How Do Infrared Saunas Work? The Science and Safety of Infrared Light

How Do Infrared Saunas Work? The Science and Safety of Infrared Light

Infrared saunas are a cutting-edge wellness tool, celebrated not only for their relaxing qualities but also for significant health benefits. Central to their function is the use of infrared light—a safe and effective heat source. Despite some misconceptions, infrared light is not only harmless but beneficial for therapeutic use. This article will delve into the nature of infrared light, explaining how it works in the context of an infrared sauna and why it is considered safe for regular use.

Understanding Infrared Light

Infrared light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that falls just beyond the visible spectrum, meaning it cannot be seen with the naked eye but can be felt as heat. It is divided into three categories based on its wavelengths:

  • Near-infrared (NIR): Closest to visible light, with wavelengths between 0.76 to 1.5 microns. NIR is used in various medical and cosmetic procedures to promote skin health and cell regeneration.
  • Mid-infrared (MIR): Ranging from 1.5 to 5.6 microns, MIR is effective in penetrating deeper into the soft tissues, enhancing circulation and oxygen flow, which can aid in healing and recovery.
  • Far-infrared (FIR): With wavelengths from 5.6 to 1000 microns, FIR penetrates the deepest, reaching tissues and muscles for profound therapeutic benefits.

The Safety of Infrared Light

Infrared light is a natural output of the sun, filtered and minus the harmful UV rays, making it a safe component of sunlight. Unlike UV radiation, infrared does not cause sunburn or skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. Its therapeutic effects have been recognised in medical fields, particularly in physical therapy, where it is used to improve circulation, repair damaged tissues, and relieve pain.

The heating elements in an infrared sauna specifically utilise FIR, as it can provide deep tissue warmth without the dangers associated with ultraviolet light or the intense heat of traditional saunas. This allows users to experience a gentler, more sustainable form of heat that is effective without being overwhelming.

How Infrared Saunas Utilise Infrared Light

Infrared saunas employ panels or heaters that emit infrared light directly onto the body without significantly heating the air around you. This direct method of heating is efficient and allows the body to be warmed directly by the light waves.

Penetration and Heating Effect

When infrared light penetrates the skin, it converts to heat through a process known as direct light conversion. This heat then promotes sweating and dilation of blood vessels at lower temperatures than traditional saunas. Because the air does not need to be excessively heated, infrared saunas are more energy-efficient and can operate at more comfortable ambient temperatures—usually between 110°F to 140°F (43°C to 60°C).

Health Benefits

The direct heating from the sauna increases core body temperature, which can help lower blood pressure, promote muscle relaxation, and increase blood circulation. The deep penetration of infrared light helps in detoxifying the body more effectively, supporting the immune system, and aiding in weight loss by increasing the metabolic rate.


Infrared saunas harness the safe and natural power of infrared light to provide a multitude of health benefits in a comfortable setting. By understanding how infrared light works and its safety profile, users can feel reassured about incorporating infrared sauna sessions into their health and wellness routines. Whether you’re looking to ease pain, improve skin health, or simply relax, an infrared sauna offers a safe, enjoyable, and scientifically-backed method to achieve your health goals.

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