Cheap and Easy DIY Infrared Sauna (for under $150)

in DIY Academy January 28, 2020
Why Infrared Sauna?

Saunas have an impressive list of health benefits including but not limited to:

  • Improved Mental Health: Heat stress can acutely increase norepinephrine release which is responsible for improving focus and attention (same with cold stress!). Long term use has been shown to decrease risk of dementia.
  • Enhanced Detoxification: The skin is a major organ of detoxification. Excretion of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, as well as pesticides and other toxic xenobiotics are excreted via sweat with regular sauna use.
  • Improved Immunity: At the first sign of getting sick: scratchy throat, stuffy nose, fatigue etc. – slam some water and get in a sauna ASAP. We often forget that our body’s most powerful tool during acute illness is the fever. Elevated body temperatures enhance immune function to help clear infections quickly. 
  • Enhanced Sleep: Saunas promote a deeper, more relaxed sleep as they help to relieve chronic tension due to a release of endorphins from the sauna. For an added benefit, hop in to a cool shower afterward to help to bring your core body temperature down before bed.
  • Skin Rejuvenation: Deep sweating in an infrared sauna will remove bacteria from the epidermis and sweat ducts, and will also help with skin turnover. Increased blood flow to the skin brings nutrition and Qi to the area, which can help skin to look softer, younger and healthier.
  • Improved Cardiovascular Health: This is the simplest way to get your heart pumping. Heat stress improves cardiovascular function and has even been shown to reduce death from cardiac causes by 50% in men who use saunas 4-5 times per week.
  • Increased Longevity: In that same study, Finnish men were tracked for 20 years and those who used a sauna 4-7 times per week had a 40% reduction in all-cause mortality (death from any cause).

What you’ll need:

  • 4 Red Incandescent Heat Bulbs (approx $40 total)
    • We got the 120V Standard Heat Lamp Bulbs from Sauna Space
    • We recommend the SaunaSpace bulbs as they are ultra low EMF and operate at 850 nm which is good for providing the benefits of red and infrared light
  • 4 Brooder Lamp Holders ($60-80)
    • Lamp holders MUST be suited for 250 watt bulbs
    • We ordered these from Home Hardware – we have discovered that three is sufficient, but four makes it extra toasty!
  • Foil Emergency Blanket ($13)
    • Enough to cover the space you will be using
    • 10 packs should be plenty. We used 6 for our 3ftx5ft area under the stairs
  • Power strip with 4 outlets ($10-15)
    • You can probably find one lying around the house!
  • Stool ($9)
    • We use the MARIUS stool from IKEA – $9

That’s it! This will cost less than $150 and in my experience provides similar benefits to traditional infrared saunas.

How to set it up:

1. Find an enclosed space such as a closet or storage room.

You want it to be small enough that it will retain heat but big enough that you can sit comfortably on a stool and rotate 360 degrees. We used our “Harry Potter Room” under the stairs and it’s a perfect size. Alternatively you can purchase a grow tent ($100-150) if you don’t have the proper space (shout out to professional pole vaulter and friend @anotherpt.formilos for this idea). *You will NOT need Emergency Mylar Blankets if you use a grow tent.*

2. Place the heat lamps where you would like them to be.

It is helpful to first place your stool in the space to figure out where you will want to set up your lamps. I used a diamond formation with one facing my head/neck, 2 side by side for chest/abdomen, and 1 below for lower abdomen/pelvis. If you only have 3 lamps you can arrange them one on top of the other in a vertical line.

Clamp these lamps securely to the wall (you may have to get creative – shoe rack? Nail in wooden boards?) in whatever pattern you choose. You can also hang the lamps if your space allows for that. You can always adjust them later but make sure the lamps are facing directly towards your body.

3. Cover the walls of the room you are in with the Mylar Emergency Blankets.

I folded them in half as they were too big for the walls (and I had plenty of extra). Duct tape them securely to cover as much of the walls and ceiling as possible (ground is not necessary).

4. Get cozy (and sweaty!)

Place a towel on the ground and over your stool to catch the sweat and plug the lamps into the power strip. You’re ready to rock!

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Sauna Tips:

    • Always consult with a practitioner before using any sauna. 
    • Stay hydrated before, during and after you use a sauna. This means plenty of filtered water with added minerals (Celtic sea saltRedmond Real Salt or my personal favourite Quinton Marine Plasma).
    • I don’t find that preheating is necessary with this set-up but you are welcome to turn it on before-hand. Sit about 1 foot away or whatever is a comfortable distance for you and ensure all of the bulbs are facing your body directly.
    • I like to rotate 180 degrees about every 10 minutes, some like to do 90 degrees every 5 minutes but do whatever feels right for you!
    • Don’t overdo it, if you are feeling lightheaded or extremely fatigued get out and cool off. Work your way up to longer sessions, 20 minutes seems to be the sweet spot for me.
    • Finish with a cold shower (or better yet plunge into a cold lake traditional Finnish style!). This will not only help to wash off the toxins you just excreted, but also gives you the many benefits of cold exposure.
    • Friendly reminder that these are heat bulbs therefore they will burn you if you touch them. Don’t touch them. NO TOUCHY!
    • Remove all towels after each use to allow them to dry outside of the sauna. This is to avoid moisture build up in your sauna as there may not be much air circulation. Always unplug power bar when not in use.

If you are ready to take the plunge and invest in a pre-built sauna, we appreciate the research and care Sauna Space puts in to their products. They design and manufacture fully EMF-Shielded Incandescent Near Infrared Sauna. To read more about why a low EMF sauna is important, check out their website or our recent blog on EMF’s




We suggest consulting a practitioner knowledgeable in sauna use before beginning a sauna therapy program. Saunas are powerful devices. Monitoring your progress by someone trained in sauna use is always advisable. All information in this article is only the opinion of the author and is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.




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  1. […] tested for EMF’s and don’t contain toxic materials! If you are on a budget check out our DIY SAUNA ARTICLE FOR UNDER $150 using infrared incandescent heat […]

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