Temperature Calibration and Floater Comfort

My float equipment (room, tank, pod) has been installed...Now what? When you are selling floatation therapy you should do your best to sell the best float possible! 

Huh? What do we mean by "Best Float"?  A great float is one that is in a clean float suite with a clean float tank that is at the right temperature, pH and specific gravity. These are the things that will be immediately obvious to your clients. 

Once you install your equipment, the fun begins! Unless your float tank manufacturer set up your equipment, filled it with water, mimicked the conditions of your float center, calibrated everything, drained it and put it on the truck to come out to you, then we recommend spending a few weeks taking detailed measurements. Even if you aren't in a state where the health department requires strict maintenance logs, we would still encourage you to keep up with what is going on in your float equipment!

When we first got our rooms we had a $5 dollar thermometer, a La Motte hydrogen peroxide titration kit and some pH strips (we all have to start some where). We started taking measurements but we quickly discovered that everything but the La Motte testing kit was useless.  The $5 thermometer told us our float tanks were ALWAYS at 35C/95F  and those pH test strips... don't even get me started on how inaccurate they are!  Get yourself a good thermometer and a pH meter so you can collect accurate data.  The Float Tank Association makes a few recommendations. We are currently using the Cooper Atkins TM99A-032 and the Milwaukee pH / ORP / Temp Waterproof Tester pH58

In our humble opinion, the biggest issue when it comes to floater comfort is TEMPERATURE.  Your client is not going to know if the peroxide is 50 ppm or 100 ppm, they will not know the difference between a pH of 7.2 and 7.8 but they will definitely feel hot or cold! Whether you have an inline heater or water bed heaters, you need to see how well your equipment maintains the temperature you are setting at the main console.  

 
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

We have 4 float rooms and we originally set all the temps to 94.1 F.  We quickly discovered that just because we set the temp to 94.1 F, didn't mean the water temperature was actually 94.1 F! If you are using the Float Helm Software starting tracking. If not, make yourself an excel spread sheet, if that is too complicated, grab a lined note book and make a few tables. Add each of your rooms and the time you plan to measure the temperature during the day.

Always start first thing in the morning when you walk into your center when you need to check all of your rooms and prepare them for the days floats.   That is the time when your float rooms are likely to be the coolest if they have not been used for 8 hours or more. Inline heaters have settings where they will kick in when the water temperature drops 1.0 to 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit.  That is great, unfortunately we all know that 1.0 degree in the float industry can make a HUGE difference when it comes to floater comfort.

So what does that really mean?   A tank set at 93.5 will not kick in to reheat the water until it is at 92.5 and if you happen to put a client in at 92.5 for 60 minutes or longer they will likely be chilly. 

Once you have your "first thing in the morning" temperature, run your rooms on a 60 or 90 minute float cycle.  If you are curious... measure the temperature right after the float session to see how much heat your device loses or gains during the session, without waterbed heaters you may loose 0.5 degree F during a float.   When the pumps start to recirculate the water give yourself another 15 to 20 minutes to see how the temperature rebounds. Once you have given your equipment time to properly reheat and filter the water (just like it would between float sessions) and then start another float session.  

It may sound a little neurotic, but after you take measurements every 60 to 90 minutes for a week, you will start to see patterns in your tanks!  Once you identify those patterns you can calibrate your systems.  Maybe the 94.1 temperature setting is actually 95.0 in one room, but 93.5 in another.  It doesn't mean your equipment is bad, but if you get yourself a highly accurate thermometer, it is going to be a better gauge of your actual water temperature water than whatever number your float device is reading! Once you know the temperature setting where your float device keeps the temperature you can manually adjust the settings on the console. Check with your manufacturer, because you should be able to dial in the exact temperature.

You definitely can't make everyone perfectly happy, but if your tanks are well calibrated at least you will know the true temperature where your floaters are content and where they are hot or cold.  The beauty of running all of the same equipment is that you can intentionally hedge your bets and run slightly different temperatures in each room. So far we have noticed that most of our clients prefer to float at 94.3 to 95.8. We have even been asked to make our rooms warmer on occasion.  We have a few floaters who run warm and prefer the 93.5 to 94.0 range, but this is truly the minority.  With modern booking software it is so easy to take notes so you know which clients run warm and which clients run cool. You can send out post float surveys or ask your clients directly how they felt during their float.  Some may not want to tell you face to face, but many will happily offer feedback which you can use to improve their future float experiences. 

For more information definitely visit the Float Tank Association's Website.  HAPPY CALIBRATING!