There is an undertone of controversy out there in the Far Infrared sauna world; cedar or white wood. You might wonder why it even matters? Personally, I prefer cedar and I will tell you why I am not alone. If you were to place cedar up against any of the the white woods (hemlock or spruce) cedar would be higher on the ‘popularity’ meter than any other of the woods.
Cedar is an attractive and aromatic wood. It costs more than spruce and it is very strong yet lightweight. It is decay resistant and will last a lifetime if properly maintained. In the past most traditional saunas were constructed of cedar. They were built to be used outdoors. Cedar has in it a volatile oil called cedrene which allows the wood to repel insects and endure moisture. Unfortunately, cedrene also includes unsaturated, aliphatic cyclic hydrocarbons. Translated, that means it can occasionally cause irritation to the user.
If you have an allergy or sensitivity to the natural oils found in cedar best to use one made from a different wood. Ideally, white woods, such as Nordic spruce or hemlock, are beneficial alternatives to cedar as they lack the capability to off-gas oil based irritants. Hemlock or spruce are able to maintain a higher temperature than other white woods. Both have good stability, the woods are naturally resistant to warping and wear, have little odor and are completely hypoallergenic and non-toxic.
Nordic spruce is the ideal alternative choice for both its hypoallergenic properties, appropriate balance of weight and strength and minimal shrinkage. Spruce is normally considered to be a scentless, resin-free wood that is available in very large, knot-free dimensions. It has a regular, uniform structure, and can be durable outdoors with the proper covering. The only consideration when choosing a white wood is that it does not keep itself as clean as cedar, which is naturally anti-bacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal, so you will need to make sure that you put a towel down on the bench and floor of your Far Infrared sauna. As long as you do that there won’t be any sweat damage to the sauna. If you do need to clean the wood, a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water will keep the wood clean.
I still prefer the Far Infrared cedar saunas that are specially kiln dried to burn away the cedar’s oils and resins that may otherwise outgas allergens and toxins during the heating and cooling of the wood. It is just a personal preference. Cedar also has benefits when used outdoors as it is very durable in regard to decay resistance, and has some resistance to insect attack. Either way, regardless of your preference, utilizing the amazing and healthy advantages of Far Infrared sauna therapy it will be beneficial whichever wood you choose!