5 Tips for Using a Flotation Tank
Learn what to do before and after when using a flotation tank
Flotation tanks — giant pods containing about 750 to 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt dissolved in 125 to 200 gallons of water — boast many health benefits, including pain relief, stress relief and improved sleep.
Today’s float tanks won’t produce mind-blowing hallucinations like the ones depicted in the 1980 science fiction-horror film, “Altered States,” but users say they help you reach a state of relaxation that you can’t reach any other way.
Ready to take your own float? Here are a few tips to ensure a positive experience.
Put away the razor
Marshall Hammond, a team member at highly rated Float On in Portland, Oregon, advises against shaving before a float. “The water is very salty, so it will sting even the tiniest of cuts in your skin,” he says.
But don’t let a nick in your skin scare you away from floating. Hammond says floaters can use petroleum jelly — which most companies provide — to cover a cut so the salt won’t seep in.
Don’t over (or under) indulge
“If you’re hungry or full, you can hear yourself digesting or your stomach growling,” Hammond says. Float tanks deprive your senses, which means those unpleasant stomach grumbles sound extra loud.
Tim Worsham, assistant director of operations at highly rated The Wellness Center in Minneapolis, adds that if you eat or drink too much before a float, you may need to get out to use the bathroom, which interrupts your experience.
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Though you won’t be in danger by drinking caffeine before a float, it can take away from your relaxing experience. Worsham and Hammond both stress that consuming caffeine before you float makes you jittery, which defeats the purpose of the float.
“If people smoke before they get in, they start sweating, and their pores release that smell into the tank, which isn’t good,” Worsham says.
He adds that you shouldn’t smoke in the hour leading up to your float session, but he recommends not smoking for at least 24 hours prior.
Take a shower — before and after
Showering before you float rinses off dirt and oil, allowing your skin to more easily absorb the magnesium in the tank. Showering after floating helps you rinse off the Epsom salt.
“Afterward, you’re covered in salt,” Hammond says. “This is the saltiest water there is, so you want to wash the salt off.”
Ease into it
“Some people say they feel claustrophobic, so I have a fresh air supply that goes across their face,” says Bob Dapper, owner of highly rated Royal Spa in Indianapolis. “There’s also the ability to close the door on your towel [not latching it], so you don’t feel like you’re trapped. There’s also a light on the wall, so you can turn it on and see what it’s like.
“After about 10 minutes, [people usually] turn it off and kick out the towel. It takes convincing for people to just get in and try it,” he says.
No hair dyes or tanning lotions allowed
Avoid floating within 72 hours of dyeing your hair or putting on any tanning lotions or applications, says Bernadette Fiaschetti, owner of Adrift Float Spa in Dallas.
“It [the color] will discolor the water,” she says. “If it’s coming off on a towel, it’ll come off in the water, and we’re meticulous about keeping our water clean.”
By Kaley Belakovich