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Steam Room vs. Sauna

Steam Room vs. Sauna: Health Benefits and Differences

Steam rooms invite you with a cloud of moist warmth at 110°F to 114°F (43°C to 46°C), offering muscle relaxation and congestion relief, while potentially nurturing your skin and lungs.

Saunas counter with a dry heat oasis, temperatures hitting between 150°F and 195°F (65°C to 90°C), promoting profound sweating believed to detoxify the body and assist in recovery, stress alleviation, and cardiovascular fitness. 

Before indulging in these heat therapies, consider your health conditions and seek medical advice, especially for heart concerns or pregnancy.

Tempted to immerse in the warmth and wonder which suits you? Continue reading for a deeper exploration into the steam room vs sauna.

Understanding Saunas and Steam Rooms

When deciding between a sauna and a steam room, consider the differing environments and benefits they offer. Your choice should align with your personal comfort and health needs.

What is a Sauna vs. a Steam Room?


  • Heat Source: Dry heat, typically from hot rocks or a closed stove
  • Temperature: Ranges from 70°C to 100°C (158°F to 212°F)
  • Humidity: Low, around 5-30%
  • Material: Often made of wood, which absorbs heat and moderates the environment

Steam Room:

  • Heat Source: Moist heat from a generator creating steam
  • Temperature: Lower than saunas, usually around 40°C to 50°C (104°F to 122°F)
  • Humidity: 100%, creating a fully moist and humid environment
  • Material: Commonly finished with tile to withstand the moist conditions

Comparing Sauna and Steam Room Benefits


  • Promote improved cardiovascular health
  • Aid in stress reduction
  • May offer deeper muscle relaxation due to higher temperatures

Steam Rooms:

  • Benefit respiratory system by moistening the airways
  • Help to clear skin by opening pores and promoting sweating
  • Typically easier to breathe in due to moist heat

Selecting Between Sauna and Steam Room Based on Personal Preference

Your decision may be influenced by:

  • Type of Heat Preference: Whether you prefer a dry or moist heat environment.
  • Health Considerations: The impact on respiratory or cardiovascular health and any personal health issues.
  • Material Sensitivity: Whether you have a preference for the traditional wood setting of saunas or the tiled atmosphere of steam rooms.

Also read: Why a Portable Sauna is Better for Your Health

Health Benefits of Steam Room vs. Sauna

Engaging in sauna or steam room use can offer a broad range of health benefits, such as enhanced relaxation, improved circulation, and skin health. Both can serve as effective tools in your wellness routine, although their benefits are achieved through different means.

Sauna Health Benefits

Relaxation and Stress Relief: You may find that using a sauna helps with relaxation and stress management. The heat encourages your body to release endorphins, which are hormones that reduce the perception of pain and induce feelings of well-being.

Cardiovascular Health: Regular sauna use may positively affect your heart rate and blood pressure, which can be beneficial for cardiovascular health. The high temperatures can simulate the effects of light exercise, increasing your heart rate and improving circulation.

Pain and Recovery: Athletes often use saunas for post-exercise recovery. The heat can alleviate joint pain and stiffness, potentially providing relief from conditions like arthritis.

Skin Health: Sauna sessions lead to sweating, which helps cleanse the pores. As your core body temperature rises, blood flow to the skin increases, possibly improving skin health over time.

Steam Room Health Benefits

Respiratory Benefits: Steam rooms add moisture to the air, which can be beneficial for your respiratory system. The moist air helps to clear your sinuses and loosen phlegm.

Detoxification: Steam rooms encourage you to sweat, which can help with the detoxification process. This sweat can help expel toxins from your body and promote better immune system function.

Hydration: The steam can hydrate your skin, as opposed to the dry heat of a sauna. This can be particularly beneficial if you are looking to improve your skin’s moisture levels.

Improved Circulation: Similar to saunas, steam rooms may enhance your circulation. The heat causes your blood vessels to dilate, potentially leading to improved blood flow throughout your body.

Safety and Considerations of Steam Room vs. Sauna 

When using saunas or steam rooms, it's essential to consider both safety and potential risks. Abiding by safety guidelines and recognizing the risks associated with heat therapy can ensure a beneficial and secure experience.

Safety Concerns for Saunas and Steam Rooms

  • Stay Hydrated: Always drink plenty of water before, during, and after your session to avoid dehydration, which can lead to dizziness and fainting.
  • Monitor Heart Rate: Be aware that your heart rate may increase in the high-heat environment.
  • Time Your Sessions: Limit your time to 15–20 minutes to reduce the risk of overexposure to heat.

Also read our guide about saunas:

Recognizing the Risks Associated with Heat Therapy

  • Medical Conditions: If you have high blood pressure, heart conditions, or other medical conditions, consult your doctor before using a sauna or steam room.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant individuals should avoid saunas and steam rooms or seek medical advice beforehand.
  • Alcohol and Medications: Do not use a sauna or steam room if you have consumed alcohol or are on medication that affects your ability to withstand heat.
  • Bacterial Infection: High humidity in steam rooms can foster bacteria growth, so make sure the facility follows proper maintenance and hygiene practices.

Optimizing Your Experience

Whether you're looking to unwind in a sauna or a steam room, the benefits—such as muscle recovery, relaxation, and aid with congestion—can be maximized with the right practices. Here's how to enhance your experience and take care of yourself post-session.

Tips for Enhancing Your Sauna or Steam Room Experience

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink water before, during, and after your session. This is crucial because heavy perspiration can lead to dehydration.
  • Gradual Exposure: Begin with shorter sessions and gradually increase your time as you become accustomed to the heat.
  • Breathe Deeply: Practice deep breathing to help with relaxation and to potentially alleviate congestion.
  • Stretch Gently: Doing light stretching in the heat can help loosen stiff joints and soothe sore muscles.
  • Pulse Check: Monitor how you feel. If you become dizzy or uncomfortable, exit immediately to cool down.

Post-Session Care and Recovery

  • Hydration: Replenish fluids by drinking water post-session to replace what you’ve lost through sweating.
  • Cool Down: Allow your body temperature to return to normal gradually; a cool shower can be refreshing.
  • Rest: Take it easy after your session to extend the relaxation benefits and give your body time to recover.
  • Nutrition: Consider a snack or meal that includes electrolytes to restore balance, especially after intense sweating.

Additional Considerations

When selecting a sauna or steam room for use at home or in a commercial setting, it's essential to consider the impact on health and recovery and to match your choice to your personal and your clients' needs.

Impact on Specific Health Conditions and Recovery

Health Conditions: If you suffer from respiratory issues, steam rooms may help alleviate congestion and clear your sinuses due to the high humidity and moist heat. For those with muscle soreness or lower back pain, saunas might offer better relief as the dry heat aids in muscle relaxation.


Sauna Benefit

Steam Room Benefit



Helps clear sinuses and lungs

Muscle Soreness

Relieves sore muscles

May enhance muscle recovery

Lower Back Pain

Alleviates pain through dry heat


Skin Issues

May help with cleansing the skin

High humidity can aid in skin hydration


Recovery: Both saunas and steam rooms can improve blood vessel function, potentially aiding in faster recovery after a gym session. The choice between the two should take into account your personal preference, performance aims, and specific health needs.

Choosing the Right Sauna or Steam Room for Your Home or Spa

Personal Preference: Understanding the preferences of those who will use the sauna or steam room is vital. Some may prefer the drier heat of saunas, which can tolerate higher temperatures. Meanwhile, others might opt for steam rooms, with their thick, moist air.

Installation Considerations: For spas and gyms, consider the logistics of installing a sauna or steam room. Saunas require electric, wood, or gas heating elements to heat rocks. Meanwhile, steam rooms need a generator to create steam from boiling water.

Longevity and Maintenance: Saunas typically require less maintenance compared to steam rooms due to lower humidity levels. On the other hand, steam rooms may require more frequent cleaning and inspection due to the higher levels of moisture. This could contribute to aging of the structure and interior over time.

Mortality and Health Benefits: Research on the long-term effects of sauna and steam room use is ongoing. However, moderate use of either can contribute to a holistic wellness routine. It can potentially impact longevity and overall health without the risk of exaggerated benefits.


Deciding between a steam room vs sauna is centered around personal health goals, preferences for heat and humidity, and individual safety considerations. Both environments offer unique benefits: steam rooms with their humid air aid in respiratory function and skin hydration, while saunas with their dry heat may promote detoxification and deeper muscle relaxation.

Consider your own health and consult with a healthcare professional to find the option that's best suited for you.

Whether you're looking to ease muscle pain, improve your skin health, or simply relax and detoxify, there's a thermal therapy option for you.

Dive into our selection of saunas, such as our infrared sauna blanket and discover the ideal sauna or steam room to enrich your home or commercial wellness space.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I sit in a steam room?

The recommended time to sit in a steam room is between 15 to 20 minutes. It's important to listen to your body and exit the steam room if you feel dizzy or uncomfortable. Always hydrate before and after using the steam room to replenish lost fluids.

Which is healthier, steam or infrared sauna?

Both steam rooms and infrared saunas offer health benefits, such as relaxation and detoxification. The choice between them depends on individual health needs. Infrared saunas are known for deep tissue penetration and may be more comfortable for those who prefer lower ambient temperatures, while steam rooms can improve respiratory health due to high humidity.

How many calories do you burn in a steam room vs. sauna?

The number of calories burned in a steam room compared to a sauna is similar, with estimates ranging from a few to perhaps as many as 30 calories in a 15 to 20-minute session. Caloric burn in these environments is primarily due to increased heart rate and is generally not significant enough to contribute to weight loss.

Can you go to the sauna every day?

Yes, you can use a sauna every day if it's comfortable for you and you don't have medical conditions that are exacerbated by heat exposure. Daily sauna use should be moderated in duration, and it's important to stay hydrated and listen to your body's signals.

Can you steam room every day? 

Daily use of a steam room is acceptable for most people, as long as sessions are kept to a reasonable length (15 to 20 minutes) and you remain well-hydrated. If you have health conditions that could be affected by high humidity and heat, consult a healthcare professional first.

Can I use the sauna and steam room the same day?

Using both a sauna and a steam room on the same day is possible, and many people enjoy the varied benefits of each. If choosing to do both, it's advisable to take breaks between sessions and stay well-hydrated. Monitor how your body feels and avoid overexertion or excessive heat exposure.

Next article When Is the Best Time to Sauna for Maximum Health Benefits?