Simple Saunas


Townsend Letter
Dr. Wilson
  W's IRL Sauna

Big Heat 6200
IR Heat Lamps
IR Heat Bulbs
Bath racks

There was an interesting article in the June 2004 issue of "The Townsend Letter to Doctors and Patients", by a Dr. Lawrence Wilson on "light saunas", those using at least three 250 watt heat lamps to heat the body. He says that that FIR saunas penetrate about an inch and a half, whereas the light saunas penetrate three inches. The article, linked in the left margin, goes on to talk about use of Light / IR saunas for Cancer, Detox, and other therapies, as well as how you can build an inexpensive Light / IR sauna yourself.

There are several types of saunas:

  • Steam sauna
  • Hot air sauna
  • FIR (Far Infra-Red) sauna
  • Light sauna
Although a steam sauna is a bit hard to build due to the need to contain hot steam and keep it from ruining your home, the FIR and light saunas don't require quite the formal "containment vessel".

I've used hot air saunas for many years, making them by putting several hot air heaters, such as the Broan "Big Heat" 6200, on the counter top in an ordinary apartment bathroom. (Extension cords requred to other rooms of the apartment, as few bathrooms can supply 2500 watts of power.) I like the "Big Heat" because it has a metal grill, and is fairly small -- under 6" cubed; for $35 - $55 each. This gives you a price of somewhere around $1200 - $200 for your own bathroom sauna.

(The problem with that is the tendency of wooden bathroom doors to warp when heat is applied only to one side. This warpage goes away in a few days of non-use.)

Set up three or four of these where they point directly at you so that you can feel the radiated heat, and you go beyond a hot air sauna to a FIR (Far infra-Red) sauna. It has been suggested that a distance of 15 inches away may be a minumum safe distance.

More effective use would be to mount these to a wall or frame. Some of the deeper towel racks, firmly mounted to studs behind the wall, may be used for this purpose.

Towel racks, hand-holds, or coat hanger hooks can also be used to mount several 250 watt infrared lamps in clip-on holders to provide the kind of light sauna Dr. Wilson describes in his Lignt Sauna article.

For simple bathroom use, one would put four towel racks at two levels sort of in a corner, then stand between them to get a whole body exposure.

Typical heat lamps like this run $6 - $14, and are available in most hardware stores, as are clip-on type lamp holders.

For something more elaborate, you can build a frame from metal rods or 2x4s for very little money. Chrome metal rods and adjustable joints are available in many of the larger hardware stores.

Again, it has been suggested that a minimum safe distance is 15 inches, with no more than a 15 minute exposure so as to prevent damage to tissue. An electrical shutoff timer is suggested.

Ventillation is also important, so that steam and prolonged stay do not reduce oxygen content. Most bathrooms have a fan which will suck air in under the door. Use it! Steam, even from a long hot shower, can reduce oxygen content to the point where you may begin to feel lethargic. I've had this happen to me in an ordinary bathroom from an ordinary shower when the fan wasn't running. This can be fatal. Keep the fan running!

One thing the articles don't mention, is the use of an oral thermometer... which I would think is important if you are trying to use this for Wilson's Syndrome, cancer therapy, detox therapy, or any other targeted temperature range regemen.

In my own use in the past, my goal was to heat up my body to 100 or 101 degrees F in the morning, usually via a hot bath using water at about 107 degrees. I'd stay in till the thermometer in my mouth registered 100 F, or sometimes 101 F. It is a temperature that I felt more or less comfortable with.

This is not hot enough for cancer therapy. Another article in the Townsend Letter on Coley's therapy suggests 104F. Other articles have suggested 107; which is quite dangerous a temperature without adequate medical supervision.

It is vital that you make terminating the session easy! Your ability to stand these sessions can vary quite markedly from session to session. Heat, dehydration, and general stress prior to the session can drain you of your ability to respond. Heat can also lull you to sleep. Do not let yourself end up like the lady who lined an area with aluminum foil so as to produce a solar hot spot. She lay down on her chase lounge, fell asleep, and was found cooked to death. These type of solar reflector pannels have been sold for "sun spas" in the past.

On a few occasions I felt too weak to get out of the tub at the end of a hot tub session. I simply uncorked the drain with my foot, letting the water drain away and let myself cool off in the bathroom.

Ending a session is easier with the standing saunas, as you will feel too weak to continue standing, and will thus either step away or slump away. Be sure the lights are running on a timer, so they will shut off and not bake you on the floor.

In earlier sessions, I had a friend standing outside the bathroom ask me to perform various mental tasks such as counting down by some number from 100, adding numbers, etc. to make sure that I was not harming my brain. Tests like this are quite useful when you are first experimenting with saunas.

Copyright (C), 2004
-J-   (John,
CAUTION: I'm no doctor, I only tell computers what to do.
Nothing in this document should be construed as medical advice.
My opinions are subject to the availability of information.
I learn new things each day, and so may change my opinions.