Make Your Own Near Infrared Sauna
We encourage people to use a near infrared sauna on a daily basis to help the body eliminate toxins and warm the core of the body.
We've found proponents of both near and far infrared saunas, and spent hours researching before being convinced about the value of near infrared, which is easy and inexpensive for you to buy and build for yourself. The short answer to what we found is that near infrared does seem to penetrate tissue better (despite claims by both sides) and isn't blocked by water the way far infrared is. Read this article if you want the details we explored.
(Prefer to Purchase a Sauna?)
If you do not have a small room to build a sauna in, or you simply prefer to buy a sauna, I recommend this low-cost, high-quality near-infrared sauna option.
It comes HIGHLY rated by its customers and has hypoallergenic options for those who are sensitive to off-gassing. I will write more about it in the future, but there's plenty of information on its website. It starts under $700.
Or follow the details below to build your own near-infrared sauna!
To build a near infared sauna, you will need a small, enclosed area, not larger than about 24 square feet and ideally even smaller so you can heat it up more quickly and at less expense. We built ours inside our "water closet" (toilet separated from the rest of the bathroom). You could also use a closet if it's large enough and empty. Some people build a small tent-like structure -- sorry, we don't have instructions on doing so.
Whatever you do for the enclosure, make sure it's not built of flammable materials and that you keep flammable materials out of the sauna.
Make sure you have room for the lamps and about two feet of space between your body and the lamps. You want to find a comfortable distance so your skin doesn't feel like its burning and yet you're warming up enough for a good sweat.
(We've included links to Amazon for all the parts you need if that's most convenient for you. The total should be about $100 or less.)
First you will need three 250 watt heat lamps. While any with a red lens will technically do the trick, you may consider a shatter resistant or teflon coated bulb for added safety. These usually cost about twice as much, but may help put you at ease. You can buy some that are highly rated here on Amazon.
We're also aware of a current closeout on Lighting Supply that can save you plenty on safety infrared bulbs. While those are in supply, they're your best deal that we know of. You may want to share that page on social media or a blog if you have one to help others score this deal.
You can buy non-safety bulbs at your local Home Depot, Lowes, or possibly other hardware store, or simply buy them through Amazon. We recommend Philips, but any will do. (You may find safety bulbs locally too. We haven't looked.)
Next you need to buy something that can safely run the bulbs without creating a fire hazard. That's why we recommend correctly rated clamp lamps. Look for those rated for 300 watts. Again, buy them locally or here on Amazon.
Here's a page that shows you how to put the clamp lamps together.
Now you just need a place in your enclosure for clamping the lamps. If you don't already have a shelf or something handy, you might consider buying a simple wire rack as we did. We used a rack with two shelves so we could have the lamps at three heights to cover more of the body, and we like shelves with both vertical and horizontal surfaces for flexibility. We got this at Home Depot. We couldn't find an exact match on Amazon, but you could get 2 of these.
Make sure the lamp shade and lamp don't touch the rack, as they will get hot.
Common Sense Warnings
Make sure that you use common sense if building your sauna in a bathroom. Use a power strip that can trip a circuit, and turn off the power strip when not using the sauna. Keep electricity away from sinks and showers.
Also make sure you are physically fit to use a sauna and remain in elevated temperatures. Consult your doctor if you have any questions.
Do not ever look at the lights when they're turned on. Keep your eyes closed if facing the lights and, better yet, consider using tanning goggles.
Using Your Sauna
Depending on the size of your sauna, you may need a heater in your sauna in addition to the lamps. This allows you to heat it up more quickly to help with the sweating process. If you build or buy a small sauna, however, these shouldn't be necessary.
Many heaters can run at 750 watts or less, so that when you run this along with the lamps, you're running 1500 watts -- similar to a hair dryer or a heater set on high. Here's a low-cost option if you don't already have a small heater. Please note that running more wattage at a time may trip circuits, so if you buy a heater make sure it can run at 750 watts or less.
Using the heater and lamps together, get the temperature up to around 100 degrees before you enter your sauna. Use a thermometer to track temperature. Most people can safely stand temperatures up to 120 or even 130, but you'll probably be able to get in a good 20 to 30 minute sweat before it reaches 120.
You may wish to stand on a floor mat that you can clean, since you will end up dripping a lot of sweat on the floor. Either this or have something to clean your tile floor later. If you have easy access to your shower afterward, this will help you keep things clean, and you can slowly bring down your temperature in the warm water. Remember to turn off the sauna's electrical power before you turn on the shower.
We hope you'll use your sauna several times a week or even daily. It's a great way to slow down, meditate or catch up on reading, and truly promote health in your body. Happy saunas!
Useful for those who need other options, but please note that these all appear to use far infrared (FIR).