HEATING ELEMENTS: the difference between ceramic and carbon fiber, quartz and magnesium

One of the most important parameters when choosing an infrared sauna is the heating elements. The heating elements are usually of several types: ceramic or carbon fibre. Ceramic heating elements are a tube that emits IR rays as far away from itself as possible, and carbon fibre heating elements are a plane that emits IR rays over its entire surface. Similar in shape to ceramic ones are Quartz & Magnesium (Q&M) heating elements, which, although structurally similar to ceramic heating elements, cover a wider range of IR radiation.

To begin with, infrared (IR) rays are of several types, so it is relevant to know which IR rays we are talking about when we talk about infrared tubes and heating elements:

  • IR-A, near infrared, or NIR (0.7- 1.4 μm (700- 1400 nm)) – Quartz and magnesium;
  • IR-B, mid infrared, or MIR (1.4- 3.0 μm (1400- 3000 nm)) – Quartz and magnesium;
  • IR-C, far infrared, or FIR (3.0- 100 μm (3000 nm- 0.1 mm)) – Ceramic, carbon fibre, quartz and magnesium.

The InfraSauna carbon fibre heating elements we sell operate in the IR-C – FIR band. Models PRIME 1 and PRIME 2 are full spectrum Infrared Suns. These models have combined heating elements, in addition to the carbon fibre heating elements, they also have Quartz-Magnesium heating elements, which operate already in the full spectrum IR-A (NIR), IR-B (MIR) and IR-C (FIR). We do not offer ceramic heating elements, as they have few advantages apart from low cost.

In this graph you can see the wavelength of how deeply it penetrates the body:

Short-wave infrared radiation (IR-A) penetrates the deepest layers of the skin up to 5mm. It thus reaches perfused areas of the skin. Exposure to IR-A radiation dilates the blood vessels in the body, stimulating blood circulation in the surrounding tissues. This means that more oxygen is carried to these tissues and the body’s metabolism is stimulated. The combination of muscle relaxation and increased blood flow can have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.

Long-wave infrared radiation (IR-C, IR-B): infrared radiation heats the top layer of the skin. After a 30-minute session, this leads to a slight increase in body temperature and extreme sweating. The positive effects of sweating treatments have been known for thousands of years and are still successfully used today.

There is some suggestion that IR-A – NIR could be somewhat harmful in exceptional cases. But medical studies show that IR-A does far more good than harm: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4745411/ , for IR-C – FIR, the medical studies are entirely positive and it is also the most widely used IR spectrum for medical purposes. For this reason, all our InfraSaunas are equipped with carbon fibre heating elements for IR-C – FIR, and the models PRIME 1 and PRIME 2 are equipped with combination heating elements, which have full spectrum Q&M heaters in addition to the carbon fibre heating elements, and at the same time have the possibility to disconnect each Q&M heater separately.

You can read more about radiation in this article: Is an Infrared Sauna bad for your health? Electromagnetic Field Radiation (Radiation) in Infrared Saunas- EMF, EMF, EMC, IR-A (NIR), IR-B (MIR), IR-C (FIR)

Everyone has their pros and cons, so here are the key differences and principles of operation:

 CeramicCarbon fiberQuartz and Magnesium
Operating timenot less than 5 000 hnot less than 20 000 hnot less than 5 000 h
Cold spotsYESNOYES
Heat distributionMost of the heat is concentrated near the heatersThe heat is distributed evenly throughout the saunaMost of the heat is concentrated near the heaters
How heatedThe closer to the heating elements, the more concentrated the heat. Heats evenly, perfect for treating the right areas of the bodyThe heat is distributed evenly throughout the sauna, so the whole body is heated evenly. Ideal for full body treatmentThe closer to the heating elements, the more concentrated the heat. Heats evenly, perfect for treating the right areas of the body
Emission85%-94% (drops with increasing heat)94%95%-100%
WavelengthIR-C (FIR)IR-C (FIR)IR-A (NIR),
Warm-up time10 min15 min10 min
LongevityDurable, ceramic rods are fragile enoughEven more durable heating elements, more flexible and less susceptible to damage than ceramicDurable, ceramic rods are fragile enough
SizeLower than carbon fibreBigger than ceramicsLower than carbon fibre
The principle of operation of ceramic and Quartz-Magnesium heating elements
Principle of operation of carbon fiber heating elements

Here is a visual illustration of how both (ceramic and carbon fiber) heaters work:

Advantages of Carbon Fiber Heating Elements over Ceramic:

  • Even heat distribution: Carbon fiber heaters are made of thin carbon fiber plates and have an even heat distribution area, thus eliminating hotspots that are usually unavoidable in ceramic heating elements;
  • Lower surface temperature: The surface temperature of a carbon fiber heater is much lower than that of ceramic heaters, making them safer and allowing a person to stay comfortably for longer therapy sessions;
  • Better heat coverage: The heat recovery of carbon fiber heaters is much better, while the maximum heat of ceramic heaters is right next to the heating elements and the farther away from them, the less infrared is absorbed;
  • Therapeutic Infrared Rays: Carbon fiber heaters emit rays that are closer to the far infrared rays (FIR) that are most beneficial to health and healing;
  • Penetration into deep tissues: The infrared heat of carbon fiber heating elements penetrates deeper into the skin tissue than that of ceramic heaters;
  • Lower energy consumption: Carbon fiber heaters use less electricity than ceramic ones;
  • Longer service life: The service life of carbon fiber heating elements is incomparably longer than that of ceramic.
  • Concentrated heat: Ceramic heaters do not distribute heat evenly throughout the sauna and the maximum infrared concentration is right next to the heater. Thus, if it is more necessary to heat not the whole body but specific parts of it, a ceramic heater is more convenient;
  • Higher temperatures: Ceramic heaters heat the air more than carbon fiber;
  • Price: Ceramic heating element costs less than Carbon fiber.

Ceramic heaters generate more heat than carbon fiber heaters, thus attaining higher air temperatures in the sauna itself. However, it is essential to note that doctors do not recommend saunas with temperatures above 55 degrees. This is unnecessary because sweating begins at temperatures as low as 45 degrees, as the body itself, rather than the air, is heated.

Quartz & Magnesium (Q&M) heating elements

For an extended period, InfraSaunas exclusively utilized ceramic and carbon fiber heating elements. However, thanks to the latest advancements in technology, InfraSaunas are continuously undergoing improvements, aiming to enhance the benefits of the procedures for the body even further. That is why we have installed double heating elements in PRIME model infrared saunas, combining carbon fiber heating elements with full-spectrum Quartz & Magnesium technology. During the entire procedure, as in all the InfraSaunas we offer, the most efficient carbon fiber heating elements will work and it will be possible to turn on or off each of the quartz-magnesium heaters separately. These so-called “full-spectrum” heaters offer the advantage of covering the entire infrared spectrum (IR-A, IR-B and IR-C rays) and thus provide the greatest benefit during sauna sessions. They are superior to traditional ceramic and carbon fiber infrared emitters in that there is more intense diffusion and coverage of the entire infrared spectrum. Quartz radiation is immediate, more focused on relieving joint pain with short waves that penetrate deeply. Helps relax muscles and joints, stimulates blood circulation and improves human health and well-being. Magnesium’s heat is more enveloping, stimulating circulation for relaxation and detoxification through sweating.

Quartz and Magnesium (Kvarco ir Magnio [Q&M]

Quartz and Magnesium [Q&M] heating elements

Working together, heating elements stimulate sweating and detoxify the skin while relaxing the body and mind. The waves are more powerful than using carbon fiber or ceramics, they work deeper to ensure greater efficiency during the sauna procedure: it completely removes toxins, benefits the joints and muscles, relaxes… Also, this technology is ideal for people sensitive to heat.

Our company offers saunas with maximum benefits, which aim during a sauna session: detoxification, skin cleansing, relaxation of muscles and joints, rest and relaxation…