Previous Part 1: Choosing Traditional, NIR, or FIR Saunas
Part 2: Buying A FIR Sauna
After weighing the pros & cons of what type of sauna would be best for detoxing heavy metals, I researched, purchased, and built the best medical-grade, chemically sensitive FIR sauna I could find.
Unfortunately, the majority of home saunas sold in the USA are either made or assembled in China with toxic glue (some claim to use a non-toxic “water based” glue), and have wood that off-gases. So even if detoxing in a sauna via sweat, one may actually be re-toxifying by breathing in and absorbing different chemicals and toxins.
That is especially important to understand in a healing crisis. In my case, heavy metal poisoning disrupted my immune and nervous system. This made it even more difficult for my body to detoxify any additional toxins like chemicals, fumes, and fragrances. A fitting analogy is comparing the body to an overflowing bathtub. Toxins are flowing in at a rapid rate, however, the drain is either clogged or unable to work fast enough to properly eliminate the toxic assault, so the water overflows. Shutting off the flow of toxins is most important. And then finding ways to detox the existing toxins in the body.
FIR Sauna Options
Option 1: Two well-known health advocates I previously followed online recommended a sauna company that happened to be headquartered in my city. I spoke with a sales rep over the phone who offered to deliver and set up their hypoallergenic cedar wood sauna for no charge. But I wanted to test the sauna in person. At the showroom, my head started to bother me when I sat inside the sauna for just a few minutes. At that time, I did not know to ask about VOC’s, formaldehyde and toxic glues that off-gas.
The owner of the company followed up with a call to explain that one sensitive client needed a different wood they offered. He proceeded to share his business expansion into wellness products like juicers made in China. I read about a similar customer experience on Yelp except the person had an EMF meter that went off the charts when measuring the sauna. So I continued searching.
Option 2: Another company marketed their sauna as the only one for chemically sensitive people. The sales rep shared that Dr. Sherry Rogers only uses and endorses their sauna and that I should read her book “Detoxify or Die”. When I asked if Dr. Rogers had tested and compared other saunas, the sales rep said no. After reading numerous online reviews, I decided to continue looking.
Option 3: While researching, I read a review about another chemically sensitive sauna company called Heavenly Heat. And in the Onibasu posts Andrew Cutler is quoted to only recommend the Heavenly Heat brand for detoxing IF using a FIR sauna. (Aside: Jenny McCarthy used the Heavenly Heat sauna to help her son detox from autism. And Jeremy Davies reportedly lost 33 pounds to play the Laos prisoner of war role in Rescue Dawn with the help of Heavenly Heat’s sauna.)
I called the owner Bob who patiently answered all of my questions about his “medical-grade” made in the USA sauna (excluding the Korean made ceramic heaters.) From the Heavenly Heat brochure:
Each sauna is built without wood glue, varnish, plywood, or any similar materials.
Only untreated white poplar wood is used for all wooden parts of each sauna.
The frames are built with steel screws rather than pin-nails and glue.
Window gaskets are custom-milled poplar rather than synthetic materials.
Lights are made of metal and glass.
“Gadgets” like CD players and ionizers are excluded. Metal-grilled speakers are optional.
Wall heaters are ventilated to provide an automatic, constant air-change.
Heaters are tested to assure low electro-magnetic fields (EMF). [*See UPDATE below].
A carbon filter purifies the stale air leaving the sauna before it enters your living space.
The only thing I did not fully understand were the heaters. Some companies used ceramic heaters, others carbon heaters, and others both ceramic and carbon heaters. I went with the assumption that Heavenly Heat made the best choice claiming ceramics are greatly superior to carbon at delivering more IR energy to the body.
Heavenly Heat Sauna
I purchased the standard FIR1 sauna that is 3’4” deep x 4’5 wide and 6′ tall. It plugs into a standard, grounded, 15-amp, 110V outlet and comes with the following:
- Six FIR heaters
- A glass door and two windows, one at the left side and another in the facing wall.
- Installed incandescent light.
- Free-standing back rest.
- Two footrests.
1. Size – Personal: FIR1-Eco or FIR-1, 2 person: FIR-2 or FIR2-DX; 3 & 4 person FIR-3
~Initially I considered the 2 person sauna. Since mercury vapors may off-gas from “silver” amalgams fillings while taking a sauna I ruled it out. I chose the FIR-1 because it had more heaters than the FIR1-Eco. In hindsight, the FIR1-Eco, with a near infrared upgrade, might have been better for my situation because it is smaller and easier to assemble. However, I haven’t seen it in person to know if the two heaters on the corners would be as effective (close) as the two heaters on the sides of the FIR1.
2. Recessed red near infrared (NIR) heat lamp in the ceiling.
~No, but I wish I had paid for the upgrade. My front does not get heated in the current set up. The owner said I could purchase an after market NIR lamp like the IncubatorWarehouse bulb. I did not because of the extra wiring and metal.
3. Locking caster wheels to reposition the sauna, or to keep it above a potentially damp surface, or for cleaning underneath. Raises the sauna by 4″.
~YES! Castor wheels made it possible to put the sauna together in an open space, plug it into the outlet, and then push it against the wall where it resides (see photos below). However, the wheels have ridges that will scratch hardwood floors if placed directly on the floors. (I used a padded drawer liner under the wheels).
4. Windows removed at no charge.
~No. I prefer the ability to look out the window and natural light. Also heard it is not good for the parasympathetic nervous system to sauna in the dark.
5. Pre-wired, metal-grilled stereo speakers to hookup to a sound system.
~No. I prefer less metal and wiring.
6. Metal switches instead of plastic dials.
~Not a standard option so ask when placing an order.
7. Combo sauna with FIR and steam rocks.
~No. This was not a possible option because the electrical plugs are not set up to accommodate it. If I had the option, I would have researched more about mold possibilities.
8. Apply a safe, water-based sealant to the exterior for very damp locations.
Set-Up & Lessons Learned
1. Because there is no adhesive glue, this FIR sauna was fairly difficult to set up and took two of us at least five hours to receive, un-crate, and put together. There are a lot of high quality metal screws that had to be drilled in to different sections in a specific order.
Before drilling, we had to unscrew each section from the shipping crate and carry them inside using a dolly and elevator. The high quality wood was heavy and bulky and requires strength and patience. Breaking down the shipping crate was laborious as well. Tip: Consider hiring two handy-persons to build it!
FYI: The first sauna I saw at the showroom was like link-n-logs — connect the four walls together on a base and plop the roof on. This is because they use nails and glue, which can be toxic.
2. There was a medium-to-low wood aroma after curing and using the sauna for up to six months. I did not experience headaches or apparent side-effects, but was glad I had a lot of ventilation around the sauna.
3. If I could change one thing about the sauna layout, I would prefer two or three heaters on the back side to cover the whole back and arms instead of the two heaters in front that are too far away to heat my legs or chest. This might not be an issue for taller or long-legged people. The heater at the back of the legs and the ones for each side of the upper body are great.
4. It took a few months after placing the order to receive the “artisan” sauna because there was a waiting list.
5. I wanted to make sure Heavenly Heat would let me return the sauna for a 100% refund, minus shipping both ways, if it made me feel worse using it. It gave me peace of mind when I made the purchase and the owner was kind enough to agree.
To date, it cost less than $4 each for hour-long sauna session . There has been no noticeable increase on the electric bill from using the FIR sauna almost daily. In fact, the electricity bill has gone down since I hardly turn on the heater in my apartment anymore.
I share how I used the FIR sauna, including setting up an efficient towel system, how long & often, plus most important, how to replace lost nutrients with the right micronutrient support in my upcoming book.
*UPDATE #1: FIR saunas use far infrared light (above 3000 nanometers) to produce heat that warms up body molecules. The is also called heat therapy which helps the body by increasing blood flow, tissue oxygenation, sweating, detoxing, etc.
However, while FIR saunas companies claim to be low-EMF, all but maybe one emit at least two types of EMF (three types of EMF if a wireless tablet or media sound system are installed or you use Wi-Fi in your home, and four types of EMF if an LED lightbulb is installed). This means there is a trade-off in heat therapy or detoxing and radiating the body and damaging cells.
The one person sauna I ordered measured Electric Fields at 100 vm and Magnetic Fields at 5-6 mg. Heavenly Heat has since made changes to their saunas with the help of an EMF specialist in CA. However I now have EMF concerns and can no longer use a FIR sauna. At this point, I also have no interest in going through the trouble of ordering, building, and testing another as using any device in close range that is plugged in to electricity because I no longer can be exposed without painful symptoms.
Did you know that mercury from silver fillings not only damaged cells, tissues, and organs but also makes the body and brain like an antenna attracting radiation from a nearby cell tower and other wireless devices? If you are still using Wi-Fi and wireless devices like a cell phone, please read more here.
Near Infra-red Saunas (NIR)
I am still chelating and enjoy heat therapy, so looked into NIR saunas again. NIR saunas do have lights that are plugged in to electricity. However, you must sit several feet away from the lights, so any EMF exposure should drop off to zero with that distance.
Because radiation from EMF damages cells, I am both encouraged to read that NIR saunas claim to heal mitochondrial cells and a bit weary that it is too good to be true.
NIR saunas use full spectrum, low-EMF, incandescent Tungsten-filament red bulbs simulate sunlight by producing the entire red and near infrared light band (650 nm – 1000 nm). Mitochondria, the energy producers in the body in almost all cells, have light receptors called chromophores. Chromophores absorb near infrared light from the sun promoting cellular regeneration, and theoretically the same happens with the Tungsten bulbs.
In short, NIR saunas provide three benefits: heat therapy, red light therapy, AND near infrared light therapy:
Light therapy is on the visible part of the light spectrum (between 400 nm to 480 nm). [It] can help to regulate sleep patterns, improve mood, increase cognitive performance and regulate hormones.
Red light falls into the visible part of the light spectrum between 630-700 nm on the electromagnetic scale and is used to treat the surface of the skin. ([Red color therapy] is believed to increase the pulse, raise blood pressure and increase the rate of breathing. Red would be applied to support circulatory and nervous functions.)
Near infrared wavelengths fall into the invisible part of the light spectrum between 700 and 1200 nm. The longer the wavelength, the deeper the penetration to deliver energy to the cells, stimulating healing and relieving pain. Various cell and tissue types each have their own unique light absorption methods at varying wavelengths. This means certain tissues absorb certain kinds of light.
For example, inside the mitochondria of every cell are receptors which respond to Near Infrared wavelengths. The light triggers an increase in cell metabolism, protein synthesis (including collagen), and anti-oxidant activity (meaning the cells detoxify). Additionally, it reduces inflammation and pain while simultaneously triggering growth and regeneration in the cells. (1)
There probably are clinical experts and patients who have this knowledge, but so far I have not been able to find other people who have used NIR and FIR saunas for healing from heavy metal toxicity to compare which one, if either, truly helped. And I have found zero accounts of anyone recovering from EHS from too much EMR exposure using a NIR sauna. (From my experience, FIR saunas do eliminate heavy metals but there is a trade-off with EMR exposure.)
As part of my research, I re-read Dr. Wilson’s How to build your own NIR sauna and found that he addressed many of the concerns I listed in the previous post. He is very specific about not altering his recommended design which uses 3 to 4 bulbs, a safe enclosure, and rotating every few minutes. He also writes: “I do not recommend staring at the lamps, though they should be safe to look at. (Wear sunglasses if you are very sensitive to the light.)”
Two of Dr. Wilson’s more recent NIR sauna recommendations are made with higher quality chemically safe materials. Both companies have been around for less than 4 years, have similar NIR single and 4 light panels, use locally sourced zero-V.O.C. rated Basswood, and use 250 Watt NIR Infrared Bulbs with no coatings or teflon or mercury. Yay!
The NIR saunas appear to differ in a few areas:
Option 1: Sauna Comfort: NIR sauna with custom-made wood enclosure with 400UV protected eyewear priced at $2,850.00.
- Guards: Stainless steel
- EMF: Claims it has low EF. No MF testing done to date
- Features: Auto shut off/Count down timer/GFI plug and play protected
- 4 Light Panel: If purchasing only the 4 light panel and no enclosure the price for the Sauna Comfy is $695 and the design has a removable stand included in the design.
- Returns: Short-Term Trial Refund
Option 2: Sauna Space: NIR sauna with cotton canvas enclosure, stool, and travel bags priced at $2,999.
- Guards: Double dipped chrome plate
- EMF: Shielded EF power cord. Used TriField meter to test EF which is not very accurate imo. Claims extensive MF testing
- 4 Light Panel: If purchasing only the 4 light panel and no enclosure the price is $999 and a separate sauna pedestal can be purchased for $249.
- 100 Day Trial 100% Money Back Guarantee.
There is a third option for the cost-conscious. There are YouTube videos and blogs showing how to buy the raw materials and build a NIR sauna light panel for much less than it would cost to purchase a pre-built 4 light panel. I looked at buying a 3 headed salon lamp (used for heating hair color treatment). However, the stand is metal (and plastic) and would carry electric fields and the height does not adjust low enough for sitting. I also looked at buying bulbs, clamp lamps, and a frame to hold the clamp lamps. But then I would have to sew a non-toxic enclosure, find shielded wiring, and an electrician to re-wire the clamp lamps.
After weighing the pros and cons, I decided there was value in paying for the time, research, and procurement these two NIR sauna companies invested in making a safer, healthier, handcrafted, American-made, artisan NIR saunas.
I spoke with both NIR companies and decided to give the Sauna Space Pocket Sauna a trial. It is more expensive than the Sauna Comfort, however, Sauna Space “claims” to have addressed EMF’s and that is one of my highest priorities. I also prefer to have a more portable enclosure instead of a wooden enclosure, but am still unsure where I can place the Pocket Sauna in my small space.
UPDATE #2: I am currently working with Sauna Space. The EF and MF measurements were too high for me to use comfortably. Sauna Space has a grounded&shielded power cord and says they’ve found a way to shield the EF in the 4 light panel. MF is still tbd.
♥ Be Gutsy!
Healing = Nutrients In + Toxins Out
1. Nutrients In
2. Toxins Out