Far infrared saunas in their current form have been around for 30 years. Near infrared saunas have been around for about half the time as people started realizing the benefits of not just far infrared, but mid and near as well. Without getting into a discussion of which is better in an infrared sauna environment (near vs. far, which we’ve already covered in detail here) let’s discuss the merits of having both near, mid and far infrared in a sauna.
The sun’s spectrum of electromagnetic radiation has an entire portion that is made up of near, mid and far infrared–which we humans feel as heat. This infrared spectrum lies just beyond the visible light spectrum as you can see here:
Each portion of the electromagnetic spectrum of light serves its own purpose (gamma rays are used to kill cancer cells, visible light allows for us to see, and infrared allows us to feel heat). We can then harness this penetrating heat in an infrared sauna to put out invisible light that our body absorbs as heat which then raises our core body temperature and produces the amazing health benefits we’re already aware of.
There are three levels of infrared, near, mid and far, that each resonate with the subcutaneous fat layer of the human body producing different healing responses. Let’s take a look at the three kinds of infrared light and their benefits in an infrared sauna:
Near Infrared – Healthy cell immunity, wound healing, skin purification and pain relief.
Near infrared wavelengths have a lower micron level and a resulting shorter wavelength which mostly penetrates the epidermis layer of the skin. This makes it a very safe choice for the improvement of cell health, the renewal of skin, tissue growth and wound healing.
A lot of sauna companies use near infrared technology that is similar to the infrared used in handheld cosmetic and LED healing devices. While these LED devices are great when they can be targeted on a specific area of skin–they are ineffective in the sauna environment. Let’s take a look at an LED panel that’s used by a competitor.
In order for this device to be effective you have to hold it directly over your skin for an extended period of time (minimum 15 minutes to get the blood flowing to the desired area)–not behind a mesh heater pointed at one spot on your back. What happens if you have knee pain? You would have to stand and hold your knee right in front of the LED panel. What’s more is that this LED panel is hidden behind a mesh cover which will block nearly all of the rays of light (remember, all light travels in a straight line, including infrared).
The object of an infrared sauna is to heat your body and raise your core temperature–a small 10 watt LED panel is not going to heat your body at all. What is far better is a near infrared lamp heater which must reach 2,150 °F to produce near infrared waves. You still get all of the amazing health benefits of near infrared (cell health, the renewal of skin, tissue growth and wound healing) while heating your body–which is what an infrared sauna is supposed to do! Furthermore, if you look at companies who only offer near infrared, you’ll see they only use near infrared lamps–not LED panels. Why? Because they understand that saunas must be hot!
While near infrared does have great healing benefits, we don’t advise using only a near infrared sauna on its own. Near infrared gets too hot to be used solely in an infrared sauna (2,150 °F). Near infrared sauna companies know this and force their sauna users to sit on a small stool and rotate their body at different time intervals essentially rotisserie’ing’ themselves. They have to do this because if they surrounded your body on all four sides it would be far too hot to get any benefit at all from. Not practical or comfortable!
Mid Infrared – Pain relief, improved circulation and weight loss.
Mid infrared wavelengths penetrate deeper into the body than near infrared and are therefore good for increasing circulation and blood flow. When used on a consistent basis, mid infrared sauna therapy has been shown to significantly increase blood flow and reduce muscle and joint pain. Healing can occur faster because mid infrared penetrates deeper into soft tissue where inflammation occurs.
To produce MIR, sauna heaters must be able to maintain a surface temperature of 410 °F. Though major infrared sauna companies may claim to provide mid infrared, the material used in their heaters never actually reaches this temperature. Don’t be fooled by fancy marketing and branding. Let the sauna do the talking.
Far Infrared – Weight loss, detoxification, better circulation, reduction in blood pressure, and relaxation.
Because far infrared sauna therapy heats the body directly rather than simply warming the air, it raises the core body temperature and produces a deep, detoxifying sweat at the cellular level, where most toxins reside. Far infrared also aids in blood pressure reduction & weight loss, as you get a great passive aerobic exercise.
The longest infrared wavelength, far infrared, penetrates deepest into the body, reaching adipose tissue (fat cells) where toxins are stored. The range of temperatures that you want for a far infrared heating panel will be from 400 °F to 90 °F. Between these temperatures is where the far infrared band is produced. However, we have found that sitting 2 inches away from a heater that is 400 °F will be far too hot to be comfortable and will not allow you to stay in your sauna for 30 minutes (the object of an infrared sauna is to sit in there longer and prolong your sweat. The longer you sweat the more health benefits you’ll get).
Every one of our carbon (“solocarbon,” “nanocarbon,” etc., they’re all the same heater) competitors heaters only ever reach 140 °F on the surface of their heaters which will simply not be hot enough to produce a sweat. For this reason we aim for 200 °F on the surface of our heaters which gives you the longest wavelength at the most beneficial temperature. You will also be able to sit in your sauna for 30 minutes each day while getting the deepest sweat possible.
Why Would You Want a Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna?
For many years Infrared Saunas have been either Far Infrared or Near Infrared. How you used one depended upon your health needs and requirements. Currently an optimal sauna experience combining all three spectrums in one is available, which allows for extended diversity and an incredibly effective sauna experience. This combination of all three spectrums of infrared ensures total health concerns could be addressed and targeted in only one session.
Your skin is the largest organ of your body. The subcutaneous layer of fat stores many toxins and can be found just below the skin’s surface. A Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna can penetrate into the tissues up to a depth of two inches. The temperature of a full spectrum infrared sauna is typically between 100 – 150 degrees °F. However, despite operating at a lower temperature, your body will typically perspire far more in a full spectrum infrared sauna due to complete heat penetration.
Full spectrum infrared energy penetrates your body at not just one level, but three.
Normally our bodies pump ten to fourteen pints of blood per minute. Full spectrum infrared sauna rays increase the blood flow up to twenty six pints per minute. When blood flow is increased you have additional oxygenation assisting the body to repair cells and tissues.
The full spectrum infrared sauna also stimulates the sebaceous glands to release harmful toxins such as petrochemicals, mercury and other heavy metals. Toxins that cannot be expelled immediately after entry are stored in our bodies. The full spectrum sauna not only boosts the metabolism but is also extremely effective at aiding the upturn of immune function.
While inside a full spectrum infrared sauna you can fully relax, listen to calming music, meditate, enjoy color light therapy, or perhaps a yoga routine to introduce heat into your practice. After taking a full spectrum sauna session your body’s core will be comfortable all day as the detoxing benefits continue long after your session ends. You’ll be relieved of your pain too.