Steam Shower vs Sauna - Which Is Better for Health & Relaxation?Steam Shower vs Sauna - Which Is Better for Health & Relaxation?

Steam showers and saunas are both excellent ways to relax, detoxify, and obtain a host of potent health benefits. But should you install a steam shower or traditional sauna in your home for maximum wellness and stress relief?

Below we closely compare steam rooms versus saunas on key factors to help you decide the best option to suit your needs and budget.

Steam Room vs Infrared Sauna: Key Differences

While steam rooms and saunas both utilize dry or moist heat to provide holistic healing, some key differences exist:


  • Steam rooms typically max out at around 110-120°F
  • Traditional saunas often reach 160-195°F
  • Infrared saunas operate at 120-150°F

Method of Heating

  • Steam rooms use hot steam vapor
  • Traditional saunas heat air directly with hot rocks or heating elements
  • Infrared saunas use light waves to penetrate tissue and create warmth

Humidity Level

  • Steam rooms provide moist heat approaching 100% humidity
  • Traditional saunas offer dry heat, usually less than 10-20% humidity
  • Infrared saunas also provide dry heat with low ambient humidity

User Experience

  • Steam room air feels moist against the skin
  • Saunas feel intensely dry despite heavy sweating
  • Infrared warmth is gentle & penetrating; steam can feel harsh on upper body

Now we’ll analyze each setting across seven factors to highlight the potential pros and cons.

Heat Intensity & Safety

Sauna: Very hot, rapid intense sweating. Ranges from mildly uncomfortable when entering to almost unbearably hot over 15 minutes. Higher risk of dehydration and overheating if not careful.

Steam Shower: Lower temperature allows most users to sit comfortably for 20+ minutes before feeling the need to exit. Gradual easy sweating with less safety risks.

Infrared Sauna: Relatively gentle warmth, though still inducing light to moderate sweating. Little risk of overheating across average 30 minute session. Know more about steam sauna room installation company Dubai.

Detoxification & Cleansing Ability

Sauna: Extreme heat stress maximizes circulation, flushing toxins through skin and kidneys. Powerfully effective for detoxing heavy metals like mercury. Almost no humidity limits drainage through lungs & sinuses.

Steam Shower: Moist heat opens up airways, draining mucus and environmental allergens from nose & lungs. Humidity softens skin for efficient excretion of some toxins like BPA & phthalates. Blood flow & circulation boost moderately.

Infrared Sauna: Penetrating waves induce high cellular sweating releasing some toxins. Dilation of blood vessels provides mild circulation enhancement. May aid liver and kidneys in processing excreted chemicals. Better for de-stressing than hardcore detox.

Muscle & Joint Relief Ability

Sauna: Very effective for loosening up tight, sore muscles and achy joints – if you can tolerate lying or sitting through intense heat for 10-20 minutes. Post-workout, rings deep heat into muscle tissues speeding lactic acid clearance.

Steam Shower: Milder warmth helps muscles gradually relax across more extended 25-40 minute sessions. Though moist heat only penetrates shallowly into joints and connective tissue. Great for upper body tension relief.

Infrared Sauna: Moderately effective for easing muscle tightness, spasms, and mild inflammation through direct tissue penetration. Best suited for general relaxation versus post-exertion muscle recovery.

Cardiovascular Health Impacts

Sauna: Robust heat stress over months & years prompts adaptations improving heart pumping efficiency and oxygen carrying capacity. Peripheral blood vessel dilation takes pressure off heart. Powerful for lowering blood pressure.

Steam Shower: Solid 5-15% boost in heart rate prompts moderate cardio fitness gains over time. Vasodilation benefits but smaller blood pressure reductions than sauna. Risk of dizziness if standing too fast.

Infrared Sauna: Very small 3-7% elevation of heart rate across infrared sauna session. Mild enhancement of circulation may support slight gains in cardiovascular function over lengthy consistent use.

Nervous System Relaxation

Sauna: Intense heat spikes activation of sympathetic nervous system – not ideal for directly calming the body. However, the post-sauna afterglow feels mentally serene as endorphins elevate mood for many hours.

Steam Shower: Gradual perspiration build coupled with closed eye relaxation drops one into a mildly meditative state within 5-10 minutes. Very effective for reducing psychological and physical tension rapidly.

Infrared Sauna: Gentle warmth lowers muscle tension, anxiety, anger while releasing endocannabinoids offering mildly euphoric chill vibe. More directly relaxing than traditional hot saunas.

Weight Loss & Caloric Burn Potential

Sauna: 150-300 calories per 10-15 minute session. Intense sweating releases water weight if repeated use. Not significantly effective for burning body fat percentage or impacting appetite/metabolism.

Steam Shower: 50-150 calories per 20-40 minute session. Lower intensity sweating only drops water weight for very short term before rebound. Minimal meaningful benefits for weight loss or fat reduction.

Infrared Sauna: Roughly 200-400 calories per 30 minute session. Some indications of appetite suppression and improved insulin sensitivity with consistent sessions across weeks. Very minor direct fat burning ability.

Costs Over Time

Sauna: $2500 to $5000+ for prebuilt indoor home sauna room with required dedicated power circuit & exhaust venting. Low electricity use and minimal maintenance though materials can wear over decades.

Steam Shower: $1500 to $4000+ for glass steam shower enclosure installed with steam generator requiring only standard household outlet. Some mineral cleaning maintenence; steam generator may need replacement after 5-8 years.

Infrared Sauna: $1000 to $4000 for lifetime warranty infrared panels/heating elements installed in existing room or custom enclosure. Very low electricity costs for carbon fiber heating panels over decades of use.

Sauna vs Steam Shower: Which Should You Choose?

Analyzing the unique pros and cons makes the best choice clearer based on your personal health goals and budget:

  • Saunas are king for detoxing, hardcore sweating, cardiovascular gains, and post-workout muscle recovery
  • Steam showers relax the nervous system rapidly while decongesting lungs and airways
  • Infrared saunas directly penetrate tissue offering comfortable de-stressing

Installing both a traditional sauna plus steam shower enables harnessing benefits from intense dry & gentle moist heat therapy. This maximizes versatility in customizing to meet your changing needs.

Alternatively, infrared saunas provide the most complete and affordable all-in-one solution for home relaxation & healing with penetrating warmth that almost anyone can appreciate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is healthier – sauna or steam room?

Both traditional saunas and steam rooms provide extensive holistic health benefits in different ways. Consistently using either can boost cardiovascular function, immunity, detoxification pathways, and mental clarity over time. Saunas edge out steam rooms when considering effectiveness for permanent heavy metal excretion, workout recovery, mood elevation, and blood pressure reduction. But steam showers directly calm the nervous system faster while clearing nasal/lung congestion. Consider your personal health goals and budget to choose what’s best for your needs.

Do steam showers help you lose weight?

Using a steam shower burns 50-150 calories per session depending on duration, temperature, and individual physiology. This technically contributes slightly to daily caloric deficit needed for weight loss over weeks & months. However, much of the weight lost from sweating intensely represents temporary water loss that rapidly rebounds after rehydrating. Steam therapy produces negligible metabolic, appetite, or fat burning effects compared to exercise, diet, and lifestyle factors for meaningful weight reduction.

Which is better – infrared sauna vs traditional?

Infrared saunas provide more comfortable dry heat directly penetrating tissue to induce light sweating versus extreme hot air temperatures in traditional saunas. This makes infrared therapy accessible for more people and safer for longer 30-60 minute sessions. Both types boost circulation for detoxification while lowering stress hormones. Traditional saunas likely outperform infrared for cardiovascular adaptations. But infrared radiant warmth offers direct muscle/joint pain relief. Combining gentle infrared with occasional intense traditional sauna heat maximizes benefits.

Can you put a steam shower in any bathroom?

Yes, steam shower enclosures can install virtually anywhere with adequate drainage and ventilation to handle heavy condensation. Steam generators only require a standard 120V household outlet supporting 1500-3000 watts. Use moisture resistant backer board during framing, choose mold-inhibiting flooring, install an exhaust fan, and keep non-steam-proof surfaces beyond the waterproof enclosure to have a safe and effective steam shower infusing moisture into any home bathroom.

Which provides better pain relief – sauna or steam room?

For sore, stiff muscles following intense workouts, traditional hot saunas penetrate deeper to reduce lactic acid while boosting circulation to accelerate recovery. Very hot infrared saunas also relax muscles at high temperatures some users can’t tolerate. For mild tension relief and surface penetration, steam rooms surround muscles more gently in moist warmth to unwind gradually across 20-40 minutes. Steam additionally opens up nasal/sinus/lung airways if any associated face, headache or breathing pain. Utilize sauna therapy for body and joint pain, while choosing steam rooms when upper body, facial or respiratory discomfort exists.


Steam showers and saunas offer complementary holistic healing modalities using dry and wet heat to renew the body and mind. Saunas boost cardiovascular function, cleanse the body’s detoxification systems, and speed post-workout recovery through intense sweating. Steam showers calm the nervous system rapidly, clear congestion, and ease surface tension while still elevating the heart rate. Infrared saunas penetrate tissue directly with light waves to create comfortable dry warmth perfect for destressing. Carefully consider the unique health benefits of all three modalities to determine if a traditional sauna, steam shower, or infrared setup makes the most sense for your home wellness goals and budget. With smart planning, you could install both a steam shower enclosed in glass plus an infrared sauna room to cover all your relaxed restoration and thermal detox therapy needs!