8 Different Types of Saunas: Find Your Perfect Match

Snow-covered barrel and Kota saunas illuminated at night, showcasing two popular types of saunas for a cozy, warm retreat in winter settings.

If you’re feeling wiped out from the day-to-day hustle or just looking for a way to relax and detoxify, what better way to unwind than stepping into a soothing sauna? But wait – which sauna is right for you? With so many types of saunas out there, making the choice can be as stressful as your week was.

The traditional Finnish sauna has been around since at least the 5th century! These ancient sweat lodges have evolved significantly over time, giving birth to an array of modern saunas that cater to different preferences and health goals.

In this post, we’ll dive into various types of saunas – from wood-burning havens to high-tech infrared cocoons. Discover how each one can spin magic for your health and happiness!

Together, we’ll find that perfect hot spot where you can relax and let all your worries melt away. I promise by the end of this blog post, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a veritable sauna connoisseur!

“Every sauna has its own soul.”

“A person without sauna is like a body without a soul.”

“A house without a sauna is not a home.”
Finlandia Foundation National

Ready to heat things up? Let’s dive in!

Quick Summary

>>> There are many sauna types, including wood-burning, electric, infrared, steam, smoke saunas, salt rooms, steam shower, and portable home models. Each offers a unique experience and health benefits.

>>> Saunas can be indoors or outdoors.

>>> Sauna temperatures range from 110°F in steam rooms to around 200°F in traditional wood or electric saunas. Infrared options use light to heat the body directly at lower temperatures.

>>> Sauna prices vary depending on type and features. Wood-burning ones may cost more upfront but don’t have monthly bills. Electric saunas are convenient but can raise energy costs.

>>> Choose a sauna based on your space, money, and whether you like dry or steamy heat. Portable home saunas are good for small spaces or tight budgets. Barrel and Kota-shaped saunas offer efficient heating with cool designs for outdoor spaces.

Understanding the 8 Different Types of Saunas

So, you’re ready for a deep dive into the steamy world of saunas, huh? Well, buckle up because there’s more variety than a Vegas buffet, and we’re about to explore every sizzling option—that means no stones (or steam clouds) left unturned.

According to Forbes, whether you prefer a traditional Finnish sauna, a steam sauna, or an infrared sauna, each type offers unique benefits for relaxation and overall well-being.

Whether it’s that rustic appeal of crackling wood or the high-tech allure of infrared rays, you’re after, finding your perfect sauna match is all about getting to know the players in this hot game.

1. Wood-Burning Sauna

Dusk settles over a cozy, traditional wood-burning sauna.
Traditional wood-burning sauna

Wood-burning saunas take you back to tradition. They heat up by burning wood on a metal stove called ‘kiuas’ in Finland, creating a warm and cozy feel that many love.

Picture sitting in a cabin-like room, the air filled with the scent of burning logs; that’s your classic Finnish experience right there. It’s like being out in nature while you relax and sweat away stress.

  • You’ll find these types of saunas often at lakeside cottages or in rural areas where the connection to the land is strong.
  • A wood-fired sauna gives off dry heat, but you can make it wet by tossing water on hot stones (which are placed on top of the stove) to make steam if you want humidity.
  • This evaporating hot steam that rises from the hot stones is traditionally called ´löyly´ in Finland.

Related Article: Top 5 Wood-Burning Sauna Heaters of 2024

The glow from the stove adds something special too, making it feel even more calming.

  • These types can get pretty hot—often between 150°F and 195°F.
  • You can control the temperature by how much wood you burn—not as precise as an electric one, but hey, some crave that hands-on approach.
  • Humidity can swing based on how much water you toss on those hot stones.
  • Costs vary between $3000 to $6000. These are initially pricey, maybe due to construction and having a proper vent for smoke, but remember, no electricity bills here!

Not so fast if you think about snapping one up:

  • They need regular cleaning to avoid build-up from the firewood.
  • And where are you going to stack all that lumber?
  • Make sure your outdoor space is ready or have a good spot indoors with proper airflow sorted out.

The communal saunas in Finland were a highlight for me; it’s where the warmth wasn’t just from the heat but also from the laughter and stories shared as we all took turns in the heat and then stepped out into the crisp air.

For those who choose this kind, there’s nothing quite like it; they’re perfect for an authentic experience.

Next up are electric saunas.

Related Article: Top Sauna Heaters of 2024

2. Electric Sauna

Close-up of electric sauna heaters with volcanic rocks, essential for heating up modern electric saunas and providing a relaxing experience.
Electric sauna heaters with volcanic rocks

Electric saunas are a modern twist to the traditional wood-burning saunas. Instead of burning wood, they use an electric heater to warm up rocks.

They were introduced in 1938 by Metos Ltd in Vaasa but electric saunas made a big splash in Finnish homes during the 1950s when electricity became widespread.

  • The temperature can get pretty high, often between 150-195 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • As for humidity, it stays low in these dry saunas; think somewhere around 10-20%.
  • Prices vary based on size and features, but they cost between $3000 to $10000 or more depending on the size and complexity of the project.

Pros of electric saunas?

  • Well, they’re super convenient to use since there’s no need to mess with firewood or wait ages for the sauna to get hot.
  • Heat up quickly, usually within 20-30 minutes.
  • Plus, you can control the temperature very precisely.

It’s all about quick comfort. Got a tight schedule? No worries! Electric heaters can be set with a timer so you’re not sitting there tapping your foot, waiting for the fun to begin.


  • Higher energy bills if you use your sauna a lot.
  • Need for a proper power source nearby.

Electric saunas can be outdoors, but they are perfect for indoor spaces like your home or even commercial spas where you need steady temps without any fuss.

3. Infrared Sauna

Infrared saunas are a modern twist on the traditional sweat session. They use special lamps (Infrared heaters) that use light waves to warm up your body directly from the inside out. Think of it like basking in the sun but without the harmful rays!

During my own sessions in an infrared sauna, I noticed a gentle, enveloping warmth that felt deeply relaxing. This type of sauna has been a game-changer for my personal wellness routine, helping me unwind after long days and promoting a sense of rejuvenation.

Need to chill and detox? Infrared is your buddy. Your skin gets cleaned deeply as you relax and let those invisible infrared waves do their magic.

  • This makes you sweat at a lower temperature than you would in traditional saunas – usually between 110°F and 135°F.
  • Many folks love this type because they’ve heard it might help comfort muscles and ease pain in joints, too.
  • They are preferred by combat sport athletes to lose some weight quickly before a competition (to stay within their weight category).
  • They’re also seen as good for people who can’t handle high heat well but still want to enjoy a sauna session.
  • They cost between $1000 to $7000 or more, depending on quality and features.
  • Infrared saunas are less costly to run over time since they use less electricity.
  • Plus, setting them up tends to be easier—sometimes, it’s just plug-and-play!

And hey (just tossing this out there), how cool is it to say you’ve got a bit of science-fiction-y light therapy going on right in your living room?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), sauna bathing is inexpensive and widely accessible, with Finnish-style saunas more often used in family, group, and public settings and infrared saunas more commonly built and marketed for individual use.

4. Steam Sauna

Having been around since ancient Roman times, steam saunas, often called steam rooms or Turkish baths, sure do have a history as well as some serious relaxation cred!

A steam room is created when a water-filled generator pumps hot steam into an enclosed space, creating moisture in the air. They get really warm but keep the air super moist.

Picture sitting in a cloud of warmth; that’s what being in a steam sauna feels like.

  • Unlike their dry counterparts, these wet saunas usually have temperatures around 110-120°F, with humidity hitting nearly 100%. It’s not too hot to handle and just right for sweating it out.
  • A lot of people love steam saunas because they help you relax and clean your skin by making you sweat a lot.
  • Steam saunas are great for folks who might not like the dry air of traditional saunas but still want that deep, comfy heat feeling.
  • But if you’re not so keen on high humidity or have breathing troubles, this might not be your cup of tea (or should we say.. cup of steam?).
  • Plus, this type needs its own special setup to handle all the moisture without getting moldy or damaged.

5. Smoke Sauna

Rustic red smoke sauna located by the lake with a small rowboat nearby, encapsulating the essence of a tranquil lakeside retreat.
Rustic red smoke sauna located by the lake

Moving from steam’s gentle warmth to something more rustic, let’s talk about smoke saunas.

These are a true throwback, taking you right to the roots of sauna history. Smoke saunas don’t use chimneys. Instead, they fill with smoke as wood burns in a stove to heat the rocks and room. Once hot enough, the fire is put out, and smoke is let out before anyone steps in.

Now, these aren’t for everyone—they take time to heat up and need cleaning after each use—but oh boy! The aroma of woodsmoke mixed with fresh birch branches can be downright magical.

  • The air inside a smoke sauna feels soft because there’s low humidity, and temperatures vary between 150-200°F.
  • Smoke saunas are pricey due mostly to their custom construction and aren’t as common nowadays.
  • They require skill to manage the fire safely and ensure proper ventilation—a challenge worth considering if diving into this ancient tradition sounds like your kind of adventure.

But if you’re looking for that authentic feel—something truly traditional—this might just be your jam!

Experiencing a smoke sauna is like stepping back in time when saunas were central to community life in Finnish culture.

6. Salt Rooms

Interior view of a Himalayan salt therapy room with illuminated salt brick walls, designed for a tranquil wellness session.
Interior view of a Himalayan salt therapy room

Salt rooms are like a secret treasure for your health. Imagine sitting in a room where walls, floor, and ceiling are all made of salt! It’s like a salt cave. It’s not just any salt, though; it’s the kind many people believe can help with breathing problems and skin issues.

These rooms have special machines that blow tiny particles of this magic salt into the air. You breathe it in, and poof! Lots of folks say they feel better after. They’re also pretty cool to look at, with soft lighting that makes everything glow.

  • Salt room temperatures vary between 64-75°F (18 to 24°C). The humidity in the room must be between 40-60%; otherwise, the tiny salt particles cannot get into the smallest parts of the lungs (also known as alveoli)
  • People often use salt rooms to relax and soak up the good vibes from the natural beauty around them.
  • Building a salt room costs between $5000 to $18000 or more, depending on the size and technology.

And hey, even if you don’t buy into all the health claims, they sure do make for a peaceful break from daily life!

7. Steam Showers

Steam showers are like small rooms where you can relax in warm, moist air.

These showers are basically humidifying steam generators that heat water until it turns into steam and then release it into the air to spread around your body.

This kind of sauna is usually found in self-contained enclosures at home or sometimes in a fancy gym.

  • A steam shower’s temperature ranges from 110 to 114°F, with humidity levels that reach 100%.
  • They aren’t too pricey and can be a good pick if you have less space.
  • They offer some of those sweet sauna benefits, such as helping you unwind after a long day and giving your skin a fresh glow.
  • They don’t need extra space as outdoor saunas do – they fit where your regular shower would go!
  • One cool thing about steam showers is they don’t need much. You won’t see wood piles or big heaters here!
  • But keep in mind that these saunas need cleaning more often to stop mold from growing because of all that steam.

If you’re looking for something easy inside your house, this might be just right for you!

8. Portable Home Sauna

Switching gears from steam showers, let’s talk about portable home saunas.

Portable saunas come as blankets, tents or small cabins that use either infrared or steam to get you sweating. These are perfect if you’re not ready to commit to a big setup or just want the freedom to move your sauna around.

You can pop one up in your living room or any spot with some free space. They heat up quickly, and when you’re done, just fold it away.

Some even plug into a regular wall outlet – no fancy wiring needed! This means less fuss setting things up and more chill time for you.

  • Portable saunas are not as hot as Finnish saunas, but they can reach temperatures of around 150°F.
  • They’re budget-friendly (from $300 upwards for a reliable portable sauna), so taking care of your body won’t empty your wallet.
  • Whether it’s easing muscle pain after workouts or just wanting that glowy skin feeling, portable home saunas have got you covered wherever you are.

Imagine getting all those sweet health perks in a compact package!

Related Post: Sauna blanket vs Traditional Sauna

Types of Saunas with Unique Shapes

Let’s dive into some unique shapes of Traditional Saunas, like the barrel sauna and Kota Sauna, which are well known for their distinct styles and cultural heritage.

Whether nestled in a backyard or standing proudly at a lakeside retreat, these iconic silhouettes aren’t just eye-catching—they’re steeped in tradition and designed for optimum relaxation.

Barrel Sauna

A cylindrical barrel sauna with a chimney set against a stunning mountainous backdrop, offering a unique outdoor spa experience.
A barrel sauna set against a stunning mountainous backdrop

Picture a giant wooden barrel lying on its side – that’s basically what a barrel sauna looks like. They have this neat shape because it helps the air move around naturally in a circle, so it gets really warm evenly all around you.

Barrel saunas use either electric or wood-burning heaters to get nice and hot.

  • Most of these are made out of wood, often cedar, which smells amazing when it heats up.
  • They heat up to about 150-195°F (that’s really hot!), but don’t worry about being too dry; some moisture keeps things comfy.
  • Barrel saunas cost between $6000 to $10000 or more depending on whether they’re DIY or custom-built.
  • You’ll find them mostly outdoors, which makes sense ’cause they blend into your garden or backyard like a charm.

Pros? Well, they’re quick to set up pretty much anywhere outside, give you top-notch heating, and since the shape is smartly designed for good airflow, each sweat session feels amazing.

Cons might be that if you have lots of friends over wanting a sauna party, space could get tight since barrels aren’t super big inside.

Perfect for those who love outdoor living, they bring a piece of Scandinavian tradition right to your home. Plus, they look really cool; something about them feels like an adventure waiting to happen!

Kota Sauna

Traditional Kota-style wooden sauna with a peaked roof amidst blooming cherry trees, perfect for a serene garden retreat.
Traditional Kota-style wooden sauna

Kota Saunas come straight from the snowy landscapes of Finland, just like many sauna traditions.

Kota Saunas have a special design that looks like an octagon or sometimes a hexagon. This shape is great because it helps spread the heat all around the room evenly.

  • Inside a Kota sauna, wood is usually burned to make heat.
  • The temperature in these saunas can get high and make you sweat!
  • It can fit any number of people ranging from 3-14, depending on its size.
  • Kota saunas cost between $5000 to $14000 or more, depending on their capacity.

People often love them for their look and how they feel inside – very relaxing. If you’re thinking about getting one, just know they need some space outside and cost more than some other kinds of saunas.

Think of a cozy log cabin filled with warmth—it’s a magical space where friends and family gather to relax. The scent of burning wood adds to this unique experience, making it feel like an escape into nature every time you step inside.

Sauna Buying Guide: Choosing the Right Sauna for Yourself

So, you’re all heated up about getting a sauna, huh? Picking the perfect sweat spot is kind of like choosing a new friend – it’s gotta fit your style, vibe with your space, and not be too high-maintenance.

Let’s dive into finding “The One” that’ll have you saying “ah” instead of “uh-oh.”

Consider Your Space and Budget

Your sauna should fit well in your home and not break the bank. Think about how much room you have.

Maybe a small indoor sauna is best for you, or perhaps you’ve got space outside for something bigger. An outdoor sauna can turn any backyard into a private spa retreat.

Don’t forget to check your wallet too!

A wood-burning model might seem awesome, but it could cost more than an electric one over time. Look at what each type will need money-wise. You’ll find saunas that won’t make your savings cry – like portable home options.

But hey, if you’re okay with spending more for a dreamy barrel sauna that looks cool in the yard, go for it!

Just be sure to match what’s important to you with what’s friendly to your budget and available space.

Panoramic view of a wooden sauna interior with mountain view window, radiating warmth and tranquility.
Wooden sauna interior with mountain view window

Decide on Your Preferred Method of Heat

Heat is the heart of a sauna experience. So, whether it’s traditional or infrared, picking how you want to warm up matters a lot.

Think about wood-burning saunas that hug you with their crackling fires and earthy smells. They’re perfect if you’re all for that classic feel and don’t mind tending to a fire.

Electric heaters are more modern, giving steady heat with just a flick of a switch—no need to chop wood or wait long.

Infrared saunas work differently because they heat your body directly without warming the air too much. This is great if you want deep sweating but can’t handle high temperatures well.

Steam rooms aren’t technically saunas, but they offer thick clouds of moist warmth that some folks find super relaxing for their skin and breathing.

Picking out a heater is like choosing new shoes; finding the fit that gives you comfort and suits how you live—because at the end of a busy day, slipping into a cozy sauna should make all those troubles just melt away.... literally!

Related Article: Calculator for Sauna Heater Size

Determine Preferred Installation (Indoor vs. Outdoor)

Alright, you’ve picked how you want your sauna to warm up; now, let’s talk about where to put it. Picking between an indoor or outdoor sauna is a big deal.

Indoor saunas are cozy and private. They’re great if you want a sauna session, no matter the weather or time of day. But they need a spot in your home where you can add ventilation and deal with moisture.

But if you love nature and have a nice spot in your yard, imagine stepping out into an outdoor sauna under the stars!

Indoor saunas are great because they’re easy to reach and can fit into your daily routine without much fuss. Outdoor options give that classic feel and can turn any backyard into a relaxing retreat.

Just think about what feels right for you and where you’ll enjoy those steamy moments the most!

Related Article: How to build an outdoor sauna in your backyard

Health Goals

Got health goals? Saunas might be your new best friend. Say you want to feel more chill or get your heart pumping just like after a good run; different saunas could help with that.

Traditional ones crank up the heat and make you sweat, which can relax those tight muscles and help you unwind.

Infrared saunas are the cool kids on the block – they’re not as hot but go deep, warming up your body from the inside out. Spend some time inside, and they can ease pain and even help your skin look fresh.

Now, maybe you’ve got some achy joints or heard sauna therapy does wonders for a cold; steam saunas bring in the moisture your body loves during sniffle season. And let’s not forget far infrared saunas if you’re into a gentle warm-up before hitting the gym!

Choices, choices – they all have their perks depending on what you’re looking for health-wise. Choosing a sauna isn’t just picking what looks good; it’s finding one that meets what you need for health and happiness!

Just think about what feels right for you, and there’s probably a sauna waiting to match up with those goals of yours.

Serene woman wrapped in a towel, sitting in a traditional sauna filled with soothing steam.
Serene woman sitting in a traditional sauna filled with soothing steam


How much hard word you are prepared to put-in for your sauna maintenance is a major factor to consider before you choose your sauna type.

Taking care of your sauna is key to keeping it in tip-top shape. Keeping your sauna clean isn’t just about looks; it helps the thing last longer and keeps your sauna sessions safe and enjoyable.

For most kinds, you’ll want to wipe down the surfaces after use. This stops sweat from building up and causing any mischief.

Now, if you’ve gone for a wood-burning model, there’s a bit more legwork involved. You’ll need to check on the wood supply and make sure the stove stays friendly with occasional ash removal (a fancy way of saying: get rid of that burnt stuff!). C

Electric heaters are easier; just keep an eye out for any odd noises or smells that say, “Help me!”

Infrared saunas? Well, those bad boys often just need a quick once-over with a cloth.

So if you want to save yourself from extra cleaning work, infrared sauna might be the better option.

Consider Additional Features

So, you’re looking at saunas and thinking beyond just heat. Smart move! Sauna features can turn a regular sweat session into a spa-like experience. Want mood lighting? Some saunas let you set the vibe with colors that change.

How about music to relax by? Look for one with built-in speakers.

Now, ever heard of aromatherapy? Imagine breathing in scents like eucalyptus or lavender while chilling out in your sauna—it’s like a double bonus for your senses and well-being.

And don’t forget comfortproper seating makes all the difference when you’re unwinding after a long day.

Extra features might bump up the price, but hey, if it turns your sauna into your new favorite spot in the house…

why not?.


So, you’ve read all about the different kinds of saunas out there!

Whether it’s wood-burning warmth or the gentle heat of infrared, each type has its perks. If you’re thinking about space and cost, remember a steam shower or a small portable one might just do the trick.

Indoor saunas are cozy, but outdoor ones feel adventurous. Health goals matter too— Imagine your health goals coming true as you relax in the heat. Maintenance is key; some saunas need more care than others.

Imagine history in your own backyard—saunas have been around forever! They’re not just hot rooms; they can heal and soothe us.

Got questions? It’s okay—everyone does when it comes to picking their sauna setup!

You’ve got this—the right sauna will transform your home into an oasis of calm! Get ready for some serious chill time in your very own sweatbox!

FAQs About Types of Saunas

What are the different types of saunas?

The different types of saunas include traditional saunas, infrared saunas, steam saunas, dry saunas, wet saunas, wood-fired saunas, electric saunas, and portable saunas.

What is a traditional sauna?

A traditional sauna uses wood, electricity, or gas to heat the air inside the sauna room. It offers intense heat and can produce steam by adding water to heated stones.

What is an infrared sauna?

An infrared sauna uses infrared heaters to emit radiant heat directly onto the body. It provides a milder and more even heat compared to traditional saunas.

What is an electric sauna?

An electric sauna is a traditional sauna heated using electric stoves or heaters. Since it provides precise temperature control and efficient heating, it is suitable for both personal and commercial use.

Are sauna heat levels the same for all types of saunas?

No, sauna heat levels vary depending on the type of sauna. Infrared saunas typically range from 120°F to 150°F, while traditional saunas can reach temperatures of 150°F to 190°F.

What is a wood-burning sauna?

A wood-burning sauna is heated by igniting a wood-burning stove or heater inside the sauna room. It can be used for an authentic and rustic sauna experience.

What is a smoke sauna?

smoke sauna is the most primitive form of sauna, heated by burning wood in a stove without a chimney. The intense heat produced by a smoke sauna may not be suitable for people with respiratory issues.

What is a steam sauna?

A steam sauna, also known as a steam room, uses a steam generator to produce steam, creating a humid environment. These are helpful for skin health, respiratory relief, and relaxation.

How do I choose the right sauna type?

Choosing the right sauna type depends on personal preferences, health goals, and desired sauna experience. Also, consider factors such as heat levels, humidity, and specific benefits.

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