Steam Rooms vs. Saunas: Which Is Best for You

Steam rooms and saunas are popular facilities in spas and wellness centers, offering unique experiences that can benefit both body and mind. However, they work in slightly different ways, leading to a common question: which is best for you? In this article, we’ll explore the differences between steam rooms and saunas to help you decide which one suits your preferences and wellness goals.

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into the benefits and uses of each, let’s understand what distinguishes steam rooms from saunas:

  • Steam Rooms: These are enclosed spaces filled with moist heat, generated by boiling water or a steam generator. The humidity levels are very high, often reaching 100%, with temperatures ranging from 110°F to 120°F (43°C to 49°C).
  • Saunas: Saunas, on the other hand, provide dry heat. Traditional saunas use heated stones to warm the air, while modern infrared saunas use infrared lamps to generate heat. The humidity is much lower, generally between 10% and 20%, with temperatures ranging from 160°F to 200°F (71°C to 93°C).

Benefits of Steam Rooms

Steam rooms offer unique advantages due to their high humidity levels:

  • Respiratory Health: The moist heat in steam rooms can be beneficial for people with respiratory issues. It helps to open airways, clear sinuses, and alleviate congestion.
  • Skin Health: Steam rooms are excellent for skincare. The high humidity helps to hydrate and cleanse the skin, potentially improving conditions like dryness and acne.
  • Relaxation: The soothing steam creates a calming atmosphere, which can be ideal for relaxation and stress relief.

Benefits of Saunas

Saunas also offer a range of benefits, thanks to their dry heat:

  • Detoxification: Saunas encourage sweating, which helps to eliminate toxins from the body. This process can lead to improved skin health and a boosted immune system.
  • Improved Circulation: The dry heat causes blood vessels to dilate, improving blood flow throughout the body. This can benefit cardiovascular health and speed up recovery after physical activity.
  • Stress Reduction: The high heat in saunas can help to relax muscles and reduce tension, providing a deep sense of relaxation and stress relief.

Which Is Best for You?

Choosing between steam rooms and saunas depends on your personal preferences and health goals:

  • If you have respiratory issues or prefer a more humid environment, a steam room might be your best choice.
  • If you enjoy intense dry heat and want to focus on detoxification and improved circulation, saunas may be more suitable for you.
  • For stress relief and relaxation, both steam rooms and saunas can be effective, so you might enjoy trying both to see which one you prefer.


Ultimately, both steam rooms and saunas offer unique benefits, and the best choice depends on your preferences and health needs. Whether you choose the humid environment of a steam room or the dry heat of a sauna, you’re sure to find relaxation and wellness. Consider visiting a local spa or wellness center to experience both and decide which one resonates with you.