Here is why iPhones and Saunas Don’t Mix

The other day, I was about to step into a dry sauna, with the intent of relaxing and listening to a guided meditation on my iPhone. Before stepping in, I suddenly stopped and wondered if it was ok to take my phone into the sauna. I do not mean “ok” in the sense of a gym policy or anything, but rather if the sauna would damage my phone.  I quickly tried to research the question, but didn’t find a very satisfactory answer.

When I got home, I took a look into it more. So, can you take your iPhone into the sauna with you?  The answer is no, it is definitely a bad idea to take your iPhone into a sauna. It will damage your phone. This applies to steam saunas and dry saunas. It is probably a bad idea for all types of phones. 

If you’d like to know exactly why that is, read on.

Why you Shouldn’t Take your iPhone into the a Dry Sauna

Using the Apple website, I checked the environmental requirements on the phone that I have, which is the iPhone 7. I also check the iPhone 8 and iPhone X , and determined that they all have the exact same environmental requirements.  The environmental requirements for the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone X are as follows:

  • Operating ambient of temperature of  32° to 95° F
  • A non-operating temperature of −4° to 113° F.

Next, I compared those temperature to the temperature of a dry sauna:

  • A dry sauna gets up to 160°F to 200°F.

I was actually pretty surprised by these results. With fairly low humidity (which I will get to soon), I thought the phone would be fine, but no!

Comparing these numbers, it is pretty easy to see why it is a bad idea to take your Iphone into a dry sauna. The dry sauna can get up to 100 degrees hotter than your Iphone’s requirements!

As I had expected, the humidity is not an issue in a dry sauna. All three phone’s environmental requirements list a humidity of 5% to 95% noncondensing. A dry sauna only gets up to humidity of 5 to 20%. The 20% is only if people put water on the rocks, which is an option in some dry saunas, so 5% is very achievable. The humidity wouldn’t have been an issue; however, as mentioned the dry sauna is too hot for an iPhone.

Can you Take your iPhone into a Steam Room?

I use a dry sauna because there is one in our condo complex, but knowing that steam room don’t get as hot as saunas, I wanted to see if an Iphone could withstand the steam room’s environment. The short answer: No. The steam room is also not good for an iPhone. Interestingly enough, the  a steam room had the opposite problem from the dry sauna. The heat isn’t too bad, but the steam is a real problem.

As mentioned, steam rooms don’t get as hot as a traditional saunas (aka dry saunas), with steam rooms only  reaching 110 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit (versus the 200°F for the dry sauna). The top temperature of 114°F degrees is only one degree over the non-operating temperature for the IPhone (113°F). Whether or not that one degree is enough to make a difference is a mute point because the humidity in a steam room is too high.

The humidity in a steam room gets up to 100%, and condenses, which is more than the 5% to 95% non condensing that the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 7 can tolerate; unfortunately, this means that iPhones are also not compatible with steam rooms.

Can you Take Other Electronics, like Wireless Headphones, in the Sauna?

I wanted to see if I could work around the problem of not being able to take my Iphone into the sauna. I really wanted to take my phone in with me for two main reasons:

  1.  To listen to my guided meditations on an IPhone app, while enjoying the sauna
  2. To set a timer to see when for when it was time to get out

For problem #1 I wanted to see if I could put my IPhone outside of the sauna door (I’ve never seen another person actually use the sauna, so I’m not worried about theft), and listen to the meditation through my wireless headphones

For problem #2 I wanted to see if I could take in my Fitbit to use it as a watch/timer.

If you had the same thought of taking some of your electronics , I’ve got bad news for you: it doesn’t appear that you can take any type of device like headphones or Fitbits into a sauna.

Despite my searching, I was unable to find any products that would be ok to take into the sauna. In fact, no products that I looked at even mentioned humidity in their user manual, which means that a steam room is out of contention. As for the dry sauna, a few of the products gave specifics for temperature, but none were anywhere near as high as would be needed for a dry sauna. Here are some examples of products that I did find some humidity/temperature information for.

Examples

  • FitBit Charge 2:
    • Operating temperature: 14° to 113° F
    • Non-operating: 4° to 140° F
    • Humidity:  The user manual did not contain any information for the humidity,
  • Sony WH-100XMs
    • The manual didn’t have any specifics on temperature or humidity. It only mentioned a charging temperature. Theres are some notes in the manual, one of which says: “Avoid exposure to temperature extremes, direct sunlight, moisture, sand, dust or mechanical shock. Never leave the headset in a car parked in the sun”
  • Bose soundlink wireless ae2
    • Recommended that the headphones be used in the temperature range of -4 to 113°F

As you can see, there is as a general trend where electronics are not supposed to be in temperature above 113°F, which leads me to suspect that most electronics will not do well in a suaun because both a dry sauna and wet saunas (steam room) are over 113°F; although a steam room is only 114°F, the steam will likely cause an issue. The bottom line: electronics and saunas/steam room just don’t mix!

What will Happen if you Take Your iPhone into a Sauna?

As mentioned, I did actually take my iPhone into the dry sauna with me for a bit, before realizing that it probably wasn’t a good idea. Nothing happened to the phone (as far as I could tell). I only had it in there for a few minutes, and I don’t know what internal damage it might have done. I just mention this because I don’t think that your phone is just going to burst into flames or anything dramatic like that. It will likely damage your phone though. Here’s how:

  1. High heats can shorten the life of your phone’s battery, and heat can also damage the display.
  2. The extreme temperature shifts from going outside where it is cold, to inside where it is extremely hot, can put stress on the circuit board and connections.
  3. If moisture gets inside your phone, it can corrode the electronics and discolour the display. Moisture in your phone can also void your warranty.

Now what?

The only option that I can see now is to find a non-technology solution to whatever needs the iPhone provided. I’m going to dig up an old watch that I haven’t worn since I got my Fitbit. As for the guided meditation, without the app to guide my meditation, I think I am going to try to do something else during my sauna time. I honestly don’t think I can just sit for 30 minutes in a sauna, quietly by myself. It just isn’t going to happen. I’m going to try to do a stretch routine instead. There is always another way to do things.

Conclusion

Your phone may seem like it can withstand some time in a sauna or a steam room (my phone survived its short stint in a dry sauna without any visible battle scars); however, the phone will be well outside of the recommended guidelines recommended by Apple, which means that the heat and humidity will likely be causing damage inside your phone that you are not even aware of. It is not good for your iPhone to be in a sauna or steam room.

Being that iPhones are quite expensive, and a major hassle to replace, I recommend that you leave your iPhone (and any other electronics) behind when going into the sauna. I know that I will!

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