A far-infrared heater creates penetrating heat for the body while leaving the surrounding air cool to breathe.
Finnish culture used saunas for ancient religious ceremonies involving mental, spiritual, and physical cleansing from well before 5,000 and 3,000 BC. Traditional sauna use stayed with the Finns long after they migrated from areas northwest of Tibet to their present geographical location of Finland. Native American Indians incorporated sweat lodges for cleaning and purifying as well in their spiritual ceremonies. Japanese researcher Dr. Tadashi Ishikawa received a patent in 1965 for use of the first zirconium ceramic infrared heater in the use of healing thermal systems. Japanese health professionals were the only ones using infrared heat therapy until 1979 when the patent was released for public use. Flickstein (2000) states however, that there was use of infrared heat therapy in Germany for the past 80 years. Since the release of the patent in 1979, infrared heat has been used in the form of panels in hospital nurseries to warm newborns (Flickstein, 2000).
Infrared heaters only heat approximately twenty percent (20%) of the surrounding air, leaving eighty percent (80%) of the heating waves available to directly heat the body. This direct heating of the body is preferable to indirect heating from traditional or conventional saunas, which only heat the air to between 50-125°F (10-52°C). A far-infrared heater creates penetrating heat for the body while leaving the surrounding air cool to breathe. Many sauna users report discomfort breathing the hot air in a traditional sauna and a much great feeling of well-being after breathing the cooler air in a far-infrared sauna (Flickstein, 2000).