Connie Zack, co-owner of Sunlighten infrared saunas, and Sophia Ruan Gushee for Practical Nontoxic Living podcast

Infrared saunas: An interview with the founder of Sunlighten

affiliates home self-care Jan 29, 2021

Podcast producer: Chris Robertson


If you are interested in infrared saunas and their health benefits, then this episode will help. My guest is Connie Zack, co-owner of Sunlighten infrared saunas.

I was excited to speak to Connie because I have spent a lot of time researching infrared saunas. After hearing a few people talk about how helpful it was to spend time in infrared saunas, I didn't need much convincing that I wanted one too. 

I heard amazing experiences from healthy people to those managing debilitating effects from Lyme Disease or the after-effects of chemotherapy. It was not uncommon for me to hear that time in an infrared sauna helped those with disabling symptoms be functional.

When it was time to select an infrared sauna, I then researched which brand would be best. And this part was hard for me. I was looking for an infrared sauna whose materials would not off-gas toxic fumes and whose electromagnetic fields would not negate the health benefits from infrared therapy.

An online search led me to conflicting and confusing information. Ultimately, I bought from Sunlighten because of both my research and because the builder of our country home had installed Sunlighten saunas in several homes that he built and loved the Sunlighten infrared sauna that he used often in his own home. 

Still, I remained curious about infrared saunas especially because I found time in my Sunlighten sauna so beneficial. I continued to wonder: 

  • Are there meaningful differences between the brands?
  • What are the risks among the different infrared saunas?
  • Do some off-gas more toxic fumes than others?
  • Do some generate more EMFs than others? Is all infrared energy the same? 

What I really wanted to know was, Do I have the most effective and safe infrared sauna?

I have asked any expert I could about infrared saunas. These experts include scientists that have been guests on my Practical Nontoxic Living podcast and EMF experts that I have hired to measure my home. There was no unanimous consensus among their opinions. But the majority guessed that the benefits outweigh the risks from the EMFs generated from infrared saunas.

As I continued to have more curiosities to explore, I finally reached out to Sunlighten to ask if I could interview one of the owners. So I really appreciated the conversations I had with two people from Sunlighten including the one for this episode.

Sunlighten infrared saunas report a long list of health benefits. Regular Sunlighten infrared sauna use is reported to support:

  • anti-aging
  • detoxification
  • immunity
  • pain relief
  • weight loss
  • relaxation
  • wound healing
  • blood pressure
  • circulation
  • muscle recovery
  • autoimmune issues.

In 2009, renowned cardiologist, Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of his popular Doctor Oz Show, featured Sunlighten infrared saunas on the Oprah Show because of the clinically-backed heart-healthy benefits of Sunlighten's Solocarbon technology. The data showed that Sunlighten's Solocarbon® infrared therapy lowers blood pressure with regular use. This helped lead to a partnership with the American Heart Association.

In this episode, Connie helps us understand that:

  • Not all saunas are the same
  • Not all energy is the same and not all infrared energy is the same
  • Not all sweat is the same
  • And that Sunlighten infrared saunas come with different recipes of infrared light to support different benefits
  • The goal of Sunlighten saunas is to optimize your benefits for the time you spend in its infrared saunas

While you will hear Connie and I talk about benefits people have experienced from infrared saunas, please keep in mind that not everyone will have the same experience so what you hear is not a predictor or guarantee of how you may feel or react to being in an infrared sauna. Definitely speak to your physician before spending time in an infrared sauna, and please don't interpret anything in this podcast as medical advice. I hope this conversation offers interesting stories that you can talk to your trusted healthcare providers about to see if this is a safe option for you.

After my interviews, I became a proud affiliate partner of Sunlighten. So if you decide to purchase one, please use the affiliate link in the podcast show notes to help support my work, which aims to empower you to eliminate toxic (or risky) chemicals, heavy metals, and EMFs from your home, diet, self-care, and technology. Let me know if you buy a sauna from my affiliate link so that I can send you a thank you gift in appreciation of your support.


Click here:

Ruan Living' Sunlighten Affiliate Link


If you find this podcast helpful, please let me know @ruanliving on Instagram or at [email protected]

Podcast producer: Chris Robertson

Podcast Show Notes

[5:52] What inspired the creation of Sunlighten saunas?

Connie's brother was sick from high levels of metals and she saw him improve from infrared therapies but was frustrated with how slowly he was recovering. So she became inspired to create an infrared sauna that would maximize your benefits from your time in an infrared sauna.

[9:17] Different wavelengths:

  1. Far infrared: Coolest but penetrates more deeply into your body
  2. Mid-infrared
  3. Near-infrared: Hottest. Can't be delivered alone because it would burn you.

[10:32] Differences between traditional and infrared saunas

[11:00] Sweat analysis

  • Sweat from an infrared sauna tends to be 80% water and 20% toxic chemicals or heavy metals, whereas in a traditional sauna sweat is about 97% water and 3% toxins
  • A few reasons why more toxic chemicals are released in an infrared sauna: It's much more comfortable being inside an infrared sauna than it is in a traditional sauna because you can breathe more comfortably, you can lie down, you can relax. So people stay in the infrared sauna longer.
  • Sweat from an infrared sauna tends to be thicker and more has more viscosity.

[15:19] Sunlighten filters out parts of the electromagnetic spectrum

[17:54] At one point there were 56 clinical studies on the healing effects of infrared energy. Sunlighten created programs based on these studies.

So, for example, there is a program for weight loss, a program for detoxification, a program for anti-aging and more. These are essentially recipes of infrared energy to help those objectives.

[21:10] Infrared therapy: some background.

[24:59] Sunlighten is the only company to offer infrared saunas that offer the full infrared spectrum: far-, mid-, and near- infrared. 

[25:30] Most other products offer just far-infrared. Furthermore, the quantity of far-infrared in Sunlighten infrared saunas is very high quality.

[26:06] Sunlighten is unique because it separates each wavelength. There are many scientists who study just near-infrared. That's their focus. And they have taught us at Sunlighten that near-infrared needs to be separate. 

[26:32] The optimal near-infrared is the invisible light, which is hard for people to understand because it is visible. How can I tell if it's working? .... When it gets to the invisible, that's the magical part of the right of a near-infrared. And that's what we have inside the mPulse.

[27:00] Then we have a separate mid-infrared. You can't have too much mid-infrared because it's a hotter wavelength. If you get too hot, it takes away the healing aspects of the far. You want to provide a synergistic effect. You don't want to have to get too much into that conventional hot air because then you go back to traditional.

[27:24] Far-infrared is the majority of the heating element inside all of our mPulse saunas. We learned over time that the more far-infrared you can get inside, the better results you're going to have.

 [30:51] Is sweat necessarily a sign of how much you're benefiting from being in the sauna? 

  • It's counterintuitive at times. How much you sweat is not a reflection necessarily of how effective the session is.
  • And it depends on your goals, and it depends on the current state of your body. When people have certain conditions, where they have a heavy toxic burden and they have a lot of stuff stored inside, it may take them a lot longer to produce a lot of sweat. It took them a long, long time to get to that place. So you have to be patient and keep on the path, keep doing the detoxification program. The sweat will eventually come out more.

  • Your body can get more efficient, like maybe after it's dislodged layers of stuff.

  •  It's similar to when you're working out. So after you do your very first workout, you may be in pain. If you do that thing work out for 30 days, your body starts responding differently. That's similar to how your body responds to time in an infrared sauna.

  • That's also similar when you take time off. So running only those who is a swimmer or running or even, you know, yoga or whatever modality, when you do it consistently, like running which I run, I enjoy it more. If I take even a week off before my next run, it is not so fun.

  • So I would say if I just worked it out, it would be three times early in the morning. Now that changes drastically, depending on if I have something going on, you know, if I'm not able to exercise, I'll do the cardio program more often, for example. Or if I have an injury... Several years ago, I was training for a marathon. And I lived on that pain relief program. 

  • It's not just an on-off switch. The experience changes depending on what's going on, depending on which program you use, provided you have the mPulse. And I like that because I know that whether I want to detox, lose weight, or I want to support my skin or relieve pain, I have a program for me. 

[00:36:43] Physical components of an infrared sauna to understand possible toxic exposures from the wood or the glues

  • Sunlighten woods are solid with no adhesive or veneers or paints. So I don't have to worry about toxic fumes. 
  • Sunlighten saunas can be assembled with magnets so they can be disassembled if you're moving or you want to move it around for some reason and reassembled pretty easily.
  • Sunlighten has been mindful of the electromagnetic fields from the saunas.

[38:13] Utility bills

[40:08] What kind of clients do you see that their lives are transformed by spending time in the sunlight and infrared sauna?

  • The chronic pain customers. My heart goes out to them. We've been able to help so many people with chronic pain, and I'm very proud of that because that's life-changing and it helps with the mind. We also help people who want to lose weight. That can be such a difficult obstacle, especially if you can't exercise. So that's really life-changing.
  • We do a lot for healthy hearts because we've been able to help people get their blood pressure back in shape and have the heart increased circulation going to be healthier as a result of our weight. So those are three different conditions that come to mind. We've been able to help a lot of people. It's really what we're all about. That's what drives me in the morning.
  • The mental aspect is just priceless.

[42:31] I've been coming across the idea of cellular health more recently. Would you talk more about what that really means?

  • A lot of it is connected to the near-infrared. It comes from the science that some cells can be either irregular or just not healthy, let's just say that. And one of the benefits of the near-infrared is it's actually going to release the ones that are not healthy and then bring back cells to produce so they are healthier. There's some great data out there that I've seen. 


Click here:

Ruan Living' Sunlighten Affiliate Link



Also check out my fascinating conversation with Alicia Botyrius, who was an Affiliate Marketing Manager at Sunlighten when we recorded this in August 2019 from our Sunlighten infrared saunas.

One part that stood out as particularly interesting is the experience of firefighters' use of Sunlighten infrared saunas as part of their decontamination protocol. Let me know what you think at [email protected] or @ruanliving on Instagram.

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