SCIENCE & TECH
Carbon vs. Ceramic Heating
There are substantial differences when comparing the ceramic heating of traditional saunas to the carbon heating used in infrared (IR) saunas. As a result of the underlying science of wavelengths (see below) the carbon heaters can operate at a much lower temperature and warm the room rapidly and efficiently. Traditional ceramics will produce a ‘hot spot’ in the room directly above the heater, and the rocks must reach temperatures well above 150 degrees Fahrenheit to warm the entire room.
Since the carbon-based IR heat is produced faster, sessions can begin up to 15 minutes faster. Over the lifespan of your sauna, this reduced startup time cut costs substantially, and extend the usage life dramatically. Carbon heaters can have average usage life of approx. 50,000 to 100,000 hours, depending on the underlying technology (carbon fibre or pure carbon filter). Conversely, a traditional ceramic heater has an average usage life of approx. 5,000 hours. Eventually aged ceramic can crack or possibly shatter from temperature swings.
Infrared Light, UV and Electromagnetism
There are three sections of the electromagnetic spectrum to consider when discussing the infrared range: far, middle and near. These wavelengths cannot be seen by the human eye and are measured in microns: 0.076 to 1.5 microns = near, 1.5 to 5.6 = middle, 5.6 to 1000 = far infrared. This far infrared light is invisible light which heats objects and living things directly without warming the surrounding air (i.e. without convection), but rather via infrared radiation.
Infrared radiation may sound hazardous and unhealthy, but there is a common misconception which confuses infrared radiation (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the latter of which causes skin cancer, and can damage your eyes if you look directly at the sun. Protection from those harmful UVA & UVB rays caused by the sun isn’t necessary when enjoying an infrared sauna session. We encounter infrared radiation every minute of every day, as it is the heat provided by the sun that we feel all around us. It has been used in safe therapeutic applications for over 30 years, most notably in hospitals to warm premature babies.