The goal of any float center is to never have an empty tank.
However, reality says that there will be slow times of the year, last minute cancelations, and unexplained openings in the schedule that will require you to maintain the temperature of an empty tank until you can get it filled with a floater. While we strive to help you stay full, here is how you can keep the water in your tank ready to float at a moments notice…
93.5 – the Magic Number?
At our center we try to keep the temperatures of our tank water as close to 93.5 degrees as possible. Dr. John C. Lilly (inventor of the float tank) came to the conclusion that the water temperature should be between 93 and 94 degrees to achieve skin receptor neutrality – a temperature neither hot enough nor cold enough to cause the receptors in your skin to fire to your brain causing a thermal sensation of hot or cold.
Not all float tank centers agree that 93.5 degrees is ideal. The truth is there is no perfect universal water temperature – the perfect temperature for the perfect float varies from person to person as some people run hotter/colder than traditional neutral.
But, there has to be a target number to set your tanks to, so that if your tank strays too far below that number you will want to turn it up, and too high above that number you will want to turn it down. As a rule of thumb, we stay below 96 degrees fahrenheit it’s considered by some to be the maximum safe temperature, and most floaters will agree that anything above 95 is too hot.
Keeping it Cosy
Interesting fact: A human body puts off about the same amount of heat as a 100 watt lightbulb.
Our float tanks are designed to keep the water at a specific temperature when people are floating – when the door is closed and there is a warm body in the tank. If the doors are left open for an extended period of time, the water will likely drop below comfortable levels in just a few hours. Keeping the tank doors closed for extended periods of time can lead to stuffy air and condensation drops inside the tanks, both of which can ruin a float. So how can you keep the water warm and the air fresh?
At Float On, we have a few ways of keeping our empty tanks warm, but we find that the best way is to keep the water covered with pool covers (those blue bubble wrap tarp things that go over swimming pools). The pool covers hold the heat in, and allow us to leave the door of the tank open to let out moisture. Whenever we have a tank that is going to be empty for more than an hour, we put on a pool cover.
When taking the pool covers off, it’s a good idea to rinse the saltwater off so it doesn’t accumulate and get spread around.
Inline heaters are best used when ran in conjunction with under tank heaters. Inline heaters are attached to the pump system rather than the standard waterbed type floor heaters. This means that the only time the water is being heated by an inline heater is when the pumps are running. If your tanks were to only have inline heaters, to maintain ideal temperature, you will need to run the pump approximately every 2 hours. This can fit in during your transition period if you were to run 90 minute floats. The temperature settings of the heaters are set so the tanks are heated up just enough to compensate for the loss of heat during the last float.
Sometimes when we have had heater malfunctions in the past, we have used aquarium heaters to keep our tanks warm. These are just heater probes that you plug into a wall and let sit in the tank when there are not floaters in them. These work even better and more quickly when there is also a pool covering over the water they are sitting in.
Add Hot Water
If your temperatures are low and you have floaters coming in to float and you know the heaters won’t get the temperature up fast enough, you can add hot water to tanks. Just remember that adding water without salt will lower the specific gravity.
Regardless of what method you choose to keep your tanks warm, vigilance is the key. Know when your tanks are going to be empty and for how long. Set a target temperature and try to stick to it. Get a feeling for how long it takes your tanks to heat up. Have a back-up plan if your normal procedures for keeping the tanks warm aren’t followed.
Say you show up at the shop in the morning and someone forgot to put the pool cover on the tank and its a few degrees below your target temp. It’s nice if you have several options: crank up the temperature on the tank controls (just remember to turn them down to normal settings afterwards), toss on a pool cover, then throw in aquarium heater you have lying around. There is a very good chance that will be enough to bring your tank up to temp. The temperature is still not up and the client is in the waiting room? Throw in a few buckets of hot water.
Probably the most often heard complaint in the float industry is that a client was too hot or too cold. A good temperature is absolutely crucial for a good float. If a customer states that the temperature of their float was not ideal, we can place a note on their account in HelmBot to adjust the heaters for their next float. Even if you are able to stick to your target temperatures 100% of the time, you will still get complaints. By staying vigilant about temperature and having backup plans should something go awry, you’ll stand a much greater chance of providing a comfortable experience that customers will want to return to again and again.