A real hype in the wellness scene and a popular treatment for athletes. Cryotherapy utilizing a so-called cryosauna has become increasingly popular in recent years.
But what exactly is a cryosauna? How does this cryogenic application work, and what cryogenic infrastructure is needed to supply the sauna with liquid nitrogen?
Before we get into how the cryosauna works, first, a little background. After all, the cryosauna is relatively new. Still, treating the body and soul with low temperatures certainly is not.
Several sources even describe how the ancient Egyptians were already using cold therapies to treat various injuries and health problems.
In the 70s, cryotherapy became increasingly well known, mainly because Japan’s Dr. Toshiro Yamauchi employed the technique as pain relief for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. His research demonstrated that patients with various pain conditions benefit from treatment with extreme cold.
Nowadays, cryotherapy is used worldwide for much more than just pain relief. The therapy is also said to provide muscle recovery, healing various injuries, strengthening the immune system, boosting metabolism, and much more.
What is a cryosauna?
A cryosauna can come in different configurations. For example:
- A cabin cooled with liquid nitrogen to cool the whole body – except the head.
- A cabin cooled with electric cooling to cool the entire body – including the head.
- Special applications to cool only parts of the body, using liquid nitrogen or electric cooling techniques.
The temperature of a cryosauna is usually between -85°C and -140°C. By immersing your body for one to three minutes in a booth at these extremely low temperatures, the body (the most outer layer of skin) is cooled at lightning speed.
The above types of cryosauna all have their advantages and disadvantages. To name a few examples:
- Electrically cooled cryosaunas can cool the entire body, including the head. With liquid nitrogen cryosaunas, the head protrudes above the compartment.
- The cost of a liquid nitrogen cryosauna is lower than that of most electric cryosaunas. This applies to both purchase costs and ongoing (electricity) costs.
- Liquid nitrogen cryosaunas are generally smaller and easier to install. This makes this option attractive for gyms and wellness centers with limited space.
Which type is the most suitable depends entirely on the individual situation. However, in this blog, we focus – because of our background and expertise – on the cryosauna that uses liquid nitrogen.
A liquid nitrogen cryosauna
Cryosaunas use gaseous nitrogen to rapidly cool the sauna chamber to the desired temperature (down to -150°C). The cold vapor is evenly distributed throughout the chamber and emanates from a dewar containing liquid nitrogen.
How this dewar connects to the cabin depends on the design. Many cryotherapy providers do not have a fixed liquid nitrogen supply tank on site. They, therefore, usually partner with a provider of cryogenic liquids, who delivers and connects the dewar when needed.
How much liquid nitrogen a cryosauna uses per session varies, but it is usually around 3 to 5 liters. An on-site dewar can hold a few hundred liters of liquid nitrogen and thus lasts for quite a few treatments.