A (Very) Brief History of Infrared Saunas

Posted on Oct 12, 2018

Infrared Saunas

As is probably obvious, before the advent of electricity, infrared saunas were impossible. But, as far back as the pre-Hispanic Indigenous peoples of Mexico and Guatemala, the idea of using heat for the purposes of healing, cleansing and relaxing has been used. In volcanic rock and cement structures, called Temazcales the ancient Mexicans and Guatemalans would enter as part of their curative ceremony to cleanse and heal the body after a battle or game. This is the same way in which athletes use saunas today. These are the earliest known kinds of saunas.

Infrared Saunas
Picture Credit: Berkeley, University of California, 1903 - Codex Magliabecchi, XIII, 11, 3 Public Domain

It wasn’t until the 1800s that infrared rays were even discovered, by William Herschel after he held up a prism to sunlight and found a section directly below red in the colour spectrum. After this discovery, the investigation into infrared rays gradually evolved until the connection to saunas was made just 100 years ago. This link was made by Dr. JH Kellogg. He created something called an ‘electric light bath’. It was a cabinet in which some bulbs generated incandescent light which is rich with near infrared rays that penetrate the skin and raise the body temperature, which creates a similar effect to a steam sauna, but without the humidity.

It wasn’t until the sixties that investigation into ‘far infrared’ saunas came into play. While this research was pioneered by NASA for their space programme, it was actually a Japanese doctor who received the first patent in 1965 for a ceramic far infrared heater, which he started to use for the same healing purposes as ‘near infrared’ and traditional steam saunas. Until then, no one had been using far infrared heat in a sauna. This technology stayed in Japan until the late 1970s, when it was finally released for public use. In the 1980s, the technology came over to the United States, with Health Mate being the original creator of the Infrared Sauna Cabin. The technology has been refined and made more effective since then, culminating in our state-of-the-art 360 degree Dual Wave Micron Tecoloy® Heaters. These emit 2 infrared wavelengths, doubling overall health benefits and are currently the most effective technology of its kind available in Infrared Saunas.

Nowadays, infrared saunas are a growing part of athletic, medicinal and even home outfits, with the healing, restorative and relaxing properties becoming more widely recognised. We find our place in the ever moving and growing story of infrared saunas, as one of the leading pioneers in far infrared therapy. For over 37 years, we have researched and developed the technology to make it as safe, effective and cutting edge as we possibly can. We are proud to provide some of the UK’s highest quality Infrared Sauna cabins. Please feel free to contact us to arrange a viewing or if you would like any further information.


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