Dirty Tank Water


It was the quote heard round the world in the float community when the New York Times chronicled one man’s unfortunate encounter with a “used gym sock” smell in a float tank. Press from The New York Times is huge for any emerging industry, but do the cons of this article outweigh the pros such that it’s something we wouldn’t share on, say, social media? Dylan, Lance, and Amy share their reactions.

So where does that “used gym sock” smell come from, and how can we make sure it doesn’t happen? Our hosts cover frequency of filter changes, cleaning filters, removing oils from the water, monitoring H2O2, and also address how often the tank water should be changed. Lance emphasizes of the importance of water color and clarity in each of our tanks and describes the various products and creative strategies he’s innovated. You’ll want to take notes on this part!

What’s the difference between food grade and medical grade H2O2? Our hosts discuss their findings in response to an audience member’s inquiry.

The WhyWeFloat Campaign is in full swing! Hear what it’s all about and the many ways in which this campaign is benefiting our community!

Float fanatics and floatrepeneurs stay connected, both through groups on Facebook and through organizations, with the purpose of discussing topics and ideas, raising funding for research, or working toward common goals. Our hosts discuss the groups and organizations they belong to and how others can get involved.

Show Links

Floataway www.floataway.com (sponsor)
New York Times Article
Dan Elmer of the San Francisco Salt Company – Float Concerence 2012
Spa Perfect
Pure Health Discounts
Nutter’s Bulk and Natural Food
Canadian Float Collective

Float Tank Association

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Amy @floatnashville

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7 responses to “Dirty Tank Water”

  1. Airlie Byrnes Avatar

    Hi guys – great podcast 🙂
    We’ve been operating a float centre for almost 7 years, over that time our maintenance & cleaning procedures have evolved to what we think is a very high standard – I won’t run you through everything we do but in particular, we change our ENTIRE solution around every 300 float hours.
    This will freak a lot of operators out – but I don’t really understand peoples reluctance to change the solution frequently (I know it uses lots of salt & water – but I think the hygiene aspect is worth it).
    Even if you are paying say $900 worth of salt (we pay nowhere near that!) – that’s only $3 per float… worth every cent!
    Why do we do this so often?
    We know how good the fresh new solution feels!
    We float in our tanks & I like knowing how clean our water is
    This length of time is a time that we are unashamed of telling our clients & it is not ‘off-putting’ for people who are rightly concerned about hygiene.
    Sweat (& potentially urine – another topic that needs to be discussed, why are centres not putting toilets in their tank rooms?!) will end up in the tank – & yes you can filter & ‘disinfect’ this or ‘break it down’, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s gone in there & in some diluted form or another it remains in there until the tank is emptied. After 9 months – it would be interesting to know how much of the liquid within the tank actually originated from sweat, etc.
    Plus – in order to maintain disinfectant, pH & alkalinity levels correctly requires the addition of chemicals – after 9-12months, how many chemicals have been added to this solution that people are laying in? Is this dangerous?
    Emptying the tanks completely allows you to pull it apart & clean in all the difficult to get to places as well as properly clean the pipes & filtration systems themselves – once you have done this & seen what can potentially build up – you won’t ever want to leave it 9-12months.
    I’m not an expert, I have done my Certified Pool Operators Certificate – which I found was not particularly helpful with regards to tanks but I do know that hydrotherapy pools in South Australia require 25% of the pool to be replaced weekly, public spas – 20% every day! I know the tank solution is ‘different’ but bacteria can still grow in the tank environment if not adequately maintained. I don’t see the harm in more frequent changing of the solution.
    As a client I’d choose the float centre that charged $10 more but had better standards of hygiene.
    If you feel awkward telling your clients that your solution only gets changed once a year or never, then that’s a really good sign that you should be doing it more often.
    I’m very interested in other peoples views here as I think tank hygiene is the most important aspect that could potentially ruin the float industry if centres do not pay it the attention it deserves 🙂

    1. Dylan Schmidt Avatar

      hi Airlie! First of all, I checked out your website and it looks like you have a beautiful float center! I LOVE your shower!!

      So you wrote a long comment, and I want to address it in detail, but I think it’s really good content for the podcast, so I will save some of my thoughts (such as toilets in the rooms) for that.

      The first thing that comes to mind reading your post is that when I open the door to our float tanks, I actually smile. I’ve had dirty water and I’ve dealt with discolorations, so to see the tank water so crystal clear and “new” looking always makes me feel good (and thankful for the person we have in charge of water maintenance). I float in our tanks, and I love our water.
      To me the idea of “knowing” the water is clean is a placebo that may or may not be justified by lab results or any unit of measurement. I don’t have a problem with the idea of sweat and tears joining the water in the tank, because I know that it is immediately sanitized by the H2O2 in the water. I also feel confident about the level of particulates in the water because of how much we run the pumps and change our filters.
      When you talk about pulling your tank apart and cleaning the pipes and filtration systems, what exactly are you describing? I’d be curious to know and to potentially add it to our regimen.
      When it comes to pools and public spas, I am curious why they have these requirements. Technically, our water is slowly having a turnover over time. Each time someone gets out they pull water with them, which is why we have to add more salt and water to our solution regularly (generally weekly).
      I’m going to look in to the idea of chemical buildup in the water, but my first instinct is that this isn’t an issue (don’t quote me yet!).
      While I don’t see any harm in changing your water regularly, I personally don’t feel the need to simply because it can’t hurt. If the water does maintain a quality luster, I am happy to keep it.
      I must completely agree with you that float tank hygiene is the most important aspect of the industry at the moment and could potentially harm the industry (and I believe it has already, it’s something I’ve witness secondhand from clients who have experienced floats in poorly maintained float centers).
      Oh, and if I can put my own twist on your line about feeling awkward telling someone you change the water once a year or never, I would say if you feel awkward saying that, it means you aren’t taking care of the water the way it needs to be.
      I think the bottom line currently is that we don’t have standards for water quality that are universally set (or even country by country). Until then, we are left to maintain the standards our local jurisdictions set for us, or experiment on our own (where that is allowed), but no matter what we do, we need to maintain our tanks with high standards and pride.

      I hope everything I’ve said here has come across as respectful and thoughtful, I really value your input on this.

      Best regards,

      Dylan Calm

      1. Airlie Byrnes Avatar

        Hi Dylan,
        Thanks for the response – I appreciate it 🙂 Good to hear others perspectives / opinions.
        To answer your question – each time we empty our tank we pull it apart (i.e. take the roof off – door out & vent covers off & scrub the entire thing) – we run a cleaning solution (the same solution that we soak our filter cartridges in) through our pipes & filtration system to ensure there is no ‘build-up’ of body fats / oils / grime within the pipes then rinse through with fresh water. We also clean the container that the filter cartridge sits within. We have had a couple of occasions where the magnetic pump has had hair caught & restricted the impeller – so my husband also pulls the pump apart & checks it for hair.
        It’s a big process – but totally worth it.

        1. Dylan Schmidt Avatar

          Wow, that’s hardcore!
          BTW, if you haven’t seen it, my wife wrote a great article about a month ago on water maintenance https://artofthefloat.com/2015/10/783/

          1. Airlie Byrnes Avatar

            Yeah I’ve read her article – it was great – our procedures are pretty much exactly the same as yours except for the regular changing of the solution & we use bromine. I was chatting to our most regular client last night & she said she can feel the difference in the water after it’s been changed.
            If you have a handy husband like I do or are handy yourself, the pulling apart & cleaning process is actually pretty simple really once you have done it a few times & figured out your routine – with the two of us working on it we’ll have both tanks emptied, pulled apart, cleaned & put back together ready to refill in half a day 🙂

  2. Geoff Avatar

    Great Podcasts! Wondering what’s the kind of net in the pump basket that was mentioned on the podcast? Just throw it in the basket?

    1. Dylan Schmidt Avatar

      Lance has been talking about this a lot and recently posted a photo of how it works on Instagram. We are going to cover it in more depth in part 2 of our Water Maintenance series. That podcast episode should be out in July of 2016.

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