There's a good chance you've already looked into carbon infrared sauna heaters, at least a little bit. That means you've probably seen or heard that carbon heaters offer more benefits than ceramic and other types of heaters.
An infrared sauna sales person might have mentioned that his or her company's saunas are "better" than the competition's because they use carbon heaters instead of ceramic. Or, you might have read something discussing the advantages of carbon infrared sauna heaters on the Internet - maybe on one of the websites that's operated by an infrared sauna company. There's so many of them, it wouldn't be surprising if you stumbled onto one.
Well, it's only natural that the companies that make or sell carbon heater saunas are going to tell you that carbon heaters are better than their ceramic counterparts. But is this claim actually true? If you talk to some sales people or do some reading about infrared saunas with ceramic heaters, you'll see and hear the same type of thing - that ceramic infrared sauna heaters are actually the better choice. So, how is a consumer supposed to make a wise decision when faced with these conflicting claims? There's no doubt that finding your way to the truth can be difficult when you're hearing different marketing messages and you're given conflicting information.
One of my goals for this website is to give my readers a place to find honest, objective information about infrared saunas. By doing so, I hope to help people make better-informed purchasing decisions. So let's dig in and discuss carbon infrared sauna heaters in a bit more detail.
To begin with, one of the reasons the marketing people are so taken with carbon infrared sauna heaters is their supposed ability to generate more of what's called "far infrared" energy than other types of heaters. When a sauna company or sales person talks about "far infrared," what they mean is infrared energy with a wavelength of 9.4 microns. This wavelength is generally believed to be the most therapeutically beneficial infrared energy for humans because it closely corresponds with the wavelength of the infrared energy our own bodies naturally emit.
If the thought of putting out your own infrared energy takes you aback, don't worry. It's radiated from your body as heat and is completely safe and natural. In fact, the infrared energy our bodies radiate is what allows night vision cameras and goggles to allow us to see people in extremely low light levels. But I digress. The point is, if carbon infrared sauna heaters really do produce more infrared energy at this optimal 9.4 micron wavelength, well, maybe they really are better for your health than ceramic heaters - at least in that aspect.
In addition to the optimal infrared wavelength produced by carbon sauna heaters, another factor that's responsible for their popularity is their tendency to be much cooler to the touch. The surface temperatures of carbon sauna heaters simply aren't in the same league as the surface temperatures of steel rod heaters, which can become extremely hot. This relatively cooler surface reduces the likelihood of being badly burned if part of your body accidentally comes into contact with one of the sauna's heaters. In addition, heaters with hot surfaces are said to be less beneficial than carbon heaters, because they generate what is called "near infrared" energy. This variety of infrared energy has a shorter, less therapeutic wavelength than the far infrared energy emitted by carbon heaters.
Unfortunately, some of the less expensive models of infrared carbon heater saunas are actually fitted with what amounts to cheap plastic panels that have been sprayed with a layer of carbon oxidation. Several people "in the know" have stated that carbon infrared sauna heaters can produce a harmful, unpleasant-smelling outgas that could be toxic to breathe. No one wants to breathe in potentially toxic gases while sitting in their sauna.
This tendency to emit noxious, toxic gases is one reason why the popularity of carbon infrared sauna heaters appears to have reached its zenith. In fact, more and more sauna sellers are only offering carbon infrared saunas as an option - and a more expensive one at that.
High quality ceramic heaters are enjoying an increased market share for several reasons. Like carbon heaters, they produce infrared energy in the optimal 9.4 micron wavelength, but they don't outgas like carbon heaters. In addition, most experts believe that high-quality ceramic heaters create much lower EMF levels than their carbon heater counterparts.
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