23rd April 2024

Ice Bath vs a Sauna: Which is better?

When it comes to discussing which one is better, an ice bath vs a sauna, the answer isn't always clear-cut.


Because both can offer a relaxing way to rest your tired body after a good workout or a long stressful day. They have their unique benefits, including boosting your mood, improving your health, and even enhancing your performance in future physical activities.

That said, are both equally as good?

Well, it depends. Although they both come with benefits, they work on our bodies in opposite ways.

So let’s dive into the ins and outs of ice baths and saunas to help you decide which one is best for you.

Home Ice Bath

What Are Ice Baths and Saunas?

Home Ice Bath

Ice baths go by many names, including ice plunge, cold plunge, cold water therapy, and cold water immersion. Here at Heavenly Saunas we favour Cedar Ice Baths specially crafted in Finland.

And they’re exactly what they sound like – taking a bath in ice cold water ranging from 0°C to 15°C.
Feeling cold just thinking about it?

Taking an ice bath is simply like swimming in any cold body of water, except you’re doing it in a controlled environment. Anything to reach the goal of reducing your body’s core temperature.


On the other hand, a sauna is an enclosed space where you can lie or sit down. Temperatures inside a traditional hot rocks sauna are typically enjoyed between 60°C to 90°C.

Heavenly Saunas offers a number of heater options designed to ensure you create the perfect sauna temperature.

Benefits of an Ice Bath vs a Sauna

Saunas and ice baths may both be beneficial, but not in the exact same way. Here’s the lowdown on how these chilly dips and steamy sessions differ in their benefits.

Ice Bath Benefits

  • Reduces inflammation. The coldness of ice baths makes your blood vessels constrict, reducing blood flow in the area as well as decreasing metabolic activity.
  • Relieves pain. Similarly, the nerves in your body react to the cold by slowing down how fast they send signals to your brain. This is called nerve conduction velocity. It won’t heal what’s causing the pain, but it will trick your brain into thinking it’s no longer as painful. This minimises the feeling of sore muscles, enabling you to get back to your regular routines faster.
  • Improves circulation. Although blood vessels constrict during a cold bath, they will expand back to their original state once you get out. This series of processes will improve your body’s overall blood circulation.

If you’re researching ice baths you may very well have heard of “The Iceman Wim Hof”. If you’re anything like us, you may be interested in the science and evidence behind the benefits of cold water therapy - read more.

Sauna Benefits

  • Speeds up recovery. One of the main effects of saunas is vasodilation, which is when your blood vessels widen. This gets the oxygen-carrying blood flowing better to your muscles, making the recovery process much quicker.
  • Releases hormones. Did you know that saunas can also affect your hormones? Depending on the way you use a sauna, it could cause your endocrine system to release hormones that give you feelings of pleasure and euphoria, like norepinephrine.
  • Improves overall health. Regular sauna use can also improve your general health, acting similar to regular physical exercise.

Do I Need an Ice Bath or a Sauna?

Whether you need an ice bath vs a sauna depends on your specific situation.

Saunas could be good for:

  • People who just finished a particularly intense workout session like HIIT
  • People who just want to relax after a long and tiring day

On the other hand, ice baths may be better for:
Players in between training sessions or competitions
Endurance athletes whose muscles are constantly sore

  • However, there’s also what we call “contrast therapy” which uses both hot and cold temperatures to help you recover.
  • With contrast therapy, you’ll undergo both a sauna and an ice bath, intensifying the benefits of both treatments.

Here at Heavenly Saunas, we’re fans of contrast therapy opting to sauna first followed by cold water immersion. In fact, Anna in particular, repeats this process 3 times and swears by the euphoric feeling of the contrasting temperatures.

Best Time to Take an Ice Bath vs a Sauna

Ice baths are a great way to jumpstart your day, before or after an exercise session.

On the other hand, saunas can feel absolutely amazing at the end of a busy day.

Once you get out of the sauna, your body’s core temperature will immediately lower, signalling your pineal gland to start producing melatonin. This hormone promotes sleepiness and relaxation, allowing you to have better and more restful sleep.

What we love most about each one

Ice bath therapy is really next level. The feeling you get when coming out of the cold is actually addictive - we can say it is euphoric. It’s a health-high and we love that which is why we can’t get enough.

What do we love about a Sauna?

The Team at Heavenly Saunas HQ have a saying - a sauna a day keeps the doctor away!

And that’s what we all like to do. Saunas are KING - FULL (HOT) STOP!!

Ice Bath vs Sauna Conclusion

Although we're here to compare an ice bath vs a sauna, the truth is that there's no such thing as a “better” treatment when it comes to these two recovery methods. It comes down to a very personal decision and what’s right for you.

We hope we’ve given you enough information to make a confident choice but if you're craving more insights, our team is on stand-by to answer any questions you might have.

So, what's on your mind?


Ice bath vs a sauna for weight loss, which is better?

Saunas can technically cause weight loss – water weight, to be exact, due to your increased sweating. However, this is only a short-term weight loss, and you’ll gain it back the moment you drink more water. On the other hand, a regular ice bath vs a sauna can help speed up your metabolism, which can help you lose weight when combined with proper diet and exercise.

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