Infrared “radiation” is basically heat. It’s heat that radiates from a surface, either the sun, or a manufactured heater. Infrared radiation is heat, not light, measured in the infrared spectrum of the Sun’s electrical field.
The word ‘radiation’ generally has a negative connotation, like the controversial effects of microwave radiation from an oven, or your cell phone. Therefore, you may not have considered infrared radiation, a form of heat and energy, as a positive influence on your body.
This piece will discuss exactly what infrared radiation is, what it can do for humans, and debunk some of the myths surrounding infrared radiation.
Infrared radiation is a form of heat, more than light. You can only see it with infrared detecting goggles, otherwise known as night vision goggles. It’s just below the visible red end of the sun’s light spectrum so it doesn’t quite get “red-hot”. It’s hot, but it’s not red-hot so you can’t see it. You can only feel it. That’s part of why it’s so gentle, it won’t burn you like the red hot element on a stove.
Infrared radiation is natural, and almost all beings on Earth emit it, including humans! It’s that warm feeling you get from being close to another person. It’s that “five more minutes in bed” feeling you get under the covers every morning. That’s heat generated by you. Things that emit infrared radiation include people, animals, the Sun, and the Earth.
The electromagnetic spectrum includes all types of light and radiation, including what we can see and what we can’t. We can only see an incredibly small portion of this large spectrum.
The spectrum looks something like this:
On one end, you have a shorter wavelength that has a higher frequency and higher energy, and on the other end is a longer wavelength with lower frequencies and energy.
Gamma rays are the strongest form of radiation, while radio waves are the weakest. As you can see from the diagram, infrared radiation is invisible and falls at a lower frequency than visible light. The controversial ultraviolet radiation sits above the visible light spectrum. It’s above violet or “ultra-violet”. You can’t see it, but ultraviolet radiation can cause human skin pigment to darken and is used in tanning salons.
Infrared, is not like this. It’s at the healing end of the light spectrum. “Infrared” simply means “below-red”. In this spectrum ceramic naturally reflects heat, and water naturally absorbs it. This makes the ceramic heated infrared saunas the most natural way for humans, who are mostly water, to absorb infrared heat.
Infrared Radiation Myths
Now it’s time to debunk some myths! Many of these myths come from a misunderstanding of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Not true. As mentioned, the word radiation can have negative connotations. But infrared radiation, when emitted from ceramic elements, is the same as a ceramic plate coming out of a warming oven. It’s a little hot to touch, but you can still eat off it! What many do not understand is that humans themselves emit infrared radiation, so it’s one of the most natural things in the world.
Wrong again! Ultraviolet light, like UVB and UVA, tans the skin. Infrared simply warms it. Remember “ultra-violet” is above violet. And “infra-red” is below red.
Preposterous! It’s the first heat they feel when they enter the world! Infrared heating systems are used in baby incubators in hospitals worldwide, especially in Northern climates. Infrared radiation is totally safe, even for the little ones! Even your pets will love it. So if you get a fabulous infrared sauna for yourself, don’t hesitate to invite the kids in so they can also reap the benefits of this incredible technology.
Interestingly, the temperature of an infrared sauna does not need to operate as high as a traditional sauna. An infrared sauna generally operates between 80˚F and 115˚F, while a traditional sauna has a temperature of anywhere from 150˚F to 180˚F.
Infrared energy is able to directly heat your body far more efficiently than a typical sauna, with 80% directly heating your body and only 20% heating the air around you.
It’s a true shame that so much misinformation has been spread about this beneficial form of heat. Infrared radiation is nothing to fear, but in fact should be embraced. When you’re in its embrace, it feels like the heat from a big warm hug!