Who Shouldn't Float?
We are such huge proponents of floating that sometimes it's easy to think EVERYONE should float, and although that would be a great world to live in, the reality is, sometimes due to lifestyle choices, or medical ailments some people may not enjoy the experience to it’s fullest, and sometimes should use caution and/or ask their medical professional if floating is safe for them. This post isn’t meant to scare you away from floating, for the vast majority of people floating is a very safe, relaxing and serenity promoting experience, unfortunately, there aren’t many things in this world that are good for literally everyone.
We aim to know as much about our floaters as we do our float tanks. If you have questions or topics you would like us to research please reach out and spark that conversation. HUGE DISCLAIMER, we are not doctors, we are not in a position to diagnosis or provide advice about your medical concerns. The information collected here is based on reports from float centres across the globe, but not from medical professionals. When in doubt please ask your medical professional if floating could have any harmful effects to your medication or conditions.
Please take all of this information with a grain of salt and do your own research. Above all, always remember to #PracticeSafeSalt.
When someone has an issue with floating the triggering factor is often the high density of Epsom salts, which are not actually salt, but Magnesium Sulphate (MgS04). Float tanks contain 800 – 1000 pounds of Epsom salt! There are many resources that promote the health, beauty, and cleaning properties of Epsom salt, but that’s not what this post is about. For now, just know that there is a crap ton of it in every float tank.
There are studies that show the body’s ability to absorb magnesium through the skin, which suggests floating might be an excellent method of replenishing this essential nutrient, but the science isn't strong enough to confidently make that claim. There are a lot of bullshit claims about toxins and detoxing, and we want to steer clear of making such claims.
We've complied a list from questions we've received, stories we've heard, and ailments we've researched. This is intended to be a living document, but not an exhaustive list. If you have a question that isn't addressed here reach out and we'll look into it.
You spend a lot of money on your hair and it looks damn good on you! We want your colour to stay as vibrant as it was on day 1; we also don’t want the colours left in our solution to stain or strain the filtration system. For our benefit, and yours, if you have recently dyed your hair we ask that you wait a minimum of 1 week (or 3 thorough washes) before floating. For the super vibrant colours - or any spectrum of red, you will want to wait longer. The quality of dye impacts the wait time. When you can shower with no dye running, and a white towel doesn’t change colour, you're good to float. If you are a frequent dyer schedule your floats for immediately before your hair appointment.
We have been told that only alcohol will dissolve the glue that holds (some) extensions in place, and that floating is totally safe. You’ve likely invested a ton of money into your gorgeous locks so it might be a good idea to ask your hair stylist and do a trial run at home with Epsom salt for added security.
Hair Keratin Treatment
Anyone using keratin treatments for their hair are told to avoid salt water; and yes, this includes Epsom salt. On the advice of a hair professional, we recommend you wait 4 weeks after getting the treatment before hopping into a tank. Keratin extensions need to be adjusted monthly, and generally last 6-12 weeks. The best practice would be to float right before you get a treatment done. A float likely won’t damage the keratin any more than a swim in a chlorine pool.
Tattoos, Piercings, and the like
Tanning Lotions & Sprays
We’ve been advised that a spray tan itself should not run, assuming the spray tan is simply DHA (from sugar cane) that changes the pigment of your skin. However, if the spray tan contains a bronzer the float will strip the tan. If your spray tan includes a bronzer you shouldn’t float until it’s gone. Instead we recommend you come in right before you get the spray tan.
There should be no issues with floating with dreadlocks. You will be required to wash your hair of any dirt and oils before your float, so if you use an oil or balm on your dreads save it for after. We'll provide you with an extra towel too!
Physical / Medical
Kidney / Liver / Detoxing Issues
Cancer, Chemotherapy & Radiation
Chemo is an incredibly toxic substance; it’s so toxic, that it not only kills cancer cells but also the healthy ones too. It’s possible that if the float is detoxifying you the way some claim, it could negate the effectiveness of the treatment. We ask that patients undergoing chemotherapy wait about 4 weeks before floating and always consult your oncologist. You may benefit from high density Epsom salt baths at home during this time.
Here is a video of a cancer paitent using float therapy courtesy of The Float Zone.
Epilepsy and/or Seizure Disorders
This is a tough one; our family has been impacted by epilepsy so we have a soft spot for suffers, yet almost every float centre’s waiver includes a clause that you cannot float if you have one of these conditions. Seizures can be triggered by stress and overactive sensory input; therefore, practical wisdom suggests that people with seizure disorders would benefit significantly from floating – and we truly believe this. In all the research we’ve conducted, it seems the primary reason for not allowing people with seizures to float is a liability issue. If you have a seizure while in the float tank there would be no way for us to know that you were in distress and get you the required medical attention. If your epilepsy or seizure disorder is under control with medication, and you get clearance from your doctor, please seek out floating.
Slipped or Damaged Vertebrae
You can’t float if you have problems with bladder leakage or incontinence. This is purely from a tank solution sanitation position and not because it would be harmful to you. If you want to float perhaps you should invest in a personal float tank set up? Call us, we can recommend tanks and we would love to help you set it up!
Insulin Pump / Glucose Monitor / Diabetes
Most diabetic floaters I’ve come across are comfortable removing their pump for a duration of time, and usually do so for other activities like swimming. This is entirely up to you and your comfort level. You can apply Vaseline to the insertion site to minimize irritation from the salt. Feel free to bring snacks. You know your body better than anyone, always follow your intuition and doctor’s advice.
There are very few instances when it would not be safe to float during pregnancy. Most soon to be mothers find valuable relief from common pregnancy woes (see our blog on the topic here), but when in doubt always consult your physician, and (if I don’t sound like a broken record by now I will soon) – follow your intuition and listen to your body.
Prone to Ear Infections
Float related ear infections generally don’t come from pathogens in the solution, rather from not cleaning your ears well enough post float. Once dry, the salt crystallizes, expands, and may cause irritation. We provide a bottle of vinegar/water ear rinse as an optional, post float ear rinse. The vinegar will help dissolve any left over salt residue. Ear plugs are provided and work really well to keep the solution out of your ears. Human error is often the cause of water entering your ears. We all struggle with ear plugs from time to time, but if you are overly prone to ear infections take extra precautions by using silicone ear plugs, putting them in before you get into the shower, and rinsing passionately after your float.
Tubes in Ears
Following the importance of cleaning your ears, those with tubes in their ears may want to steer clear of floating. If you can master a good seal with the silicone ear plugs you will likely be ok, but we've heard reports of excruciating pain when salt solution enters the ear canal. It's unfortunate, but it might not be worth the risk. If you're adamant you want to float I would also recommend using a tool to keep your ears propped up above the water line for an extra measure of caution. Learn more about this topic here.
Motion Sickness / Vertigo / Vestibular Disorder / Meinere's Disease
Sometimes the lack of motion can trigger motion sickness symptoms. Reaching out and touching the sides of the tank can bring you back to centre, or leaving the light on can help. You are always in control of your experience. Feel free to step out of the tank and gather yourself, but we recommend you get back in and try again once you settle out. Another thing that helps some people is to use a float pillow to prop your head up as much as feels good. Most people report this being a temporary problem and once they’ve gotten a few floats under their belt their dizziness goes away, but if you are sensitive to motion sickness or vertigo it’s something to be aware of.
Super Sensitive Skin
The Epsom salts can be super helpful and provide amazing relief to people with psoriasis or eczema (or the like) but some people suffer so bad that the burn of the Epsom salt would be intolerable. If you are concerned we suggest starting slow, and starting with baths at home to test your tolerance. It’s rare that skin irritations would affect someone to the extent that you couldn’t float, but knowledge is power!
This condition is a constant ringing in the ears, exacerbated by quiet environments. People with tinnitus can absolutely float, but may be distracted/irritated by their own body. For people with tinnitus we suggest listening to music or keeping lights on, maybe only at the beginning of your float journey, and experiment to see how things change/evolve. Most float centres can accommodate a request to listen to music, and may have tracks to recommend.
Anxious people are more likely to be put off by the idea of spending time alone, naked, and in a dark place. This is incredibly unfortunate, because research shows that people with anxiety benefit from floating, almost two-fold over those without anxiety. Evidence shows that floating might be the most effective stress and anxiety treatment, with the fewest side effects. See our blog post on the topic for more information. If you suffer from anxiety I strongly urge you to try floating, and not just once, but a handful of times to get a well rounded understanding of the richness floating has to offer.
Assuming the hearing aid can be removed you should have no problem floating. We use music to bring you out of your float, but if we know you are hard of hearing we can turn up the volume and/or the bass. The sound is produced by transducers under the float tanks that transfer vibrations through the water essentially making the water the speaker. We have successfully floated deaf people with no issue.
Lyme Disease is very different for each person afflicted. We have read many reports of people with Lyme crediting the tank with a massively positive impact on their quality of life, but every person is different and of course no results are ever guaranteed.
Low Blood Pressure
Floating has been shown to lower your diastolic blood pressure by 10-15 points in the first 10-15 minutes of your float. Many people with low blood pressure float with no adverse reactions but use extra caution exiting the tank and make use of the safety bars.
Elhers Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
EDS is a genetic disorder that effects your connective tissues. It affects everyone differently but for many results in a lot of pain. Floating has helped many people with this syndrome. Check out these videos (1 & 2) from The Float Zone for personal testimonials.
If you have come in contact with poison ivy the float solution will likely sting like crazy. That said, we've read reports of the solution helping the skin heal. It's not contagious, so we don't mind if you want to float, the choice is yours, but be prepared for skin irritation, depending on the severity, skin-on-fire irritation.
Concussion / Traumatic Brain Injury
Dr. Dan Engle highly reccomends floating in his book The Concussion Repair manual. At this time we're unaware of any research directly showing the effects of floating on a concussion, but the usual advice is a quiet dark room, and we have a very quiet dark room to offer.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
There are different forms and causes of COPD and depending on medications and other medical history it's best to consult your doctor before floating.
Fibromyalgia / Chronic Pain
The post float stories that include tears, usually come from chronic pain sufferers - tears of joy. I have witnessed and read so many stories of people experiencing pain free states in the float tank for the first time in years. The science is pretty solid supporting pain relief with floating. Here's the thing, floating is a practice and not every time will every one reach a pain free state. The levels of pain we're talking about didn't start in 1 day, and it's not going to be fixed after only 1 of anything. Most of these stories come after multiple floats. For some, the pain gets worse before it gets better.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
It's our understanding that MS affects everyone a little differently so there can be no one size fits advice, but if you're going to take advice on this topic I'd rather it come from Dr. David Berv of The Float Zone in his article Five Ways Floating Helps Multiple Sclerosis.
Herpes is so common; I've read stats as high as 50% carry the virus. Herpes doesn't transmit through water such as swimming pools, so I suspect it would be even less of a risk in float solution. For your sake, if you are midst flare up you'll want to wait until the skin has healed up because the salt solution will sting the area.
*CYA Disclaimer* READ ME
*CYA Disclaimer* we are NOT medical professionals. Do not rely on us for any specific advice concerning your condition. This is basic information we have gathered from multiple sources, but in no way represents medical advice. Always follow your intuition, no one knows your body like you do, and when in doubt ask a doctor.
Please reach out to us if you have concerns that are not addressed here. There are so many possible ailments that people could have, and this is not an exhaustive list. We will do everything we can to research and provide you with the most up to date information possible. This post is intended to be an evolving list; we want to keep it as current as possible.
We want to reiterate that for most people, floating is an incredibly safe, lovely experience that promotes positive fuzzy feelings of serenity.