A Sauna is a Finnish hot air bath. The word sauna is derived from the Finnish word for dry heat bath. The terms steam bath, steam shower and steam sauna often get confused with one another, yet they do not mean the same thing. The first difference begins with how they are heated.
The traditional sauna uses electric, wood or gas-fired heaters. The second type of sauna is the infrared sauna. The infrared sauna uses radiant heat which heats the occupants rather than the air. In the traditional sauna the air is heated but it is a dry heat. This is why the sauna is also called a dry hot-air bath.
In a steam bath it is moist heat. The steam bath uses a steam generator. The sauna has very low humidity, whereas the steam bath has high humidity. In a steam bath the steam builds up to create a humidity level of around 100%. Because of the humidity factor the heat in the sauna is far higher than that of the steam bath. The difference in temperature can be anywhere from 40°C to 60°C.
The health benefits of either depend upon what you want. Both steam baths and sauna are good to unwind and relax. They both help to cleanse by sweating. They are both good for blood circulation.
The dry heat of the sauna can make it uncomfortable for some people to breathe. Those with respiratory problems may prefer the moist heat of the steam bath. The inhalation of steam is often used for treating bronchitis and allergies. Therefore those who wish to treat respiratory problems will benefit more from steam baths.
A sauna detoxifies but it also refreshes and revitalizes your body. In general saunas are easier to build and require less material and labor than a steam bath. Both can be affordable and may add monetary value to your home.