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When it comes to detoxifying, fighting chronic pain, or even losing weight, many people look to portable infrared saunas as a way to achieve those, and other, goals. The sauna itself is believed to have originated in Finland, where it was used for warmth, as an extension of household living space, and even as a birthing room. Finnish custom involves first warming up in the sauna, and then dumping a cold bucket of water over your head, or jumping into a snowbank. Many Finns looking to build their sisu still partake in the traditional sauna experience, but the practice, sans the rapid cooldown, has traveled across the globe.
There are several different types of saunas out there. Most traditional saunas involve the heating of coals through one method or another (fire, for example, or electricity). Water is sometimes applied to the coals to create steam. These types of saunas provide many benefits, but the heat can be a little too much for some.
This doesn’t mean having to miss out on the benefits of a good sauna, however.
You may have heard of the electromagnetic spectrum. This spectrum encompasses a wide range of frequencies, and includes both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. Infrared light is one frequency range on the electromagnetic spectrum. It falls on the non-ionizing side.
Non-ionizing radiation, meanwhile, is known to cause heating to tissue. For example, your microwave oven uses non-ionizing microwave radiation to heat up your food. Infrared light is capable of this same thermal effect.
Infrared saunas, then, capitalize on this. They use panels of infrared light focused on the skin to cause the tissue to warm up. This allows you to experience the same warming effect you would get in a regular sauna but without the need to heat up the air around you. That makes infrared saunas a little more tolerable for those with heat sensitivity. It is still advisable to be careful and check with your physician if you have any underlying health conditions, however.
The biggest drawback to using infrared light as a heat source is that it is, in fact, non-ionizing radiation. Those concerned with EMF radiation exposure may not be able to justify using a standard infrared sauna, simply due to the amount of EMF radiation they produce. This is especially true for anyone who suffers from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity.
Fortunately, some manufacturers do take EMF production into consideration. We’ve put together a list below of a few that are worth checking out if you’re interested in a low-EMF infrared sauna experience. Our list focuses on portable infrared saunas. Later, we will highlight the difference between portable and permanent infrared saunas.
Top 5 portable infrared saunas
5. S Smautop Sauna Dome. Using FAR Infrared light, S Smautop’s Sauna Dome creates what it refers to as a personal sauna curve. This device is pretty unique as far as infrared saunas go. It’s completely open air, so if you feel a little claustrophobic inside other portable models, this may be a good option. You essentially put the sauna dome on flat ground, either on its side or with the infrared panels facing the ground. You can then either sit in front of, or lay underneath, the sauna dome. This allows you to custom-target specific areas, since the light isn’t hitting your entire body all at one time. S Smautop’s infrared sauna uses 350 watts of power and is made from carbon fiber and ceramic. It is also advertised as low-EMF.
4. Durherm Infrared Sauna. Copper is a conductive material known to attenuate EMF radiation, so it makes sense that it would be used in Durherm’s low-EMF infrared sauna. This sauna features the more traditional portable infrared-style, with an enclosure for your body, a hole for your head to stick out of, and a zipper so you can get in and out. It also comes with a folding chair, although some have found that sitting on a blanket or towel on the sauna floor is even more comfortable. Durherm’s infrared sauna weighs in at 25 pounds, and it can easily be folded up and tucked away when not in use.
3. Heat Healer Infrared Sauna Blanket. Another uniquely designed infrared sauna, Heat Healer’s addition to our list is actually a sauna blanket. You simply lay out the blanket on the floor or a table. Grab a pillow for your head, or find something you can comfortably lean on. Then, turn the blanket on and start relaxing. With a heating element made from durable carbon, Heat Healer’s sauna blanket is low-EMF and has a 100% cotton interior wrap. The exterior of the blanket is leather and medical-grade PVC for easy sterilization after use. When it comes time to store the blanket, it can simply be folded up and tucked away.
2. Durasage Personal Ultra Low EMF Portable Infrared Sauna. One of the biggest draws to Durasage’s infrared sauna is its power — this device can heat up fully in just five minutes. As we will get into a little later, the heat-up time is an important consideration when buying an infrared sauna. It can heat up to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is also about as hot as you want to go in an infrared sauna. Additional features include three built-in heaters with carbon fiber heating elements, a more affordable price tag, and a heating foot pad. Along with the other saunas on this list, Durasage’s model is also low-EMF.
1. Relax Sauna Far Infrared Sauna. If your primary concern is EMF exposure, consider Relax Sauna’s portable infrared sauna. The manufacturer states that it produces no EMF radiation, although some reviewers stated they recorded levels of 1.3mG inside the sauna tent. This amount, while not non-existent, is still relatively small compared to some other infrared saunas on the market. The nature of infrared radiation makes creating a truly EMF-free infrared sauna virtually impossible, but Relax Sauna made a valiant attempt with this model. Other features include a foldable chair and a convenient storage bag for easy portability. While this is a great sauna, at its price point, you may want to experience cheaper models first to make sure an infrared sauna is truly for you.
Tips for buying a portable infrared sauna
Our list is by no means exhaustive. Plenty of other options also exist. If you do decide to purchase a different sauna, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Check the return policy. This is key, especially if you’re buying your sauna online. The manufacturer may promise the moon and the stars, but there is always the possibility that the product won’t live up to expectations, or that it will produce more EMF radiation than anticipated. Make sure you aren’t stuck with something you don’t feel comfortable using and check the seller’s return policy before purchasing.
- Research reviews. Another good pre-purchase step is checking product reviews. Some, more popular products, will have reviews right on the website you’re purchasing from. Others may require a little more digging, usually in the form of a Google search. It’s a good idea to see what, if anything, others are saying so you can get an idea for if the product will meet your needs.
- Consider heat up time. The slower a unit is to heat up to temperature, the less powerful it is. That means the heating element itself is having to work harder, which could translate to a shorter lifespan for your purchase. Look for saunas with fast heating times.
- Measure the EMFs. Once you’ve settled on a sauna and made the purchase, the next step is to see just how much radiation the device is producing. You can do this with an EMF meter — see our guide here if you need help selecting one. With your sauna fully set up but powered off and unplugged, take a baseline measurement with your EMF meter. Ideally, try and take the measurement both inside and outside of the sauna tent, if you’re measuring a standard-style portable infrared sauna. Then, plug the unit in and turn it on, repeating your measurements. The difference between the two tells you how much EMF radiation is produced by your sauna.
Portable vs permanent
In this guide, we focused primarily on portable infrared saunas. There are several advantages to this style of sauna. It’s easy to pack away and store, so if you’re living in an apartment or are otherwise short on space, it doesn’t need to be set up when not in use. Portable saunas are also a little more on the affordable side of the spectrum, so they are a good entry point for someone who isn’t sure if they are going to like the infrared sauna experience.
Permanent infrared saunas, on the other hand, are structures that occupy a permanent spot in your home, similar to a bathtub. They aren’t truly “permanent”, per se, as you can always get rid of them, but you probably wouldn’t travel with one. These saunas are often more expensive, and not everyone has the extra space for one in their home. On the flip side, they are a little more reliable and long-lasting. We cover some permanent models in the Top 10 Low EMF Infrared Saunas.
Infrared saunas provide a myriad of benefits, but many of them produce dangerous levels of EMF radiation. If you want to take advantage of all that an infrared sauna has to offer, look instead for low-EMF models.