Are infrared saunas like microwaves?
Infrared saunas use heaters that put out infrared waves instead of just hot air or steam. These waves are similiar to radio waves, and, in fact, are on the same electromagnetic spectrum. The sun’s rays and microwaves are also on this spectrum. Infrared waves are a natural heat source. Even though they are on the same spectrum with microwaves, they are not the same thing. Getting in your infrared sauna is not the same thing as getting in a microwave.
Though these waves act in similar ways: both penetrating below the surface to heat what is below, infrared waves are shorter and therefore gentler than microwaves and don’t penetrate the skin as deeply as microwaves.
What do microwaves do?
The way a microwave appliance works, why it’s a staple in most kitchens, is by focusing heat/energy directly into food particles to heat more or less evenly and very quickly. This is also very close to the same way the sun warms us on a bright day and an infrared sauna heats our muscles, but is stronger than both. They penetrate below the surface of food (or skin) and transfer energy or heat. This is why they’re so effective for quickly heating dinner.
The real danger from microwaves is that they penetrate past the temperature sensors at the skin level that tell us when we’re getting too hot. If they reach down to a level not equipped to get that hot without us taking action to cool ourselves, it could cause damage. The microwaves heat your cells much faster than sunlight, which is natural type of warmth. And they are dangerous because you wouldn’t feel the increase in temperature in time. This is why we don’t use microwaves in a sauna.
What do infrared waves do?
Infrared waves also penetrate below the surface level of your skin to transfer energy or heat to the cells below, but they are much shorter than microwaves and heat more gently.
The danger with infrared waves is that because they heat the cells directly without heating the air around you, it can be easier to stay in the sauna longer because you don’t feel as hot. The temperature sensors or thermal sensors are primarily on the skin level, so if heat goes through this level without burning, the layers beneath won’t be as sensitive in detecting when you are overheated.
Infrared saunas use infrared radiation: an electromagnetic wavelength longer than light waves and shorter than radio waves. The sun’s rays hit your skin, and as we all know, can cause sunburn. Infrared rays go through the skin without burning it, warming the cells beneath this layer safely.
Infrared waves are shorter than microwaves and therefore less dangerous and not as strong. That’s why they are used in saunas to get heat into your body where it can help muscles by increasing circulation.
Traditional saunas heat the air around you, while infrared saunas direct the heat into your cells without making it uncomfortably hot around you.