The Ultimate Guide to Infrared Saunas and EMF [2021]

Don’t expose yourself to high EMF!

Written by Christopher Kiggins

Finding a Low-EMF Infrared Sauna: Why Is EMF So Important? Finding a Low-EMF Infrared Sauna: Why Is EMF So Important?

When I became interested in infrared saunas, I found myself doing a great deal of research on my own time about something called electromagnetic fields, or EMF. It only made sense to investigate the negative side effects of what appear to be miracle health devices. I ended up doing a deep dive and going down the rabbit hole…

What I found out was there is a significant debate over the dangers of electromagnetic fields, which are emitted by any electrical object (including infrared saunas). I wanted to do my due diligence and review potential risks for sauna users. 

I learned that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) doesn’t consider EMF a proven health hazard, but I also found worrying research suggesting that it might be wise to avoid high-level exposure to EMF, not just in saunas but in our everyday lives.

What Is EMF? What Is EMF?

My expertise is in the health and fitness side of the sauna industry, not the electrical side (I leave that to my electrician business partner). However, I sat down with a physics professor friend to get the basics of how electromagnetic radiation works and its potential negative side effects. 

He told me that the simplest way to conceive of EMF is to think of invisible energy pulses, and to picture them radiating out from any object that has an electric current flowing inside it. Televisions, computers, microwaves, you name it: if they use electricity, they all emit electromagnetic fields.

My friend is a professor, so of course he wanted to elaborate further, and he added that electromagnetic fields can affect any object–including people–within their field. Most common electrical objects give off such low levels of EMF that they pose no risk to humans. However, larger objects with more electricity running through them, such as power lines, may present a health hazard for people who are exposed to them over long stretches of time.

One last thing: EMF is referred to by some as EMR, or electromagnetic radiation. Now, for our purposes, these are the same thing, so I’ll be referring to electromagnetic fields as EMF throughout this book.

EMF Around the House EMF Around the House

As I was describing my conversation with my friend, were you dying to know exactly how strong the EMF emitted by various household objects in your house is? I know I was… My friend, unfortunately, didn’t know off the top of his head. That meant I had to do some research of my own. I ended up purchasing an EMF meter from a company called Lutron off of Amazon. 

What I found was that the strength of an electromagnetic field varies massively based on the size and the strength of the item that is emitting it. Later on, I’ll talk more about how much EMF infrared saunas tend to emit, but before I do, take a look at this chart of how much EMF is emitted by common household objects. You’ll notice that how close you are to an object determines the strength of the EMF that is reaching you.

The Risks of EMF The Risks of EMF

The next step was to learn about the actual risks associated with EMF. This involved reading quite a few scientific journal articles.

Some of the most significant research conducted on exposure to EMF was reported in an article titled California EMF Risk Evaluation June 2002, which is still cited by many experts in the field today. This article drew from two significant research efforts. The first, which took place in 2001, was ELF Electromagnetic Fields and the Risk of Cancer. Researchers in that study found that high average exposures to EMF could double the risk of leukemia in kids under 15. Let that one sink in…

 In a 2002 studyAn Evaluation of the Possible Risks from Electric and Magnetic Fields from Power Lines, Internal Wiring, Electrical Occupations and Appliances, researchers found that heavy and prolonged exposure to EMF could lead to increased risk of adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, miscarriage, and, once again, childhood leukemia.

At this point you might be thinking, “But wait, don’t a lot of the appliances we use every day give off EMF?” And they do, but the keywords here are heavy and prolonged. What was discovered in both studies was that the exposure had to be heavy and prolonged. Your microwave giving off 130 mG (EMF is measured in what’s called milligauss) of EMF while it cooks a burrito for two minutes, for example, doesn’t rank as heavy and prolonged—as long as you don’t stand right in front of it!

However, I don’t want to discount the severity of the findings of these studies. My big takeaway was that the less EMF one could be exposed to while using an infrared sauna, the better. As I’d learned earlier though, it is impossible for infrared saunas to emit zero EMF, because they are electrical devices with wiring and currents. It should raise some serious red flags when a company tells you that they have zero EMF. Trust me, there are many nefarious sauna companies out there lying about this.

Fortunately, there are varieties of infrared sauna that emit barely any EMF at all and in my opinion, very safe to use regularly.

Infrared Saunas and Safe EMF Levels Infrared Saunas and Safe EMF Levels

Infrared saunas are large, they surround you with electrical components, and in order to use them, you must sit inside them for a period of time. If you’ve followed to this point, you know that that can be a recipe for dangerous exposure to EMF. Thankfully though, there is infrared sauna technology that keeps EMF in the super-low range of .2 to .3 mG. 

To put that in perspective, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has previously proposed a safety standard of 3 mG, with anything below 3 mG being deemed as safe. This clear cut numerical guideline makes it easy to shop for a safe infrared sauna: simply ask the sauna salesman for the exact number. Numbers don’t lie. Make the company give you an EMF guarantee in writing. If the number is higher than they say it is, return your sauna for a full refund.

You can never be too cautious, and with that in mind, I suggest that if you’re choosing an infrared sauna for your home that you think about buying a Tri-Field or Lutron EMF meter to test its levels. 

Hopefully most salesmen out there aren’t actively lying about their saunas’ EMF levels, but I’ve just heard too many horror stories. And an EMF meter isn’t a bad thing to have around when you’re purchasing large electronics either.

Choosing a Low-EMF Sauna Choosing a Low-EMF Sauna

The two primary materials used in infrared saunas to produce infrared rays are carbon and ceramic. These materials, when heated, produce infrared rays that raise the body’s core temperature, speed up the metabolism, and bring on all the other health benefits of saunas. 

Carbon heaters are a relatively new invention, and while they have some good qualities, they also generate high EMF levels–up to 80 mG, which is well over the suggested guidelines. Traditional ceramic heaters, on the other hand, have a much lower EMF than carbon heaters, but it’s still possible to go lower.

There are ways to lower the EMF in every infrared sauna; the problem is, very few companies even attempt to do this. What they normally do is to try to mitigate the EMF directly on top of the heater, either by shielding the wiring, double coating their carbon panels or by stacking two heaters on top of each other (which attempts to cancel out the electric current). All methods work.

Here’s the problem: they only focus on the EMF of the heater and then put a very high EMF inducing power supply directly underneath the bench where you’re sitting. The object with the most EMF in the sauna is the power supply hands down. 

This is because the power supply is the literal brain of the sauna which takes either 120 or 240 volts of electricity directly from the wall and disperses that power to all of the heaters. As a sauna company owner, let me tell you that negating the EMF of a power supply is extremely difficult. No one has really figured this out.

What higher end companies do to be able to skirt around this issue is by putting the power supply in the roof of their saunas. The high EMF really only travels a foot or two around the power supply, so where you are sitting you have very low EMF. This is what they base their low EMF claims on.

Why 3rd Party Tests Don’t Matter Why 3rd Party Tests Don’t Matter

Nowadays literally every company has “3rd Party EMF test,” which is just a test that they’ve either paid an independent electromagnetic company to perform or a fake PDF that the company has created out of thin air. The former being obviously better than the latter; however, the latter more abundant than the former. 

Even if a company has a third party EMF test, it doesn’t matter. Here’s why: companies who perform independent tests don’t send in their entire sauna (with the high EMF outputting power supply). What they do is either send in an individual heater panel and have that tested, or they send in one sauna panel (there are six in a pre-fabricated kit sauna) and have that tested. Neither option gives the full EMF picture. In my professional opinion, this negates these tests entirely.

If you don’t believe me, go ahead and actually read one of these tests. I mean it. Actually read the fine print!

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I am glad infrared saunas have developed the way they have, because I couldn’t imagine my life without the benefits they provide, like deep sleep, lower blood pressure, less joint pain, weight loss, and a boosted immune system. Here at SaunaCloud I sell saunas that are some of the best history has offered. My far infrared saunas use advanced ceramic-carbon combination heaters for an amazing sauna experience. For more information on how SaunaCloud’s infrared saunas work and how they can improve your health, download my book The Definitive Guide to Infrared Saunas. Just give us a call at SaunaCloud 1.800.370.0820.

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Christopher Kiggins | Sauna Enthusiast

Christopher Kiggins | Sauna Enthusiast

I have been writing, learning, educating and generally pointing people in the right direction infrared sauna wise since 2012. Let me know how I can help: - (530) 417-1220