Both saunas (סאונה) and steam baths are popular ways to alleviate stress and tension and benefit from other health promoting effects. When deciding whether to have a sauna or a steam bath, it is important to know the differences between each one and how they work.
The main difference between a sauna and a steam bath is that a sauna makes use of dry heat and a steam bath utilizes moist heat. Conventional saunas can use either wood, electric, or gas-fired heaters. Generally, saunas are rooms that are wood paneled. The heat generated is provided by heated rocks. One will heat the room by putting a bit of water over the rocks to produce steam which will heat up the room. The temperature of a sauna can range from 140 to 200 F. Saunas are effective at promoting weight loss as they cause one to lose water through perspiration. One can burn up to 600 calories per session. The sauna itself can be at risk of getting mold so it is necessary to clean the wood panels and benches with water and mild soap to prevent mold growth. The more modern saunas (סאונה) are known as infrared saunas. The infrared sauna uses infrared heaters that dispense radiant heat which heats the body instead of the air.
Steam rooms are rooms that are sporadically heated using a steam generator. Steam is sent into a nearly airtight room where it accumulates and creates a high humidity level. Because the steam rooms are nearly airtight, they will hold the moisture that is created by the steam. In most instances, steam rooms are constructed with a ceiling that is slanted so moisture does not drip all over the people sitting in the room having a steam. As well, the material used is similar to tile which makes it easy to clean. This humid vapor heat has a temperature that can from 110 to 120 F. Steam baths are effective at alleviating sore throats and breaking up congestion in the lungs and sinuses. They also help alleviate respiratory conditions causing breathing difficulties. One disadvantage of a steam room is that they are more prone to mold and bacteria growth because of the high humidity. One who has a steam bath will have to regularly clean and disinfect it to prevent the growth of microorganisms.
The one you choose is a matter of personal choice. Usually one can sit longer in a sauna as it is not as steamy. Whether you choose a sauna (סאונה) or steam bath, you will definitely love the experience and benefit from an improvement in your health and well being.