A representative of the trade show which will run on May 29 and 30 in Rosetown, Saskatchewan, contacted me to say that they really would like to have a dealer showcase infrared saunas. If there are dealers who are interested in attending the show, here is a link to the Rosetown Trade Show 2009 webpage.
These are two quotes from two doctors with completely different views about infrared sauna benefits:
Dr. Oz at The Oprah Winfrey Show:
The next life extension tool that Dr. Oz wheels onto Oprah’s stage can help you burn 700 calories…without lifting a finger.
“It gets your heart to beat faster, and it burns calories,” Dr. Oz says. “It raises your metabolism a little bit, and also when you sweat, you sweat out toxins through the skin.”
Dr. Ian Smith at The Washington Post:
Alexandria, Va.: What are your thoughts on using an infrared sauna for weight loss? Are they as beneficial as the manufacturers state?
Dr. Ian Smith: Absolutely not. I don’t know of any credible scientific literature published in a peer-reviewed journal that talks about these saunas helping with weight gain. Please be careful of gimmicks. There are a million plus of them out there. Don’t be taken in. It’s so sad that people prey upon other people by making false promises.
Food for thought, I’d say.
A website visitor, Tom, recently asked my opinion on new type of infrared sauna heaters based on InfraRed Vitae lamps by Philips. These heaters were unknown to me before, so I asked Tom for a link, which he kindly provided. Here is what I found from investigating this subject on the Internet.
InfraRed Vitae overview
The core of the heater design is the InfraRed Vitae lamp. How the Vitae lamp differs from common infrared sauna heaters? Some facts from Philips website and brochures (links below):
It is a halogen lamp, which makes it stand out from traditional ceramic/carbon/incoloy family.
Most of its emission (80%) is in near and medium-wave infrared range. Brochures say that 20% is in long infrared, but the lower threshold for far infrared is taken rather small – 3 micrometers, while typical definition of far infrared on sauna websites is from 6-9 to 1000 micrometers.
Because of the halogen nature, Vitae lamps heat up almost immediately – no pre-heating required.
Heaters based on Vitae lamps
Philips Vitae-based heaters resemble incoloy/ceramic rod in the way they are built – there is a reflector behind the lamp, which directs infrared rays in the needed direction. Philips makes an accent in the papers on the good-developed heater testing system and the reflector modeling software, which allows to build optimal heat distribution.
Conclusion and intersting details
Most of infrared sauna brands make a lot of effort to promote their heaters as ‘far infrared heaters’, or ‘fir heaters’, making a claim that a far infrared sauna is more beneficial than a near infrared sauna, or just infrared sauna. I always wondered about how well these claims are supported, but found no hard scientific data on it.
Very often, the main argument is that far infrared penetrates the skin deeper than near infrared. Philips, in the brochure about application of its lamps for infrared saunas (PDF) provides the graph showing that near-infrared penetrates skin deeper than middle and far infrared. I tend to think that this graph is valid. This contradiction is the most interesting part about Vitae lamps and how Philips position them. It would be great if far infrared advocates post comments or write to me and give arguments to support their point of view to promote more discussion of this subject.
Philips is a worldwide company with a long history. In my eyes it makes Vitae lamps more reliable in terms of warranty support and buying replacement lamps. Typically, infrared sauna companies do not disclose heaters origin, and if a company disappears (which happens) you can find yourself in a uncomfortable situation if you need to get a malfunctioning heater replaced.
Fast heat-up of the lamp may look appealing, but air inside a sauna will not heat up immediately. There is not much sweating at room temperature.
Overall, InfraRed Vitae-based heaters are closer to high temperature ceramic rod/incloloy heaters. Seems like there is no significant drawbacks or advantages. However, I can’t tell how feels the infrared sauna equipped with such heaters. If you tried such sauna, please comment about it.
Infrared sauna brands equipped with Vitae lamps
There is a lot of european brands using Vitae lamps, for example:
Infrared lamp Kit VITAE 1700-E – SAUNAHAUS.COM
Also, Euro Sauna (address in Canada) offers a line of infrared saunas with such heaters:
Infrared Lumina Saunas – Euro Sauna
Call for comments: if you used saunas with InfraRed Vitae lamps, if you know other companies distributing such saunas, or if you sell or manufacture such saunas – please, feel free to write your comment on the subject filling the form on the bottom of this page (keep in mind that your comment will be visible to other visitors). Far infrared sauna supporters are welcome too, just as anyone that has something to say.
Recently there were some questions from readers about infrared sauna contraindications, so I decided to write about it. The questions were about two types of contraindications I listed in my article ‘Is infrared sauna safe for you?‘: implants and menstruation.
The list of contraindications in that article was created by analysis of various sources on the Internet, as I have no medical education, so I cannot judge the validity of recommendations myself. Some websites don’t consider menstruation and implants a contraindication, so this is an unresolved question.
For menstruation, use of infrared sauna can increase menstrual flow. The popular opinion is that it’s a woman’s choice to take or not to take sauna sessions during that period, because some women find heat relieving and some don’t like it.
For implants, it’s harder to tell. I see no obvious reasons why implants should be prohibited in an infrared sauna, because they are unlikely to heat more than body tissues, but there is a variety of implant types and materials and effects of infrared heating can be unpredictable.
So, probably, implants and menstruation are not contraindications. But you should consult a specialist first and take sauna with caution in the beginning.
Some time ago I wrote that Soft Heat had closed their factory in Calgary, and that Randy Gomm, who operates infraredsauna.net website, had found a new carbon-heated sauna model line as a replacement for Soft Heat saunas. He wrote on his website that he is waiting for the new saunas to arrive.
And finally a notice have appeared on infraredsauna.net stating that the new saunas have arrived:
The new saunas have arrived and Iâ€™ve been very pleased with the positive feedback Iâ€™ve had from the practitioners who are using them with their patients/clients. If you’re interested in this new sauna, please give me a call and I’d be happy to send you some information on them and answer any questions you may have.
However, it is the only mention of the new models on the whole website. No details are disclosed, the only thing known is that the new saunas have use carbon infrared heaters. I hope there will appear more information soon.
This is a response to a great comment by Klaus on my post from the early days of this blog, about the difference between the infrared sauna and the traditional Finnish sauna. This response started as a follow-up comment, but I decided to make it a blog post later, because it covers an interesting topic of sauna heat and how “deep” it heats.
First, I want to thank you for this extensive explanation of principles behind the traditional Finnish sauna. Indeed, the key qualities of the traditional sauna are low humidity combined with high temperature. With higher humidity you’ll get the hammam (the Turkish bath) or the Russian banya. There is also a spa product, steam bath, which uses a lot of steam.
Now about ‘an infrared sauna heats you more deeply than steam sauna’ statement. It was my opinion back in 2005, when this post was written, I had less knowledge about both infrared and traditional saunas. Now, I know more and it makes sense to explain my current view.
Does the infrared sauna heat you deeper than the traditional one? As I think now, this question is not correct. What is “deeper”? Is 2 °C increase in core temperature “deeper” than 1 °C increase? Both saunas increase core temperature, depending on session length.
Depth of the layer of superficial tissues which has higher than core temperature can be taken as a measure of penetration. But this depth is mainly a function of thermoregulatory response or a human body and the total heat coming from outside. There is no difference if heat comes from infrared heaters or from extremely hot sauna air.
More than that, the Finnish sauna takes only about 10 minutes to increase the body temperature by 1 C, while the typical infrared sauna needs about 30 minutes for that. To me it means than the traditional sauna provides more heat to a body in a given period of time. Someone may argue that the infrared one can rise core temperature more than 1 C, which is unlikely, not only because there is no hard data supporting this claim (for the common infrared cabins, not for the medical devices for causing hyperthermia), but also because the common practice for the traditional sauna is to cool down after 10 minutes. More than 1 °C increase in core temperature is not advised both for the infrared and traditional saunas.
I see the difference between these saunas in the way they act. The traditional sauna is like a shock for a body. It gives a quick rise in temperature, and body should respond immediately with sweating and increased circulation.
In the infrared sauna, temperature increase occurs more gradually. There is no need for a quick thermoregulatory response. As a side effect, you can lose more sweat in the infrared cabin, because you spend there 30 minutes instead of 10 (on average). It doesn’t mean, however, that you will sweat three times more.