There is a simple difference between a steam room and a sauna. Saunas generate dry heat while the steam room provides moist heat.
Steamy steam or non-steamy sauna?
In a sauna, a pile of rocks is heated up with a heater, which finally emits heat. The rocks are generally the main source of heat in the room. Although you can pour water on the heated-up rocks to create some steam, the steam room is no doubt steamier than the sauna. A vent is made near the floor in the sauna to bring some fresh air inside the sauna. The vent also limits humidity buildup inside the sauna. However, infrared light is also used in some sauna instead of radiant heat.
A steam generator is used inside a steam room to generate steam. It is much more airtight compared to a sauna and hence the humidity builds up inside the steam room is 100 percent. The air is so damp that even water condenses on the walls of the room.
Steam rooms are hot, Saunas are hotter
Though your body won’t sense the difference, saunas are hotter than steam rooms. The temperature ranges between 160 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit in a typical sauna. It also has 5 to 30 percent respectively humidity level. To our astonishment, the temperature range in a steam room is between 110 degrees to 120 degrees. You feel much hotter because the 100 percent humidity prevents the sweat from evaporating.
The difference of materials
A heated-up metal surface is sufficient to give you a great burn. So, what material would you choose for the benches inside a sauna? Wood, right? one more benefit of using wood is that it will absorb the moisture, keeping the surfaces cool. It will also pull out humidity from the air. However, we prevent the use of wood in steam room because the constant condensation will degrade the wood and it will add up to the maintenance cost. Surface materials of the steam room are non-porous.
Though they both reduce muscle tension and promotes general well-being, the steam room is preferred by those who have allergies and congestion in the chest. A cough and lung problems can be treated if someone sits in a steam room. People with dry skin gets benefitted if they take a steam shower. A sauna is not good for people with dry skin. Sauna’s make it drier. On the other hand, people with greasy skin should opt for a sauna as the steam shower will make their skin greasier. People who have conditions that are aggravated by humidity prefers sauna.
A steam room must be clean and disinfected frequently. Moisture attracts mold and bacteria. Fungi and bacteria find the moist environment suitable for its growth. So, serious actions must be taken to keep it hygienic.
A steam shower can’t be tolerated for long as steam begins to overheat after 10-15 minutes. Whereas, a sauna can be tolerated for long and people generally requires long time in the sauna.
Reference link: www.fixr.com