Let's talk about...
- the difference between a sauna vs. steam room, and
- which one is better
Even though they’re both basically hot baths, a sauna uses dry heat and a steam room uses moist heat.
Saunas have very low humidity, which means they can be much hotter than steam rooms. They're usually between 80°C and 100°C, which is perfectly safe because they use dry heat.
A steam room is usually about 40°C. If the steam room was any hotter than that it would scald your skin!
Sauna vs. Steam Room Heat and Construction
Saunas and steam rooms are constructed with different materials because of their heating methods.
Traditional saunas are heated with stones placed on a heater - usually an electric or wood-burning heater. Steam is produced by pouring water over the stones. This raises the temperature in the sauna by several degrees, but the steam quickly dissipates. Far infrared saunas use infrared heaters. Saunas are usually made of wood and include wooden benches to sit on (small portable "saunas" are an exception).
Steam rooms are heated with a steam generator. Steam is fed into an almost airtight room where it builds up to create a humidity level around 100%. Steam rooms are designed to contain the moisture created by the steam. Materials like ceramic tile are often used. Steam rooms should be built with a slanted ceiling to prevent the steam build-up from dripping onto the bathers.
Sauna vs. Steam Room Comparison - Which one is better?
This one is really a matter of personal preference; although some experts do favour one over the other. Sauna and steam baths both have therapeutic benefits. Both are good for:
- improving blood circulation
- cleaning and rejuvenating the skin
- easing muscle tension
- promoting feelings of relaxation and well-being
- enhancing detoxification processes
Additional Benefits of a steam room
- Steam rooms feel hotter because perspiration doesn't evaporate and carry away heat.
- If you have respiratory problems like sinus congestion or asthma, you might prefer the moist heat of a steam bath to bring relief of symptoms. Steam inhalation is very effective against bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies.
- A possible downside to a steam room is that it may be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria because of the warm, moist conditions. This isn't much of a concern if the steam room is regularly cleaned and disinfected.
Food for thought...
Steam rooms, hot-air saunas and hot tubs heat your body from the outside.
Infrared saunas emit far infrared rays which heat your body from the inside.
Many sauna researchers believe that this inside-out heating action provides additional benefits.
Sauna vs. Steam Room Maintenance
Both saunas and steam rooms are relatively easy to maintain.
A steam room can be washed with a ceramic tile cleaner, and the steam generator will require periodic draining.
The floor of a wood sauna should be cleaned regularly to prevent rotting. Oxiclean is good for removing bacteria and mould. The walls and ceiling don't need to be cleaned as often.