pain reliefHeating pads are an item that you want to always have in your home.  Many folks use heating pads to treat acute injuries, calm chronic pain, and keep muscles comfortably loose.

There are many types of heating pads available; most will fall into one of the following four categories:  Infrared, Electric, Chemical, and Microwavable.

Chemical and microwavable heating pads are usually disposable or for short-term use.  If you are considering investing in a quality heating pad for long term use, your alternatives are electric and infrared.  This article looks at the differences between infrared heat therapy and electric heat therapy.

Heating Pads:  Infrared or Electric?

Infrared Heat Therapy

Infrared Heating pads are the newest innovation in heat therapy.  Although infrared heating pads use electricity to operate, they don’t use electricity to provide heat.  Instead of electric coils, heat is transmitted by stones embedded in the pad.

The stones used in infrared heating pads are capable of transforming infrared (light) energy into heat energy.  Many of the stones used in infrared heating pads also emit negative ions.

Negative ions have a calming and uplifting effect on both our bodies and minds.  Negative ions cause the “feel good” sensation many people experience right after a rainstorm, at the beach, or in the mountains.

Infrared heat is able to penetrate up to 3 inches of skin, adipose tissue (fat), and bone, allowing the healing heat to actually get close to the injured area.  Heating pads provide healing and pain relief by increasing blood circulation, and many of our blood vessels are several inches below our skin.

There is minimal danger of burns with infrared heating sources, since the design of infrared heating pads is focused on penetrating depth rather than increased heat.

Read Our Infrared Jade Heat Mat Review Here

Electric Heat Therapy

Electric heating pads use electricity to heat up the coils inside the pad.   The pad the gets warm, and is applied to the painful area where it increases blood circulation and relaxes muscles.

Electric heating pads only penetrate up to an inch of skin and adipose tissue.  Because of this, many chronic users of electric heating pads only obtain maximum relief with maximum heat.

Some of the hottest electric heating pads can reach temperatures of up to 130 degrees. At that temperature, burns are a real possibility.

Read our Top 10 Heating Pad Reviews

Which is Better for You, Electric or Infrared?

Electric heating pads have been around for a very long time, and individuals may prefer them because they are familiar.

Electric heating pads are often less expensive, however your electric usage will increase because you are using electricity to produce heat, often on a daily basis.

Infrared heating pads are generally more expensive, although some brands are close to the price of a “deluxe” heating pad such as Sunbeam or Thermophore.

Infrared heating pads can be folded and bent very easily, and are much safer to use.  The only electricity used is to activate the stones, and Infrared is capable of penetrating much deeper to provide deeper healing.

Both electric and infrared heating pads are available in different sizes, with moist heat options and variable controls.

“Which one is better?” probably depends on how you’ll be using your heating pad.

I would love to hear what you think, do you prefer an electric heating pad or an infrared heating pad? Please let us know in the comment section below.