Not really the sauna you grew up with right?
If you notice from the picture above, there is only one set of heaters pointing in one direction. This is because near infrared heaters operate at a much higher temperature than far infrared heaters.
In order to get the near infrared band of light, you must heat an object to 2,150 °F, which is highly uncomfortable for most people to sit next to. Uncomfortable enough that it would be physically impossible to surround yourself with near infrared heaters 360 degrees around you. This is why only one wall of the near infrared sauna can have the heater panel. Shall I repeat that temperature again? Because near infrared heaters are so hot, in a near infrared sauna there is only one side of the body being heated at a time. Take a look at the following picture of near infrared light distribution:
Near infrared sauna enthusiasts claim that near infrared is much better for the skin. However, there is only one direction the near infrared light is coming from in a near infrared sauna; therefore, you have to continuously turn your body like a rotisserie to produce a full body sweat. Moreover, only a fraction of your skin is getting the infrared light waves. This is far from the even, enveloping, 360 degree heat of a far infrared sauna. Yes, you are essentially “rotissering” yourself:
Now, don’t be too worried. There is a solution: Far Infrared!
Far infrared saunas actually came into existence much earlier than near infrared saunas. When it was discovered you could skip a step by heating your body directly, instead of the air and water between (like traditional saunas), it was by using the far infrared wavelength. (Why do you think people sit next to fires when it’s cold? Far infrared heat.)
The objective of an infrared sauna is to produce a deep and sustained sweat by raising your core body temperature. In order to raise your body’s temperature, you must heat the body by using the optimal wavelength of light that results from the thermal radiation of an object. This optimal wavelength is the far infrared band of light that is evenly distributed in an infrared sauna. Instead of your body seeing the light photons in the visible spectrum of light, your body feels these light photons as heat!
Far infrared is fantastic for many of the same things that near infrared is great for—a boost in metabolic rate, the burning fat cells, improved circulation, increasing cellular energy, faster skin rejuvenation, and faster cellular perfusion.
However, it is the far infrared wavelength that is much better the infrared sauna environment.
Infrared energy is invisible light that your body can’t see; rather, it feels it as heat. Your body literally absorbs infrared energy (the same energy which comes from the sun) and as a result, charges your body’s electrons and createths thermal heat–thus raising your core temperature.
However, in the infrared sauna environment, your body must be hit on all sides (and from a comfortable enough temperature range) to produce a sweat and stay in the sauna for an extended period of time to sustain that sweat.
For this reason, infrared saunas are the most popular type of sauna in the home. They aren’t overwhelmingly hot like a traditional sauna, nor do they make you spin yourself around next to a heater that’s 2,750 °F like in a near infrared sauna. Far infrared saunas allow for you to get the deepest possible sweat, and sustain that sweat, for 30 minutes. The longer you sweat, the more health benefits you will receive and the more relaxed you’ll be.
I am in no way saying that near infrared doesn’t have therapeutic value; however, in the infrared sauna environment, it is less than ideal as it’s extremely inefficient in using infrared light waves, too hot and too uncomfortable (you have to sit on a stool that you can rotate–not a fixed ergonomic bench and backrest that you can sink into). If you are certain you need near infrared, I would recommend a handheld near infrared LED light panel that you place directly on top of your skin outside of the sauna which will do the same thing a near infrared sauna does–bring blood to the surface of your skin to promote faster healing and pain relief.
I highly encourage you to conduct as much research on near versus far infrared as you’d like, but remember to look for the science behind the claims. The purpose of using an infrared sauna is the cumulative health benefits, all of which can be safely and comfortably attained through far infrared while you are sweating, losing weight, and detoxifying your body.
If you have any more questions please download our book ‘The Definitive Guide to Infrared Saunas’ which has an entire chapter dedicated to near versus far infrared. You can download it below.