Deciding to invest in a sauna is probably one of the best decisions you can make health wise not forgetting that you would have to select the best wood for infrared sauna. The medical benefits sauna baths give are numerous. Asides flushing out toxins (which is a major factor), saunas leave you feeling relaxed and healthy. For ages, saunas have been used for various medical purposes.

Infrared saunas, as the name implies, work through the use of infrared heaters. These heaters emit infrared lights which are absorbed into the body. These types of saunas are fast becoming the most popular type as they fit into the technological age which we are in.

Why Are Saunas Made of Wood?

Saunas, generally are best made of wood for various and obvious reasons. The word ‘sauna’ actually means ‘room of wood’ when translated to Finnish. Infrared Saunas are best made of wood for the following reasons:

  • Heat Insulator.
    The most obvious reason, which rules out metals (or any other sort of heat conductor), is the fact that wood is a good heat insulator. Obviously, you do not want to relax in a place which burns you upon contact. Wood absorbs heat and gives a warm and pleasant feeling when touched.
  • Hygiene.
    Wood is more hygienic and easy to maintain simply because wood contains antibacterial as well as antiseptic properties. This eliminates the risk of mould and bacteria which would ultimately defeat the aim of a sauna in the first place.
  • Heat Tolerance.
    The heat which an infrared sauna emit would most likely destroy materials such as plastic or plaster. That being said, wood is more suitable to build an infrared sauna.
  • Air Quality.
    Wood has the option of being odourless or naturally scented thereby making the air fresh and clean. This removes any need of artificial aroma therapy.
  • Natural Feel.
    Wood is natural. When trying to unwind, having an atmosphere or aura of nature around can affect ones mental well-being and aid proper relaxation.
  • Maintenance.
    Sauna wood is easy to maintain as one does not need to spend so much cleaning and putting the sauna unit in a great condition. (You can apply the following tips on how to maintain your sauna).

Types of Wood Used for Infrared Saunas

Not every type of wood is suitable for making of infrared saunas primarily because not all wood can be used for construction and those which can, do not all meet up to the requirements.

What Factors Are Considered When Picking Sauna Wood?

  • TOXICITY – Woods used for infrared saunas must possess little (to the barest minimum) or no wood toxicity as one of the main reasons people use saunas is to detoxify their bodies. Wood with little toxicity levels are kiln-dried to rid them of the toxins.
  • WOOD WEIGHT – the weight of wood plays a vital role in wood selection. The heavier wood is, the harder it is to assemble and transport. In essence, too heavy wood is a no-no.
  • AGEING OF WOOD – Not all woods age well, and as a sauna is expected to last for quite a number of years, the rate at which wood ages is a vital point to be considered. Woods which will splinter or crack cannot be used.
  • WORKING PROPERTIES – Some wood are easier to work with than others. Good sauna wood must be flexible and receptive to work.

So what wood meet these requirements?

  1. BASSWOOD
  2. CEDAR WOOD
  3. HEMLOCK WOOD
  4. PINE WOOD
  5. EUCALYPTUS WOOD

BASSWOOD

BOTANICAL NAME: Tilia Americana highest
COMMONLY FOUND IN: Eastern North America
TOXICITY: Non-Toxic
FRAGRANCE: None

Basswood is hypoallergenic durable hardwood which contains few knots. When properly crafted, Basswood lasts ages. It also has a very consistent colour giving it a smooth look. Basswood is known for its lack of odour. Not everyone is looking for the scent which other woods give off. It gives off no fragrance and has zero toxins.

This wood does not suffer any changes due to high temperatures. It is one of the best woods for hand carving due to its texture. It is also very easy to work on and gives off the desired effort in less time.

Basswood has a very mellow colouring which is not as flashy as cedar. It has a pale white or light brown colour which allows it to fit right into most homes without any need for redecorating.

ADVANTAGES OF BASSWOOD

  • Non toxic.
  • Easily carved.
  • Odourless.
  • Has nice colours which blend it.

DISADVANTAGES OF BASSWOOD

  • If you are not interested in the fragrance natural wood gives off, this might not suit you.

RED CEDAR WOOD

BOTANICAL NAME: Thuja Plicata
COMMONLY FOUND IN: Pacific North-West USA / Canada
TOXICITY: Toxic (Cedar wood has been reported to have caused mild reactions mostly in the forms of eye itches and mild skin irritation to people who are sensitive to aromatherapy)
FRAGRANCE: Strong Aromatic Sense

Cedar is a known favourite amongst sauna woods. It is renowned not only for its aromatic smell but also for its natural repel against insects. This indicates that cedar has a long lasting period. This is probably because the wood is naturally resistant to moisture.

Cedar is also naturally beautiful and has a peculiar smell. Some people find the smell it emits relaxing which is why it is popular among sauna-users. Experts believe that inhaling heated cedar has a positive effect on the brain. For years, people have made use of cedar wood for aromatherapy. The aroma it gives off creates an adequate and relaxing environment. However, some are sensitive to aromatherapy and react to it. If you fall in this category, this wood is not for you because cedar wood gives off a distinctive aroma.

The wood is also long lasting which means that for years your sauna will continue to serve you for a lifetime in good shape.
Cedar wood is actually quite flashy. Its colours range from red to bright purple. It is bold and beautiful!

An highlight of incorporating this sauna type in your home means you’re probably going to have to change a few things about your design and colour scheme if you do not want its colour sticking out.

ADVANTAGES OF CEDAR WOOD

  • Aromatic in nature.
  • Bold and beautiful.Long lasting.
  • Less likely to expand or contrast due to heat.
  • Naturally resistant to moisture.

DISADVANTAGES OF CEDAR WOOD

  • Cedar wood might not blend into your house if you already used colours that do not blend with cedar wood.
  • If you are sensitive to aromatherapy, then it is not for you.

HEMLOCK WOOD

BOTANICAL NAME: Tsuga canadensis
COMMONLY FOUND IN: Eastern North America
TOXICITY: Emits phenols
FRAGRANCE: Distinctive natural aroma

Hemlock wood is a common and affordable wood which has been used for sauna making for ages due to its many benefits. It is the wood most likely to bend or wrap due to heat. Hence, hemlock wood is not as long lasting as cedar wood and basswood.

Hemlock wood is inconsistent when it comes to colour and has knots on it. However its colour inconsistency does not in any way affect its beauty. It is attractive and very efficient. Hemlock wood is usually for indoor saunas. This is because hemlock wood has no natural resistance to decay. If left outside, it would have about even shorter life span.
Due to its very strong aroma, it is not the best choice for a detoxification sauna.

ADVANTAGES OF HEMLOCK WOOD

  • Very affordable.
  • Beautiful and efficient.
  • Has a strong fragrance.

DISADVANTAGES OF HEMLOCK WOOD

  • Not as long lasting as cedar wood or basswood.
  • It is mainly for the indoors, it cannot last outside.
  • It is best for recreational activities and not flushing out toxins.

PINE WOOD

BOTANICAL NAME: Pinus
COMMONLY FOUND IN: Northern Hemisphere
TOXICITY: Known to cause mild irritation
FRAGRANCE : distinctive natural aroma

Pinewood infrared saunas are also on the low cost end. That is to say pinewood is used to make saunas which are very affordable. Pinewood has a distinctive aroma which most people find soothing and relaxing.

Pinewood is much softer and pliable than most wood, hence, rather than a lifelong lifespan, you will have to be content with a few decades which is still a pretty great deal. However, despite its softness, pinewood resists swelling and shrinking.

This wood’s color varies. Your pick may be light brown, yellow, or even red. Pinewood saunas are best used as indoor saunas.
Pinewood has been known to cause very mild reactions, and while such instances are rare, it is best to find out if you have a pinewood allergy.

ADVANTAGES OF PINE WOOD

  • Very affordable.
  • Beautiful and has varying colors to pick from.
  • Resists swelling and shrinking.
  • Has a peculiar fragrance

DISADVANTAGES OF PINE WOOD

  • Not as long lasting as cedar wood or basswood.
  • Has knots.
  • Easily scratches and dents so it is best used inside.
  • It is best for recreational activities and not flushing out toxins.

EUCALYPTUS WOOD

BOTANICAL NAME: Eucalyptus globulus
COMMONLY FOUND IN: Australia
TOXICITY: When consumed in large quantity, the leaves and bark of the tree cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
FRAGRANCE : non

Eucalyptus wood is a durable and consistent wood. It is a green plant which means it grows pretty fast. It is odorless so, if you’re sensitive to aromatherapy, you will have problems.

Wood from this tree has been known to lie untreated and yet not decayed for up to two dozen years. Considering this , your sauna is assured to last for a while.

It’s color varies from light brown to deep brown. It is not flashy and will most likely settle right into your home. Eucalyptus wood itself may likely have no toxins, but the bark and leaves of the tree have been known to cause reactions.

ADVANTAGES OF EUCALYPTUS WOOD

  • Odorless.
  • Beautiful and has varying colors to pick from.
  • Strong and durable.
  • Consistent in color.
  • Affordable.
  • Naturally rot resistant.

DISADVANTAGES OF EUCALYPTUS WOOD

  • It is not hypoallergenic.
  • Has no relaxing natural scents.

SO WHAT IS THE BEST WOOD FOR INFRARED SAUNA?

All things considered, the best wood for infrared sauna largely depends on you. Each Sauna wood seems to address a specific need so you just have to take your time and decide what you want.

If you are after a bold, aromatic, and long lasting wood, Cedar wood best fits you.
However, if you want a sauna that will not only blend it but will also last long and emit no fragrances at all, your best choice is the Bass wood.
If price is a major factor for you and if you are a fan of scents, then Hemlock or Pine wood would be your best pick.

Lastly, if you’re looking for cheap odorless wood, go for Eucalyptus wood.

On another hand, you might want to consider getting a portable infrared sauna if you do not want to go the route of a wooden infrared sauna.

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