Many people want to bring electronic devices into the sauna. Common reasons are that they’ll enhance the experience, help prevent boredom, or allow people to check messages. However, using electronics in a sauna not only detracts from the sauna’s benefits, but it can also wreck your devices.
It’s better to avoid using electronics in a sauna. The high heat and moisture in a sauna can damage or break electronics. Even “waterproof” devices aren’t recommended because they’re still vulnerable to high heat. Electronics may also disrupt the relaxing environment.
Saunas damage or even destroy electronics. Because the high temperatures and moist environment inside a sauna spell certain doom for electronic devices, it’s best to leave them outside. Here’s a specific look at how saunas affect electronics.
How Do Saunas Affect Electronics?
Most people are accustomed to having at least one, and often multiple, electronic devices with them at all times. Our phones help us stay in touch with friends or complete work tasks wherever we are. Headphones and earbuds pipe music directly to us whenever we want to listen, offering instant mood enhancement any place, any time.
Tablets and laptops prevent boredom and promote productivity. It seems that wherever we go, our electronics can go, too. As it turns out, though, electronics do have a limit. They can’t withstand the environment of a sauna.
Saunas are kryptonite for electronic devices. They are hot, with temperatures of traditional saunas ranging from 150-195 degrees Fahrenheit (65-90 degrees Celsius) and infrared saunas reaching between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit (49-60 degrees Celsius). Such heat can destroy electronics.
Not only that, saunas are moist. Traditional saunas feature bursts of steam when you pour water over the rocks in the heater. Infrared saunas do produce consistently dry heat; however, this doesn’t mean that you are dry when you’re sitting in a sauna.
The primary purpose of a sauna is to make you hot and sweaty, and your perspiration as well as any steam have a way of working its way into your electronic devices.
Because it is incredibly tempting to use electronics in the sauna, you might be yes-butting these truths. The short time your device is exposed to heat isn’t enough to damage it, is it? And what if you protect your device somehow to keep it completely dry?
While these arguments seem valid, the nature of a sauna and the nature of electronics both make electronics in a sauna a big no-no. Let’s examine the issues of moisture and heat in more detail.
Are Waterproof Electronics OK to Use in the Sauna?
Some electronics, like certain smartphones, watches, fitness bands, and earbuds, are rated as “waterproof.” In reality, however, very few if any devices are completely waterproof. Understanding waterproofing ratings can help this make sense.
Electronic devices come with an IPX rating, the International Protection or Ingress Protection numbering system in which the “X” stands for a number. It indicates to what degree, if any, a device can withstand moisture exposure.
The higher the number, the more water-resistant a device is. In theory, any device rated IP7 or higher is waterproof, meaning, it can be fully submerged and that sweat won’t work its way into the tiniest of crevices and openings like speaker holes and charging ports.
However, there’s an important caveat to be aware of with these IPX ratings. These ratings do not consider condensation forming inside the device. Even submersible electronics are vulnerable to the condensation that inevitably occurs in the hot and sweaty sauna environment and will break down as a result.
While less instantly deadly to electronics, mold and bacteria growth is also problematic for devices. As you sweat, perspiration clings to your wearable devices. If not cleaned properly, the mold spores and microscopic bacteria flourish, potentially damaging electronics and posing a health hazard for you.
Moisture alone is reason enough to leave your electronics behind when you enter the sauna. However, sauna heat is even more detrimental to electronics.
How Does the Heat Affect Electronics?
As mentioned above, saunas are very hot—too hot for electronics. Of all things electronics are subjected to, temperature is considered to have the biggest effect on their life.
Electronic components have an operating temperature range. For typical consumer devices, the very maximum temperature at which a device can operate without malfunctioning or completely breaking is 158 degrees Fahrenheit, or 70 degrees Celsius.
Electronic parts within your device simply cannot sustain operation at all beyond this point. Traditional saunas reach hotter temperatures than electronic parts can handle. Electronics begin to decline well before reaching their maximum operating temperature.
For each 50-degree Fahrenheit (10-degree Celsius) rise in temperature, the reliability of electronics decreases by 50 percent.
This means that even in an infrared sauna that doesn’t typically reach that 158-degree (70-degree) maximum operating temperature, electronic components rapidly decline, leading to both immediate and long-term damage.
Because they are so vulnerable to temperature, electronic devices can quickly overheat, even within the first few minutes. They can warp and melt. Additionally, batteries can actually explode, destroying the device and potentially harming you.
As smart and technologically advanced as electronics are, they lack the natural cooling system of the human body. Your body reacts favorably to the sauna heat.
In fact, it’s the heat that results in all of the fantastic health benefits saunas have to offer, plus you have a system in place to prevent overheating: the sweating process.
You’re also impervious to perspiration and humidity. You might be mildly annoyed when it runs into your eyes, but you won’t short-circuit. Your electronics aren’t as sophisticated as your body, and the sauna environment will damage or completely ruin them.
Are There Any Electronic Devices That Can Be Used in the Sauna?
If you are still tempted to have electronics with you inside the sauna, there are some products that claim to be able to withstand the heat and humidity of a sauna.
For music-listening, we recommend the AfterShokz Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones (on Amazon) or the AfterShokz Aeropex Headphones (on Amazon).
For watches, we recommend the smartwatch models of Garmin, such as the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Smartwatch (on Amazon). If you would like to install a TV in your sauna, this Soulaca LED TV (on Amazon) is designed for that.
While there are indeed some electronics whose manufacturers or users claim to be usable in a sauna, our recommendation is that you don’t risk it. Despite the claims, there is still a chance for damage in the sauna’s heat and moisture-laden environment.
Do Electronics Defeat the Purpose of Saunas?
While there are some devices that you could try to use in a sauna, it may still be undesirable to have your electronics with you when you’re trying to enjoy the immersive sauna experience.
The nature of a sauna is to increase your body temperature so you sweat. You now know that electronics are unable to handle this environment, so saunas and electronics aren’t very compatible. This isn’t the only way saunas and electronics clash, however.
Relaxation and stress relief are among the many benefits of sauna use. In the ancient tradition of the sauna experience, people leave everything behind when they step into the sauna. The sauna is intended to be a quiet, almost reverent, sanctuary away from the cares of the world.
Your mind and body can’t fully relax if they’re stimulated by electronic devices. Even listening to music disrupts the tranquility that your mind and body crave and rarely get in this modern, fast-paced, technological world. Think of your sauna as a haven away from it all, and bask away free from your devices.
Finally, taking electronics into the sauna is considered by many sauna users to be a breach of etiquette. Most people are trying to escape the stimulation of the external world and don’t welcome electronic devices, not even headphones.
Shunning other sauna bathers by popping in earbuds can be considered rude. Checking text messages on your phone and smartwatch is also invasive and disruptive to the relaxing environment. Further, it goes without saying that using your phone’s camera is a complete invasion of privacy that can get you quickly barred from the sauna.
While initially electronics might seem to enhance your sauna bath, ultimately, they’ll prevent you from completely unplugging and relaxing. Step away from them for the 15-20 minutes you’re inside the sauna. You’ll feel more rejuvenated, and your devices will last longer.