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Looking at all things Infrared I thought I would answer some of the questions that are coming up for people about it. People get nervous about things when they don’t know what it’s all about and with the joy of the internet now we get to be able to find out all about stuff. We’re going to start off with the title of this post.
What is Infrared Radiation
When someone mentions radiation it puts a red flag up doesn’t it? So Infrared radiation sounds a bit scary, especially when there are a lot of infrared products springing up and people saying how good they are.
Have you heard of electromagnetic radiation? There are various types of electromagnetic radiation and infrared radiation is one of them along with, ultraviolet radiation, radio waves, X-rays and microwaves.
Infrared radiation can’t be seen but it can be felt as it is one of the natural ways in which heat is transferred, the other 2 are convection and conduction which you will probably have heard about at school. Around half of the sun’s energy is infrared radiation. Just imagine sitting in the sun and the warmth you feel on your skin, that is infrared radiation which we feel as heat.
Who discovered infrared radiation
Infrared was discovered by an astronomer William Herschel. He was doing some experiments trying to measure the heat transmitted by different colors of light. He noticed a measurement when he got past the red light. What he had found was thermal radiation and it was later called infrared because infra means below and it was just below the red light.
Where Do Infrared Rays Come From?
Infrared Rays or waves come from the sun in the form of light waves. Light waves come in various lengths and some we can see in the form of colours and others we can’t. Infrared waves are in the length of light that we can’t see with our eyes just next to the red light. Infrared rays and infrared light are just other names for Infrared radiation.
Infrared Spectrum Range
Wavelengths are measured in nanometers and in the visible light spectrum they start at 400nm at violet and increase in length to 700nm for red light. The infrared spectrum range starts from that point just off the red light at 700nm up to 1mm. Because the infrared is past the visible light we can’t see it only feel the heat that it emits. Infrared waves are divided into 3 parts, near-infrared waves which are 760nm to1400nm in length, mid-infrared waves that are 1400-3000 nm and far-infrared waves which are 3000nm – 1mm.
Can infrared pass through skin
Well it doesn’t pass through your skin and come out of the other side, it does penetrate through your skin to different depths depending on which type of infrared wave is being used. Far infrared waves can penetrate as far as the subcutaneous layer of your skin where near infrared waves only penetrate as far as the dermis of the skin, so just under the surface. That’s why Infrared Saunas are usually far-infrared so you get deep heat.
Is Infrared like a microwave.
Infrared and microwaves are both types of electromagnetic radiation, infrared waves are longer than the waves in the visible light range but shorter than microwaves. Microwaves can penetrate much deeper which is why they can cook your food faster than infrared could.
Can infrared hurt you
According to the industrial health and safety, near infrared light could damage your eyes because it’s a wavelength you can’t see but it still transfers heat so it could do damage so it is advised to wear eye protection . Otherwise it is not harmful. Because infrared heats you up from the inside it can dehydrate you so you should drink plenty of water if you are using infrared saunas or infrared mats.
The sun emits infrared waves as we know but if you are sitting in the sun and you feel yourself getting warmer then that is the effect of the infrared waves. They heat up the ground, the sea, any moisture in the air and objects which absorb the heat like your car or a seat that gets too hot to sit on. Imagine charcoal on your grill when they stop glowing red, do they still give out heat? This is the charcoal emitting infrared radiation, the heat inside is radiated out but you can’t see it.
You are a perfect example of infrared radiation, our bodies naturally absorb the sun’s radiation but do you know what it’s like sitting next to someone who always seems warm and although you don’t have to be touching them you can feel some warmth from them. This is how we emit infrared radiation.
Infrared heaters give out infrared which is absorbed by objects in it’s path, like you if you’re sitting in the path of it, and the furniture in the room and the walls and in turn these objects give out infrared radiation and heat up the air around them.
Main Uses of Infrared
Infrared cameras used by police and rescue teams or cameras you can buy take a photograph of the heat emitted from a person or objects, so even though you can’t see the heat these cameras can detect it and show it as an image. Also we use infrared security cameras to keep our homes and businesses safe. Troublemakers beware. They are also used by contractors to check your home for heat loss and can help you to make your home more heat efficient.
Infrared heating is used quite often in large warehouses and places where there are doors opening and shutting quite often as it is a more efficient way to heat large areas because it heats from the floor up rather than standard heaters which heat the air around you which tend to heat from the top down.
You can get Infrared Saunas which are used for muscle pain relief as well as other health benefits.
Infrared thermal imaging is being used more and more in hospitals as it is much safer than x-rays and can help detection of blood flow problems.
Infrared thermal imaging is also used by vets as an additional way to check animals and joints that are emitting more heat as it can show signs of inflammation which an animal can’t tell you about. They can also photograph pet paw prints to check if they are compensating and not using one of their legs as much another indication of pain and it gives a vet a direction to start checking. Animals will automatically not show pain if they can help it because it a survival instinct.
Infrared lighting has often been used for keeping young animals warm and to keep reptiles and other cold blooded animals warm in zoos because it’s safe.
Beauticians use near infrared light on the skin to help with skin problems like eczema and rosacea because near infrared light only penetrates just under the skin but can promote blood flow and collagen.
There are many benefits of infrared radiation and I’m sure that there are many that I haven’t mentioned. It’s not something to be afraid of. You already use infrared sensors in many things in the home that you don’t even think about now like a television remotes. If you want to have any infrared treatments check with a medical professional if you have any health issues or are taking medication just to be on the safe side but for the majority of people they don’t feel anything but the benefits of the heat.