The Basics

What it is: A moisture-sealed shower enclosure equipped to deliver clouds of steam before, during, or after your shower.

How it works: Cold water piped into a steam generator is heated to the boiling point and then sends fresh steam to an aperture in the shower stall. Digital controls inside the shower let the user adjust the steam's temperature and duration and can even add piped-in aromas, lighting, and music.

What to look for: Delivery speed. Better models take less than a minute to build up a head of steam.
Remote controls. That way, you don't even have to get up from your bench to adjust steam time or temperature.
Auto-flush. Reduces calcium deposits on the heating element and saves you from a manual flush-out every 50 uses.

What it costs: A steam generator runs about $2,500, installed. For the full spa experience—mood lighting, a stereo MP3 dock, and a pump for aromatherapy oils—expect to pay another $1,800. A custom steamproof, tiled enclosure is extra.

Where to find one: Look for local dealers on the websites of major manufacturers, including Amerec, Mr. Steam, Steamist, and Thermasol

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