For many of us, our phones have almost become another limb – it’s hard to imagine going anywhere without them! But not everywhere is a suitable environment for a phone.
If you’re trying to fit some relaxation time into a busy schedule, you might visit a sauna. But what happens if you want to stay connected? Can you take your phone in a sauna?
That’s what we’re here to find out! Read on as we take a tour of what you need to know.
What challenges does a sauna present for your phone?
Let’s start by considering the environment in a sauna.
First and foremost, it’s hot. After all, saunas are designed to make you sweat. That means the temperature will usually be a lot higher than anything your phone would encounter in everyday life.
Then there’s the steam. If you’re in a traditional Finnish sauna, part of the experience involves pouring water on the hot coals. That increases the humidity levels. But moisture and phones don’t always work well together.
If you’re using a public sauna, there are other things to consider too. You may well be sharing the space with other people. And that can present its own challenges.
But hold on a minute – some portable sauna tents come with phone holders! Surely that suggests it’s okay to take your phone inside?
Well, the decision is ultimately yours – but we’re going to help you understand the risks. Let’s take a look at each of the different factors in turn.
While sauna is undoubtedly hot environments, the temperatures can vary. Infrared saunas work by emitting radiant heat. This means that air temperature inside is significantly lower than in traditional Finnish saunas.
The air temperature in a traditional sauna can be anywhere between 150 and 195 degrees Fahrenheit. In an infrared sauna, the range is between 120 and 130 degrees.
But either way, it’s going to be pretty hot. So what does that mean for your phone?
Well, all phones have a temperature range within which they will operate effectively. And overheating can cause serious damage. At best, it can permanently reduce the life of the battery. At worst, it can destroy your phone altogether.
Apple specifies using their devices only in environments where the temperature is between 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If they’re not being used, you can store them in temperatures between -4 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit.
We haven’t been able to find such specific information for Android phones. But they too have an optimal operating temperature, and it’s a fair bet it’s not that different from IoS devices.
Many of today’s models have an automatic cut-off if the phone begins to overheat. That’s designed to stop heat being generated by apps. Functions like gaming and video streaming, and using lots of different apps at once, can all create lots of heat.
Some people suggest that it’s ok to take your phone into the sauna if you don’t do any of these things. But with the air temperature so much higher than the optimal operating temperature, that feels like a big risk.
And an automatic shut-down won’t help if the problem isn’t the heat being generated by the phone itself. Remember, Apple recommends a maximum storage temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 7 degrees lower than even the coolest infrared sauna.
So take your phone into the sauna if you wish – but know that you’re risking serious damage.
If you desperately want to use your phone whilst enjoying the heat, a sauna blanket could be the answer. Wrap yourself up in the blanket, and leave your phone outside. Just remember that you’ll have to stick your arms outside the blanket, which can be awkward.
If you’re using an infrared sauna, you won’t have to worry about steam damaging your phone. That’s because this type of sauna uses heat from infrared lights, and doesn’t involve any steam at all.
But if you’re in a traditional sauna, steam is a key part of the experience. Water is periodically poured onto hot coals to increase humidity levels. So what does all that water vapor that mean for your phone?
Well, there was a time when any moisture coming into contact with your phone was a recipe for disaster. These days, that isn’t necessarily the case.
There are now a lot of good water-resistant phones on the market. They feature a combination of hydrophobic coatings and seals to prevent moisture getting inside and damaging the electrics.
The highest rated of these phones can withstand immersion in water up to a depth of up to 19 feet. That’s the case for the standard Apple iPhone 12, plus the Mini, Pro and Pro Max versions of that model.
In comparison to 19 feet of water, a bit of steam shouldn’t be the end of the world. But note that all phones will have different levels of water-resistance. Check the specifications of your model so you know what you’re dealing with.
And note that even top-range iPhones contain a moisture sensor. If moisture breaches the seal and trips the sensor, your warranty will be null and void.
So even if your phone emerges from the sauna unscathed, you could have a problem on your hands. If the moisture sensor has been tripped and something goes wrong further down the line, you won’t be able to rely on the warranty.
And remember: even the most water-resistant phone will suffer in the heat of a sauna.
If you’re lucky enough to have your own personal sauna, you can skip this section. But if you’re going to be sharing with other people, it’s important to think about what your phone can carry. That’s right – we’re talking about germs.
Saunas are in many ways a perfect environment for germs to spread. It’s an enclosed space full of naked or near-naked bodies breathing and sweating.
But on the other hand, the high temperatures can kill bacteria and viruses. The Covid-19 virus, for example, becomes inactive at temperatures above 122 degrees Fahrenheit. And if it’s exposed to those temperatures for longer periods, it can be destroyed.
The length of time required to inactivate the Covid-19 virus depends on the temperature. Essentially, the hotter it is, the quicker the virus is deactivated. One study recorded the virus being deactivated in just five minutes at temperatures of 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even so, sharing an enclosed space with other people carries risk. And if you take your phone into the sauna with you, you’re providing another way to transfer germs. Microbes carried in the air or on the bench can easily end up on your phone. And cleaning it thoroughly without damaging it can be difficult.
The high temperatures in saunas and good hygiene by users can reduce the risks of catching infections. But taking in personal belongings like phones will increase them. It’s another good reason to leave your phone in the changing room.
4. Good manners
Saunas are a space for relaxation. When you’re sharing one with other people – as with all social situations – there is an etiquette to observe. Unfortunately, this isn’t always written down, and it can vary from place to place.
In some saunas, tapping away at your phone may be considered reasonable behavior. (Albeit the kind of thing that’s likely to damage your device.) In others, it will be seen as the height of rudeness.
Does that matter? Well, yes. If you want to relax in a sauna, having a row with another user isn’t ideal. And in small spaces, a little courtesy makes everyone’s experience more pleasant.
Getting the most from your sauna
There’s one more thing to take into account when deciding whether to take your phone into the sauna. That’s your ability to get the biggest benefit from the sauna experience.
We’ve all heard of the health benefits of saunas. While some of the claims are false – a sauna won’t detox your body or melt away fat – others hold water.
The key benefit is in providing a relaxing environment to ease stress. It’s those lowered stress levels that will really benefit your health.
Switching off your mobile devices is an important part of the sauna experience. Give yourself permission to step away from social media, emails, calls and texts! You’ll feel fresh and reinvigorated after your break. And all those messages will still be there when you pick up your phone again.
Conversely, constant alerts from your phone will inhibit your ability to relax. And when it overheats and breaks, your stress levels are likely to increase rather than dropping!
Leave your phone in the changing room!
So can you take your phone in a sauna? Well, you can do whatever you want to! But know that if you do, you’re risking serious damage to your phone. You may also void the warranty.
But it’s not just your phone that needs to be considered. Other users may find it hard to relax if you’re using your phone in the sauna. And sound leakage can drive other people around the bend!
If that doesn’t persuade you, remember why you’re in the sauna in the first place. If you want to get the full benefits of the sauna experience, leave your phone behind. You won’t be able to fully relax if you don’t. And that means you won’t be getting the health benefits of lowered stress levels.
If you can’t bear to be separated from your phone, consider a sauna blanket instead. That will allow you to get the benefit of the heat, while your phone stays outside and keeps cool.
Whatever option you choose, enjoy your sauna!