Why floatation tanks use Epsom salts

Epsom Salt Floatation tanks are an excellent way of combating stress, alleviating muscular aches and pains and for reaching Zen like states of relaxation.

The buoyancy in a floattank is provided by creating a super saturated mixture of Epsom salts and water, allowing the user to float effortlessly on top of the skin temperature solution.

Epsom salts / Magnesium Sulphate / Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4·7H2O) has been used for centuries as an effective cure all.

Soaking in Epsom salts has been found to stimulate lymph drainage, and promote the absorption of Magnesium and Sulphates.

Magnesium is the second-most abundant element in human cells and the fourth-most important positively charged ion in the body, so it is little wonder this low-profile mineral is so vital to good health and well being. Magnesium, a major component of Epsom Salt, also helps to regulate the activity of more than 325 enzymes and performs a vital role in orchestrating many bodily functions, from muscle control and electrical impulses to energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.

Magnesium levels have dropped by half in the last century due to changes in agriculture and diet. Industrial farming has depleted Magnesium from soil and the typical diet contains much less Magnesium than that of our forefathers. In fact, the modern diet with its fat, sugar, salt and protein actually works to speed up the depletion of Magnesium from our bodies.

57% of the US population does not meet the US Recommended Dietary Allowance for dietary intake of magnesium.

Researchers and physicians report that raising your magnesium and sulphate levels may:

  • Improve heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure. Improve the body’s ability to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
  • Flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
  • Improve nerve function by regulating electrolytes. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
  • Relieve stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
  • Prevention or easing of migraine headaches.

When using a float tank Magnesium is absorbed through the skin due to natural molecular diffusion, the body optimizes the levels of Magnesium, so there is no overload effect from floating in the salts for extended periods.

While increasing your Magnesium levels, Epsom Salt also delivers sulphates, which are extremely difficult to get through food but which readily absorb through the skin. Sulphates serve a wide variety of functions in the body, playing a vital role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the Mucin proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. Sulphates also stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are believed to help detoxify the body’s residue of medicines and environmental contaminants.

Float tanks are becoming more popular with many multi tank facilities opening around the globe. Why not “book a session”:/book today?

Try searching the following terms; float tank, floatation tank, flotation tank, isolation tank, sensory deprivation tank to find your nearest float centre.

I hate silence. Spotify is my constant companion. How some people run without headphones is beyond my comprehension. I even sleep with Netflix on in the background—with the blinds open—because I’m not a fan of the dark.

This constant stream of sensory input is a security blanket for my mind—mostly because it drastically reduces the amount of time I have to spend “alone” with my overstressed, anxiety-riddled thoughts. When it comes to dealing with those, well, that’s why I have a therapist.

I know stress—at least the sort of chronic stress that millions of Americans, including myself, battle—is the antithesis of health. Research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise even shows it can reduce the body’s ability to recover from and reap the benefits of exercise.

So when one of my best friends texted me that she had just tried flotation therapy per her therapist’s suggestion—and loved it—I realized that it might be more than just a trendy treatment. What exactly is this type of sensory deprivation therapy, though? It’s a process in which you float on water in a bed-sized container, called a pod, that’s devoid of all light and sound. Many athletes use flotation, like British 400-meter hurdler Tasha Danvers, who took home bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Even Team USA gymnast Aly Raisman floated in preparation for Rio.

Having been available (albeit not exactly popular) for more than 50 years, this type of sensory deprivation therapy is actually decently researched.

For instance, back in 1983, research published in Biofeedback and Self-Regulation found that floating results in a significant reduction in levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A 2006 study in the International Journal of Stress Management went on to find that the association drop in stress and anxiety lasts for up to four months after being treated a dozen times.

After all, flotation is pretty similar to meditation. But by depriving the senses of sight, sound, and touch, float pods may make it a lot easier to tame the an overly stimulated mind and get into that meditative state. Some people, especially athletes, use their sessions as a mental “blank slate” for completing performance-boosting visualization exercises, explains clinical and sports psychologist Leah Lagos Wallach, Psy.D.

“Runners may see, smell, hear, or feel aspects such as running free, overcoming fatigue, and crossing the finish line in their desired time,” she says. “By quieting their minds, they can strengthen their focus while giving them much needed physiological and psychological.”

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Once I knew what I was getting myself into, I was ready to try it.

Getting Set Up

When I arrived at Float Sixty in Chicago’s Loop, I was already stressed and running late. Fortunately, the man behind the reception desk didn’t seem to mind. As cool as a cucumber, he walked me back to my private float room—equipped with a clam-looking float pod, shower, and shelf filled with toiletries—to explain to me how the whole thing worked.

I would wash off in the shower, scrub my hair, but not put in conditioner. (It’s apparently bad for the pod.) Then, I’d put in earplugs, which would eliminate any sound that made its way into the room and prevent water from getting into my ears. If I had any cuts or scrapes on my body, I was to cover them with petroleum jelly. Float pods are full of Epsom salt—about 800 or more pounds for you to be completely buoyant—which allows for practitioners to effortlessly float in six to 12 inches of water without bumping their butt cheeks into the bottom. Lagos notes that the magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt also serves to help relax sore muscles and potentially aid in recovery. The salt would sting if it got into any scrapes.

After I did all of this, I could get in the water and, if I chose, close the pod’s lid. (You don’t have to close the lid if you’re claustrophobic, but a teeny bit of light can sneak in then.) The room’s lights were equipped with motion sensors and would automatically go out after about 10 seconds or so of no movement. When my time was up—I paid $60 for an hour-long session, although die-hard devotees often float for even longer—music would start playing as my cue to exit.

Once the cucumber guy left, I did as I was told. I got in (completely naked, if you’re wondering), and closed the lid for the full effect.

Epsom Salt, Itchy Eyes, and Wondering Where My Hands Were

Dropping back into the water, I worked to fully relax my neck—placing my head back and chin up—rather than “crunch” my neck with my chin toward my chest. It was definitely counterintuitive, but eventually, I eased into the fact that I truly was too buoyant to sink.

Now resting comfortably, the water came up within a centimeter or two from the corners of my eyes. That’s when things went awry. I tried to scratch an itch by one eye, not thinking about the fact that Epsom salt does not feel good in your eyeballs. Half-blinded and wincing, I opened the pod, sat up to reach the spray bottle on the shelf next to the pod, and sprayed clean water in my eye. I repeated that process about four more times before the discomfort fully subsided.

Eventually, I was able to get into my float. The longer I was in the water, the less I felt it. I had known that the pod was designed to maintain a water temperature of about 93 or 94—the equivalent of the average person’s skin temp—but it still was pretty bizarre when I couldn’t tell if the back of my hands were fully underwater or floating on top. I opened my eyes to settle the dispute, but I couldn’t see anything.

I spent some time playing with the whole no-light experience. I shut my eyes and opened them again to see if I could see any difference. I tried to look “through” the darkness, since I had heard some people likened sensory deprivation to an acid trip. (People hallucinate when they are on acid, right?) I eventually saw neon outlines of moving shapes. But it might have been a placebo.

Then I got bored about 45 minutes into it. Was my time up yet? I tried to relax, but doing nothing started to make me feel anxious. Deep breaths. I had carved out a full hour in my schedule to this; there was no reason to rush.

I started to hear something. Was I hallucinating again? After about 30 seconds or so, the under-water acoustics from the music got loud enough that I knew I wasn’t making it up. The hour was up.

Cumulative Benefits

As I showered all the Epsom salt off and got dressed, it became clear that I was actually relaxed. I felt refreshed, but my limbs were heavy. It was a weird combination of peppy and groggy.

When I walked past the meditation room on my way out, I decided to go inside. I sat down on the cushions covering the floor of the tiny, exposed-brick room. I leafed through SoulPancake. I ruminated over its prompts: “How do our minds affect our health?” “List the five risks you haven’t had the guts to take yet.”

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The chilled-out effect lasted for a handful of hours. After all, once I slowly meandered my way home, totally relaxed and not thinking about anything, I sat down at my desk to work. “Oh, yeah, deadlines,” I thought. Stress was back in session.

A couple of weeks later, I went for my second float. The cucumber guy and psychologists I had talked to said it took practice to really get good at sensory deprivation therapy.

Just the second time around, though, I found it easier to relax, and the time definitely went by faster than it had during my first float. I spoke with M. Ellis Jaruzel, Psy.D., cofounder and chief research officer at Therapy.Live about my overloaded mind, and he recommended anchoring my attention to something internal, like my breath.

By my third session, it only took (what I can only assume was) a few minutes for my mind to peace out. I’m sure I hadn’t fallen asleep, but the music was suddenly playing. Where had the hour gone?

I’m now about half a dozen sessions in after about 10 weeks and the post-float feel-good vibes definitely last longer than they used to. For several days afterward, it seems like the volume is turned down just slightly on my mind. I’m able to fall asleep without quite as much tossing and turning—and if I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m able to get back to sleep without restarting Netflix.

Since starting flotation therapy, I’ve been able to perform my first unassisted set of pullups and am able to get through my winter treadmill workouts without cutting them short because of boredom. Less stress and better sleep can only move the needle in the fit direction, right?

In the end, I don’t feel like flotation is a turn-your-health-upside-down sort of experience, but it’s definitely one of many tools that can be a valuable addition to any person’s healthy-living toolbox. I’m glad that I’m slowly learning how to just be, and dropping in a float tank is something I plan on sticking with over the long term.

And maybe someday I’ll be able to run without music in my ears.

K Aleisha Fetters K Aleisha Fetters is a Chicago-based strength and conditioning specialist, contributing to publications including Time, Runner’s World, VICE, U.S.

5 Incredible Health Benefits of Floating

Want to float your way to less stress, anxiety, depression, and pain? Though it sounds too good to be true, science says it’s possible.

While floating in a sensory-deprivation tank may sound terrifying, it’s meant to have the opposite effect. Magnesium-saturated water (aka epsom salt), kept at a temperature that matches your skin’s, keeps you effortlessly buoyant so you don’t have to worry about staying afloat. With little to touch, taste, smell, hear, or feel, you’re wrapped in a cocoon of warmth and silence, with only your thoughts keep you company. Herein lies the magic of floating – it puts you in a meditative state to better heal what ails you.

Origins of floating

Floating in salt water for therapeutic reasons is not new. People have made pilgrimages to the Dead Sea for centuries. However, over the past 15 years, there’s been a renewed interest in the practice, with chic flotation studios, offering 60-90-minute float sessions, cropping up all over metropolitan areas.

In the late ’50s, neuroscientist and psychoanalyst John C. Lilly, MD studied the effects of sensory deprivation flotation on anxiety disorders, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Due to the impressive benefits he saw for people with these conditions, he decided to team up with two business partners — Glenn and Lee Perry — to develop a commercial float tank that anyone could use.

In the ‘70s, concerns over water cleanliness halted the industry’s growth. Nonetheless, the scientific study of floating — namely the effects of isolation on the brain — continued within the academic community.

Floating goes mainstream

Image via Pause Float Studio

About 15 years ago, a UK-based company called ISOPOD enlisted a team of engineers to resolve concerns over water cleanliness. With the latest water-filtration technology, they built a system to remove particles 15 times smaller than a commercial filtration unit. As a result, small studios popped up in England, Vancouver, Toronto, Portland, and Seattle; then in larger hubs like NYC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Now, you can float in nearly any major metropolitan area at a studio like the one featured in this video above, Pause Float Studio in Venice, California.

So why would you do it? Read on for the science-backed benefits of floating.

5 major health benefits of floating

Floating decreases anxiety and depression and improves sleep

Image via Pause Float Studio

Under stress, your hypothalamus (the almond-sized part of your brain just above your brainstem) signals your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Chronic stress leads to an overactive hypothalamus, which can lead to depression. Floating helps combat depression and anxiety by minimizing your cortisol production.

In one study, people who floated for 12 sessions noticed decreased pain, stress, anxiety, and depression as well as improved sleep quality and general optimism. The results lasted up to four months post-flotation.

In a single-subject study, a 24-year-old diagnosed with autism, PTSD, anxiety, and depression participated in regular float sessions for one and a half years. She experienced beneficial therapeutic effects including improved quality of life, subjective sense of wellbeing, and healthier behaviors. The study quotes her stating: “I feel good, well, like a new person, and so it has made a great difference… It really has and I really want to continue with this because I really need it.”

Floating lowers stress

Image via Pause Float Studio

Floating combats stress in two main ways. First, the water’s magnesium inhibits ACTH, a hormone that drives your adrenal glands to release the stress hormone cortisol. Magnesium also improves sleep quality, which contributes to feeling less stressed.

The sensory deprivation component of floating also minimizes stress. In a recent study, people who floated eight times in two weeks saw their cortisol decrease by 21.6 percent. They also showed a 50.5 percent decrease in cortisol variability, meaning, they handled stressful situations better without the cortisol spikes.

A meta-analysis of 27 studies revealed that floating also has relaxation, mood, and performance-enhancing effects, particularly in cases of burnout or chronic fatigue.

Floating relieves physical pain

Image via Pause Float Studio

For people with chronic, stress-related muscle pain and burnout-related depression, floating served as an integral part of pain treatment plans, in one study. Since floating oxygenates your body by promoting vasodilation — better blood flow to the brain, organs, and limbs — it serves to minimize muscular pain and even pain from degenerative disc disease or herniated disks.

Specifically floating provides significant reductions in pain, muscle tension, stress, anxiety, and sadness for those who suffer from fibromyalgia. Floating also increases feelings of relaxation, well-being, energy, and ease of movement in the same group of people.

Floating enhances athletic performance

Floating helps you bounce back faster from workouts by reducing lactic acid in the blood. By floating fee of gravity, lactic acid passes out of the muscles faster, which reduces overall muscle stiffness and pain. Floating benefits extend to athletes on the field as well. One study on basketball players found strong evidence of athletic skill improvement post floating. These results may be due to a lower arousal state post floating, which enabled the players to maintain better focus while shooting foul shots.

Floating benefits creativity

Musicians, writers, and creative performers also gain from floating. A study in the journal Music and Medicine found that floating improved the technical ability of musicians during jazz improvisation.

What to expect with your first float

A typical float session lasts 60 to 90 minutes. You may experience restlessness in the tank on your first float, until your body and mind settle into the sensory deprivation. Some float studios have water-based speakers with guided meditations to help you ease into your session.

Video Credit: Thanks to Pause Float Studio in Venice, California for inviting us into your float studio.

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What To Expect On Your First Time In A Float Pod

The Stealth Mode Float Pod creates the ultimate distraction free float experience.

Photo courtesy of Dream Pod

It looked like a small space—a black round pod with different colored lights emanating from inside. Sized like your typical dipping pool, the still water inside appeared deep in the dim lighting. “This is the stealth float pod. Inside this sensorial deprivation pod is water filled with almost 1000 pounds of Epsom salt. Because of the high content of magnesium sulfate, the body, once inside the tank, will float, ” explained Grace Obana at Recovery Spa tucked on the top level of the Upper Deck Sports Center.

“Float?” asked curios eyes, eyebrows raised in confusion. It was a relatively new and almost strange concept from other treatments often on the menu of wellness centers. “Yes,” confirmed Grace. “The therapy lasts between 60 to 90 mins. You will go inside this sensorial deprivation chamber and you float.” It sounded like a fun idea. Images of astronauts training for space exploration come into mind. “Because the water is dense, you will feel as if you are in zero gravity.”

The idea behind float therapy is that that body is placed in a fully relaxed state, removed from external noises or distractions. The Sensorial Deprivation Chamber, also known as the Float Pod, shuts out all noises, lights and other factors that often keep us from fully tuning into your inner selves. High doses of Epsom salt dissolved in 180 gallons of water creates a control environment that allows the body to float without effort. Salt also contributes to healthier skin, hair and nails. Because the body is floating, there is absolutely no pressure from our body, resulting in complete relief from pain. This elevated state also helps to improve posture, elongating the spine in the gentlest way possible.

Some pods have lights the color of your chakra to help enhance you meditation. There is option to… fully shut out the lights during your float.

Photo courtesy of Cambridge News

Before you get into the Float Pod and emerge feeling brand new, it would help to know these things.

Wear Your Birthday Suit. While relaxing in the spa’s lounge, Grace gave a short brief on what how to properly float. She explained that to fully enjoy the benefits of float therapy going in the nude was highly suggested. Body temperature of the water and the pod, create a sense of being inside a mother’s womb and so going in wearing nothing more than your birthday suit seemed the appropriate things. Taking a shower pre and post float was also required to ensure that the pod is always sterile.

Before and after your float, you can relax and reset in the Relaxation Lounge of the Recovery Spa…. Here, you get a brief on what to expect on your first float experience.

Photo courtesy of Bianca Salonga

Learning To Let Go. This is something that not most first time floaters are told but Grace, who offered to walk this writer through the entire experience, was generous in sharing her own float experience. She said, “For the first few minutes, you may experience some slight discomfort and tightening in areas of the body that need the most unknotting. Just let it ride out and let it go.” On the first five to 10 minutes, the upper back and neck tensed. It was indication that these areas–often used to being in a tight state—was resisting the release. Panic might creep up, but Grace assured, “Just focus on your breathing. This is your body resisting but it will eventually learn to let go and relax.” It helps to go into a float experience with an open mind, ready to loosen the grip on sense of control and expectation.

Time Flies. When you are enclosed in a Sensorial Deprivation Chamber, you lose all sense of space and time. In fact, after a few minutes inside the pod, your body begins to feel at one with the water such that you don’t know where one begins and the other ends. The same goes with time. Because there are no external factors that anchor you into a particular state in time, the mind goes deep into a meditative or theta state. Some floaters do not even realize that they have entered this zone, only to be gently awakened into a fully restored sensation. “Sometimes, you are not even sure if you went to sleep or if you were meditating. The next thing you know, your 60 or 90 minutes is up

The Best Nap Of Your Life. When you climb out of the pod, there is a feeling of being fully charged for a busy week ahead. Cortizon levels are significantly lowered so all feelings of stress, tension or anxiety are wiped out. Being in a theta state for prolonged periods of time is also known to heighten creativity. And because you emerge feeling refreshed, relived from pains and other discomforts and fully rested, you naturally step out in a euphoric mood. Grace adds, “The float experience becomes more enhanced each time you go. We encourage that you go once a week so that you can fully enjoy the benefits of float therapy.”

Recovery Spa is located at The Upper Deck Sports Center, 6/F Ortigas Technopoint Building, Dona Julia Vargas Avenue, Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines. For more information, click here.

Floatation Tanks, also known as Isolation Tanks, were originally created by John C. Lilly in the 1950s to test the effects of sensory deprivation. These tanks are now used for a variety of reasons including meditation, relaxation and natural healing.

How it works: A person will lie inside the floatation tank while floating in Epsom Salt water which is kept at normal skin temperature, 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Subjects are completely isolated and undistracted from the rest of the world as the tanks are soundproof and completely dark.

While in a floatation tank, outside stimulations such as sound, sight, touch, gravity, and temperature are restricted as much as possible, allowing the subject floating in the tank to quickly enter into a deep state of relaxation. This technique known as “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy” (and commonly referred to as REST), was named by Peter Suedfeld and Roderick Borrie who began experimenting on the therapeutic benefits of floatation tank usage in the late 1970s.

Some of the other benefits that can be obtained by floating in a floatation tank are:

  • Faster recovery from injury
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Pain relief
  • Reduced swelling
  • Decrease of stress and anxiety
  • Enhanced creativity and problem-solving abilities
  • Relief from Insomnia

The Epsom Salt also benefits those floating in the tank by helping to detoxify the body. It also provides the body with Magnesium which is absorbed through the skin. Magnesium is an essential element to the human body in which adequate amounts are commonly not obtained from diet alone.

Most tanks require about 800 lbs of Epsom Salt to allow subjects to be completely buoyant. San Francisco Bath Salt Company has large quantities of USP grade Epsom Salt (Magnesium-Sulfate) for floatation tanks readily available, so whether you’re an individual with a floatation tank at home or have your own floatation tank business, we can help.

Epsom salt float bath

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