Learn best practices for starting and running a float center:
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What is the Perfect Float Temperature?

I am sure we have all heard of the skin receptor neutral temperature that float centers preach. The sacred 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit. It seems to be the temperature that most centers set their tanks’ water to. We even do it at Float On: for someone’s first float, they will enter a tank that has a water temperature of 93.5, give or take a couple points of a degree. We’ve also found as the weather gets cooler outside, people inherently like it a little warmer, so in the winter months you might find 94 degrees to be our starting point.

the right temperature for sensory deprivationDoes that mean this is the temperature that is best for them? Not necessarily, and it is our job as responsible float center operators to find out what temperature will make our floaters the most comfortable. The best way to figure this out is to just talk to people. This goes beyond just asking, “How was your float?”

One of the ways I’ve found that works best is to start with that question and if they enjoyed their float you can follow up with, “Is there anything you would like adjusted for your next float?” or “How was the temperature for you?”  If they didn’t enjoy their float, they will usually let you know why. If they don’t, you should definitely ask.

Most people will be completely fine with the temperature you have set for them. 93.5° does seem to be the best median temperature for the general public, but we are all different. Some people like the water warmer while others, like myself, like the tank on the cool side. I (Pat) personally set my tank right at 93° or just slightly lower.

Air vs Water Temperature

If someone lets you know they would like their tank cooler or warmer, make sure to find out if they are talking about the air or the water. Some people get cooler on the top side of their body and need the temperature of the room to be raised. Others would like the water temperature to be raised. Some people are just hot all over and would like the room temperature dropped along with the water temperature (which usually describes my own personal situation).

There are plenty of combinations to figure what is best, but it is all worth it once someone has their tank dialed in and you give them that perfect float. This is coming from plenty of experience and literally seeing customers tear up after having a very special 90 minutes.

Recording Tank Temperatures

Make sure to note your customers’ preferred temperature. We obviously use The Float Helm, since we brought that specific program to life. We’re able to note directly onto each customer’s profile (which shows up on their appointment) how they like their tanks so we can adjust them before they arrive. You just need to find a consistent and efficient way to note your customers’ preferences so that all your employees are aware before they show up for their floats.

measuring float tank water temperatureRecording an accurate water temperature is actually more difficult than you would think. A lot of the tools used to record water temperature are not accurate enough to give you the real temperature they like. Some high quality thermometers are off by .8 of a degree, and a float at 93.5° is much different than a float at 94.3°, so that margin of error is no good.

Our favorite tool for affordability and accuracy, currently, is the Thermoworks Reference Thermometer. It takes about thirty seconds to one minute to read the temperature but is accurate and reliable to .1° F. This way you know the temperature being taken is as close to the customer’s desired temperature as possible. If you adjust any of the temperature settings for a customer, be sure to to leave a note for what you set them at so you (or the person working) knows what it was at the last time as a reference.

Different Day, Different Temperature

That perfect temperature that someone experienced while floating in the middle of December is probably not going to be the same perfect temperature in the middle of July.

In this case, simply talking to them when they come in can take care of it entirely. “I know you like your tank a little warmer, but today is pretty hot. Would you like us to turn it down to compensate for the hot temperature today?” This puts the temperature in their hands and stops you from possible making the wrong decision and potentially providing a sub-par float.

Our bodies are different from day to day as well. Women seem to fluctuate more than men, in my own experience. I had a customer come in one day who wanted it warmer. I made the tank warmer and she said the temperature was perfect – she had a great float. I took the temperature of the tank and the settings I set the tank to and recorded them in her profile so she could have that temperature from now on.

For her next float, we set the tank temperature to her preference, and after her float she said she got a little hot. This sort of thing can get frustrating, but we need to have patience and get their temperatures dialed in. Most of the time when this happens I will delete the note, go back to the default settings we use and see where to go from there.

How Hot is Too Hot?

At Float On, our personal stance is that we do not like our tanks to go higher than 95° F. I am not talking about the temperature setting on the tank, as those can be inaccurate, but the actual temperature of the tank. Getting above 96° can possibly be dangerous, and going above 95° is a risk we are not willing to take.

Some Floaters are Little Heaters

Occasionally, we will take the temperature after someone’s float and the temperature will have jumped up. The settings of the tank are the same, and nothing has changed. (Side note: you should also make sure that floaters don’t have access to the temperature controls. Most of the time, the issue is not tampering though.) Some people’s own core temperature is so high that they just naturally heat up the tank. My body does this and I am pretty sure this is why I love my tank on the cooler side – I naturally warm it up and it gets too hot for my own liking.

It is a good idea to note this so that when those customers float, you know to check the temperature afterwards and adjust from there. It would be a shame to send someone into a very hot tank for their first experience. You can compensate pretty quickly for the hot temperature by leaving the tank door as wide open as possible. Making sure that floaters know they can leave the door open for comfort is also good to mention.

Some floaters like the classic style design, front hatch tanks, but they can get a little stuffy. One way to fight this is to put something like a pool noodle or a towel in between the door of the tank to let in some cool air. This is a favorite tactic of our experienced floaters.

How to Heat Up a Cool Tank

The water temperature in a sensory deprivation tankmost effective way I have found to heat up a cool tank is to simply put a pool cover over the tank water and turn the settings up. You can also shut the door to the tank, but you run the possibility of condensation forming on your ceiling that could drip onto the floater’s face. The pool cover should stop this from happening, but is not guaranteed. Make sure to put the temperature back to its default settings once the desired temperature is reached.

Do not run your pump while the cover is in your tank. This is mostly used to get tanks back up to temperature after adding water and salt, if an under-tank heater is out, or if there is a previously empty tank that needs to be heated up.

Check Your Temperatures, Check Your Temperatures, and Check Your Temperatures Again

This has been one of the biggest practices for myself in providing great floats. Checking the tank temperatures regularly throughout the day and being on top of customer’s preferences has allowed me to give people the best experience possible. It has also allowed us to immediately catch when a heater has gone out (for instance if the temperature is not keeping up to its normal range and the settings are above the default). This has been huge for stopping little problems before they become big problems.

So that is how I like to manage the temperature of float tanks for my floaters. Remember that temperature is a very subjective and personal thing and that it is always going to be different. Taking customer notes will go a very long way in staying consistent and improving conditions. It can be frustrating trying to get it just right for a guest, but once it is there, a very magical experience can happen.

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