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I have recently been made aware that in the USA, at least to obtain UL (Underwriters Laboratory) certification, a sauna heater must not heat above 194 °F. Further that the sauna temperature sensor controlling the heater much be located above the heater – not, for example, on the opposite side of the sauna enclosure.

The studies that validated the use of traditional saunas for health benefits would all have been done at “temperatures typically between 70 and 100 °C (158 and 212 °F)” – which is the normal air temperature of a sauna in Finland, right? The quoted text is from Wikipedia.

If so we may be fooling ourselves into thinking we can get those benefits via a sauna we might frequent in the USA.

The sauna I use reaches 140-150 °F across the main sauna bench when it is cranked up to its maximum 194 °F. It could be that the higher European temperatures are unnecessary, but given that those are the temps at which the validation studies were conducted, I have no basis for thinking lower temps would be effective.

BTW, it looks like that even obtaining the actual UL code book for this would run > $700, so I can’t say for sure whether UL even requires this of sauna heaters. If you would like to purchase a copy and let us know, please visit this URL: https://www.shopulstandards.com/ProductDetail.aspx?productId=UL875_9_B_20090521(ULStandards2)

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    We keep talking about the sauna temperature. But isn’t it what it does to the body temperature that counts? It doesn’t make any difference what the thermometer says if your body temp isn’t going up. Isn’t that what produces the HSP (heat shock proteins) which is one of the benefits that we are looking for?

    Granted there is a big focus on detoxification but I can see that if you sweat a lot with either you are going to get those benefits. You might have to adjust your length of time depending on the height of the temperature but you could achieve the same result. But is that true for the HSP?

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      It seems strange to me that we keep talking about the temperature of the sauna. It would seem that the important thing is what the sauna does to raise your body temperature. I have been using both types of saunas and have found that my temperature goes up between 1.8 and 3.4°F whether I’m in my far infrared sauna at home or the more traditional Finnish sauna at the gym.

      Has anybody else been tracking their body temperature?

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        As a person who installs traditional saunas for a living I can tell you that the placement of the thermostat in the room goes a long way towards telling how hot an electric heater will make the sauna. IF you place the thermostat where the manufacturer suggests, you will never attain 194 degrees Fahrenheit.

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          I have been using a far-infrared sauna “mat” for many years (and also marketing them) and have learned some interesting information about sauna differences. Regular Finnish type sauna’s typically work at very high temperatures, up to 200 degrees. These devices have been used for many years for their health benefits and yes people do a massive amount of sweating while using them. At the same time people are in the excessive heat sauna they are heating their brain which does not seem beneficial to me. However compared to “far-infrared” saunas there are some differences: far-infrared works at much lower temperatures (about a high of 150 degrees), however….far-infrared is much more penetrating, up to 3" into the body and pulls out more contaminants and toxins than a finnish sauna, and use less electricity. Finnish sauna’s are not very efficient. They heat the air about 80% and the body 20% whereas the far-infrared sauna’s heat the body about 80% and the air 20%. If you are focusing on only high heat I think you are missing the benefits of non-finnish sauna’s for health. The product I have marketed and used for over ten years is called the Amethyst Biomat. It comes in five sizes. is portable, gets up to 158 degrees in temperature and is a licensed class 2 medical device by the U.S. FDA. It is very user friendly and you can get a massage, acupuncture, reiki, chiropractic session while lying on it, take a nap, or yes even sleep on it. namaste, rachel

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            I have a FAR IR sauna. I have measured the surface temperature of the IR panels with an IR thermometer and when it is above 140F recorded at the ceiling, the top of the panel can reach 200F. So the source of heat a couple of inches from the body can easily be 160 to 180F. And we are talking IR which can penetrate well into body tissue. My resting heart rate runs about 55 to 57. At the end of a session I have a heart rate of between 85 and 95. When I first started using the sauna my heart rate reached 100. I’m thinking FAR IR is doing the job. Bought and installed the sauna in Jan this year. I have lost as much as 1kg in one 40 minute session. I am more than 6ft tall and weigh approx. 175Lb, not particularly overweight. Also am 80 years old.

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              Is there any research to confirm what minimum Sauna temp is generally required for this to occur?
              Exposure to high temperature stresses the body, eliciting a rapid, robust response. The skin and core body temperatures increase markedly, and sweating ensues. The skin heats first, rising to 40°C (104°F), and then changes in core body temperature occur, rising slowly from 37°C (98.6°F, or normal) to 38°C (100.4°F) and then rapidly increasing to 39°C (102.2°F). ?

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                Good question. I am wondering the same about IR saunas since they operate at a lower temp.