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Is “breathable air” better?

Breathable air cryotherapy machine with door open in blue, black, and white colors.

Is breathable air better for cyrotherapy? The controversy surrounds the difference between electric and nitrogen based cryotherapy machines. Liquid nitrogen machines chill the air with a cold gas. In contrast, electric machines chill the air in the same manner as a freezer or air conditioner. If you have ever been in either machine you know that breathing becomes noticeable as soon as the cold hits your skin.

What is “breathable” air?

Electric cryotherapy chamber designers use the phrase “breathable air” in their marketing. Sometimes people are afraid that they may inhale liquid nitrogen gas (or “gasiform nitrogen”) in an open-top cryotherapy chamber. But this rarely happens because the person’s head is far above the cold clouds of gas. Nitrogen chamber designers also point out the fact that the air we breathe is 78% nitrogen. Breathing pure nitrogen is not healthy; however, a small whiff of a cloud–such as at Creamistry–will not cause any problems.

Breathable air is harder than you…think?

You are breathing right now, and you have been since the day you were born. But breathing during cryotherapy becomes noticeable as the temperature begins to drop. In the current marketplace you have two options: a chamber powered by electricity alone or by liquid nitrogen alone. Electric cryotherapy chambers are walk-in type of chambers that chill your entire body from head to toe. When I first tried one I was excited as I thought it was a superior method. But I quickly noticed that my breathing was noticeable and that it was VERY COLD air. I did not panic, but the air felt thick and I had to mentally calm myself down.

What is the big difference anyway?

My cryotherapy journey began when my gym bought a nitrogen-based chamber a few years ago. My workout days are the same and I still use that machine every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I make my recovery a priority, but my evaluation of different chambers requires an open mind. I like trying EVERY cryotherapy method I find, and they are all pretty good. Whether the air is “breathable” doesn’t matter to me since I am not (and never have) had a problem in an open-top nitrogen machine. What I have noticed is these two major points:

  • Electric machines “feel” colder. When my head felt the cold it made my entire body feel cold. But overall the temp was not as low as what I am used to.
  • Nitrogen machines get the coldest of all but are more comfortable since my face and scalp do not feel cold.

These points seem a bit contradictory: one feels colder but is not as cold as the other. From my clinical understanding the head-in chamber feels colder because my head has all five senses getting cold at the same time. Head-out chambers keep my head warm while chilling me from the neck down so they don’t feel as cold.

Price Points

Blogging in this small field puts me out there. I am approached nearly once a week. Companies want advertising space on this site which we never sell. We don’t do that, so I won’t recommend either type of chamber over another. Instead I will leave you with these facts gleaned from the industry:

  • Nitrogen based machines cost anywhere from 45k to 65k. Most are made in Europe but two are made in the USA.
  • Electric machines cost anywhere of 80k to 150k.
  • Nitrogen machines are roll-in and go. They can operate as soon as they arrive. They do require a vent in small rooms.
  • Electric machines require professional installation and 220 volt power, along with some plumbing.
  • Hybrid machines that use liquid nitrogen gas to make a “breatheable air” environment are not as cold as a pure nitrogen chamber.