Steam versus Sauna: Know the Difference

You might think that a sauna and a steam shower are one and the same. But they have a world of difference, and knowing their differences can help you better decide which one suits your needs best. A lot of people still get confused with the two, and this comparison will educate you. The main similarity is the use of heat. They also provide the same health benefits that you seek. But that is where their similarities end.

Steam showers

Steam showers use moist heat, and this moisture can provide other benefits to the body that the sauna cannot. You may know how to distinguish a regular shower from a steam shower at first look, as it is also made from either glass or ceramic tiles, but once you turn on the shower, that is where you will see the difference. The latter requires the stall to be tightly sealed to lock in the steam. A steam generator provides the steam with 100% humidity.


A sauna uses dry heat. If you have issues with not having moisture, a sauna may not be suitable for you. Moist heat helps in the relief of nasal and airway congestion, which you cannot get from a sauna. While a steam shower uses only a steam generator to produce steam, there are different ways that a sauna can generate heat and steam. It can be from an electric heater, an infrared lamp, or a wood stove. If the steam shower is made from glass or ceramic tiles, a sauna room is made from wood, which is perfect as it does not get too hot, protecting the user from heat burns. This particular feature is vital as a sauna is a lot hotter than a steam shower. It also only has about 10 to 20% humidity.

Health benefits

Both the steam shower and the sauna provide significant health benefits, such as improved circulation, regulation of blood pressure, stress and tension relief, and post-workout recovery. But the only thing that a steam shower can provide that the sauna cannot is the decongestion of nasal and air passages. These passages require moisture to get rid of mucous that blocks passageways in the nose and  respiratory organs.

Which one suits you best?

Assess your needs to determine if a steam shower or a sauna is best for you. Do you have chronic problems with your sinuses and airways? Then you will benefit most from a steam shower. Take into account your space as well. A sauna generally takes up more space, so if you have the area for it and it will provide you with your required benefits, then go for a sauna.

The choice is up to you, but if you have specific medical conditions, you may also consult your healthcare provider so they can guide you with the best option that will help with your ailments. Follow their prescribed length between each shower or time in the sauna to ensure your safety. Do not stay too long as it can cause adverse effects rather than help you with your needs.




Talen Lee
the authorTalen Lee