Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
Humidity can be a subtle, difficult, and persistent challenge for a lot of float centers. Aside from just the massive amount of humidity that a float tank can create, showers also generate a lot of humidity. This can be a challenge for your construction, your soundproofing, and your floater’s comfort.
Fortunately, everyone has to deal with this issue, so there’s a lot of tips out there. Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact science on the best humidity for float rooms as of yet. Graham and Ashkahn unmuddle this quandary a bit before muddling it back up again.
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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Ashkahn: This is Ashkahn.
Graham: In case you’re wondering. I mean, Graham.
Graham: We are doing the Daily Solutions Podcast.
Ashkahn: Just read the question, buddy. You’ve got one job.
Graham: Today’s question is, why did you team up with such a jerk for your co-host?
Ashkahn: Thank-you. Great question.
Graham: Today’s question is, “I wanted to ask about pod room humidity and how you control it. Do you have the pod lid open when the pods are not in use? Do you have a dehumidifier in each room?”
Ashkahn: This is a big question. It’s an important question.
Graham: Yeah, so thank-you for bringing this to everyone’s attention.
Ashkahn: Yeah. Humidity’s a big, it’s a big deal. It has a lot of effects in the float tank. Temperatures is greatly reliant on humidity. Our perception of temperature in the heat. These sort of humidity questions range a lot from people’s comfort, to condensation, to all sorts of different things that can happen in the float room.
Graham: Yeah. There’s kind of a few different categories almost. Maybe we can breeze through some and then delve into others. But there’s humidity just in your overall float room, ignoring the pod itself.
Graham: That can cause damage to the building and stuff if you’re not dealing with humidity and controlling it within the room itself.
Ashkahn: Yeah, so mold and mildew, destroying your drywall. All that sort of stuff. You hopefully have a room that’s setup to handle a lot of moisture.
Graham: Because then you have a giant humidity generation machine there.
Ashkahn: It’s not just the float tanks. It’s in large part actually the showers.
Ashkahn: The fact that people are taking two showers for every float. That’s at the end of the day probably causing more humidity than your float tank is.
Graham: There’s humidity in the room. Then there’s humidity in the tank when someone’s floating.
Graham: Then there’s humidity in the tank when someone’s not floating.
Ashkahn: Then there’s humidity when someone’s just stepping in. That kind of in between floating and not floating.
Graham: Yeah, or stepping out too.
Ashkahn: Or stepping out, yeah. Or when you’re looking in the float tank but you haven’t gotten into it yet.
Graham: Yeah. That moment. Critical moment right beforehand.
Ashkahn: We’ll discuss all those in detail here.
Graham: I guess there is also just humidity for your HVAC and the rest of your building too. Which, if we have time and the inclination, we can go into.
Ashkahn: You do need something to control for humidity in your float rooms. A dehumidifier, while the name of the device sounds like exactly what you’re looking for, the main problem with having a dehumidifier in your room is just noise. They’re pretty loud.
Graham: Even the quiet, well like we’ve gotten the whisper quiet.
Graham: Or as quiet as you can get with dehumidifiers.
Ashkahn: They often beep to let you know when they’re full, very annoyingly.
Graham: Which, you can get in there and cut the speaker wires, but then you’re doing a little modification on them.
Ashkahn: Or you could have a dehumidifier that actually has a tube that drains out by itself, so it doesn’t have a basin. But at that point you’re doing some pretty sophisticated stuff with dehumidifiers. Really, the real solution is to have something like this built into the ventilation of your room.
Graham: Yeah. An HVAC system, especially one that has an air conditioner built in, really handles humidity and dehumidification. That’s kind of built into –
Ashkahn: Yeah, you’re probably going to have a condenser somewhere along your system that’s actually taking humidity out of the air as it’s going through your ventilation system.
Graham: Yeah. That’s really common. If you’ve actually done a setup that has a legit HVAC and you’re heating and cooling your rooms, then humidity control for the rooms is probably built into that, and the load’s been all balanced with air going in and out and stuff like that. That’ll just kind of handle it for you.
Ashkahn: Yeah. That’s really the level you should be looking at in terms of properly controlling this stuff. The other thing to note here is that you can actually remove too much humidity from the room. You can make them not humid enough. The amount of humidity you want in there I think is actually a little bit more than you typically want in just a normal room temperature room, like your lobby.
The main issue is that if you take too much humidity out of the air, the salt water that’s on the top half of your body while you’re floating in the float tank will actually start to evaporate pretty quickly, and leave the salt crystals behind on your body. It’s just uncomfortable. It’s just unpleasant. You’ll be floating and you get in there, and there’s salt all over your stomach and stuff like that. After about 15 minutes that just turns into salt crystals, and every time you move you just feel like a bunch of little stabby crystals stabbing at you with their stabby hands.
Graham: This is, everything that we’re saying is just even more true if you’re in an open float pool too. When you have a float tank, then at the very least if it’s closed, if the lid’s closed or the door’s shut, then it’s kind of turning into its own humidity generated moist world in there, you know? The humidity on the outside can still affect that, but not nearly as much as if you have no cover on the tank. Then getting the humidity correct for the entire room just becomes 10 times as important, I’ll say, just off the top of my head as a random multiplier.
Ashkahn: 17 and a half times more. So yeah, humidity’s important because it can damage your room if you have too much of it. It can make salt crystals form on the top of people’s bodies if you don’t have enough of it. Also, the humidity level in your room will affect the temperature that people feel like it is. The air temperature that people feel. It ranges huge amounts, from zero to 100 percent humidity will change your perceived temperate like 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or something like that.
Graham: Sometimes more depending on, the temperature we keep ours too gets up pretty high.
Ashkahn: Yeah. We’re talking about pretty serious, you could leave the temperature exactly the same, and all of a sudden you have more humidity. People will start saying that it feels hot in your float tanks. Part of your general temperature control is knowing and hopefully maintaining your humidity levels. Often what I find is, people just do the best dehumidifying they can at the right level, and then base their temperature off of that. Rather than necessarily controlling their humidity. That seems to be more difficult for people than controlling the temperature.
Graham: Yeah. I don’t know any centers who have a humidifier in their rooms. If that makes sense. Most often you’re controlling humidity by controlling the amount that you’re dehumidifying.
Graham: Not by actually injecting moisture into the rooms themselves.
Ashkahn: You can. I think Justin Feinstein’s tanks in his research center have a little humidifier.
Graham: The closed tank has one for inside the tank. But I don’t know any rooms, like built into the room itself.
Ashkahn: Open? Like an open room?
Graham: Yeah. Just built into the float tank room in general, it has a humidifier.
Ashkahn: Right. Because almost always the problem is the opposite. It’s very rare that you’re too low in humidity and the solution is not just notching your dehumidifying abilities down a little bit.
Graham: Yeah. Usually what we’re talking about is level of dehumidification that you’re doing here. There’s also, I guess the, for when someone, let’s say it’s a pod because that was the question. Someone hops in a pod. They close the door. You have some level of dehumidification going on in the room. We also didn’t talk about, it could just be a fan. A vent fan up above the shower, is kind of the simple man’s version of getting the humidity, at least from the showers out.
Ashkahn: They make really quiet vent fans too, which is nice.
Graham: Yeah. If you do have a vent fan, or even a dehumidifier somewhere in your building, and it starts making noise? Just go in there and clean it. Those things build up a lot of dust, and there’s a regular task where we actually have to take down our built in vent fans in each room to clean them. Otherwise they just progressively rattle more and more.
I got lost. I lost track of what I was saying because of the vent fan thing. The vent fan distracted me.
Ashkahn: We still need to talk about what you do in terms of leaving your tanks or pods –
Graham: Okay. Let’s say you’re in a pod. Let’s say you’re in a pod. You hop in there. You’re doing your dehumidification outside.
Graham: They shut the lid to the pod when they’re floating. I kind of feel like that if the tank is built correctly, or even if you’ve just modified it and put some active airflow on there, just closing the lid and being inside the tank almost takes care of the humidity when you’re floating in a closed environment for the most part.
Ashkahn: Yeah. It’s pretty, I’ve never been in a pod tank style thing and felt there was too little humidity. The only times I’ve experienced too little humidity is in those open float tanks.
Graham: Then if you do go in, and even as a business owner you’re running test floats. You figure out that when you’re floating it feels too humid in there. What do you do to correct that?
Ashkahn: Well, there’s, I mean a few float tank manufacturers have some sort of active ventilation system.
Ashkahn: There’s also a few aftermarket ventilation systems people have made to connect to your float tanks.
Graham: Yeah, and that’s, I guess, just making sure there’s good airflow deals with much more than humidity as well. It makes the float just that much more enjoyable. It kind of stops things from feeling stale on the inside. There is a certain amount of air exchange that legally you kind of need to accomplish to have a human being in that space. Making sure that that’s covered. Again, hopefully the manufacturers have done that. But even if just for your personal preference, it’s already handled by your tank. But you do want to get more airflow.
Looking into getting some active ventilation. Usually some kind of sped down computer fan that’s made to be really quiet, or modded specifically for float tanks, is kind of the type of solution that I see being used for those fans.
Alright. What about when there’s no one in the tank?
Ashkahn: You have a few different solutions here. One is, they make these, we call them bubble wrap. But they’re really pool covers.
Graham: What’s the problem that we’re trying to avoid here?
Ashkahn: The problem is that –
Graham: If leave a tank open it’s a humidity generating machine.
Ashkahn: If you leave a tank, yeah. If you leave a tank open you can just be losing a lot of water to evaporation.
Ashkahn: If you leave a tank closed, sometimes for long periods of time, that evaporation will build up on the ceiling of the float tank as condensation, which gets kind of annoying. You’ll have to wipe it off. There’s a nice middle ground of being able to leave your tank open, but not having to worry about having a lot of the water evaporate out. Which, you can just get these pool covers.
Graham: Bubble wrap.
Ashkahn: Yeah. They basically look like really nice bubble wrap. Thick plastic bubble wrap.
Graham: You have to try really hard, don’t pop them. Because if you start popping those bubbles, it really ruins the whole system.
Ashkahn: They’ve very hard to pop. It would be impressive to even pop one. But you know, you cut it to the shape of your float tank and you basically just roll it over. It kind of makes a, basically just like a little cover over the top of the water, and tries to reduce the amount of surface area that’s exposed to the air.
Graham: That has its own set of issues that comes along with it. Mainly it’s just a hassle to deal with this thing that you have to roll up and put away.
Ashkahn: It’s all salty.
Graham: Disinfect. Yeah. I know people who do kind of all three different solutions for managing humidity in the tank. It’s like, pod lid shut, and then they go in whenever they have a new client coming in. They make sure to wipe down the ceiling, because there are droplets up there.
Ashkahn: You’ve got to let it breathe a little bit too. Open the door for at least five minutes. Get some cooler fresh air in there.
Graham: Then people who just leave the pod door open, and then deal with the fact that water’s evaporating, and deal with humidity going into the room. Or people who leave the door open, bubble wrap in, but then have to deal with cleaning up the bubble wrap afterwards. That’s actually what we do at Float On for almost all of our tanks, except our big open pools.
Ashkahn: Yeah. For long periods of time. It’s like, if there’s a couple appointments that are not there in the schedule, we’d throw some bubble wrap on. But we’re not doing it in the time between customers, or if someone’s running 10 minutes late, or any of that sort of thing.
Graham: Yeah. So yeah. That’s the kind of humidity solutions. I definitely don’t –
Ashkahn: I’ve got one more.
Graham: Oh, you’ve got- Yeah. Just winding things down here.
Ashkahn: You can measure your humidity levels very easily, and the device you get is something called a hygrometer. Not to be confused with a hydrometer, which you use to measure your specific gravity levels. But hygrometers are pretty cheap. You can get a set of four or five sensors and a little wireless brain that gets recordings from them for like $40 on Amazon.
Ashkahn: That would literally be enough for your entire float center. Put a sensor into each float tank. You just stick it on the wall somewhere inside your float tank. It would wirelessly send back the humidity levels to the device in your lobby. You’ll just be able to know what the humidity levels inside your float tanks are. It’s really simple if you want to actually look at the levels and see what you’re doing when you’re adding fans, or leaving your tank open or closed or whatever.
Graham: As to what they should be once you start measuring them, that’s an area I’m not sure that I have as much advice for.
Ashkahn: They almost certainly should, I think probably lower than what almost everyone’s float tanks are. That’s my guess.
Graham: Ours, when we put those in, almost every one just went up to 99 percent humidity.
Ashkahn: Yeah. The ones, except for our open float rooms. Those weren’t 99.
Ashkahn: But the manufactured pods and tanks and cabins and stuff like that.
Graham: Anything that closed, yeah.
Ashkahn: 98, 99 percent.
Graham: Keep in mind too, we had them mounted towards the top because we just got afraid of the –
Ashkahn: One was even right maybe six inches off the water.
Graham: Okay. That one went up to 99 too?
Ashkahn: Still also read –
Graham: Yeah. I mean I’d be shocked if you get different readings than that. You’re probably nearing 100 percent humidity.
Ashkahn: Lower than that I think is probably, I think this can contribute a lot towards that stuffy feeling people have when they’re inside the float tank. It’s something you’ll hear all the time. People will crack the lid or crack the door a little bit to get rid of that stuffy feeling. It’s probably just really high levels of humidity.
Graham: Yeah. Exceptionally high humidity, plus the temperature. For sure.
Ashkahn: Yeah. Having some sort of, being able to track that. Adding ventilation. If you can do something that’s actually quiet, being able to get some sort of airflow. As long as you can’t feel it on your body. It would be nice to have those humidity levels lower than that.
Graham: But how much lower? I don’t know.
Ashkahn: How much lower?
Graham: We don’t have that. I don’t –
Ashkahn: What’s room temperature? It’s supposed to be 60 percent relative humidity?
Graham: Yeah. 40 to 60.
Ashkahn: My guess is you probably want something somewhere between 60 and 99.
Graham: Okay. This is one of those cases where you just need to stop listening to our advice right now. Again, we don’t know. I do think that some of the comfort that comes from people being in a float tank might also be the fact that the humidity levels are so high in there.
Ashkahn: Yeah. It’s nice.
Graham: It kind of equalizes that feeling between above the water and below the water. I don’t know.
Ashkahn: Yeah. Probably something like 75, 80 percent. That’s right.
Graham: Get out of here. That’s not, we don’t do that.
Ashkahn: You heard it here.
Graham: We do not do this in our float tanks.
Ashkahn: 80 percent humidity is the ideal.
Graham: This is not actually anything that we know about or do ourselves, just so you know.
Ashkahn: It’s not going to stop me from giving advice about it.
Graham: Never has in the past.
Graham: What’s your, you’ve got one last thing?
Ashkahn: No. That’s it. Alright. Well if you guys have other questions.
Graham: Don’t send them to us. That’s for sure.
Ashkahn: Yeah, there’s got to be another podcast out there that has better information than this.
Graham: Find someone else who knows what they’re doing. Or just go to floattanksolutions.com/podcast and roll the dice.
Ashkahn: Alright. Cool. Well, we’ll talk to you guys later.
Graham: Yeah. Thanks for listening, everyone.
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