How hot are saunas? | The average temperature of saunas

If the heat relaxes you, saunas are perfect for you. Saunas are closed, unpainted, and (usually) small, wooden rooms. They are heated to high temperatures and the humid heat gives you many benefits, including improved mental and physical health.

Now, taking account of the recent popularity surrounding saunas, you may be thinking of adding a session or two, to your daily routine. But before you actually consider it, you probably would want to know how hot are saunas? Well, fret not- for we have got you covered! And by the end of this article, we hope you leave satisfied with all your questions answered.

How Hot Are Saunas?

Before anything else, you need to know that there is no general answer to this question. How hot a sauna is can depend on the type of sauna you pick. Each type has a different heat source and a different ideal temperature.

There are roughly three types of saunas, each characterized by their unique temperature ranges and benefits.


1. Traditional Sauna

Traditional dry saunas heat up using sauna rocks which heat the surrounding air within the range of 150 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit (or 66 to 88 degrees Celsius).

Originally, wood-burning or gas stoves were used to warm the rocks but nowadays electric heaters are used, which are much more powerful and can be controlled with safety switches. They allow the temperature you set to be maintained throughout the session and then turn off automatically after 60 minutes.

Traditional saunas need around 30 to 45 minutes (depending on the model) to preheat before use. It is recommended that you have 1 to 3 sauna sessions in a day, with a ten-minute break in between to cool down. You should stay in for 10 to 30 minutes for each session, depending on your heat endurance.

Traditional smoke saunas function by pouring hot water on the sauna rocks. Although the temperature range is the same as the one for dry saunas, humidity builds up in the smoke ones. The burst of steam makes it easier to breathe and is also more comfortable for the skin.


2. Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas work solely on electricity. Infrared heating panels are used to produce radiant heat. Approximately 7-14 microns long infrared waves are generated which penetrate the skin and encourage sweating.

Unlike traditional saunas, infrared saunas do not heat the surrounding air but rather the body directly by increasing its core temperature. This reaps the same benefits as traditional saunas but at a lower temperature range of 80 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (or 26 to 55 degrees Celsius). Due to its lower temperature, it is much more comfortable and accessible for those with lower heat endurance.

Infrared saunas also need to preheat for around 10 to 15 minutes, again depending on the model. Initially, when you first start going to an infrared sauna, you should start by staying in for 8 minutes and then gradually increase the time. But when the adjustment period passes, you should stay in the sauna for 30 to 45 minutes for maximum takeaway.

Portable saunas use infrared technology- and as the name suggests- are transportable. So, if you are a travel fanatic, you can still use saunas daily if you have a portable sauna. Infrared technology makes use of Electromagnetic Force (EMF) to generate heat, however, they are totally safe as only a small amount of EMF is generated. Rays of equal wavelength- like the ones normally emitted by the body- are emitted. The temperature range of portable saunas is between 100 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit (38 to 65.5 degrees Celsius), which is less than that of traditional saunas but more than the range for infrared saunas.


3. Steam Saunas

Steam saunas include steam showers, steam baths, and steam rooms. While traditional and infrared saunas provide dry heat, a steam sauna is filled with moist heat. Its working involves the boiling of water by a steam generator. This steam is then continually released into the enclosed room.

Since steam rooms are airtight, the humidity may even build up to 100%. This can make the steam room feel hotter than the other saunas, even though the temperature range for steams rooms is between 90 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 50 degrees Celsius). It is not advisable to stay longer than 12 to 20 minutes in a steam sauna.


Better Safe than Sorry

Everyone has different endurance for heat. If you are in a public sauna and the temperature is either too hot or too cold for you, ask for a group consensus before adjusting the thermostat or ladling water onto the sauna rocks. You can also adjust the temperature to your personal liking by changing your seat level. Even if you are used to high temperatures, if you ever feel dizzy or have a headache- leave immediately. These are amongst the first few symptoms of heatstroke.

At the World Sauna Championships (2010) in Finland the Russian competitor, Vladimir Ladyzhensky, died after collapsing with severe burns in 110 degrees Celsius heat. So it is better to leave immediately whenever you feel ill because staying in that condition has proven to be fatal.


Safety Note

Whilst saunas do have several mental and physical benefits, they may not be for everyone. If you are planning on starting with saunas, you should consult your doctor first. It is strongly advised for people who have asthma or poorly functioning kidneys to not use saunas. Moreover, if you have any medicines that alter your body temperature or heart rate, consult an expert before even considering a sauna.



In conclusion, saunas can get very hot depending on the type of sauna you are using, and also depending on the time period of your session so, it is important to select the best type of sauna for your comfort and relaxation. The ideal sauna temperature is essentially a personal choice- but remember to always stay within the advised temperature ranges.

Saunas have been designed for relaxation and comfort. Hydrate before and after a sauna session, take heed of the expert instructions provided and always be cautious.