Difference between sauna and steam room: If you have ever gone for a sauna session, you would find that there is nothing quite as refreshing. However, you may have been in a steam room and thought you were in a sauna. It is easy to mix up both and we will do our best to give the minor but important differences between them.

By the end of this article, we will all know what is the difference between a sauna and a steam room.

Difference between sauna and steam room

A sauna and steam room, though with similar functions, are quite different in terms of make-up. Both can help you relax, de-stress your muscles and open up your pores and in this article, we are going to get into those factors which separate saunas from steam rooms.


This is the major difference between a sauna and a steam room. Saunas generate dry heat and Steam rooms generate moist heat. What this means is that saunas have a high temperate and low humidity while steam rooms generally are not as hot as saunas but are high in humidity.


In a traditional sauna, heat is generated when a stock or rocks are heated. The rocks then radiate heat across the room. Every once in a bit, some water is poured on the rocks and this generates more steam and some humidity (though nowhere near that of a steam room). Saunas usually have a vent and the purpose of this vent is to continually bring in fresh air and keep the humidity as low as possible.

Inside a steam room however, there is a device called a steam generator and it boils water while releasing the steam into the air. Unlike the sauna, steam rooms are usually without vents or any outlets for that matter so the humidity is high. The air in a steam room is so damp that water condenses on the walls.


Saunas are definitely hotter than steam rooms although you may not be able to tell the difference because of the varying humidity levels.

A typical sauna usually stays between 70 to 100 degrees Celsius while a steam room goes up to about 50 degrees Celsius. The humidity level in a sauna is between 5 and 30 per cent but in a steam room we have almost 100 per cent humidity. Due to the high humidity in a steam room, sweat does not evaporate and as such you feel a whole lot hotter in there. That being said, the law stays the same for both sauna and steam room. The longer you stay in, the hotter you feel.


Saunas are usually made of wood and that is for a wonderful reason. Given the temperature of these bad boys, if there were to be metal seats in there, one would get burned by them. Additionally, wood has a nice absorption reaction to moisture and this help keep humidity out of the air.

Steam rooms are different in this regard as the humidity would cause wood to go bad really quickly. That being the case, steam rooms usually use materials such as tile which do not have an issue with getting wet. Those who have steam rooms in their homes prefer to use plastic seats as they are easier on the pocket. Steam rooms come with sloped ceilings as this enable water drip down rather that drop on occupants’ heads and bodies.


Generally, steam rooms and saunas help reduce muscle tension and they de-stress the body. They enable the occupant to relax and this promotes general well being.

If you are looking for a good sweat, then it matters not if you are in a sauna or steam room but now that you know the differences between them, you can make a better informed decision as to which one you may want to have as in your house.

Steam rooms are generally cheaper to build and as such are more rampantly found in residential buildings while saunas are mainly found in therapeutic centres seeing as they are easier to clean up and maintain on that scale.

As a final note, Steam rooms are better for people who have allergies or congestion in their chests while saunas are more comfortable for those who have conditions which can be aggravated by humidity such as arthritis.

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