Saunas have been hot for years – both figuratively and literally. In fact, the health benefits of saunas have been purported for centuries. Emerging evidence is linking frequent sauna use to improved cardiovascular health. While relatively simple devices, they can be expensive. At The Swell Score, we’re committed to finding the healthiest, safest products we can and bringing them to you at a great price. Today, we’ll take a look at some affordable sauna alternatives.
It’s hard to overstate just how beneficial saunas can be for you. Just 2-3, twenty-minute sessions each week can lower your risk by 24% of all-cause mortality. Hitting the sauna 4-7 times a week can further lower your risk, up to 40%. And this is just with the sauna. When you add exercise, whether that be weight training, cardio, or anything in between, the health benefits skyrocket. The pros are hard to beat; unfortunately, saunas can come with a hefty price tag. Below, we’ll tell you what we found out about two popular sauna alternatives on the market.
First up, we tested an industry leading, bestselling infrared sauna blanket. The blanket uses infrared technology to heat itself up before you hop in to enjoy a 30-45 minute session. The company claims it’s composed of safe materials designed to promote health, including a non-toxic PU leather body, charcoal, clay, and magnetic layers to filter out impurities, and a low EMF current system. This last claim is important. EMF stands for electromagnetic field, more commonly known as radiation. Overexposure can lead to unpleasant side effects including headaches, nausea, and various neurological illnesses. This company claims their product allows for little exposure to EMF, making it safe for their users. We put that to the test.
To start, a Trifield EMF meter model TF2 was used to test the blanket for EMF. We found high readings all along the blanket, especially near the footbed where the power source stems from. Ideally, you want your EMF readings (measured in volts per meter) to be in the 2-3 range, or less. The footbed reading on this product hovered around 30. The second meter used was a Cornet Electrosmog meter. The test revealed similar results. At one point reaching its full capacity, the meter displayed very high EMF readings up and down the blanket. Additionally, the vinyl material coating the inside of the blanket means users will be laying in pools of their own sweat before too long. The blanket also boasts that it contains fire-retardant material which can be extremely hazardous to your health – something counter-intuitive when you’re trying to detox.
Next is the Personal Sauna from Therasage. Also powered by infrared technology, this product boasts many health and safety features, including a full spectrum of infrared frequencies, non-toxic bamboo materials, and advanced EMF remediation. Again, the EMF remediation is crucial. Taking the Trifield meter into the Personal Sauna, we found acceptable low levels in the entire interior of the tent. The back power brick is slightly higher when we placed the meter right on top. The Coronet meter also confirmed acceptably low EMF readings inside this tent sauna. Also, we’ve confirmed there are NO fire-retardant materials used inside.
See actual measurements below (we are looking are looking for scores of 2 or 3, or less):
3.5 body position
3.4-3.7 side panels
4.7 power supply
We also measured for formaldehyde gas. Our meters found that in the sauna blanket, formaldehyde gas readings were roughly 40 parts per billion near the foot area, and were essentially zero near the head. This was a bit shocking. For context, the U.S. Green Building Council recommends levels below 27 parts per billion, and the OEHHA recommends levels below 7.3 for all-day exposure. The Therasage Personal Sauna came back with a reading of zero parts per million.
So, what’s the bottom line? Our tests showed that the sauna blanket gave off higher EMF readings and higher levels of formaldehyde off-gassing. Nevertheless, we are hesitant to recommend the use of sauna blankets at all. There have been numerous reports of people getting burned, the blankets containing fire retardants, and lying in our own sweat sounds less than appealing. We’d recommend a safer, more comfortable product like the Personal Sauna from Therasage. Please also be cautious about the countless knock-off versions that are being promoted online.