I have been asked the question ‘are you microwaving yourself in an infrared sauna?’ too many times to count. But I wanted to address it for people who might be searching for this answer online.
Question: Are You Microwaving Yourself in an Infrared Sauna?
Answer: Short answer, no. Let’s dive in. First, let’s discuss how microwaves work.
If you take a look at the following chart of electromagnetic radiation you will see that the microwave spectrum is just to the right of the infrared light spectrum. Infrared has a wavelength of 750 nm – 1 mm and microwaves have a wavelength of 1 mm – 1 m.
Microwaves are very similar to infrared waves, however they are just longer in wavelength–which makes a huge difference in how your body reacts to these rays of light/radiation. We’ll get into how your body absorbs infrared vs. microwaves in a bit. But first, let’s look at how microwaves work.
Microwave ovens channel heat energy (rays of microwave light) directly to the molecules (tiny particles) inside food. In this sense, a microwave heats food very similar to how the sun and an infrared sauna heats your body.
Microwave ovens actually point microwave rays at the food and that food’s molecules charge (with thermal motion) causing the entire object to rise in temperature. So a microwave is like a little ‘food sauna’ if you would. However, the difference between an infrared sauna and a microwave is the length of the wave of light being used and how our bodies absorb that light.
Microwaves are only really dangerous because they penetrate your skin and deposit energy into a deeper layer that might not have good circulation and thus could overheat too quickly. For example, microwave energy is dangerous for your eyes because microwaves will heat your cells much faster than sunlight or infrared. So by your eyes absorbing microwave energy too quickly they will overheat before you can even feel them get warm.
Infrared waves are much more gentle than microwave light. Additionally, your body is finely tuned to absorb the infrared energy from the sun as heat. It’s not tuned to absorb microwave energy as heat.
This is why infrared energy is used in the sauna environment and microwaves are used for food. Microwaves are much more efficient for food in terms of speed and infrared is much better for a sauna in terms of safety and health. So to officially answer the question, no, you are not microwaving yourself in an infrared sauna–although similar things are happening!