If you want to experience the benefits of sauna therapy at home but don’t have room for a large sit-in sauna, you might be wondering if sauna blankets are really the space-saving, budget-friendly solution they seem to be.
As someone who absolutely loves my daily sauna sessions and didn’t want to completely miss them during an extended road trip, I decided to buy one and find out. That wasn’t my only reason, though – I’m testing products for future gift guides and I wanted to know if sauna blankets are truly worth making the list.
Spoiler alert: They’re perfect for people who want a portable, compact, more affordable way to get a deep, therapeutic sweat going.
In this article I’ll cover the benefits of infrared heat, how to use a sauna blanket, and why I chose Heat Healer.
What is an infrared sauna blanket?
Sauna blankets are designed to fold around you like a sleeping bag while they generate far infrared wavelengths. They typically come with a control unit that allows you to choose the temperature and session time that works best for you.
Far infrared wavelengths are part of the sun’s invisible spectrum. They’re technically considered light wavelength but instead of seeing them we experience them as heat.
Infrared heat has long been used to keep babies warm in the NICU, and our bodies radiate it naturally. (1) In a therapeutic setting it’s considered highly beneficial due to its ability to penetrate deeply into tissues and induce a detoxifying sweat.
What are the health benefits of infrared sauna therapy?
While I’m not aware of any studies done with sauna blankets specifically, there’s a lot of research available about how our bodies respond to infrared heat in general. This article dives into the benefits in more detail, but here’s a quick overview:
1. Detox support
When we sweat, our bodies are able to excrete “hard to remove” compounds like xenobiotics (BPA, PCB’s, phthalates, DDT metabolites, dioxin, etc.) and heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury. (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
Exercise is an excellent way to get a good sweat going, as is sauna bathing.
2. Supports Blood Flow & Metabolism
Sauna therapy is sometimes called passive cardio because it raises your heart rate in a way that is similar to exercise, or as this Harvard article puts it, “the high temperatures can drive heart rates to levels often achieved by moderate-intensity physical exercise.”
The elevation in heart rate causes an increase in blood circulation, which in turn facilitates the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to our organs, muscles and tissues. When our bodies work to cool off during a session it also temporarily increases our metabolic rate – in other words, it burns calories.
While I still incorporate daily exercise because it has other benefits like building muscle, I love that I can nourish my organs with oxygen-rich blood and burn calories while laying down and watching a TV show.
3. Eases Muscle Soreness
Infrared heat penetrates into sore muscles and joints, increasing the flow of nutrients (glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, and oxygen) to the area while carrying away lactic acid and other metabolic byproducts.
4. Supports Collagen & Elastin Formation
In this study, far infrared wavelengths supported the production of collagen and elastin. Collagen is the main protein that contributes to skin suppleness, while elastin is the main protein that contributes to elasticity. (8)
5. Stress Relief
Sauna therapy is thought to have a balancing effect on the production of cortisol, aka the “stress hormone,” and it also stimulates the release of “feel good” endorphins and neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. (9) (10)
6. Deeper Sleep
According to this study, sauna bathing increases slow wave sleep, which is commonly referred to as deep sleep.
How To Use A Sauna Blanket
Unlike my walk-in infrared sauna which required the help of an electrician to install, setting up my Heat Healer sauna was super simple. Here’s the basic process:
- Lay the sauna blanket flat on your bed, couch, yoga mat or carpet. Comfy, insulated surfaces help hold the heat in place so they’re recommended over hard floors.
- Lay a towel inside the blanket to absorb sweat during your session. If you buy the optional cotton body wrap, lay it on top of the towel for extra comfort. Place two smaller towels near the opening. One goes under your neck to absorb sweat and the other goes on top to help hold in heat by the opening – you can also use the top towel to dab sweat away from your face.
- Plug the sauna blanket in and set it your desired temperature and session time. Let it heat up for about 15 minutes
- While it’s warming up, put on loose cotton clothes from top to toe. You need to wear socks but gloves are not needed.
- Hydration is super important, so pour yourself a large glass of water and grab anything else you might want during your session – a phone to listen to podcasts, your TV remote, etc.
- Enter the sauna blanket from the top and wriggle your way down until you’re comfy. Entering this way allows the sauna blanket to retain more of the heat that has been generated during warm-up.
- Enjoy your session for up to 60 minutes. Always listen to your body and feel free to end a session early if needed. More is not always better, and if you haven’t been sauna bathing regularly you may need to start small and slowly increase your session time.
- Take a shower to rinse away all the stuff you just eliminated via sweat.
- Wipe down your sauna blanket. Allow it to completely cool before folding it up to put away. It should only take about 15 minutes.
Here’s a video from Heat Healer which shows the process from beginning to end. Your instructions might be slightly different if you choose a different brand, but the general idea will be the same:
Why I chose Heat Healer
Made with light weight, durable amide fabric – which is the same material used in an astronaut’s spacesuit – Heat Healer creates a luxurious sauna experiences with its spacious, low-EMF design and even heat distribution. Here’s what won me over:
Jade + Tourmaline for Even Heat
When a local friend of mine tried another popular sauna blanket brand, she found that the blanket didn’t heat evenly and she had to shift around during her session to avoid zones that felt uncomfortably hot. It was an older generation model so maybe that issue has been worked out now, but even heating was one thing I looked for in customer reviews.
Heat Healer is made with a carbon fiber heating element that produces infrared heat in the range of 6-14 microns. It also contains 96 smooth jade and tourmaline stones that are arranged to evenly absorb and release infrared heat.
I have tested a lot of products that are claimed to be low-emf. Some are . . . some, not so much. When my Heat Healer arrived, I grabbed my trusty EMF meter and took a baseline measurement of my bedroom. Most areas have some level of background EMF, so I needed to get that number before I turned the Heat Healer on and measured the increase.
The baseline was hovering between 0.03 – 0.04, and when I placed the EMF meter on the pre-heated blanket that reading changed to . . . nothing, it didn’t change at all.
After a quick jump while it recalibrated after moving, it returned 0.03 – 0.04 milligauss. In other words, the Heat Healer did not produce any measurable increase in EMF reading.
I have repeated this experiment several times in different ways. In one series I measured the readings in a specific spot and then laid the Heat Healer in the same spot. The readings usually went down when the meter was placed directly on the Heat Healer, but sometimes they went up VERY slightly, most likely due to fluctuations in overall EMFs in the room.
Bottom line: My readings showed my sauna blanket to be either ultra low EMF or zero EMF. When I tried this experiment with another popular brand, the readings increased by 0.49 milligauss. That’s still pretty good but significantly more than the Heat Healer.
Sauna bathers can set the temperature anywhere from 86-176 degrees fahrenheit. I usually set mine at one 158F, which is the max my large sauna can reach.
If I don’t have a lot of time for self care on a particular day, I’ll set the temperature higher so that I can get a deep sweat going quickly and shorten my session time. Heat Healer doesn’t recommend that beginners exceed 158F°, though, and I agree. I’ve been sauna bathing several times per week for many years and I’m very heat adapted, but 158F° is plenty hot and still my preferred temperature zone.
Overall Design & Materials
Heat Healer is a little longer and wider than most blankets – 75 inches long and about 69 inches in circumference during use. The company says it can fit individuals up to 6’6″ and 300 pounds, but I was skeptical when I first unfolded it so I asked my 6’2″ husband to climb in. It fits him comfortably while also fitting me without feeling too big.
I also like that the top flap is extra wide because it adds a bit of a calming “weighted blanket” sensation during my sessions.
The materials are high quality, too. It’s made with amide fabric, independently tested by the renowned Swiss certification organization, Société Générale de Surveillance, against over 197 common toxic substances. Other sauna blanket manufacturers often use polyurethane “leather,” which may offgas the solvents and glues when heated.
They also use certified non-toxic, medical grade PVC to make the exterior waterproof for easy cleaning.
Most sauna blankets come with a 1 year warranty at best, but Heat Healer blankets come with a THREE year warranty.
How To Save 20% On A Heat Healer Infrared Sauna Blanket
It’s easy – just click here and use code MP20 for 20% off!
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should not use a sauna blanket?
According to the company, “Do not use the Heat Healer if you are pregnant, under the age of 16 or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, make sure to check with your doctor first before using the Heat Healer.
Always read the Health and Safety Precautions and User Manual before using the Heat Healer.”
How often can I do a session?
Sauna blankets can be used daily, but I usually skip a session or two each week (either in my big sauna or using this blanket) due to my schedule.
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- World Health Organization. Medical Devices: Radiant Infant Warming Unit
- Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. Sauna Use And Building Resilience to Stress)
- Sears, Margaret E. (2012) Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review
- J R Cohn and E A Emmett (1978) The excretion of trace metals in human sweat
- Genuis, Stephen J. et. al. (2012) Human Excretion of Bisphenol A: Blood, Urine, and Sweat (BUS) Study
- Crinnion, Walter (2007) Components of practical clinical detox programs–sauna as a therapeutic tool
- Richard D Lennox and Marie Cecchini-Sternquist (2018) Safety and tolerability of sauna detoxification for the protracted withdrawal symptoms of substance abuse
- Wunsch, Alexander et. al. (2014) A controlled trial to determine the efficacy of red and near-infrared light treatment in patient satisfaction, reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, skin roughness, and intradermal collagen density increase
- Geddes, Linda (2011) Saunas could heal your mood and your heart.
- Kilpi, Eero (2015) Health Benefits of Sauna.