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How is a Sauna different from other baths?
A Sauna must have a special, insulated room built of softwood; a heater which is capable of heating the room to about 180° F; and stones which get hot enough to produce a good steam when water is poured over them. Anything else is not a Sauna. Also, a Sauna is not a steam bath. Steam is 100% humidity while a Sauna is relatively dry at about 20-25% average humidity (when water is used).
Are rocks necessary in a Sauna?
Rocks are necessary to store heat and to produce steam when water is poured over them. Rocks should be placed all around the heater elements and should completely cover them. In this way the stones will filter the heat from the heater elements for a softer more comfortable bathing experience and provide better steam. Rocks which sit on top of a grill or basket will not get hot enough to produce a good steam and the bather will experience a harsher heat.
What is the difference between a wet and a dry Sauna?
They are the same thing. A Sauna can be used wet or dry. When someone says "wet" they mean that water can be poured over the stones in the heater. If water cannot be poured over hot stones it is not a Sauna. The Sauna bather controls the humidity in the room by the amount of water used. Water can create a more relaxing atmosphere and it aids in perspiration and deep cleansing of the pores. Although use of water is most common, some like to use the Sauna without any water at all for a very "dry" climate (humidity level 10-15%). Sauna heat and humidity are flexible so it is up to the bather as to how they want to use the Sauna to suit their needs.
Why must a Sauna be built of softwood?
The humidity must be absorbed into the wood to keep the atmosphere relatively dry. Softwoods have this property and are cool to the touch. Hardwoods absorb heat and become too hot to sit or lean against. The wood must be kiln dried to within 9-11% moisture content to prevent shrinkage and warping.
Is an infrared or far infrared cabin a Sauna?
No. The only similarity to the Sauna is the wood lined room. An infrared cabin uses exposed heated elements to produce "infrared" heat. These elements are located on the back wall, front wall, and usually under the benches. Only the parts of the body that are closest to the elements get hot enough to perspire, similar to a spot heater. Saunas, on the other hand, are meant to heat the entire body via the heated air from a single heater filled with stones. Infrared rooms average about 125° F, whereas Saunas average 175-185° F. Infrareds have no means to create soothing steam or humidity because they do not have heated stones. Use of water is not an option. Some infrared companies claim that their infrared heat penetrates up to 3" into your body. Even if this claim was true, one should be worried about anything penetrating that far into the body. Saunas safely heat the outside of the body and do not penetrate into it. Are infrareds better for you or do you sweat more in an infrared room? No. Saunas are known to provide the deepest cleansing of any bath in the world. Much of the information being provided by infrared companies is misleading and not factual. Infrareds are not a new type of Sauna. Please click on the infrared PDF file for more information.

Sauna vs Infrared

Should a Sauna have a waterproof floor? Is a floor drain necessary?
A Sauna must have a waterproof floor so that it can be easily washed and kept clean and sanitary, and free of odor. We recommend washable floors such as tile, sealed cement/concrete, or heavy duty vinyl. Commercial Saunas should have a floor drain to remove excess water by bathers and for cleaning purposes. Most residential Saunas do not need a floor drain, unless a water hose is used for cleaning. Wooden flooring is not hygienic in a Sauna as it absorbs perspiration, facilitates odor causing bacteria, and it cannot be thoroughly cleaned.