size: 35.4” x 35.4” x 70.9”
- Relatively inexpensive
- Contoller comes with timer and auto heat setting
- Includes chair
- Low max temperature of 122F
- Requires regular cleaning
- Some customers have reported rusting parts after a short period of use
The Smartmak Full Size Steam Sauna Kit is a one person sauna for indoor use. This is the most affordable sauna option on our list. The kit includes a 4L steam generator with 16 heating levels, which is stated to be anti-drying, anti-leaking, and anti-explosive by having an automatic power cut feature to protect your home. You’ll also receive a foldable chair and anti-slip mat. With just 5 minutes of set up, you can enjoy the benefits of heat therapy with this portable sauna.
Size: 33.88” x 33.88” x 65.8”
- Relatively affordable
- Multiple color patterns to choose from
- Remote control to easily adjust heating
- Chemical smell with first few uses is common
- Low quality compared to other options, not built for long term use
- Some customer report steamer leaking
Best Infrared Sauna Options
The mPulse Believe Smart 2 Person Full-Spectrum Infrared Sauna by Sunlighten is a full on wellness toolkit that provides a tailor-made experience based on your daily needs. The sauna comes with a high-quality touchpad that allows you to choose from six different programs that are backed by clinical research to deliver the precise experience you need by delivering infrared wavelengths at the optimal dosages to produce the desired effects. The mPulse Believe is both comfortable and aesthestically pleasing, incorporating Eucalyptus, Basswood, and Cedar in its design. This sauna provides a premium experience, and it’s probably the best infrared sauna for home available right now.
Size: 51.65” x 47.56” x 78.47”
- Programs backed by concrete clinical insights
- 3 types of wood for optimal aesthetics and functionality
- Leverages chromotherapy lighting to enhance experience
- Requires 230v, so requires a transformer in the US and Canada
- Relatively expensive
- Requires self assembly
The Enrich 2 by Health Mate is a full-spectrum infared sauna that boasts patented, dual-wave Tecoloy™ mid- and far-infrared heaters and a 96-diode LED color panel for near-infared heating. The sauna takes on a sleak Eucalyptus and glass design, while implementing an ergonomic bench within the design to optimize comfortability. The Enrich 2 also leverages 3 heaters to provide a 360 degree, comprehensive infrared spectrum.
Size: 47.25" x 43.5" x 77"
- Utilizes sustainably sourced, 100% Eucalyptus planks
- Built in Bluetooth Audio
- Requires no tools for assembly
- Potential for some EMF exposure because of infrared
- Self assembly required
- Some customers complain of floor warping due to moisture from sweat
The Sun Home Equinox 2-Person Full-Spectrum Infrared Sauna is an indoor sauna with an advanced full-specturm heating system. The Equinox 2 supplements its infrared technology with Halogen heaters to boost temperatures and speed up heating timeframes to achieve max heat faster. This infrared sauna also incorporates EMF/ELF blocking technology to make it one of the safest options on the market. With Sun Home Sauna’s flagship sauna, you’ll even receive medical-grade chromotherapy to enhance the healing benefits of your sauna sessions.
Size: 50.9” x 45.9” x 77.7”
- Includes a limited lifetime warranty
- Incorporates Bluetooth surround sound system with built-in speakers
- Only infrared sauna in world that can reach up to 165F
- Requires self assembly
- Relatively expensive
- Black finish on wooden exterior may not complement all spaces aesthetically
What is the best type of sauna?
The best type of sauna, according to Healthline, is an infrared sauna. This is because the infrared sauna heats your body directly instead of heating the air like a traditional sauna does, so you can experience a more intense sweat at a lower temperature and stay in the sauna longer.
However, the best type of sauna may actually depend on what you’re trying to achieve with your sauna experience. For example, those looking to improve their longevity and avoid heart disease may actually be better off with a traditional sauna. This assertion comes from Dr. Ruscio DC, who analyzed a series of sauna studies comparing the effects of traditional sauna versus infrared sauna on markers associated with chronic heart failure.
What is the best sauna temperature?
The best sauna temperature is at least 150F for a traditional sauna, 120F or less for a steam room sauna, and between 120F to 140F for an infrared sauna, according to The North American Sauna Society.
What is the best sauna heater?
The best sauna heater is Harvia from Finland. Harvia has over 70 years of experience as one of the leading manufacturers of sauna heaters globally.
Saunas offer an effective method of administering heat therapy and are enjoyed by many across the globe. Whether you prefer the classic warmth of a traditional sauna, the cozy ambiance of a steam room, or the innovative technology of an infrared sauna, there's a perfect option for everyone. The best sauna for you depends on your personal preferences and specific wellness goals. No matter which sauna you choose, having easy access to a sauna at home ensures a rejuvenating experience is always within reach.
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