Why 93.5 Degrees is Not the Ideal Floating Temperature
NOTE: Any temperature changes should be made moderately and within safety limits. Those floating in your tanks are in a vulnerable state and put you in a place of responsibility for taking care of them. Please do all necessary research on body/brain safety before altering the temperature of your tanks to ensure their health and well being.
I’m really excited to kick off 2014 with this article. I think It’s really important and will do what this blog was intended to do: Reduce your learning curve.
Dispelling the Myth
Many manuals you pick up when purchasing a float tank will tell you the ideal temperature for your float tank’s water is 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit (about 34 Celsius). It’s a temperature that seems to be common knowledge at most float centers these days, and is the one generally accepted by our community.
Naturally when we set up our first tank we set the temp to 93.5 (following conventional wisdom rather than this manuals instructions of keeping a warmer temperature… We had 3 manuals for 3 tanks at the time, after all). I loved my first float in our new pod, but I’m also the guy walking downtown in shorts in the dead of winter…I’m not a great example of the average floater (or good fashion sense). Even after my partner Sandra went for a float in the tank, the water temperature did not come up. It wasn’t until we started having our parents, friends, and then the general public floating in our tanks that we received strong feedback that our tanks were too chilly!
I wish the story of us changing our temperature was a straightforward one, but really it’s been a long process of constantly tweaking 3 different variables and how they effect each other.
If 93.5 is too cold, what is the right temp? We find somewhere between 94 and 95 degrees is just about right for people. We don’t like to exceed that because of safety concerns (the brain should NOT be in water over 96 degrees and should NEVER be above 98 degrees.)
Once we found our ideal temperature between 94 and 95 degrees, we found people were overall much happier. Even so, we still find that some people were chilly during their float or felt overly hot.
Over time we have discovered that people are far more influenced by air temperature than by the waters temperature. A change in air temperature a few degrees warmer or cooler will drastically change a floaters perception of overall temperature.
Yes, that means customers will also think the water temperature is warmer. This has lead to a few awkward conversations with customers because they have told me that the water was cool and ask that it be warmer next time. Knowing that a simple change in air temp will make the difference they are looking for can be difficult to explain to someone who ‘knows’ it was the water that was cool.
Seasonal Temp Outside
Another element that makes a huge difference in how we maintain our temperatures in our float rooms is the temperature outside. When it’s hot outside, people like it cooler in their float tank rooms. When it’s icy outside, customers want an extra toasty float.
That is why you will not find any thermometers for the air temp in our float rooms (okay, if you really snoop around you will, but we don’t check them very often). The air temperature of rooms is really going to be something that you have to develop a feel for based on the temperature outside. Depending on the weather, people will need a different air temperature in the room to set them to “zero” or what feels like a neutral temperature.
So What’s the Right Temp?
Unfortunately I don’t believe that there is a “correct” temperature that will work all the time. While we do keep our water between 94-95 degrees, we also consider the temperature outside and make moderate changes based on each customer who comes in the door. Some people run cold and some run hot, you may need to change the temperature each time that person floats with you to make sure they have the most ideal float experience possible, which is what all of our aims should be.
Please do not consider this article a fact. Please experiment on your own to find your own answers. The bottom line is that we do not have all the answers yet, and you will need to find what works for you and your customers yourself. If you do experiment, this article will be doing the other half of what I hoped this blog would do: Inspire thought and discussion. If that happens, we will all be helping move this industry forward.
Michael Garrett says
Wow. I never expected to hear about a center straying from the consensus “correct” temperature. I love questioning everything, so I really appreciate thoughts like this. That’s really helpful info to hear and I think it makes sense. In my experience, if the tank ever feels a bit off, it does feel on the cool side of things. Thanks guys!
Gini Stanwell-Smith says
We’ve always said that the tanks should be heated to 35.4 or 35.5 degrees Centigrade which is 95.72 to 95.90. Some of our clients even heat their cabins to 36 degrees C. I don’t know where the 93.5 degrees you mention ever came from but I think that’s just a bit too chilly to be comfortable.
Happy New Year to you and your lovely Sandra!
My very best regards,
Great article (as always) Dylan! I love that you open discussions on these things.
Gini – the 93.5 F came from John Lilly’s early experiments developing the tank. Before that, we didn’t know what skin receptor neutral was. But, clearly the variance is wide enough that there isn’t a universal temperature.
I personally need the tank down around 93 (at most) to be comfortable.
In the most recent study from Sweden (the case study on whiplash) was running the tanks above 99 degrees.
Also worth mentioning is Samadhi’s floater comfort control, a heater in the top of the tank. The water is on the cold side by default (to suit people like me) and if the client is cold, they can turn on the heater. Which is another creative way to deal with the different temp preferences.
Dylan Schmidt says
After reading this I jumped into my Floataway manual and realized you are totally right!
I am going to make a couple small edits to this post to make it clearer that not all manufacturers state 93.5 and make it clear that yours did not as well.
Happy New Year to you as well. I think 2014 is going to be an amazing year for the float community!!
We run our tanks about 94 to 94.5 after getting complains about coolness. Seldom do we get complaints about too warm. Still an occasional mention of coolness. I believe that as you are in the tank for extended floats, the perceived temperature changes. When I am in the tank for 3+ hour floats, it would seem cool as I was getting out. I checked and the temp was still over 94. I think our core temperature goes up with time in the tank and changes our perception. That is why too high of temperature can be dangerous. The tank we bought 10 years ago was bought from a lady that had a seizure in the tank because see had the temp close to the 100 degree mark. She sold it because it scared her. She said, EMS found her temp around 103 almost an hour after she got out. Salt in her eyes is what brought her around enough to get out. Glad you brought this up and I agree whole heartedly, 93.5 is too low for most people.
Thanks for the input and sharing your knowledge once again. I am setting up my tank in my home today with hopes of opening a store front soon and I will be sure to try this myself and my family to see if they notice a difference.
Couldn’t agree more! When we started up – we had the temps set to 93.5 and when people said they were cold we figured that the temp gauge was off!! As we gathered more feedback from floaters we realized that 94-95.4 was the ideal range. The trick is getting the right air flow into the tanks and not have the humidity build up too much – which is our current challenge. Thanks for the great articles!
David Wasserman says
Apparently, I am a Dr Lilly float temp ‘fundamentalist’…
I believe in 93.0*- 93.5* F for water temp
In THE DEEP SELF, page 133, Dr Lilly states: “The temperature of the flotation solution shall be maintained at a fixed value between 93* to 94* within 0.1*F in the fully stirred condition. It is desirable to be able to set this temperature at a fixed value in the range 93* to 94* F and and maintain it within +/- 0.05*F.
Later in pages 56-60, he discusses the psychopharmacology of misc substances that affect internal vasoconstriction of circulatory system, resulting in ‘body cooling in the tank.”
Not to mention stress, emotional states, etc., that imbalance the internal state as well.
I understand that floaters find the temp of water sometimes more comfortable @ higher temp and different operators/providers are more willing to bump temp up to 95*F
It has always been my impression and approach to have floaters come into balance with the tank, rather than have tank go into balance with the floater….
So 93.5* F is what I use/choose/and promote….
Once I provide units to commercial operators/private owners, they are free to do as they choose…
As I often say, and will do so again here: different floats for different folks!’
Dylan Schmidt says
Hi David! Thanks for speaking for 93.5 side. I think it provides a nice balance to my post. And I couldn’t say it better myself “different floats for different folks!”.
I like you Dave, am somewhat a purist also. I am happy as close to 94 as I can. I just tend to err on the high side toward the lower decimal points. I still do not offer any kind of music or anything other than silence. Soon we will have some sound capabilities but the majority of their time will still be in nothing. They keep coming back.
I incorporate in my pre float talk, “if you take a very warm shower, then the solution may feel a little cool the 1st couple of minutes. It will soon get very comfortable” I seldom hear anything about temperature after I started using that suggestion. I adhere to the 85 degree room temp also….. Doc got it pretty close the 1st time.
David Wasserman says
85 degree room temp amazes me…I ran my float room temp @ 68 degrees in Houston during my float center ownership years there, and no one complained…as I recall
Your utility bills must be HUGE….???!!
I am reminded of 2 customers who floated one after the other: the first said the water was too cold. the second said the water was boiling!
The water temp was 93.5 in both cases!
Showed me the reality of individual biology/thermal ecology…
Stress drives blood into the core of body, relaxation brings blood to surface…floaters are cold for many reasons and as they relax, they ‘warm up’
I want floater to harmonize and ‘resonate’ with tank environment and if it takes multiple sessions of floating, that is the healing journey…
Naw, the bills not that much higher. The floaters comfort is worth it. We have a very solid holding temperature in our tank. Lately it has been holding at 94.2 and it feels different to me every time and I float 2-3 times a week. So, our perception and body temperature is not static.
Mark Chesshir says
We have found that keeping the tanks around 94.5 seems to work for most people. We keep one tank cooler, as well as the room, at all times so that we have the option with each client.
Thank you Dylan for providing such a great forum for others to discuss. Living in the northeast we get a fair share of customers requesting for warmer water, especially during those cold winter months. I’d love to follow suit and be a purist and keep our temps around 93.5/ 94 degrees but for the majority of our clients it’s going to be too chilly even with heat turned up in the rooms. You mentioned that it’s dangerous for the brain to float at 96 degrees, why is this?
Jesse Mac Dougall says
Does anyone know if a deprivation tank that can adjust the water to cold temperatures exist?
Example, I go in tank, after a certain amount of time the water temperature cools so I get the benefits of cold therapy. Temperature goes up again. then colder etc… you can make programs this way conditioning your body to become more adaptable to the cold while in a float tank.
Tim Strudwick says
Hi Jesse – all float tanks contain large volumes of water – to take a temperature down and then up again over a short period of time would take an awful lot of energy and equipment to do so. Theoretically it’s possible but is in my view cost prohibitive.
LUKE CHMIELEWSKI says
I have a floater that wants to float with water temp at 103 degrees, I know that is too dangerous, but does any body know what the effects are on the brain and body. I would like to relay the results back to the customer.
ANTOINE MATHYS says
what about the ideal air temp? thank you