Wood for infrared sauna as a toxin and source of allergy

In our ordinary life we rarely need to think about hazards that wood in our furniture exposes. If you don’t have allergies of high sensitivity for different biological of chemical substances you will probably won’t have any medical problems with sauna wood. But if you have allergies, you should be aware, that in closed heated space of infrared sauna cabin wood tends to outgas more that furniture in a room and can trigger an allergic reaction. So you may need to consult your doctor for recommendations.

The fact that wood can give you allergy or just bad feeling should not scare you or repel from buying a sauna. Probability of this is very small. Still, it won’t be superfluous to check you reaction for a given wood for sure. Price for having an infrared sauna made of inappropriate wood is high – it will render your expensive sauna useless.

Most common allergens are wood pollen, dust and smoke. While smoke and pollen aren’t usual things in a sauna cabin, wood dust is common in a new sauna. Take some time to wipe it with damp cloth prior to use.

Less common is a contact allergy to wood. If you have this type of allergy to wood, you should avoid the wood type which give you such reaction altogether.

There is no agreement between infrared sauna manufacturers on which wood is best. Some use cedar because of its good traits as a furniture material, others offer woods like basswood and poplar saying that they are hypoallergic, so you need to take this choice yourself. You may not know beforehand that you have an allergy to certain wood type, thats why ideal way is to put the candidate sauna on trial. Find a place in your neighborhood where you can try a sauna you want and test it for a month.

To reduce the risk of developing the allergy to wood it is recommended to look for wood with mild flavor. Also, leave your new sauna open for a few days to let it outgas. You can also use a fan before the session to get rid of the smell.

There are some resources which go into detail about what hazards specific wood types have:

Wood Hazards – BME Encyclopedia
Wood Toxicity and Wood Identification Resources – American Association of Woodturners
Wood Toxicity – Hobbywoods
Wood/Dust Toxicity – Greater Vancouver Woodturners Guild
Toxicity of Wood – theWoodbox.com

Take a look at these pages and use charts of wood toxicity for reference when you will evaluate different sauna models.

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