There is more than one way of sweating it out. Intense workouts, being stranded in no man’s land, getting lost while on a hike are just some options. But you don’t always have to risk muscle tears or being attacked by a psycho hitchhiker. There is another way of sweating it out which is calm and healthy—spending time in a sauna.
It is good for you for other reasons too. If you have sore muscles from time to time but the condition needs more than a massage and less than sessions of physiotherapy, saunas can help ease that pain. Now, regular sessions are a good idea but for that you might consider buying an infrared sauna.
When we say infrared saunas, we are not talking about those giant steam rooms you see in movies where spies have their clandestine meetings or heroines get their weekly pampering done. An infrared sauna is a device that you can install at your home. These devices release electromagnetic heat through infrared lamps or panels and warm your body. There are other types of saunas but infrared saunas operate at a lower temperature (150˚F and 180˚F) and are recommended by experts for home use.
A generic good session in a sauna can help in many ways. As mentioned before, it is good for sore muscles. But it also relaxes you in general and is said to promote better sleep. It improves circulation and is said to aid in weight loss but that is not an exact science and needs to be probed further. Those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and joint pains due to arthritis have seen some relief. It is also known to make your skin clearer and tighter. Of course, everything needs to be done in moderation.
Don’t get into a sauna if you’ve been drinking or have a fever. Saunas make you sweat so it’s possible to feel a little lightheaded when you get up. Drink some water and let your body cool down before you move on to the next task. Dehydration and heat stroke are also real risks if you don’t do it right. So make sure you are not letting out more liquids than you are consuming. And pregnant women, as it is with everything they do, should consult their doctor before getting into a sauna.
Also, if you have heart problems, high blood pressure or other medical issues for which you are under treatment, talk to your doctor beforehand. Avoid saunas if you have implanted medical devices in your body. If your nerve and motor functions are not at 100%, you risk heat and burn injuries. Children and seniors must consult a doctor before trying out saunas. If you have open wounds it is going to hurt more than usual. So, maybe wait till it heals?
There are a couple of other issues too. While the sample size is small, there is a 2013 study which said two weekly 15-minute sauna sessions over three months showed impairment in sperm and motility count.
Also, be sure to take off your jewelry, spectacles, contact lenses and any other metallic devices on your body before you enter the sauna.
But don’t be alarmed. Those are like the pros and cons of every product out there in the world. Nothing is perfect. So, if you have decided to get an infrared sauna for your home, here’s a few things you should know about these devices before you make the purchase.
Traditional saunas use heat to get the job done but infrared saunas use light to create heat. While looking for these devices, sometimes you will see the words “FAR-infrared sauna.” FAR is just the wavelength of infrared rays on the electromagnetic spectrum, which is 15 μm to 1 mm.
Heat Panels: This is definitely the most important aspect of your sauna. If this doesn’t work or doesn’t work the way you want, there’s no point at all. There are two kinds of panels in the market. Carbon and ceramic. High quality carbon panels are said to provide soft heat which is comfortable. You can lean against carbon panels unlike ceramic panels which heat up along with the room. But, of course, it is carbon. So there’s that. It is also important that you check how many heat panels a sauna has and where they are placed. If you are buying one sauna for multiple people, you want everyone to get enough heat and enjoy the benefits of this expensive device.
EMF Levels: The electromagnetic field levels should be low. Exposure to high levels is known to cause serious health problems. Since sauna is not an essential item but rather a choice you make, it should help to heal and get better health instead of doing the exact opposite. A level of 3.0 mG is usually considered safe.
Wood: If you buy a sauna made of cheap wood, not only does it not last long enough but when it starts to peel off the surface, you put yourself at the risk of splinters. There is also the environmental factor. Make sure it is certified wood. That means the forest where the wood came from was properly cultivated, harvested and re-cultivated. So you know that you aren’t killing rainforests for a 15-minute session.
Nuts and Bolts Not Glue: A good wooden sauna has proper screws and joints instead of glue. That will make sure it lasts longer. Even if the glue doesn’t melt and the whole thing doesn’t come down, you don’t want to breathe in glue-y air, do you?
Size: It matters and it is very important. If you have a small apartment but really want a wooden sauna, you must check the dimensions. Also, you cannot make adjustments on your own. As in, a sauna for two people is strictly for two people. You must stick to what the manufacturer has made for safety and health reasons. A sauna is not a place to be uncomfortable in. Its fundamental purpose is relaxation.
Entertainment: This is not so much a luxury as a requirement, especially if you want to do longer sessions. You could take a nap but there is the risk of overheating yourself. So try to get one with a music outlet. Some even come with a television. But maybe don’t clutter the experience.
Company and Customer Service: Do enough research on the company, its history and range of products (like this piece). Check delivery, warranty and customer service options. Because when something like this gives you trouble, it takes away all the stress relief that you wanted it to give you in the first place.
Now that you know the basics of an infrared sauna and how to use it, let’s look at a product. This piece is a review of TheraSauna products so let’s dive right in. It is an American company established in 1966. The parent company QCA Spas claims to be the only certified American manufacturer of infrared saunas. It has a few patents to its credit and some pending ones too, starting from the first one for the Stable Heat™ System in 1995. The company has the ETL mark or the Edison Testing Laboratories mark, which is an equipment certification program that checks for compliance of products in NorthAmerica. It has met the standards for Europe and has applied to be registered with the Food and Drug Administration for its infrared devices.
Now, about its devices. TheraSauna devices come in two types. TheraSauna and TheraSauna Classic. There are a variety of models in both types and there is a third type which allows you to customize your sauna. There are different models which come in different capacities.
- 1 person
- 1-2 persons
- 2 persons
- 2-3 persons
- 4 persons
These saunas are not small and portable. They are to be situated in a room and not be moved often. The company claims to be the only one in the USA to use the non-toxic and non-allergenic aspen hardwood. Some models also come with a warm mahogany finish. In many TheraSauna models, the walls are double paneled and have thick exterior and interior wood planks. This, the manufacturer says, keeps the heat from escaping. Also, Wood is an important aspect in a device that is all about heating.
In an infrared sauna, lighting is a very important aspect because that is the source of heat. TheraSauna has dynamic models and chromotherapy lighting is standard in most if not all of its models. It is the science of using different colors for different purposes. Like using red for stimulation or blue for relaxation. Each color has a specific frequency and it is used to alter body vibrations and produce a specific result.
This correlation between colors and healing was combined with Einstein’s theories and used for therapeutic purposes.
TheraSauna uses proprietary heating systems for its saunas. They are called TheraMitters, which are heat panels with a 96% radiant efficiency rating. The company boasts of constructing saunas with low EMF (electromagnetic field) levels. There are at least six ceramic heaters in all the TheraSauna models. Time and again though you need to check them to see if they are functioning well and need to be replaced.
These infrared saunas have an Android touchscreen. Most models have a soft touch control panel with an LED display feature. You can use it to adjust your entertainment options too. It has in-built speakers. You can connect your aux cable and listen to music of your choice or pick FM radio.
No special wiring is required for the outlet. You can connect it to any 15 amp to 110 volt outlet with no hassle.
The sauna may be installed on carpet and at any indoor location including the basement, garage, master bath or walk-in closet.
You can add or subtract the accessories you want inside or along with your sauna. That includes a magazine rack, towel hook, drink holder and a backrest. It charges extra for each of these add-ons but might be worth it.
As mentioned earlier, size does matter. These are not tiny and portable. Make sure your house doesn’t get cluttered because you decided to instal a sauna. Luckily, there aren’t any specifications there. You can instal the sauna on a carpet anywhere in the house, including the basement or garage. You can put it in the bath, a walk-in closet or a home gym, if you’ve got one. It doesn’t come with demands of ventilation.
So is TheraSauna the answer to all your sauna needs? Well, the problems with this brand are hidden in nooks and crannies like Easter bunnies. You have to dig around a bit but if you do, you will find some. They are not unfixable and they might not even be problems to you, but here they are anyway. If you can find a way around, good for you. And good luck.
Its use of only ceramic panels that the company manufactures itself is a small issue. There isn’t information to compare them with other companies which makes it tough to verify the claims. And since this is probably the most important component of the sauna, it makes the whole deal a little uncertain.
Other manufacturers have managed to use energy efficient, low-EMF-emitting carbon panels. They also claim that those carbon panels are 30% larger than ceramic tubes and penetrate the skin 40% more than their ceramic counterparts. And carbon panels do not need any kind of replacing.
Speaking of other companies, in the age of portable saunas and sauna blankets, TheraSauna is still very old school. If you live in a small studio apartment, you will have to move a few things around (maybe even throw some stuff out) to accommodate this piece of furniture which sometimes feels like a work of art. If that is a problem, you could just pick another brand and go for a portable model. There’s plenty of them.
Big and beautiful, sure. But they are expensive too. This is not something you can buy and try. In fact, you must try and be absolutely confident before you buy. The price of most models runs into thousands of dollars. That’s right. There is nothing in the hundreds range.
It takes “21 business days” to ship the product. In today’s click-and-purchase world, over three weeks is a long time. And then, the website says, “Please allow an additional 7-10 business days for delivery”. So take that into account. Even if you take the Amazon route, it is at least 10 days.
Your time in a sauna is all about experience. But TheraSauna seems to want to start the experience right from the purchasing phase. Here’s how you buy things in the 21st century, right?
- Go online.
- Pick the product.
- Add to cart or buy.
- Receive within a week.
- Rip apart the packaging.
- Start using.
You can do none of this with TheraSauna. Even if you try, it comes in five cartons and they claim it takes 35 minutes to assemble it. And that can’t be a lot of fun unless you are seriously into DIY stuff.
It’s not something you can buy in the store and bring back home in the back of your truck and put together on your own. As mentioned earlier, it’s not portable. So you will need to go through the company. Now, they are not lacking in this area but there are some hitches.
It is curbside delivery. The company says it is your responsibility to move it to the final spot. The company wants you to thoroughly inspect the delivery before accepting it. They seem to greatly fear transportation damage. And if there is damage, it takes seven days to fix it. TheraSauna strongly recommends getting travel insurance but even that is only for damaged parts, not the entire product. The items are not returnable.
The installation is also seriously nostalgic. I mean, a guy comes home, assembles it and explains how to work it. You’re going to have to do this on the weekend or a holiday.
You can buy it on Amazon but make sure it is not “curbside delivery” only. You choose to get it “with expert assembly,” but that will cost you extra.
Warranty, maintenance and replacement are very important areas with large and expensive products. TheraSauna has no 24-hour phone line or chat options. They are both available from 9 am to 5 pm.
And that hasn’t gone unnoticed. There doesn’t seem to be a dedicated group of technicians to help on the phone. There doesn’t seem to be a team that comes home and fixes the problem. It is expensive so if you are not patient as a saint, it’s understandable that you freak out a little. But when they do show up, the sauna is taken for fixing and it takes a while before it is brought back. But, it is huge in size so taking it out and bringing it back is quite the process. Like delivery day, this is also a weekend or off day job.
Communication doesn’t seem to be their strong suit. And if it’s just that, it is annoying. But if you are unlucky and customer service is the problem, the whole purpose of getting a sauna for relaxation is defeated, isn’t it?
But on the website, you will only find glowing praises of the product which makes you wonder if that’s the whole truth.