My latest sauna review:
After a few months of touring around different manufacturer facilities and visiting with customers who owned various saunas I was able to narrow down the brands into a few that I felt needed more thorough review time. So I used a couple credit cards and bought 6 saunas, the combo type sauna, A Better Life Sauna, the High Tech Health, Therasauna, Heavenly Heat, Vital Saunas, and the Proline Sauna.
After reviewing all these saunas, the one I picked that I use every night is the total opposite sauna my partner picked. Some people like to use the infrared sauna primarily for detoxification and weight loss, and others like me, want more near and medium infrared heat that penetrates deeper and has more of a full spectrum, not just mostly FIR but the full range of NIR, FIR, and MIR, (near, medium and far).
This is why I never tell people the one I like because everyone who comes over and tries out all my saunas lined up each picks a different one! I will say that the 2 brands that people commonly pick first before doing their sessions are the last brands people end up wanting after they have done sessions in all of them. Reason being is that for a couple of these brands the infrared heater is only on 50-75% of the time and they don't realize it because their body core temperature is still raised and the sauna is feels warm inside. After doing a few sessions the person is usually able to accurately tell when the heater is on or off. It’s like how you can tell if you are sitting in the shade or in direct sunlight. It’s the infrared from the sun which warms your body and that your skin can detect.
Every time the heater cycles off, the therapeutic effect and infrared penetration is stopped. Most people don’t notice this effect if their body is still warm and this is why if you have an appointment to go try out a company’s sauna a couple times using it is not enough. What I have found by letting people use each of the saunas multiple times is that it takes on average about 4-6 sessions before the person learns to detect the presence of infrared being emitted or not.
If the infrared is turned off let’s say 50% of the time, a typical 45 minute session is really a 22.5 minute session. This half on an off thing really pisses some people off so they keep the door cracked open slightly to keep the sauna cooler so the heater stays on more of the time. What these folks don’t realize is that by doing that the emitter panels/heaters get really hot and the hotter the emitters are the lower the micron range that is produced. Very hot carbons for example will produce around 4 microns.
Everyone’s review is different but I tried to summarize it all as best I could.
The Vital full spectrum sauna has the most fluence (intensity of infrared emission upon an object) of all or in other words seems to put out a larger quantity of infrared energy kind of like a halogen bulb versus an incandescent light bulb. The Therasauna heats people up with a focused stable micron range the whole session. It feels more refined and provides consistent sweat times and intensity levels. The penetration inside the body is more intense which raises core temperature faster but takes longer to heat up the surrounding air. Some people claim there are more cool spots in ceramic saunas but I think these are probably bogus claims made by competitor manufacturers spread disinformation on the internet. Let’s say there was actually a cool spot(s) in a sauna…This would only be a problem if the cool spot was right where the person was sitting! If its somewhere else in the sauna where the person would never sit then what difference does it make!
This is very different than the saunas tested that had carbon panels/emitters which lines the walls of some of these brands. The reason for so many panels is that they are low wattage and poor conversion of electricity into infrared so they need a lot to raise the air temperature enough so the person can actually sweat. These brands raise people’s core body temperatures but this occurs towards the later part of the session or at the very end. Most of the sweating in the first 2/3rds of the session is achieved by the 120-140 degree air temperature inside the cabin. In other words people shared with me that it felt like they were just in a traditional non-infrared sauna for most of the time and they couldn’t feel much difference until much later towards the end of the session.
The Therasauna felt the best in terms of the sauna not having to get so hot (air temperature/thermostat) and also what was interesting is that people felt ready to get out of the sauna around 8-12 minutes earlier than the sessions they were doing with other brands. What I have found after years of infrared sauna use is that the body has its own intelligence as far as when it knows if it’s had enough or too much infrared. If it gets too much people sometimes feel itchy, tingly, or a groggy feeling. I ran everyone’s sessions also on various thermostat temperatures so with this brand I did the usual lowest temperature setting as well as highest. People still broke a sweat at the lowest temp and at the highest everyone reported that they felt they wanted to get out much earlier and also if they made themselves stay some had to change their seating positions often so areas of their back wasn’t getting so directly beamed the whole time. This is interesting to note because in some brands you can crank it all the way on its highest setting and stay in their for two hours and be completely comfortable. My guess is that the quality of the emitters in those brands was probably not producing good micron range or fluence levels.
I have to say the Therasauna makes me feel the most energized after getting out and feels totally different than all the others. The Vital has a similar feeling but sometimes I am groggier after a session. A lot of people do sauna sessions after work to wind down but with Therasauna I feel more energized. But everyone’s biological terrain and metabolic profile is different. Some people who are hydrophobic and their lymphatic systems are backed up will feel groggy after any session in any brand. The closest infrared emitter feel of the Therasauna to me are the Heavenly heat and the High tech Saunas. These 3 are not carbon saunas. The Better Life sauna and Vital stayed on the longest and had the most fluence. The Vital with its ceramic and carbon fiber combo (not carbon panel…actual carbon fibers) had a totally different fluence but the Better Life Saunas seemed to have a wider spectrum in that it made me sweat the quickest but I still felt a stronger internal core body temperature increase.
The Better Life sauna had the least on and off clicking of the heaters in that it was on about 95% of the time like they claim. It might not be the highest fluence sauna on the market nor the best looking but being in their without getting that cooling feeling when the thermostat kicks off is a pretty nice feature.
This cycling on and off really pissed me off before I knew about this. If I am going to sit in a sauna 30 minutes. it better be on at least 96% of the time or I am returning it! Here is a bulletproof do it yourself kind of gross test for comparing the infrared emission of a sauna. I actually did this for all 6 brands. I call it the Sauna Steak Sessions. I’ve been thinking about redoing the experiment for vegetarian viewers and using Tofurkeys (that’s Tofu flavored and molded into a turkey shape). The videos will be posted as I have promised folks on the new revamp of the site which is currently under construction with my web developer.
Experiment: Take a steak and put it on the benches of each of the 6 saunas and let it sit for 30 minutes at "140 degrees" as the control is set at. Place them on wax paper so you don’t leave a stain in the shape of a steak on the wood.
Results: Using a metal and laser meat thermometer I got 6 identical surface temperatures on the steaks and 6 different internal temperatures! I even put the steak the same distance from each heater which was about 1 inch away from the back wall heaters. I used the laser thermometer to check the surface temperature. I also used the metal thermometer so I could check the core temperature about ¼ inch inside. Infrared penetrates up to an inch and half depending on the type of tissue it has to pass through, so taking the core temperature is important to assess the micron range of the emitters.
Conclusion: Well…let’s just say that a couple of the manufacturers especially the one that starts with the letters ‘US’ told me I better remove the data of the study. Can you believe that!!? That actually made my day when I got a couple emails from them. I felt like I had actually pulled off one of my best review tests yet that was based off some pretty sound commonsense biological science. After all, steak is just the muscle of cows which is pretty much identical to the human body’s. All of these companies love to make depth of infrared penetration claims but don’t want anyone to actually make an independent assessment! I will still be posting the videos and as long as I only provide the results of the test over the phone when someone calls me or emails me 1 on 1 then these upset companies will not hassle me..hassle as in sue. That’s right ladies and germs, it’s a greedy aggressive industry. Little ol’ me with my Aspergers and ADHD can’t be messing with their thousands upon thousands of sauna sales every year. God forbid 5 people actually read this and choose not to buy their saunas..at that rate they’ll be out of business by the holidays! Yes that was sarcasm.
What about all those generic or cheap saunas that I never bothered reviewing?
I get calls and emails periodically asking me, hey what about this brand or that brand and why is it not mentioned anywhere on your site? 95% of saunas (mostly carbon panel models btw) come out of the same 4 manufacturing giant plants in China. Once you have tested a brand from each manufacturer you realize they are all using identical production processes. And once you test those four saunas you have tested 95% of the market as those will go on to be imported into Canada and America and be labeled under various company names and spun with good marketing to make them appear different to the consumer.
The Cheap Sauna Test:
For those that wanna see how to prove that those people who think they are doing something good for their body when they use their cheap generic sauna are not producing any real health benefits, here is a easy test to run…no steaks required!! I promise. Now go get yourself some mashed potatoes…just kidding.
Cheap generic saunas never keep their infrared emitters/heaters on the whole session. Also their fluence is usually pretty weak. For this test you will need to do a slightly longer session as you will be getting in and out of the sauna whenever the heaters turn off. The goal of this test is to really prove how one’s core body temperature is really only being raised by the increase in the ambient air temperature of the sauna and not so much by the infrared rays penetrating the body.
Directions: When most of these brand’s heaters turn off you hear this click sound sometimes one click or several in a row. When you hear that sound get out of the sauna. Remain outside until you hear the clicking again signaling the emitters are turning back on again then get back inside until again you hear the heater shut off then get out for that duration. You will make sure that whatever brands you test you always set the thermostat to the highest temperature or 140 degrees would be fine. Also you take a stop watch and every time you get back in the sauna you start the watch again so that you are only timing yourself when you are being exposed to the infrared. Continue the getting out and in process until you break a sweat and see beads of water on your pores of your arm or chest or stomach.
Conclusions: what you will find most likely is that first off it takes so long to break a sweat this way. Now try this routine test with a higher quality sauna where the heaters stay on the whole time and also put out better fluence or micron quality. What might have taken you an hour and half during the test in the cheap saunas will take you around 10 minutes in a quality sauna. The reverse test is to get out of the sauna every time the heaters kick on which allows you to see how quickly your body sweats just because of hot ambient air temperature alone. The 140 degrees in the sauna will have you sweating either way is the point…so this test is to prove to yourself what cheap saunas are really capable of therapeutically achieving with infrared alone not due to hot ambient air temperature.
Full Spectrum saunas
Getting a full spectrum range of all the infrared rays or getting just a small part of it delivers a totally different experience. The most extreme 3 differences across the 6 brands I tested are the Therasauna, which is way on the opposite end of feeling of a Better Life sauna. The Vital is a whole different experience all together as well. I can almost always pick out which one someone will pick as their favorite one based on their body ecology and I write my predictions down and track how accurate I am. For those that take my quiz who aren't in my neighborhood to try out the brands I have, I can 99.9% of the time pick the sauna I think someone will like the best based on the questions I’ve laid out.
Each sauna has its own signature. With my eyes closed I can always tell if I am in a Vital sauna vs. a cheap import sauna for example. It’s like a tell people, our skin is an amazing sense organ and just like you can tell if a cloud has passed over the sun even with your eyes closed so can you tell the infrared level in a sauna. One of my favorite things to do at health expos is I have my friend walk me to a sauna. I wear a blindfold and I see if I can pick out the brand by the end of the session. The only time I can't is when it’s some cheap sauna under $1200 dollars that smells like glue and wood shaving stew and I get the heck out of there immediately. With Therasauna, it’s emitters have a very subtle feel so for the first 15 minutes it’s hard to figure out, but then all of a sudden the intensity gets me as I start sweating profusely and I know immediately which brand I’m in.
The Vital also has a signature feel that feels nothing like any of the others. I have one of their Dome saunas that I have as a demo that I use to send to anyone who wants to feel what a hybrid combo heater (carbon fiber in ceramic) feels like. Again, if you take my quiz, I will usually be able to tell if you will like a combo high fluence heater, a full spectrum heater, a Carbon, or Ceramic heater like the Heavenly Heat or Therasauna, which are pretty intense detox machines. The truth is that each sauna’s heather technology has its own pros and cons.
Other sauna tests I do
When I first go in each sauna to test the ratios of far infrared, the first thing I do is take my laser thermometer that cost me 16 dollars on Ebay. If you set the temp to 140 and after 30 minutes, one wall in one sauna is 10 degrees cooler than other, this tells me something big. Infrared heat heats materials, not the air in case someone didn’t know.
So people are asking should they get the Therasauna, Vital, or a Health mate or whatever else was advertised to thm. If someone has a slow metabolism and sluggish lymphatic system and is gonna get hot too quick or never sweats even during the summer time, then this can affect my decision on which one I would recommend. The sauna can be good for detox but if someone metabolizes wastes too slowly or if someone is healthy enough to detox quickly, this also effects my recommendation. It is also important to note that sometimes other equipment is highly recommended to use as part of a total sauna protocol like juicing, drinking green smoothies, and ionic foot spas as well as certain supplements to take internally. I will usually make some additional recommendations if you let me know more details about your health goals and conditions on the quiz on my site.
So by heating the body inches deeper in just say a Therasauna, it can quicken the metabolic process. If someone has a broken wrist or they need cellular healing or they have broken blood vessels, this can also make a difference. If there is a higher amount of Joules of energy delivered to the cells in half the time. By having too much stimulation to those with arthritis or any type of inflammation in their body, it can be better if it’s less inhibiting micron range and fluence. By raising the cellular electrolyte potential of a body part that is already inflamed and probably much higher than -25 millivolts by raising it further, that can cause it to become even more inflamed. Point everyone’s conditions are different so I can’t just say hey get an infrared sauna it will fix all your ills. This is what uneducated sales people at these different companies do, they have not idea about basic biology and how infrared really works at the cellular level. I lay on my Biomat (infrared pad/mat) sometimes and my entire back is red if too much energy is being delivered to my back.
Which 6 brands are best for certain types of disease conditions
Some people are sick and toxic, some people have Lyme Disease (which about half the people who are trying to detox that contact me lately have Lyme Disease). For fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, I would recommend a totally different sauna than I would to someone with Lyme. Note that the "affected" "toxic" or "inflamed" cells or whatever is not right are usually weaker than the normal body cells. These cells can't tolerate heat as good so this is why many people stay in longer or to get rid of infections by raising their body temperature and keeping it at a certain degree (think fever state which is the body’s natural immune response to infection). After the sauna I shower and have my Biomat set on medium. My body is still warm from the shower and sauna earlier and I try to keep my core temperature at least 1 degree higher the entire night. I'm not saying to do the 65 hour sauna 3 day detox (see my page on this) but every night sleeping with my core at least 1 degree higher I haven't gotten sick all this winter which was quite common for me years ago before I started working with infrared. I was always working in and around children with Autism and as parents and school teachers know it’s quite easy to always be catching whatever the kids have.
Any saunas if hot can make me sweat in their but the benefits are greater when the sauna stays on most of the time. If keeping the door cracked the heaters get hotter. I took a laser thermometer and when the doors cracked open the heaters because they are turned on longer, the heaters get hotter and the far infrared gets lower. The hotter they get the more amperage it is drawing and the EMF that normally would be less than 3 milli gauss (considered low EMF) is now much higher. You’ll notice on some of those manufacturer’s specs and independent EMF tests that in the small print you’ll see that the heaters were cycling on and off…
Some saunas have the heaters behind the wood much further back so you get less EMF on the EMF meter but the heaters being a little further back prevent the far infrared from penetrating as deeply into the body. So it a trade off. Vital has the lowest EMF I've found when you compare the distance from the heater to your back. The Therasauna has no EMF since it’s not a carbon heater. I do not promote any heaters that have high EMF no matter how much far infrared they produce just so people know this. I have also personally tested the EMF of all of the saunas myself. I don’t believe what anyone tells me on face value. Also the more shielded the heaters are the less EMF it has. The latest generation of saunas has a dual heater where facing opposite each other cancels out the EMF right there.
Note: there are some hot spots of EMF where the control panels are and in some saunas it can be low EMF but in one spot there can be 200 or 300 milli gauss just in that one spot. These EMF spots should be told to the customer when they ask about the EMF of a sauna. We tested each model so we know. Beware of people doing EMF tests in "High" EMF saunas where they move the EMF meter around inches away from the heaters. The EMF field drops super quickly as you move away from it. It is the area where your back rests where they should have been testing. There's also videos of people testing EMF for saunas that show high EMF where I have clearly tested them for EMF and find they are actually under 3 mili gauss! So there are a few tricks to make a low EMF sauna appear high EMF and vice versa though uncalibrated meters and putting it in a room with high EMF to start with. The standard for a low EMF sauna is having less than 2 milli gauss at 30 centimeters.
So, out of the 6 saunas that I reviewed, the differences in fluence are the most noticeable. The saunas with the highest far infrared (most popular for those that are detoxing), the air in the sauna stays cooler and the ones that have a full range of infrared (the opposite extreme) are preferred by those that also want the isolated far infrared but also want to lose weight, sweat more, and have a warmer sauna and prefer to go in a sauna where the air is warm.
So, I compare the saunas on my site now in 3 sets. The Vital, Better Life Sauna as my strongest fluence/ spectrum in set one. The other type is the ceramic type. The 3 that have the most similar feel are the High tech, Therasauna and the Heavenly heat. These penetrate deeper but many people prefer the carbon type as it has more coverage area and not laser focused like a ceramic sauna where the heaters have less coverage but raise your core body temperature more effectively and reduce inflammation the best. For those that want to sit in once place the entire time and are intolerant to moving to get out of the "hot spots" every few minutes when your back starts to get red from too much direct heat, the Better Life or Vital is the most comfortable choices most comparable. Both of these are totally different but still put in the same quality category range.
The Vital Sauna is the other category. (I now tested the Better Life saunas that everyone is buying at Home Depot). The heaters in the Vital and Better Life sauna are still are quality but the fluence in the Vital is not as good as Better Life. The air was a little warmer and didn't to me have a signature feel that felt unique. These saunas are good in that they aren't the junk out there like that 95% I was talking about earlier, but they heat me up from the core just enough at least half way into the session time, so that takes them out of the cheap Chinese junk category which I won't mention specific brands. About 80% of the people mention one of these brands when they first call me and want me to convince them that it is a good sauna for such a bargain. If they want to believe it’s good. Buy it. In my experience someone who is just shopping for the best price even after hours of education always chooses the cheapest. My advice to those folks is just make sure the store has a return policy. We are not going to try to "convince you". It really is not worth it to us. The only way to be convinced is to experience it. We aren't gonna try to convince you of that experience with "words".
So, on my quiz, although I can get many other saunas such as the Jade saunas, Proline saunas, Lux Saunas, the Smarty Sauna, Healthmate, the Therasage Tent sauna, the saunas that pass my tests (EMF, fluence, build quality) are what I liked the best and most people that buy them prefer. The Therasage is cool. It’s my best tent sauna. It feel different than any of the really cheap tents. The Smarty sauna is cool too but the Sauna Dome give the results too especially for hyperthermia therapy. The Smarty does feel a little different though but has higher EMF. The Sauna dome has less fluence but has no smell to it and no glues etc. I try to sell the saunas that I get the least complaints about and best feedback from.
I am one of the few people who has actually tested the different saunas and know the subtle differences and main differences in each. I know what people complain about even though they really like the sauna they bought. I know which have the most hot spots and which stay on 50% of the time and which have that annoying clicking sound that is louder than almost any sauna. I know which have better grades of wood and which really are the most chemical free saunas for those that are chemically sensitive. Please take my quiz before you call me and I will do my best to help you choose the sauna based on your needs.