float tank maintenance

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!

From Childhood Pool Maintenance to Float Tank Maintenance

When I was growing up, we were very lucky to have a pool at our house.  Every spring, I eagerly awaited the Reinhardt Family tradition of uncovering the pool.  I would watch as my dad turned on the pump to remove the water that collected on top of the tarp. Next, he scraped off the heavy wet rotted leaves that had fallen onto the cover during the fall.  Finally, we (the kids) got to help! We would scamper around the pool pulling off the slimy water bags used to keep the pool cover in place over the winter.  We would drain them, hose them off and hang them over the fence to dry.  Finally, we peeled back the pool cover to reveal the half-full concrete hole in the ground, OUR POOL! :)

I always wanted to jump in, but the pool had to be filled, cleaned and most importantly SHOCKED to make sure it was safe for swimming.  Waiting the 3 to 7 days it took to accomplish all of this was agonizing for a 7 year old, but it was so worth it to splash into that water for the first time each spring. 

Having a pool is a lot of work. Every week, my Dad would vacuum, check the pH,  chlorine, clean the skimmers, add water and clean the inside of the pool around the water line as necessary.  When I was old enough and wanted to swim it was my job to check the pH, chlorine, skim and my favorite job to empty the skimmer baskets!  There was always a little frog (or two) that would make our pool their home each summer. I loved finding them and letting them hop back into the woods.

Little did I know as a child, when I was observing and learning how take care of a pool that some day I would own a Floatation Therapy Tank business that would require even more maintenance than a home pool!

Talking to our clients about floating I have learned that two of the top questions they have are: Will I feel claustrophobic?  How are the tanks maintained? 

Our float rooms are very spacious. They are 5 feet wide, 8 feet deep and 6.5 feet tall.  They have a glass shower door so you don't have to feel like you are in a closet, but our Float Suite has been light proofed so you can still have a true Sensory Deprivation experience once you turn off the underwater LED light.

At Anicca Float Club cleanliness is a top priority.  We follow the recommendations made by the Floatation Tank Association. We do everything possible to maintain the highest water quality for our clients. Every morning when we arrive at the Club the first thing we do is check all of our Float Rooms.  We qualitatively observe the water quality and then take several measurements: 
1) Temperature: The water temperature needs to be between 93.1 and 95.0 degrees. This is the range of skin temperature. Anything below this you will probably be chilly and anything above can be dangerous and uncomfortable.

2) pH  -  7.2 to 7.6

3) Alkalinity - 80 to 120 ppm

4) Water level -  9 to 10" (for our float rooms!) 

5) Specific gravity -  1.240 to 1.285 (We have floated with the density as low as 1.18, but it's a deep float. Anything above 1.30 and you run the risk of salt crystallizing in your equipment.)

6) Hydrogen peroxide residual (H202) - 25 to 100 ppm    

We skim the rooms to make sure our filter system has done its job to its fullest.  We also check the rooms between each float.  At the end of each evening we add hydrogen peroxide to maintain a residual of 25 to 100 ppm in the water. Once a week, the filters are changed,  the tanks get an even deeper deep clean and enzyme clarifier is added when necessary. 

Everyday the measurements are a little different. Floaters take out salt and water on their bodies. We adjust the amount of peroxide we add based on the residual. Like everything in this world, a floatation therapy system is dynamic.  Float tank chemistry is constantly changing and needs to be monitored and adjusted accordingly.

Our goal is to provide every client with a comfortable, clean and safe float environment!  Happy Floating!

 

Great Float Tank Maintenance Resources:

Float Tank Solutions: Owners Guide to Maintaining Float Tanks

Float Tank Association: 

Recommended Maintenance

Health Standard Introduction