For me a paraffin bath is luxurious warmth radiating through the swollen joints of my hands, wrists, elbows, feet, ankles, shoulders, and knees. When I need to use my hands a Paraffin Bath is non-medicinal relief from hand pain and finger stiffness. Sometimes, on bad days, the relief only lasts for a while (but I can keep using the paraffin through the day), but then on other days the relief lasts through the whole day. It also leaves my skin feeling soft and supple, and the aromatic oils in the scented waxes are soothing and relaxing. With your own Paraffin Bath you can enjoy this treatment at home, and the best Paraffin Bath I’ve found costs less than I have to spend for a month’s worth of pain meds when I’m in the Medicare “doughnut hole”! And it is worth every dime…
Paraffin is a soft wax which has the wonderful ability to hold heat and convey it deep into your joints. Paraffin Baths or Spas are simply tubs designed to safely melt and maintain the paraffin. You dip your hand or foot into the bath and pull it out multiple times to create layers of wax which will contain the heat. When you have sufficient layers (generally 4-6) you place your hand or foot in a plastic liner and a mitt, then sit back and relax. The baths are very simple and the differences between them are easily understood. Here’s the breakdown:
- First the depth of the tub is perhaps the most important information. If you need to get the heat to your ankles and wrists then you will need a tub with the depth to submerge those joints. The deeper the better for me. Tubs are rated by how many pounds of paraffin they hold. For most home usage the tubs are rated from 3 to 9 pounds. I won’t generally review anything less than a 4 pound tub (unless it is for a single use like a hand spa) or recommend anything less than 6 pounds.
- Next is the temperature control. Many baths bring the paraffin to what the manufacturer believes to be the optimal therapeutic temperature which is generally about 130 degrees F (54.4C) and these baths have no temperature control for the user. For me, this temperature is just below my “I can’t do this” threshold, which is right where I want it. A few models give the user the ability to adjust the temperature, and some have a quick melt function. The quick melt function makes the Paraffin too hot to use, so it takes about the same amount of time for the paraffin to cool off as it does for a normal machine to heat it up.
- Then there are performance issues, like insulation surrounding the tub. Paraffin baths usually take hours to melt and heat the paraffin to an effective temperature, so if you use the bath frequently, like I do, you will want to leave it on all the time. An insulated unit will help save on your electricity bill, a non-insulated unit will have to cycle more often. Frequent cycling may also effect the long-term performance and life of the Bath.
- Accessories and support are also some things to consider. You will need a few accessories to make the Paraffin Bath most effective and to reach difficult painful joints. Generally I look for a manufacturer who also sales Paraffin, Hand and Foot Mitts, and Paraffin Application Strips for shoulders, back, and knees. If they sale those accessories they are probably in the business to stay.
- Pricing for home Paraffin Baths is generally less than $200 including shipping. The low end is in the $20-$30 range. Pricing can be deceiving if you don’t know what comes with the Bath. Some new Baths don’t include enough Paraffin to get you started. Paraffin ranges from $4 to $7 per pound so this can be very significant to your purchase since a four pound Bath that costs $30 without Paraffin will cost you another $20 in Paraffin to get started.
I have reviewed the more popular selling Paraffin Baths to help you make a decision on your purchase. My top review goes to the Therabath TB6 (the TB7 is the 220 volt version). The links to my reviews are below.
One more thing, I am not a medical professional, but I understand that some conditions may prevent people from using a Paraffin Bath. As always, I recommend that you touch base with your doctor and read the instructions accompanying the Bath you purchase before using it.
I did not include these Baths in this comparison because they are in a smaller class, and not suitable, in my opinion, for general arthritic use. I reviewed them here: Dr. Scholl’s Paraffin Bath For Her and, virtually the same model under a different name, Revlon Paraffin Bath.
I am not a medical professional, but I understand that some conditions may prevent people from using a Paraffin Bath. As always, I recommend that you touch base with your doctor and read the instructions accompanying the Bath you purchase before using it.
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