Relaxing in a hot, steamy sauna after a long day is heaven for me. I love that feeling…
First-time sauna goers often wonder what is the best sauna temperature, how hot a sauna should be, and if the heat is safe for you. You might also wonder what the right humidity level for your sauna is.
The sauna temperatures range from 90°F to 200°F (32°C to 93°C) depending on the type of sauna. Traditional Finnish-style saunas are the hottest with typical temperatures ranging from 160°F to 200°F (71°C – 93°C). Infrared and steam saunas have typically lower temperatures ranging from 90°F to 150°F (32°C – 65.5°C).
The humidity levels in a sauna also depend on the type of sauna you have. Traditional Finnish-style saunas can act as a dry or a wet sauna depending on whether you throw water on the stones. Finnish-style saunas have a humidity range from 10% to 100%. Infrared saunas have a typical humidity of 10% to 50% and steam saunas have a humidity of 100%.
In this article, I will list the optimal humidity levels and ideal sauna temperatures for different types of saunas. I will also list my 7 tips for the best sauna temperature and humidity, and I will explain how the temperature of your sauna affects your electricity consumption.
How Hot Should Sauna Be? Optimal Temperatures and Humidity Levels for Different Types of Saunas
Here are the typical sauna temperature ranges and optimal sauna temperatures for different types of saunas:
|Type of sauna||Heat source||Typical sauna temperature range||Optimal temperature||Humidity level range||Pre-heat time|
|Traditional Finnish sauna||Electric heater or wood-fired sauna||160°F to 200°F (71°C – 93°C)||160°F (71°C)||10% to 100%|
(Finnish sauna is dry without water, and wet when you throw water on the stones)
|30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the room and the heater|
|Infrared sauna||Infrared heating elements||100°F to 150°F (38°C – 65.5°C)||120°F|
|10% to 50%||10 to 15 minutes|
|Portable sauna||Infrared heating panels||100°F to 150°F (38°C – 65.5°C)||120°F|
|10% to 50%||10 to 25 minutes|
|Steam sauna or Steam sauna||Steam Generator||90°F to 120°F (32°C – 49°C)||110°F|
|100%||30 to 60 minutes depending on the steam generator|
The recommended average sauna temperatures are often the best option for new sauna goers. You can adjust the heat and humidity levels to your liking once you get the hang of it.
What is the Best Sauna Temperature for Your Health?
I am not going to go very deep into sauna temperatures for health because that is not my expertise and you should consult a medical professional for more details on this topic.
What I can say is that many studies found positive effects of regularly going to saunas. One study, in particular, found a reduction in all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease in a group that was regularly going to a sauna that was heated to around 79 degrees celsius (174 F) for a period of 20 minutes.
Watch this video for more details:
Traditional Finnish Sauna Temperature & Humidity
Traditional Finnish saunas are wood-fired, but electric heaters are also very common. It usually takes from 30 to 60 minutes to preheat your sauna depending on the size of the room and the heater.
Typically, Finnish styles sauna temperates range from 160°F to 200°F (71°C – 93°C). Most people find 160°F (71°C) to be the ideal temperature in a traditional Finnish-style sauna.
Finnish-style saunas can act both as dry or wet saunas depending on how much water you throw on the rocks. Without any water, the humidity can be as low as 10% but a lower-temperature sauna with a lot of water thrown on the rocks can get very steamy with the relative humidity reaching 100%.
The Rule of 200 (Temperature + Humidity Should Equal 200)
A good rule of thumb for monitoring the humidity and temperature of your sauna is the rule of 200.
The rule of 200 says that the sum of the temperature and humidity in your sauna should equal 200.
For example, if the temperature is 150°F, the ideal humidity is 50%. 150 + 50 = 200.
Dry saunas are therefore much higher in temperature. Dry saunas can reach temperatures of 190°F to 200°F and the humidity is as low as 5% to 10%. 190 + 10 = 200.
Why should you care about this rule? In short, your sauna experience will depend on both the humidity and the temperature.
High-temperature steam transfers heat from the air to your body much faster than dry heat because higher humidity means there’s more water in the air and water has much higher thermal conductivity compared to air.
For this reason, it’s best to keep the temperature a bit lower in a very steamy sauna. If you prefer high heat, you should consider lowering the humidity or throwing less water on the rocks.
Infrared Sauna Temperature
Infrared saunas are heated by infrared heating elements and no water is thrown on the rocks at all. It typically takes 10 to 15 minutes to preheat your infrared sauna.
The temperature in an infrared sauna is fairly low, from 100°F to 150°F (38°C – 65.5°C). For most people, the ideal temperature is 120°F (49°C).
The humidity is moderate in an infrared sauna ranging typically from 20% to 50%.
The rule of 200 doesn’t often apply to infrared saunas. The temperate can be low, for example, 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity 40%. 120 + 40 = 160. Instead of following the rule of 200 in infrared saunas, follow the instructions provided by your infrared sauna manufacturer.
Steam Sauna Temperature & Humidity
Steam sauna or Steam sauna has a humidity of 100% or very close to 100. This means the maximum amount of moisture is in the air.
Steam saunas have a lower temperature compared to traditional dry saunas and Finnish-style saunas. Steam sauna temperatures range from 90°F to 120°F (32°C – 49°C), and for most people, the ideal temperature is 110°F (43°C).
The Rule of 200 applies to steam saunas. For example, if the humidity is 100% and the temperature is 100 F, 100 + 100 = 200.
What Affects the Temperature & Humidity of Your Sauna?
Several things affect the temperature and humidity of your sauna:
- How long you were preheating the sauna
- How big your sauna is
- The type of sauna heater you are using
- The power output of your sauna heater
- The type of wood you are burning in your wood-fired sauna
- Insulation and airflow in the sauna (cold air flowing in from the outside)
- How much water you throw on the rocks
- If you frequently open the door of the sauna
How Hot Does a Sauna Get? Maximum possible temperature
It’s not a good idea to heat your sauna to temperatures over 195°F. Warning: high temperatures in a sauna can be dangerous and cause serious burns and other health issues.
But you might be wondering, how hot does a sauna get if I keep heating it?
According to wrbl.com, the hottest temperature anyone can survive in a sauna is a 260°F. But in 2010, the World Sauna Championship competition was permanently canceled because of a serious accident to contestants at a temperature of 230°F (110°C)
We definitely do not recommend heating your sauna over 195 F.
Sauna Temperature & Electricity Consumption
If you are using an electric sauna, the temperature of your sauna can make a dent in your electricity bill.
Let’s take look at a traditional Finnish sauna as an example. The heating power of the sauna stove is about 6-8 kilowatts. A 6-kilowatt heater is often found in saunas for 3–4 people, while an 8-kilowatt heater heats even a larger sauna.
Traditionally, the sauna is initially heated for about an hour, after which you will use the sauna for another hour. In this case, a 6-kilowatt heater consumes approximately 4–5 kWh of electricity during the first hour and 3–4 kWh during the next hour. In total, the stove’s consumption is approximately 7–9 kilowatt hours in two hours.
A larger 8-kilowatt heater consumes approximately 5–7 kWh during the first hour and 4–6 kWh during the second hour, so the electricity consumption is approximately 9–13 kilowatt hours. The consumption readings described above are based on an insulated sauna of a suitable size proportional to the heating power of the stove.
The average electricity price is around $0.2 per kWh, which means depending on the size of your stove and temperature and duration of your sauna session, you will pay anywhere from $1.4 to $2.6 for one typical sauna session.
If you set the temperature of your sauna higher or leave the sauna on for unnecessarily long times you will waste electricity and pay more in your next utility bill.
Read more about how much does it cost to run a sauna.
7 Tips for Optimal Sauna Temperature and Getting the Right Humidity in Your Sauna
- Do not heat the sauna too hot. 140°F to 180°F (60°C to 82°C) is enough, 160°F (71°C) is often the best temperature, depending on the sauna and the heater. At 200°F (93°C), it is difficult to get enough steam in the electric sauna.
- Let the sauna warm up enough so that the wall surfaces and benches also warm up and don’t go to the sauna too soon after starting to heat it. Most saunas need 30 to 60 minutes of preheating.
- Observe the glass door of the sauna. Under the right conditions, droplets start to form on the inside in about two minutes after throwing water on the stove. If no droplets form, the sauna is definitely too dry.
- Change the stove stones regularly and place enough of them on the stove. Place the larger stones on the bottom and the smaller ones on top. Uneven and porous stones should be left on the surface. They release water better and increase the humidity of the sauna.
- Get a hygrometer and a sauna temperature meter. They allow you to conveniently check the air humidity percentage and the temperature in the sauna.
- Adjust the sauna to your liking. The temperature of the electric sauna can be regulated using the thermostat. By experimenting, you will find out which temperature is best in terms of humidity and your own preference.
- Drip water evenly on the stones. When water is constantly sprinkled on the hot stones, a wonderful humidity spreads in the sauna room. But be careful, the steam is obviously hot!
Conclusion: Best Temperature for Your Sauna Depends on Your Preference & Type of Sauna You’re Using
The ideal sauna temperature and humidity level depends on the type of sauna you are using as well as your preferences,
I would recommend you start with the recommended ideal sauna temperatures, which are:
- Traditional Finnish style sauna: 160°F (71°C)
- Steam sauna: 110°F(43°C)
- Infrared sauna: 120°F (49°C)
For me, the best sauna temperature depends also on my mood. Sometimes I want to stay longer in the sauna with a lower temperature and more steam. Sometimes I’m in the mood for quicker sauna sessions with higher temperatures.
Adjust the temperature and humidity levels of your sauna based on your preference, mood, and heat tolerance. You can also monitor the temperature with a sauna thermometer. But always keep the temperature of your sauna at safe levels. Remember to also keep hydrated and exit the sauna if you are starting to feel dizzy or weak.
What is the best sauna temperature for you? Let me know if you have any questions or feedback about this article in the comment section!