The Difference Between a Traditional and Infrared Sauna

 In Saunas

When it comes to buying a sauna you’ve got two options: Traditional or Infrared. We’re going to break down the differences between the two to help you better understand what kind of sauna will best fit your needs.


A traditional sauna is a chamber made of wood that is heated and filled with steam via a sauna stove. Sauna stoves can be electric or wood burning, but their main purpose is to heat sauna rocks, which you pour water over to create steam. 

They’re called traditional saunas because this is the way saunas have been made and heated since their invention in Finland centuries ago. It is known to be a relaxing and social environment, typically enjoyed in 20 minute intervals that are interrupted by chilly plunges into cold water. Traditional saunas are usually heated to extreme temperatures of 175-195 degrees Fahrenheit, which make those cold dips welcome. Health benefits are attributed to the heat as well as the steam, and range from pain relief to increased intestinal function. 

Traditional saunas can be built to virtually any size, require thoughtful construction to account for steam and high temps, and must include a sauna stove. These make them the pricier option when choosing between a traditional or infrared sauna. They also take time to heat up before you enjoy them, but this is often not a hassle, especially in smaller saunas. 

But, traditional saunas are expected to have more health benefits than an infrared sauna. They also offer a much more authentic experience. You will be able to pour water onto hot rocks and hear it sizzle as it turns to steam, filling up the room and clearing your sinuses. You can also add aromatics to the water for a pleasant and relaxing smell. If you’re looking for a hot, steamy, and health-maximizing sauna, traditional is the way to go. 


Infrared saunas are the younger sibling to traditional saunas. They are made very similarly and aim to recreate similar benefits and experiences, but use newer technology and do so for a lower price. They are also wooden rooms, but these are heated with carbon or ceramic panels that put off impressive heat from infrared radiation.

Infrared radiation is a particular wavelength of energy that occurs naturally. The heat coming off of your body in infrared, and so is the heat coming off of a warm sidewalk in the summer. Infrared saunas use carbon or ceramic panels that emit this energy to warm the sauna to temperatures of about 155 degrees fahrenheit. These saunas are usually enjoyed in 30 minute sessions, sometimes once in the morning and again in the evening. There is no steam, so health benefits rely on a much deeper penetrating heat and how that heat interacts with your skin cells, which is different from how the heat of a traditional sauna interacts with the body. 

Infrared saunas offer many of the same health benefits as traditional saunas but with lower operating temperatures. They also tend to be smaller, often made for a single individual or as many as four. While infrared saunas differ from the experience of a traditional sauna, some find infrared saunas more enjoyable. They are as simple to operate as flipping a light switch, and you don’t have to worry about creating optimal humidity levels. Because of the reduced temp, it is often more tolerable, and most manufacturers include features like radios for use while you’re relaxing. They are also much more affordable than traditional saunas. 

Overall, no sauna is better than the other. It all depends on what you’re looking for. At Alaska Stove and Spa we’re committed to making sure that you’re happy with your experience, both when you’re shopping with us and years down the line when you’re still enjoying your quality purchase.

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