Our Thoughts on Infrared Saunas

by Neil Peterson

Our thoughts on Infrared Saunas:

Google the term “sauna bathing” and you’re likely to see an endless number of the same cliche images: someone lounging in a white towel in a state of complete relaxation; leaning against a backrest with their feet up and eyes closed.  This is the image that best illustrates the experience that most sauna enthusiasts are seeking.  However, the reality of the infrared sauna experience will probably make you feel more like a diner cheeseburger under the heat lamps than one of the blissful sauna bathers you see in these pictures.

Many infrared sauna manufactures like to describe how their heaters “heat your body directly rather than heat the air around you”, which sounds wonderfully efficient until you realize that you have to place any part of your body that you’d like heated directly over the heat source.  They carefully word their sales material to tell you about all of the extraordinary benefits that “may” happen and constantly try to present infrared saunas as a far superior alternative to traditional saunas, but in reality very little scientifically verified information exists about FIR. One publication I read, which was done on behalf of a certain FIR sauna manufacturer, referenced 16 previous publications to support their argument about the cardiovascular benefits of infrared sauna bathing.  However, 13 of these 16 sources (where all health benefit info came from) referred directly to studies about either traditional sauna therapy, or generic thermal therapy.  If there were sources out there that describe the unique benefits of FIR, you’d expect these manufacturers to reference them.

At Peterson Sauna, we acknowledge that the sauna industry as a whole is largely unregulated, which allows companies on both sides of the traditional/FIR sauna divide to make a lot of unsubstantiated yet miraculous claims about the benefits of their products. However, we are proud to uphold the tradition of true Scandinavian sauna craftsmanship, where the health benefits and social elements of sauna bathing have been ingrained into their culture for centuries.

To put this opinion into perspective – we have access to and have sold and installed infrared products in the past when customers have asked us to incorporate them into our designs. This is not simply a case of arguing against a competing product that we can’t profit from; we simply don’t believe in FIR therapy as a substitute for the true sauna experience.

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