Infrared Sauna Blankets: Real Deal Or Just A Trend? Why Everybody Loves Them

From pain relief to weight loss: we looked into all the benefits infrared sauna blankets can offer as the most popular at-home infrared devices.

We all love to relax and one of the best ways of doing so is a good sauna session. Saunas are well known and loved around the world for their many health benefits.

In the last several years we saw the emergence of a new member on a saunas spectrum (no pun intended) ‒ Infrared saunas.

HeatHealer Sauna Blanket

HeatHealer Sauna Blanket
Three heating zones controlled separately
Tourmaline & Jade stones enhance the intensity of Far Infrared rays 

Infrared (IR) saunas became popular very fast not without a reason. There are plenty of science-backed health benefits of infrared (IR) therapy from cardiovascular system improvement and chronic pain relief to cellulite reduction and skin improvement.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit with its restrictions, people started to look for an at-home version of their favorite saunas and discovered Far Infrared (FIR) Sauna Blankets or simply Infrared Sauna Blanket as they are usually called.

These sauna blankets became a huge trend in 2020 thanks to celebrities, athletes, and influencers who praised their benefits. But what about now, when we can go back to wellness centers and regular saunas? Are Infrared Sauna Blankets still worth the hype? In short, yes, if you do not mind being snuggled tightly while sweating profusely.

Now, let’s start from the beginning.

What is an infrared sauna blanket and how does it work?

IR-Sauna-Blanket

Far Infrared (FIR) Sauna Blanket is essentially an Infrared Sauna in the form of a blanket (or rather a sleeping bag). Unlike IR saunas that use a wider spectrum, FIR sauna blankets use only infrared radiation without actual visible light.

The reason IR is so widely popular is that IR rays can penetrate soft tissue up to an inch and a half, into muscles and fat, warming the body and opening blood vessels. Warming up your body from the inside and not the temperature around you. This also means that you don’t need to turn the heat on as high, making it less intense than a regular sauna experience.

Infrared-Heat-Therapy-Mechanics
Effect of Far Infrared Rays on a body

Infrared-heat
During  FIR Sauna Blanket session ‒ thermal picture of a body

The benefits of using the blankets

The benefits of using Infrared saunas include:

  • Detoxification
  • Cardiovascular system support
  • Skin improvement
  • Weight loss assistance
  • Any sport-related injuries and pains
  • Arthritis
  • Joint stiffness
  • Chronic muscle and joint pains
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Hamstring tears
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Injuries (shoulder, tight, knee, calf, etc.)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Chronic fatigue

Additionally, these sauna blankets can be used to help with cellulite treatment. They are an effective method in dealing with cellulite as well as another one based on light therapy — Ultrasonic Cavitation Treatment. Many users of infrared blankets notice skin improvement as soon as one week of use.

Differences in sauna blankets

Depending on the brand, there are single, two, and three heating zones sauna blankets with a temperature range of 30-80°C (86 – 176°F). If you have two or three-zone blankets, you can adjust the temperature to each zone. For example, the sauna blanket can be 178-190 cm (70 – 75 inch) long, but if you are 165 cm (5’4’’) tall, you will not need the lower part of the blanket to be as hot as the rest of it, with separate heating zones it is easy to achieve.

All FIR sauna blankets use the same principle for producing the heat (infrared heating element), however different brands use different materials in their products. Top-of-the-line models such as Heat Healer and HigherDOSE sauna blankets have incorporated the use of Tourmaline stones in their design.

Tourmaline stones are great heat conductors and they emit negative ions when heated. This makes the stones a perfect companion to infrared heat as they increase the intensity of the healing capacity of infrared rays [19]. Additionally, Tourmaline has been proven to help kidneys and liver, organs responsible for ridding our bodies of toxins.

When choosing a sauna blanket you should pay attention to the materials it is made of. The materials should be heat-resistant, EMF (harmful electro-magnetic fields) blocking, waterproof and non-toxic. As sauna blankets are heating devices that use electricity, they can emit electromagnetic waves, however, if designed properly the infrared sauna blankets have low-to-zero EMF and are completely safe to use.

How to use Infrared Sauna Blankets

To start using an Infrared sauna blanket, place the blanket on a flat surface (your bed, couch, massage table, floor), put the towel in, plug it and set the temperature. Usually, it takes around 10 minutes for the blanket to heat up.

✔ It is recommended to wear cotton clothes from neck to toe, including socks. However, it is not necessary and will not affect the intensity of sweating.

📌 Make sure you are well hydrated. It is essential to be hydrated before and after using FIR sauna blankets, especially if used daily because you will be sweating a lot. Try drinking a gallon of water every day if you are using a sauna blanket daily.

✔ Prepare a pillow, face towel, and water. You can pull your hands out during the session to use your phone or read an e-book.

✔ Once your blanket is heated, slip inside, put a towel over your shoulders (it will collect sweat from your neck and you can wipe your face with it), and close the blanket.

Enjoy your sweating session!

When not to use infrared sauna blanket

Infrared sauna blankets can be used by virtually any adult, however, there are several precautions where you should avoid or limit using them.

❌ If you are pregnant, do not use the sauna blanket as it is a risk same as any other type of sauna.

❗ Avoid using the sauna blanket if you have a high fever. It is best to wait for your body to fight off the fever and then resume your sauna sessions.

❌ Avoid using sauna blankets under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Such substances in your system disrupt the ability of blood vessels to expand, so they will not be able to accommodate increased blood flow. As a result, pressure can get critically high ​​and lead to rupture of the vessel, resulting in bleeding (at best, nasal) and hemorrhages, including in the brain.

❗ Do not use a sauna blanket if you are dehydrated or feel lightheaded. Give yourself time, hydrate, and only after feeling better go in and use lower temperature settings.

The science behind Infrared Sauna Blankets

As of now, there’s little to no research on infrared sauna blankets in particular, just on infrared saunas in general, so we will focus on relevant research studies in this article.

First of all, infrared rays and infrared therapy have been researched and studied for decades, IR is so safe it is regularly used in hospitals for newborn babies to keep them warm.

The use of far-infrared saunas for medical treatment is based on deep skin-penetration of the radiation to restore homeostasis of thermal regulation.

In sedentary patients suffering from osteoarthritis or cardiovascular respiratory problems, far-infrared saunas could be applied as an alternative to moderate exercise. They produce therapeutic effects without any adverse effects on congestive heart failure, premature ventricular contractions, brain natriuretic peptide levels, vascular endothelial function, weight loss, oxidative stress, or chronic fatigue [1].

It has been known for decades that sweating is a wonderful way to get rid of stored chemicals. Daily sauna sessions can help detoxify the body from heavy metals (lead, mercury, nickel, and cadmium) [2] as well as alcohol, nicotine, sulfuric acid, and other organic and inorganic compounds.

Dr. Richard Beever published a review of available data in the literature about the health benefits of far-infrared saunas for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors. Although the research data is limited, in the key points he notes that due to lower temperatures in infrared saunas (FIRs) compared to regular saunas, FIRs are preferable for people who suffer from various medical conditions like cardiovascular problems, osteoarthritis, or respiratory problems [1, 3, 4].

Chronic heart failure induces vascular endothelial dysfunction. It has been demonstrated that IR sauna therapy improves vascular endothelial dysfunction [5] and improves cardiac and vascular function in patients with chronic heart failure [1, 4, 6]. The results of the clinical trials show that the use of Far-infrared saunas decreases oxidative stress (helps to detoxify the blood) in patients with these conditions.

A group of doctors in North York, Ontario conducted a study on IR therapy for chronic low back pain and found IR therapy to be effective in reducing chronic low back pain, with no adverse effects [7].

For their study, doctors conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in patients suffering from chronic low back pain. The results are shown in ‘Figure 1’ where the infrared wrap treatment group ‒ is ‘group 0’ and the placebo group ‒ is ‘group 1’.

Interaction Plot
Figure 1

In one study [8], the researchers tested whether the use of infrared sauna benefits patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. The results showed that fatigue levels significantly decreased, anxiety and depression improved, and no patients felt any adverse effects during and after the therapy [8].

Researchers from the Saxion University of Applied Science in the Netherlands showed that infrared sauna treatment healed chronic pain and fatigue in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis [9].

Other studies have shown that time spent in an infrared sauna can bring relief from different forms of arthritis. Much of the normal stiffness, aches, and pains that come with aging can be lessened with regular sauna usage [9, 10–13, 18].

The controlled clinical trial was conducted for cellulite treatment. Twenty women of different ages (25-57 years) and skin phototypes (I-V) with moderate bilateral cellulite were treated biweekly and received eight treatments total to a randomly selected side. Results were evaluated using photography and circumferential leg measurements. Final post-treatment body weight and patients’ subjective evaluations were also recorded.

The results have shown that 90% (18/20) of patients noticed overall clinical improvement and effects of treatment appear to be prolonged [12].

before-after-fir-sauna-blanket
Cellulite appearance at the beginning of treatment (left) and after 8 treatments (right) in a Far Infrared blanket

Several studies have reported that IR can improve the healing of skin wounds, photo-aging prevention, pigmentation, and collagen production [1, 16, 17].

A single infrared full-body session helps individuals lose as many calories as they would in a 30-minute cardio workout. This is achieved due to an increment in your heart rate to ‘cardio zone’ (120–140bpm).

When used regularly, at least three times per week for a 45-minute session, it is possible to lose up to 4% in body fat in 16 weeks [20]. In the conducted study participants did not change their exercise or diet patterns during the study, and showed, on average, a loss of around 0.5% per week of body fat.

Popular-Far-Infrared-2-Zones-Sauna-Slimming-Blanket-for-SPA
Results of a slimming treatment using an Infrared sauna blanket

Researchers found that infrared saunas were preferable for exercise recovery. In a conducted study on 10 healthy physically active male volunteers who had on various days either a 60 min hypertrophic strength training session (STS) or a 34–40 min maximal endurance training session (ETS). The study compared recovery using FIRS (Far Infrared Sauna) and TRAD (Finnish Sauna) and found FIRS to be more favorable due to mild temperature and IR heat ability to penetrate deep into fat tissue and neuromuscular system [15].

Find out how to get rid of joint pain with LightStim after the workout

Best Infrared Sauna Blankets

HeatHealer Infrared Sauna Blanket ‒ Most versatile, with Tourmaline stones and 3 heating zones.

HeatHealer Sauna Blanket

The Australian brand offers high-quality three-zone far infrared sauna blankets made of non-toxic RoHS & SGS certified fabrics with the addition of 96 Tourmaline and Jade stones. 

The use of Tourmaline and Jade stones in Heat Healer Infrared Sauna Blanket intensifies healing properties of IR (by emitting negative ions) and brings additional liver and kidneys support, collagen production, strengthening, and boosting of the immune system, mood-enhancing and calming of nerves properties. 

The stones are embedded in a mesh material that is why it is recommended to use a provided cover sheet for sweat absorption, plus it will help with keeping a blanket dry and clean.

Unlike other sauna blankets that use PU leather (fake/vegan leather made from polyurethane), the Heat Healer has a premium amide fabric, independently tested against over 100 common toxic substances.

Amide fabric is a premium material that is durable, heat resistant, and non-toxic. It is the same material that gets used by NASA in an astronaut’s spacesuit, for firefighters’ uniforms, and in military applications.

Heat Healer FIR sauna blanket layers
Heat Healer FIR sauna blanket layers

The Heat Healer is designed to comfortably fit someone up to 6’6″ (198 cm) tall and 300lbs (136 kg) weight. The blanket is 75 inches (190 cm) long and has a circumference of 69 (175 cm) inches when in use.

By utilizing a carbon fiber heating element along with 96 jade & tourmaline stones, the Heat Healer is able to produce the highest quality infrared heat, with maximum emissivity and zero EMF.

The brand really focuses not only on the quality of their product but also on the comfort of their customers as you will get a complimentary waterproof pillow and a 100% cotton cover sheet. The company also offers free and fast (3 – 7 working days) shipping across the United States and 2-year limited warranty.

Smomar Far Infrared Sauna Blanket 2.0 ‒ Lightweight and very hot!

Smomar Far

Still not sure if a sauna blanket is for you? London-based company Smomar gives their customers a 30-day risk-free trial, during which they ask you to try the blanket for 2 weeks and if you decide the experience is not for you, you can return it. 

Smomar offers lightweight one-zone FIR sauna blankets with impressive dimensions at 180 by 180 cm (71 by 71 inches). Smomar Infrared sauna blanket 2.0 has been designed and built following Medical Devices standards and is made of high-quality materials like PU vegan leather and S-shaped carbon wire heating element that passed certification from Anbotek Laboratories, a safety compliance global organization that sets the standard for new products.

With a hand-held controller, you can adjust the temperature level on the go up to 80°C (176°F) and the blanket will automatically switch off after 60 minutes. 

For new users, the founders recommend starting at 45 – 50°C (113 – 122°F) and gradually build your tolerance.

Higher Dose Infrared Sauna Blanket V3 ‒ Mood-enhancing sauna blanket

Higher Dose Infrared Sauna

Very popular among celebrities and influencers, HigherDOSE was the best-selling infrared sauna blanket in 2020. Lauren Berlingeri, a co-founder of the brand, is a certified holistic nutritionist and health coach and was first introduced to infrared technology while working for a health and wellness startup. She tried an infrared sauna and was instantly hooked. Berlingeri then researched everything surrounding infrared technology from its benefits to safeness and concluded that infrared saunas were going to be the next hottest trend.

HigherDOSE Infrared Sauna Blanket V3 is a low EMF (electromagnetic fields) one heating zone Far Infrared (FIR) sauna blanket with a hand-held controller with 8 levels of heat intensity that goes from 20°C (68°F) up to 70°C (158°F). 

The sauna blanket is designed to comfortably fit a 190 cm (6’3’’) tall person and is made of high-quality waterproof Polyurethane (PU) and fireproof cotton with a layer of Amethyst Tourmaline crystals and medical-grade magnetic strips for best performance. 

The company offers a 1-year limited warranty and 14 days return of an unopened product.

MiHIGH Infrared Sauna Blanket ‒ Easy to carry everywhere

MiHIGH Infrared Sauna Blanket

The brand was launched last year, in the middle of the pandemic lockdowns, by two best mates from Australia and was able to ride the wave of demand for at-home wellness equipment.

MiHIGH Infrared Sauna Blanket is not the only product in its particular niche, but it is perhaps the most refined with its smallest controller that is easy to operate while inside the blanket.

This blanket operates at 25 – 75°C (77 – 177°F) temperature and has a low EMF (electromagnetic fields) infrared heating element. MiHIGH sauna blanket made with high-quality non-toxic materials, easily foldable, compact and comes with a carry-on bag for transportation.

The company also offers a 30-day risk-free trial, international shipping, and 1-year warranty.

Altratech Far Infrared Sauna Blanket ‒ Good for cellulite treatments

Altratech Far Infrared Sauna Blanket

For a budget-friendly infrared sauna blanket, Altratech Far Infrared Sauna Blanket is a good choice. This well-designed sauna blanket is made of high-grade Oxford Fabric that is skin-friendly and durable at the same time. The use of this fabric makes the Altratech FIR sauna blanket 40% more durable than other sauna blankets in this price category.

The size of this sauna blanket is 178 by 80 cm (70 by 31.5 inches) when closed and it has two heating zones. 

When heating up sauna blankets of such design, make sure to open them fully so the inner sides of the blanket are not in contact with each other. Also, use body wraps that come with the purchase.

This upgraded model has an overheating protection design that will automatically stop heating and disconnect the power when the maximum safe temperature of 85°C (185°F) is reached, and the alarm will go off for one minute. 

Although infrared sauna blankets of this grade will not last as long as previous models we looked at in this article, it is definitely worth the try. With good care, the blanket can easily be used for 100+ sessions.

TTLIFE Far Infrared Sauna Blanket ‒ To try out when on a budget

TTLIFE Far Infrared Sauna Blanket

Another affordable option, the TTLIFE FIR sauna blanket offers two heating zones with a temperature range of 35 – 75°C (95 – 176°F) and is made with waterproof PVC. 

It is slightly bigger than the previous model with 180 by 80 cm (70.8 by 31.5 inch) dimensions in closed form and has zippers on both sides of the blanket.

The blanket also has an overheating protection design that will automatically stop heating and disconnect the power when the maximum safe temperature of 85°C (185°F) is reached. 

Summary

Infrared sauna blankets have proved themselves to be a worthy competitor to regular IR saunas and keep getting more popular in people’s households and wellness centers. 

The benefits are hard to ignore and include improvement in physical, emotional, and mental state. Doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists use infrared every day in clinics and hospitals around the world to ameliorate pain, heal skin conditions, increase flexibility and generally help heal the body.

True, the idea of sweating in a sleeping bag may not sound so appealing, but with high-quality products available now on the market, the experience is nothing more but pleasurable.  

FAQ

💯Do sauna blankets really work?

Yes. You will get a good sweat session in the infrared sauna blanket. The process differs from a regular sauna and it will take a little longer to break the sweat. Allow the first 20 minutes to be a ‘warm up’ for your body and then enjoy your sweat session.

⚠Are infrared sauna blankets safe?

Infrared sauna blankets use infrared rays to warm the body, raise the core temperature and make you sweat. Infrared rays directly heat the surface of the skin and penetrate much deeper, heating the tissues and joints. By producing only the infrared rays and not the whole spectrum, infrared sauna blankets make the treatment completely safe.

❗What are the dangers of infrared sauna blankets?

Infrared sauna blankets are completely safe to use, however, if you do not drink water during the day and before going into the blanket you might get lightheaded because of dehydration. So make sure to hydrate your body. Drink at least half a gallon of water during the day before going into the blanket. If you are using the blanket in the morning make sure to drink at least a full glass of water before your session. You should not make your sessions more than 50 minutes long for the same reasons.

‼Can I lose weight using a sauna blanket?

At the time of writing this article, there are no studies on long-term weight-loss effects from using infrared sauna blankets. It is definitely possible that using an infrared sauna blanket will aid in your weight loss program.

⚕Does infrared sauna blanket help with chronic pain?

The studies have shown that time spent in an infrared sauna can bring relief from different forms of arthritis. Much of the normal stiffness, aches, and pains that come with aging can be lessened with regular sauna usage.

🧦Do I need to wear clothes when using a sauna blanket?

It is not necessary to wear clothes when using a sauna blanket. You can use a towel or single-use sauna bags to help with the sweat collection and cleaning process. It is, however, recommended to wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants with socks of natural materials for the best experience.

✨How to clean a sauna blanket?

After use, allow your blanket to cool down and simply wipe it with a cloth. The best option is to use an antibacterial wipe or a homemade solution of vinegar with tea tree, lavender, or thyme essential oil.

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