A Finnish adage says that a sauna is the hottest place on Earth that people voluntarily go to.
But how hot it actually is, and are all kinds of saunas as hot as a Finnish sauna? Is there an optimal temperature for a sauna? You’ll soon find out.
For those looking for a quick, simplified answer to the main question, it’s sufficient to know that the temperature of a sauna typically ranges around 70-100 °C (158-212 °F).
If you want to know all about saunas and their temperatures, keep reading!
Are different types of saunas different temperatures?
There are many kinds of saunas, but they share common features. They are enclosed spaces with a heater and benches to sit on.
Not even all saunas in Finland are built equal. Saunas can be divided into groups based on many factors:
- Stove type: wood-burning or electric?
- Size: how many people fit inside?
- Public or private?
- Built-in or portable?
- Regular, steam or smoke?
Furthermore, there are many sauna-like institutions and facilities around the world.
For example, a Russian banya is very similar to a traditional sauna as a place, but the culture and habits regarding it are quite different.
There’s also quite a controversy about the temperature of a banya: some sources claim that it’s cooler (60-70 °C / 140-158 °F) and more humid (40-70%) than a sauna, while others say that it’s actually very hot (around 100 °C / 212 °F).
So yes, different types of saunas can have different temperatures.
Sauna temperature ranges
|Temperature range (C)
|Temperature range (F)
Traditional (Finnish) Sauna Temperature
A Finnish sauna has a stove that heats up rocks, which in turn heats the air to create a dry, intense heat. Throwing water on the hot rocks produces hot steam in the air.
Traditional saunas use a wood burning stove to heat the rocks. Modern saunas use electricity for the same purpose. The principles of functioning of both types of saunas are similar. Both produce steam after pouring water onto heated rocks.
The temperature of a Finnish sauna typically ranges around 70-100 degrees Celsius (158-212 degrees Fahrenheit). Roughly speaking, the average temperature is about 80 °C (176 °F).
Steam Sauna Temperature
Steam sauna is an indoor bath where hot steam is generated through boiling water. The steam fills the room and keeps the air moist. When the steam comes out of the vents, it feels like you’re bathing in a cloud.
Steam saunas are often found in spas, health clubs, hotels and other places where people go for massages or other treatments. Some people choose to use them for relaxation and stress relief.
A steam sauna will usually be around 43 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) and sometimes higher.
Infrared Sauna Temperature
The Infrared sauna is an all-electric sauna that doesn’t require any kind of heating system. Instead, it uses infrared heating panels to produce radiant heat. These panels emit infrared waves that penetrate deep inside your skin and encourage sweating.
The infrared sauna heats you from the inside out, unlike the traditional one that warms you from the outside in.
So, unlike traditional saunas, an infrared sauna does not heat the air in the room. Therefore, the required temperature is lower, usually from 37°C to 66°C (100 °F to 150 °F).
What’s the best temperature for a sauna?
There is no single “best”, “optimal” or “ideal” temperature for a sauna.
The best sauna temperature is one that is hot enough to make you sweat, but not so hot that it is uncomfortable.
The essence of a great sauna experience consists of multiple elements, the temperature being just one piece of the puzzle.
However, if you are an avid biohacker mainly interested in the many health benefits of sauna, things get a little more specific.
How hot can a sauna get? (Maximum temperature)
People have reportedly safely enjoyed saunas even as hot as 160 °C (320 °F) according to Kristian Miettunen, the former chief executive of the Finnish Sauna Society.
However, these kinds of extreme temperatures are highly unusual.
Experienced sauna goers might heat their saunas up to around 100 °C (212 °F), though some “sauna freaks” could prefer short 3-4 minute bursts at temperatures up to 130-140 °C (266-284 °F), Miettunen adds.
Read more: How to make your sauna hotter?
Extreme temperatures are dangerous
In the 2010 World Sauna Championships hosted in Finland, the final competition heat was set at 110 °C (230 °F) in the beginning. An automatic system would then pour 0.5 litres of water on the stove every 30 seconds.
After four and a half minutes there were only two competitors left: Russian Vladimir Ladyzhensky and the Finnish five-time world champion Timo Kaukonen.
After two minutes, both men were dragged out of the sauna. Ladyzhensky died at the scene and Kaukonen was hospitalized for four months having burned 70% of his skin, in addition to other injuries. The competition has been banned ever since.
However, it’s unlikely that mere six minutes in a 110 °C sauna would have such horrendous effects. Kaukonen himself has stated that the temperature was actually 158 °C (316 °F) at its peak.
Sauna temperature for health benefits
Most studies about the health benefits of sauna are based on the use of a Finnish sauna.
This means that the ideal temperature for getting the most health benefits of sauna use is about 80 °C (176 °F). There’s no need to go higher than that.
On the other hand, if you go as low as 60 °C (140 °F) you probably won’t get the maximal health benefits. Such low temperatures have not even been studied.
Frequency and duration are as important as heat
The occasional visit to a sauna is a great way to relax, but sauna use has to be frequent if you also want to get the positive effects on your health.
Current research shows that people who use a sauna at least four times a week get the best results.
Related: How often should you use a sauna?
A Finnish cardiologist and sauna researcher Jari Laukkanen believes that using a sauna 2-3 times a week can produce some health benefits and reduce stress.
What’s more, you should stay in the sauna for about 20 minutes for the best effects.
Sauna temperature for weight loss
Sauna temperature for weight loss is said to be around 70-80 degrees Celsius. This temperature is said to help burn calories and promote sweating, which can lead to water weight loss.
A sauna can be used to reduce weight. This is due to the fact that it increases your metabolism and burns calories, which means you’ll lose weight faster. The temperature of a sauna should be around 105 degrees so it can stimulate your body’s internal heat and burn fat.
Sauna temperature for heat shock proteins
The temperature of a sauna is important because it determines how many heat shock proteins are produced by your muscles. Heat shock protein activation occurs in response to environmental stressors like exercise and cold exposure, which can cause muscle damage.
Sauna temperature for detox
The sauna temperature for detox is around 80 to 90 degrees Celsius. This temperature range is optimal for sweating and helping the body to eliminate toxins. The heat also helps to relax muscles and improve circulation.
Sauna temperature and humidity
Sauna temperature and humidity are two important factors to consider when using a sauna. The ideal sauna temperature is between 80 and 100 degrees Celsius, with a humidity level of around 20%. However, some people prefer a higher or lower temperature, depending on their personal preferences. It is important to make sure that the sauna is not too hot or too cold, as this can lead to discomfort or even health problems.
The ideal sauna temperature and humidity can vary depending on the type of sauna. The traditional Finnish sauna is best when the air temperature is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity is 85 percent or higher. A steam room usually has a lower temperature than a traditional Finnish sauna, which means it requires less insulation to maintain an acceptable level of humidity.
Frequently asked questions about sauna temperatures
What is the average sauna temperature?
The average sauna temperature is 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit).
How hot should your sauna be if you’re a beginner?
If you’re new to saunas, it’s important to start at a lower temperature and work your way up. So, you might want to start at around 60-80 C and see how you feel.
You should be able to comfortably sit for at least 15-20 minutes without feeling that you are going to overheat yourself.
What temperature should a sauna be?
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this. It really boils down to your personal preference. There is no set temperature that everyone has to feel comfortable in.
So, the correct answer is whatever you feel most comfortable with.
How to increase sauna temperature?
If the sauna has an electric heater, you should check if the temperature control can be turned higher. If it’s a wood burning sauna, you should add more wood to the fire.
Otherwise there is not much to do, except for wait more.
Does sauna raise body temperature?
Yes, saunas can raise your body temperature. In fact, they are designed to do just that! A sauna works by heating the air around you to a high temperature, which then causes your body to sweat. As your body sweats, your heart rate will increase and blood vessels will dilate, which helps to raise your core body temperature.
The optimal body temperature for a healthy person is 37-38°C (98.6-100 °F). If your body gets overheated you can get headache, dizziness or fainting. In this case you should take a cool shower or drink some cold water to avoid such symptoms.
Can you overheat in a sauna?
You can definitely overheat in a sauna if you’re going too high with the heat.
How is sauna temperature measured?
Most saunas have a thermometer hanging on the wall. This is the most common way to check if it’s hot enough to get in. For more exact measurements an infrared thermometer can be used.