Steam bath vs sauna: a comparison of sweating

A visit to the steam bath or sauna is an excellent way to relieve stress and tension. But what is the better choice for you? Steam bath and sauna differ in many ways, from the type of heat source to the humidity.
The differences between a steam bath and a sauna
© yongyut1968/123rf.com

The differences between a steam bath and a sauna

When you need to decide on a relaxation method, it can be difficult to decide whether you should prefer a steam bath or a sauna. Both offer a great way to relax and sweat, but each has its own unique features and benefits. In this section, we’ll go over the differences between a steam room and a sauna to help you make the best choice for your needs.

A steam room is a type of spa facility in which a room is filled with hot steam. This is often flavored with essential oils or herbs for an added relaxing effect. The high humidity in the steam room can help clear the airways and moisturize the skin. This can be especially pleasant if you have problems with dry skin or respiratory problems. The steam in the steam room can also help relieve tension and relieve stress.

On the other hand, there is the sauna, which acts as a dry heat source. In a sauna, the temperatures are usually much higher than in a steam room, and the humidity is very low. This can lead to a more intense sweating experience. Sweating in a sauna promotes blood circulation, cleanses the skin and relaxes the muscles. The sauna can also have a calming effect on the mind, providing a sense of inner peace and serenity.

The decision between a steam bath and a sauna depends on your personal preferences and needs. If you suffer from dry skin or breathing problems, or simply prefer a moisturizing method of relaxation, the steam bath may be the right choice for you. However, if you enjoy the heat and intense sweating and appreciate the detoxifying effect on your body, the sauna may be a better choice.

What is a steam bath?

A steam bath may be known by a variety of names, such as misting sauna, Turkish bath, hammam or caldarium. Even though the names are different, the principle remains the same: an environment with high humidity and temperatures of 40 to 50 °C (104 to 122 °F). The humid air and heat open the pores of the skin, clear the airways, relax the muscles and exercise the cardiovascular system. So, the benefits of visiting a steam bath are physical relaxation, improvement of health and well-being.

A steam bath is essentially a room specifically designed to produce steam and humid air. The heart of a steam bath is the steam generator, which heats water and directs the generated steam into the room. The room is usually lined with tiles or marble to retain moisture and create a comfortable atmosphere.

The high moisture content in a steam bath has many positive effects on the body. In a steam bath, the pores of the skin open up, making it easier to remove dirt, sebum and other impurities. This can lead to improved skin health and a more radiant complexion. The moist air also hydrates the skin and can relieve dry skin.

In addition, a visit to the steam sauna can also have positive effects on the respiratory system. The warm steam helps loosen mucus in the respiratory tract and improve blood flow to the mucous membranes. This can be especially helpful for colds, sinusitis or other respiratory problems. Many people also find breathing in the steaming water beneficial to their respiratory system.

The heat and humidity in a steam bath also have a relaxing effect on muscles. Spending time in a steam room can loosen tight muscles and relieve pain and tension. This can be especially pleasurable after strenuous physical activity or when muscles are tight.

In addition to the physical benefits, a steam bath also offers the opportunity for mental relaxation. The warm steam and tranquil atmosphere can relieve stress, calm the mind, and promote a sense of peace and serenity. Many people also use their time in the steam room to find inner peace, meditate, or simply let their thoughts run free.

What is a sauna?

Saunas come in many styles and temperatures, but the most well-known form is the Finnish sauna. The Finnish sauna is traditionally one of the hottest, with temperatures between 80 °C and 90 °C (176 to 194 °F), but also with a rather low humidity of 10 to 30%. Nevertheless, a regular visit to the sauna, with periods of cooling down and rest, can have the same positive effects on the body and well-being as a regular visit to the steam bath.

In a Finnish sauna, heat is generated by a sauna stove filled with stones. The stones are heated and infused with water, creating steam and slightly increasing humidity. The dry heat in the sauna makes you sweat profusely, which helps cleanse the body.

A sauna bath has similar benefits to a steam bath. The heat in the sauna promotes blood circulation and stimulates the metabolism. Regular sauna use can strengthen the immune system, improve skin health and relieve muscle tension.

An important part of taking a sauna is alternating between the heat in the sauna and the cool down afterward. This can be done by going into a cold swimming or plunge pool, taking a cold shower, or even rubbing down with ice or snow. This temperature change has a positive effect on the circulatory system and blood vessels, as they are exercised and kept elastic. Following the sauna session, a break is appropriate so that the body can recover and the circulation can stabilize.

Although the Finnish sauna is the best known form, there are other types of saunas with different temperatures and degrees of humidity. For example, there are bio-saunas with lower temperatures and higher humidity, infrared cabins that use infrared rays, and steam saunas that offer a mixture of steam and heat. Each type of sauna has its own characteristics and can have different effects depending on your preferences and needs.

Ultimately, the choice between a steam bath and a sauna depends on your personal preferences, health condition, and desired effects. Both methods offer a wonderful way to relax, sweat, and reap the benefits of heat and humidity. Whether you choose a steam bath or sauna, both can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health and provide a soothing experience.

Less sweating with a steam bath – More cleansing with a sauna session

The decision between a steam bath and a sauna is based not only on how much you sweat, but also on your personal well-being and individual preferences. Both options offer unique experiences and various benefits for the body and mind.

In a steam bath, you are surrounded by a comfortable, moist heat. This moist air dilates blood vessels and promotes oxygenation of the body. Although you sweat less in a steam bath, your skin is still cooled as the water vapor condenses on your skin and creates evaporative cooling. This can lead to a pleasant cooling and increase the feeling of well-being.

On the other hand, in a sauna, you start sweating intensively to cool down the body and activate the body’s purification mechanism. Due to the dry heat in the sauna, you sweat more than in the steam room, which can lead to a more intense cleansing effect. Sweating in the sauna helps to open the pores and cleanse the body. In this way, the sauna can provide a thorough cleansing of the body.

To decide between steam bath and sauna, one should consider personal comfort. Some people prefer the moist heat of the steam bath, as it can provide pleasant relaxation and relief from breathing problems. Others enjoy the intense sweating of the sauna and appreciate the cleansing effect on the body. You should try both options to find out which experience best suits individual needs and preferences.

Ultimately, a visit to the steam room or sauna is about relaxing, taking care of your body and promoting your own well-being. Both options can be a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle and have positive effects on health and overall well-being. It’s up to each individual to choose the option that best suits them and achieves the desired effects.

Health first: For whom is steam bath or sauna suitable?

For people with physical limitations or those new to saunas, the steam bath, with its mild heat and high humidity, can be a more pleasant experience than the dry heat of the Finnish sauna. Both options are recommended for a stay of 8 to 15 minutes, and it is important to plan for a cool-down and rest period afterward to maximize the health benefits. The steam bath can also be a suitable alternative for people with circulatory or respiratory problems.

People with high stress levels and tense muscles can benefit from the soothing effects of the sauna. The high temperatures relax tense muscles, improve circulation and relieve pain. They also stimulate the cardiovascular system and strengthen the immune system.

Although both options have their benefits, it is advisable to find out in advance exactly which type of sauna or steam bath suits you best and what your requirements are to ensure a pleasant experience. Decide on what suits you best and what will benefit your health!

References
  • National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) – Official website of a professional recreation and leisure organization: https://www.nrpa.org/
  • Harvard Health Publishing – A health information portal from the prestigious Harvard Medical School: https://www.health.harvard.edu/
  • Mayo Clinic – Official website of one of the world’s leading medical institutions: https://www.mayoclinic.org/

 

Did you like the article? We would be delighted if you shared it and helped us to make our sauna magazine accessible to a wider audience, to inspire even more people with the beneficial properties of the sauna.