Both the sauna and the steam room feels amazing, but what differs in the effects it has on you and your health?
Steam rooms and saunas may help with:
- Reducing muscle tension
- Promoting relaxation
- Improve overall well-being
- Cleanse the skin
The main difference between the two is of course that steam rooms produce moist heat and a sauna provides dry heat.
The Difference is in The Heat
A typical sauna creates dry heat with a heater and a stack of rocks, which emit heat into the sauna. If you want to heat it up, pour water over the rocks, which also creates some steam. Saunas usually have a vent, which limits the buildup of humidity.
In a steam room, there is a steam generator that boils water to release steam into the room. The humidity in a steam room is able to build up because they are almost completely airtight. The air becomes damp to the point that water will liquefy on the walls of the steam room.
Saunas come to a higher temperature than steam rooms, but because there is no humidity, you may not realize the increase in temperature.
Saunas are usually set between 150 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit with 5 to 30% humidity.
Steam rooms, on the other hand, reach temperatures of 115-120 degrees but with 100% humidity, making them feel hotter.
Saunas are made of wood because other materials such as metal or tile would burn you with the dry heat of the sauna. The wood also absorbs the moisture, which keeps the surfaces cool and decreases humidity.
On the other hand, steam rooms must be made of non-porous material, as the high humidity and condensation would degrade wood.
Steam rooms are made of materials such as tile, that can withstand the humidity. Some are also made of plastic, and all steam rooms typically have sloped ceilings to allow water to run down the walls instead of drip off of the ceiling like rain.
Weight Loss and Cardio
According to Harvard Health Publications, saunas and steam rooms may be helpful for cardiovascular conditioning due to the high temperatures elevating heart rates to levels that are often achieved with physical exercise.
While this can aid in weight loss, it will not build muscle. Much of the weight that is lost in a sauna or a steam room is water weight. If that water is not replaced, it may be more difficult your body to lose excess weight in the long run.
Due to the high humidity, steam rooms hydrate your skin more than saunas. Steam rooms may be helpful for people who suffer from dry skin or eczema, while these people may suffer in the dry heat of a sauna. The steam may also help to clear impurities out of the skin, which is great for those with acne.
Both saunas and steam rooms open up your pores while also increasing blood circulation, which may help to soften your skin, giving it a healthy pink glow.
For people with respiratory problems, the dry heat of a sauna is likely to be uncomfortable to breathe.
Choosing the moist heat of a steam room might be better for those with conditions such as sinus congestion or asthma, as the steam may help relieve inflammation in the lungs.
Saunas, however, might be a better choice for people suffering from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, as symptoms may be aggravated by the humidity.
It is important for certain people such as pregnant women, people with cardiovascular disease, unstable blood pressure, those who are prone to seizures, or people on certain prescription medications seek medical advice before using a sauna or steam room.
Why I Prefer Dry Sauna
Personally, I love the dry sauna. The heat feels cleaning and the experience is almost spiritual.
Most of the health and detox related studies are also made on dry sauna.
The higher temperature logically would lead to a deeper sweat and a deeper cleansing.
In this study by Harvard Medical School, sauna seems to lead to less heart problems and longer life.
Anything you want to add, or ask about, go ahead and leave a comment!
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John David Brown says
What about using both? Would that reduce the benefits of either one? Either back to back on the same visit to the gym or on alternating days. I feel like I want the health benefits of the dry sauna and the skin benefits of the wet sauna?
Jesse s says
Useing both isnt a bad idea.
Andres E says
in a custom home installation, can I do a steam room WITH infrared panels? that way we can alternate or even use both simultaneously. I’m planning on using marble or tile for the whole room with wood deck on the seating areas.