What Is the Ideal Temperature for Sauna?
What Is the Ideal Temperature for Sauna?
I have always dreamed to have summer all year round. That is why I moved to Spain. But you would be surprised how little it met my expectations – we had the same spring here as I used to have in Eastern Europe: with rain and wind and maybe a little bit more of sun but that’s it. People have been telling me that if I wanted a real southern summer, I need to wait until the end of June. So I am still waiting. But for those who don’t feel like waiting, I recommend sauna. Each of us has his ideal temperature for the summer but what about sauna? What is the ideal temperature for sauna?
In a traditional Finnish sauna the temperature usually is set on 80° C (176° F) but it varies between 70-90° C (158-194º F). This applies for the traditional saunas and with infrared saunas it is 40-60º C (104-140º F). However, what temperature suits you the best is a subjective matter which depends on your needs, experience and physical abilities. The parameters mentioned above is a general recommendation. I will talk about particular cases later in this article.
When we take up something new, it seems to be so much to explore and get to know. We are eager to make our experience to be the best possible and for this reason it is good to look up some “must know” facts. That is what I am going to do now – present to you the basic information how to keep the temperature in the sauna perfect, how to figure out your preference, what are the recommendations if you have particular needs and how to avoid the dangers of overheating.
What does ensure the ideal temperature in a sauna?
There are four different ways how to heat up a sauna: wood burning (it heats the rocks in the sauna), electrical heating (electrical heater heats the floor), using far-infrared sauna bulbs (heat waves are directed to human body) and steam (it makes the room moist and humid).
Accordingly, those kinds of saunas are divided into wet and dry saunas. Wet ones are heated with wood or steam and the dry ones with the infrared bulbs or an electric stove. Water is not used in dry saunas and humidity stays the same so if you want precision in regulating the temperature, you should choose a dry sauna.
In a wet sauna you can increase the heat simply by pouring water on the rocks. If you feel you want less heat, pour less water so you don’t evoke the steam. For the heat to work better the rocks should be assorted in a correct way, too. In a dry sauna you use the settings. However, it takes not just that to preserve the heat in the room.
One important thing for keeping it inside is to have a good heat insulation, installed in the walls and the ceiling. It is especially important if you use an electric heater. So when you are buying one, you should know what kind of walls you have in your sauna. Air-conditioning shouldn’t prevent the heat to stay in the room so it must be taken care as well. Moreover, the door should be tight and take into consideration the exhaust vent.
Finally, if you use an electric heater, make sure that it is working properly, that the delivery of electricity is sufficient.
Install a thermometer inside a sauna at the level of your head to follow the temperature.
Usually a sauna room will heat up to 74º C (165º F) in 30-40 minutes and to 88º C (190º F) in less than 60 minutes.
How does the difference of temperature work in the traditional saunas and the infrared saunas?
So we have discovered that basically there are two types of saunas – wet and dry – and how do we need to regulate the temperature there. Personally, I wouldn’t mind leaving this responsibility to anyone else because it seems to be a quite some of responsibility, especially if you have your own sauna and need to manage it. However, if one person is enough to look after the heat in the sauna, I think everyone who is going in should know what kind of atmosphere they are going to get. That is why I will pick two most popular kinds of saunas – traditional steam sauna and infrared sauna – and describe what kind of effect they have on our body.
As we said, the main difference between a steam sauna and an infrared sauna is the temperature. In the later one the temperature is much lower than in the former. So it goes without saying that infrared saunas are much better for the beginners or the people who are more sensitive to heat. However, it doesn’t mean that you will sweat less in an infrared sauna. The thing is that the heat there goes much deeper into the body so you will sweat even more.
For the reason that infrared saunas solely use heat and no steam, they will be much less humid than steam saunas. Therefore not just the temperature but the humidity as well might make you feel a lot hotter in a steam sauna than in an infrared sauna.
Finally, even if these both types of saunas are different and you might feel differently using them, they have the same effect on your body. In steam saunas the temperature of your body increases at the time when the temperature of the room goes up. This makes your body start to cool down and you sweat. In infrared saunas infrared heaters emit a specific wavelength of infrared light. This wavelength, absorbed by the skin, makes your body temperature rise and then you sweat as well.
So I guess if you want to kick out all devils out of yourself with all this sweat, both types of saunas will do the job.
What temperature is recommended for different groups of people?
As I have said before, we all have different needs and abilities. Maybe one person is using saunas for many years and doesn’t feel like having a little bit of heat and another one wants just gently touch the sensation of being in a high temperature and nothing more. However, there are some recommendations of temperature for those who have specific situations what concerns health. Here I will shortly present them.
The target group which should be careful going into a sauna consists from people who have these kinds of health problems: heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma and skin disease. These people are particularly vulnerable in saunas. While healthy individuals can enter a sauna set on a bit higher temperature than recommended (up to around 100º C). The ones having health problems shouldn’t go in when the temperature is higher than 90º C.
Also another vulnerable group is pregnant women. They should choose the temperature below 70º C. In this way they are not put into risk of miscarriage or early birth. However, it is not recommended at all to go to sauna while pregnant. You can read more about it here: sauna while pregnant.
And the sauna veterans most likely can exceed a little bit the recommended temperature, in all the cases observing their condition at the sauna bathing moment and following the time. However, there are some more things to know to stay safe – what is the temperature you shouldn’t exceed. This I will talk about now.
What temperature is not safe?
I have read about some crazy people in Finland who have sauna bathing competitions. They try to stay in a sauna as long as they can and as much time as it is possible. Sadly, some of those competitions ended up with death. But on the other hand, this behavior is truly quite crazy because we don’t play with our health.
These competitions take place already for a decade. The people who died were sitting in a sauna in 110º C temperature. They collapsed with grave burns. Others endured the temperature. Most often it depends on an individual’s physical construction. But still it is very dangerous to abuse sauna.
If you decide to risk and choose a higher temperature than the usual one, it is important to shower or jump into a some kind of pool of water afterwards, shorten the time of bathing. A useful tip is to wear felt caps and slippers. The wooden surfaces have a tendency to turn very hot.
We always have a choice but let it be mindful.
There is a saying that bad weather doesn’t exist, just a bad dressing. However, in a sauna the only dressing you need is the towel, the cap and the slippers. The temperature is much more important. So one should always choose wisely how to treat his health. And if he decides to take his chances, should understand all the risks. I guess it is like with smoking. We have a free will but also consciousness to keep us on the track.