Saunas vs Steam Rooms: Which is Best?

Saunas vs Steam Rooms: Which is Best?

There are few things more relaxing than reclining in a sauna and soaking up the heat. However, there are a few key differences between conventional steam room-style saunas and infrared saunas. 

What are the Differences Between a Steam Room and a Sauna? 

The key difference between a steam room and a sauna is how they actually heat the air. Both have the same key goal: to create a hot environment that triggers physiological reactions in your body. 

Steam rooms achieve this through evaporation by pouring water over hot stones, which is then transformed into steam. Saunas like infrared saunas are instead powered by electricity, heating up through panels made from materials such as carbon fibre or ceramic. 

The nature of the heat each generates is slightly different. Steam rooms generate more moist air, warming the room. Infrared saunas are more direct, heating your tissues through far infrared light with a dry heat rather than needing to heat the whole room. 

What are the Benefits of a Steam Room? 

Due to the moist air, steam rooms can be wonderful for the respiratory system by helping your lungs clear themselves after infection. They can support the function of your lymphatic system by promoting drainage of blocked sinuses thanks to the lubricating moisture-filled air. 

What are the Risks of a Steam Room? 

While steamy moisture can be beneficial for certain systems in your body, the temperature of conventional steam rooms can be too intense for some people. In order to achieve a hot and steam-filled room, the overall temperature needs to be higher than is tolerable and comfortable for those who are sensitive to heat. 

They can also cause skin flushing and light-headedness as the heat is dispersed throughout the room rather than in targeted areas. This can be a challenge for those with heart conditions or extremes in blood pressure, meaning that a shorter steam room session may be necessary to use them safely. 

What are the Benefits of a Sauna? 

Saunas can benefit a number of different systems within your body, from your circulatory system to your integumentary system. The heat generated by infrared panels rather than steam can also penetrate tissues more deeply, aiding in muscle relaxation and recovery. 

The benefits of using a sauna include better blood circulation, detoxification through sweating and intense muscle relaxation. Infrared saunas are particularly beneficial for alleviating post-workout soreness, recovery from injury, and stress. 

Another benefit of infrared saunas is that you have more control over the heat intensity and where that heat is directed. There are controls allowing you to set both the temperature and timers that will automatically switch off after a certain period. The panels also typically span up to shoulder level, meaning your body is heated while your head is free from the heat. This can make them a safer option overall for people with health concerns. 

What are the Risks of a Sauna?

The risks associated with using saunas are similar to those of steam rooms. However, the key difference in risk stems from the dry air in saunas, which can be dehydrating for some people. Ensuring you’ve had plenty of water before your sauna session is important, along with taking a bottle of water into the sauna with you. 

Again, people with high or low blood pressure may also be more susceptible to light-headedness when using a sauna. If you do have any of these health concerns, setting your sauna at a lower temperature and using it for shorter periods can make it a safer experience. 

Which Should You Buy? 

Choosing the best option for you depends on which benefits you’re seeking. While both saunas and steam rooms offer plenty of benefits, you also need to account for how you’ll use them and the best way to use them safely. 

For Athletes

For athletes, we recommend the use of an infrared sauna. With more targeted heat that can penetrate the tissues of sore muscles more deeply, saunas are an invaluable addition to your recovery program. They also pair well with ice baths for improved circulation and inflammation reduction. 

For Young Professionals 

We also recommend the use of a sauna for young professionals with busy lives and stressful careers. The stress-relieving properties of dry heat are especially beneficial for taking the edge off after a long day and can also help with muscle tension from sitting at a desk all day. 

For Parents

Parents can often end up catching the current cold or cough going around through their children, so choosing an option that supports the respiratory system can be helpful. Either a steam room for the sinuses and lungs can be helpful, while saunas can help with the stress and pain of head colds. 

For Retirees

The best option for retirees will depend on your current level of health. If you’re using heart medication, have any cardiovascular issues, or have low blood pressure, we’d recommend avoiding steam rooms. Saunas are a more gentle and controllable option for you and can help with joint and muscle pain. You could also use an infrared sauna in conjunction with red light therapy for more targeted relief. 

Setting up a Sauna

Setting up an infrared sauna is fairly simple and can be done at home with minimal extra tools needed. When you assemble it, bear in mind that you’ll need to place it somewhere near a socket so you can plug it in. 


Most people opt to keep their infrared sauna inside. Whether you keep it in a dedicated sauna room, the bathroom or even the basement, it’ll ensure that it stays dry and clean from external elements. We recommend assembling it in the room you want to use it in and checking that you have ample space to spread all the parts out before putting it together. 


If you’re setting up your sauna outdoors, make sure that it’s located under cover. You’ll need a spot that keeps your sauna away from rain so that the power cord isn’t exposed to moisture. Somewhere on the deck or on the patio is ideal. 

Setting up a Steam Room

Setting up a steam room can be more labour-intensive as it needs to be more airtight in order to function properly. Due to the moisture levels that steam rooms generate, you’ll also need to make sure you’re cleaning it regularly to prevent mildew. 


The usual location where you’d install a steam room would be in the bathroom, enabling you to get out and walk to the shower to freshen up afterwards. Steam rooms require specialist construction, and the size you can accommodate will be dictated by the size of your bathroom. 


If you’d prefer a larger steam room, installing one outdoors may be a better choice for you. Due to the outdoor exposure, you’ll need to incorporate double-glazing on the glass panels to facilitate proper heating when you’re using your steam room. 

To discover more about the benefits of infrared red saunas, explore the range at Kiva Wellness. With options ranging from a single-person sauna through to an extra spacious six-person sauna, experience the difference for yourself.