An infrared sauna uses light that is outside of our vision spectrum to create radiant heat. Our eyes can not see any color that has a wavelength longer than red (or shorter than blue). Infrared waves fall just outside of the red spectrum. We may not be able to see the light generated by the infrared waves, but we can certainly feel the heat.
In an infrared sauna, the infrared waves heat the body directly, and the air secondarily, unlike a traditional steam sauna that only heats the air. In a traditional sauna, our bodies are warmed because the temperature of the surrounding air is warm. The air in the sauna is heated, which causes our body's temperature to also increase. Infrared saunas heat our bodies directly regardless of the temperature of the surrounding air.
It's because of radiant heat, that an infrared sauna offers it's user a more comfortable environment than a traditional sauna. Radiant heat is simply a form of energy that heats objects directly without the need to heat the air. It has nothing to do with ultraviolet radiation, which can damage the skin or cause sunburns. It also doesn't have any relation to atomic radiation, which is the kind of radiation you would experience from a nuclear bomb. It simply is a form of energy that has the ability to directly heat an object.
We experience radiant energy daily from the sun. Think of a time when you were outside on a cool day, yet you weren't cold. However, when the sun moved behind a cloud, you found yourself needing a coat. The air temperature didn't drop, but as the cloud blocked the warming rays from the sun, you no longer felt warm. An infrared sauna works exactly the same way. It warms our bodies directly without the need to warm the air.
Our bodies radiate infrared energy through our skin, and our palms emit the largest amount. This is why for over 3,000 years, palm healing has been a tradition in China. Yogis of India have used palm healing for centuries, especially for relieving eye strain. Hospitals even use panels that produce infrared rays to warm newborn babies. These traditional practices are based on the healing properties of infrared rays.
What is Far-Infrared?
Sometimes infrared saunas are called far-infrared saunas. When light waves are short, we see them as blue. As the waves become longer, they become red. Since infrared light is just outside of the red spectrum, we are unable to see it because we are unable to see beyond the color red on the light spectrum.
The electromagnetic (light) spectrum is made up of many segments that are defined by the length of the waves within the individual segments. What we are able to see is only a small portion of the light spectrum. The infrared band of light is up to 1,000 times wider than the light we are capable of seeing.
Within the infrared segment itself, there are 3 segments: Near, Middle, and Far. So a far-infrared sauna uses the infrared rays on the far edge of the infrared segment of the light spectrum.
Why are Infrared Saunas Recommended for Health?
Our bodies produce infrared energy, and our bodies use this energy to help repair itself. The energy produced by an infrared sauna is so closely matched to the healing energy our bodies produce, that our tissues are able to absorb up to 93% of the infrared waves that come into contact with our skin.
When we take advantage of using an infrared sauna, we are assisting our bodies in the healing process by boosting the healing energy to the maximum level. When our body "hits its limit" of infrared rays, our tissues simply allow the remaining rays to pass harmlessly away.