Saunas are a great way to relax, reduce joint tension, and soothe sore muscles. The heat inside a sauna will dilate your blood vessels, increase your blood flow, undoubtedly leading to a reinvigorated new you. If you’re spending time in a sauna, you’ve probably wondered if you could do other activities such as browse on your smartphone. Can you use your phone in a sauna?
You shouldn’t use your phone in a sauna because, not only can the heat, humidity, and steam can damage the phone, other people in the sauna might not appreciate you bringing a device with a camera in. On top of that, a sauna is a place to meditate and be mindful and, even if you don’t want to lean into that aspect, being on your phone in the sauna can distract others.
If you’re considering bringing your phone to the sauna, think of the reasons why not for a second. You may be thinking, since the manufacturer says your phone is “water-proof” or “water-resistant,” that it will be okay. However, you are mistaken; hot steam affects your phone differently than liquid water. Read on to learn the details on why you should never bring your phone (and other electronics) into saunas, even infrared saunas which don’t have as much water in the air.
Why You Shouldn’t Take your Phone in a Sauna
You might have noticed a recent trend of smartphones demonstrating a waterproof rating down to a certain depth. You’ve probably even seen videos of phones being fully submerged and surviving unscathed. Maybe if your smartphone can survive being submerged in water, it could survive a sauna or steam room too right? The answer to this question is “no,” and the reason has more to do with humidity and temperature than whether or not it is waterproof.
Waterproof and Water Resistant Phones in Saunas
Perhaps you own a phone or phone case which claims to be waterproof or water-resistant – and you think it will fare well in the hot or humid environment of a sauna or steam room. The devil lies in the distinction between waterproof and water-resistant. While waterproof and water resistance sound similar, they are pretty different. If your phone is water-resistant, this usually means it will survive a splash of water. It’s more of a marketing term and does not actually provide any protection from prolonged exposure to water.
Waterproof is actually a technical specification, meaning that the device has to meet strict testing criteria to be labeled “waterproof.” There are ingress protection (IP) codes that distinguish the IP waterproof rating of the device for waterproofing. For example, the IP67 code means the product is waterproof in 1 meter of water for at least 30 minutes. Phones must actually pass this test for the manufacturers to claim this rating.
While water-resistance and waterproof ratings of your phone may lead you to believe it will survive a sauna or steam room, don’t be fooled. Water is not the only thing that could damage your phone in a sauna or steam room! You have to worry about the gaseous form of water too: steam! Steam is essentially water acting as a gas.
Steam particles are much smaller than water particles and can actually fit into tiny crevices in your phone that water cannot. Although your phone is waterproof, it is undoubtedly not steam proof. If steam gets inside of your phone, it will certainly wreak havoc and either disable your phone until the moisture evaporates – or worse, completely destroy it.
Heat and Operating Temperature of Phones in Saunas
Steam is not the only nemesis of phones you have to worry about in saunas; watch out for high heat too! The higher the heat your phone experiences, the more likely it is to become damaged. Most major cell phone manufacturers design their phones to have built-in temperature monitoring to allow the phone to implement stop-gap measures to prevent high-temperature damages.
Short of removing the phone from that high-temperature environment, there is not much that can be done to avoid heat damage. When most phones experience a specific high temperature, (around 110-113°F), they will prevent the phone from charging.
At higher temperatures, the phones will perform an emergency safety shutdown. The emergency shutdown usually occurs at 185°F but varies depending on the make and model of the smartphone. For reference, most saunas usually always operate above 113°F, with most being capable of temperatures above 185°F. Here are the maximum temperatures of the most common types of saunas:
- Traditional Saunas — capable of temperatures over 200°F
- Electric Saunas — typically max out around 190°F.
- Infrared Saunas — air temperature is usually around 110-140°F
- Steam Saunas — usually operate between 130-140°F.
As you can see, most saunas operate above the ideal temperature for your phone; taking it into these hot environments could irreparably damage it. Perhaps you have brought your phone into a sauna before, and it was fine. Unfortunately, your luck may not last too long. Prolonged and multiple exposures to high temperatures can have a compounding effect on your phone. High heat causes waterproof adhesives to wear down, exposing the innards of your phone to moisture and dust. The heat also damages and melts micro solder joints on the internal circuit boards, reducing or ending your mobile device’s performance.
It’s Uncourteous to Bring Your Phone into a Sauna
Besides your phone’s potential of getting damaged by high heat and steam, it is not courteous to bring your phone into a sauna for reasons that should be obvious. Phones in a public sauna are a big no-no due to their recording capabilities – video and audio. Moreover, they are a distraction to others if you are playing sounds and talking on the phone.
Additionally, other people inside the sauna will likely be highly offended by a phone being in the sauna. As it was just stated above, just think – all phones have a camera these days. Even if you do not intend to take photos, it is still highly suspect.
Since people generally wear little to no clothing in saunas, it is best not to bring any type of camera near one. It doesn’t matter how pure your intentions are; what matters is how people perceive you and what you’re up to with your phone will be top of mind.
Phones in Saunas Destroy the Quiet and Mediative Aspects of Saunas
Another reason why it’s not wise to bring a phone into the sauna is that you just might disrupt the peace. Saunas are a place of mental clarity and relaxation for many. Even if you are using your mobile phone in the sauna covertly, you yourself miss out on this beautiful aspect of sauna use.
Don’t ruin the meditation aspect for others within a public sauna by bringing your phone and playing distracting music, games, or by taking phone calls. Keep the sauna as a place of peace and your phone separate from that.
Headphones and Smart Watches in Saunas
Headphones, earphones, and smartwatches are other electronic devices that people often want to use in saunas for a couple of reasons. One is that it’s just annoying and inconvenient to take off your electronics and leave them in a locker or another safe place, and another is for using a headset for music.
Unfortunately, like their phone counterparts, these devices should not be used in saunas either for mostly the same reasons as phones. In fact, we have a whole other article on why it’s not wise to bring your Apple Watch into a sauna.
Wireless Headphones in Saunas
With wireless headphones or earphones, you might think it’s a good idea to leave your phone outside the sauna so that you can listen to music or a podcast. While you enjoy the inside of the sauna, you can still listen to all of your great audio content, right?
Not surprisingly, wireless headphones can be susceptible to steam and heat damage the same way phones are. This makes sense, because they are both electronic devices, after all. Check out this for additional information about why you shouldn’t use wireless headphones in saunas.
Although wireless headphones are less intrusive than a complete phone, they can still ruin the sauna’s peace and tranquility benefits for you and perhaps others if you take a phone call, sing along to music, or if other people can hear your music through the headphones (which is a really common thing among people who like to listen to loud music).
Smart Watches in Saunas
Smartwatches have no unique capabilities above phones that would allow them to be used successfully in saunas. All smartwatches are susceptible to heat damage and moisture ingress. Even though most smartwatches are entirely waterproof, this is often not permanent and could be adversely affected by sauna and steam rooms.
Even the industry-leading smartwatch, the Apple Watch, is not recommended to be used in saunas and steam rooms. Apple specifically writes that this should be avoided as it could diminish the waterproof seal over time. The best practice is to disconnect from all portable electronics while you venture into any type of sauna. You will be protecting your devices from damage, respecting the meditation and mindfulness aspects of saunas, and preventing the spread of germs. Be free of your electronic tether and enjoy the sauna with yourself.