Each of our float tanks are filled with over 500kg Epsom salt. Yes, you heard us right, 500kg. That’s roughly the same weight of the All Blacks in a scrum! And funny enough, Epsom salt is not actually salt, despite its name. Epsom salt is an inorganic compound called Magnesium Sulphate and is made up of magnesium (Mg), sulphate (SO4) and seven water molecules. It was named after the English town of Epsom, where a spring “gave forth bitter saline water” containing the compound.
This massive amount of Epsom salt is dissolved in warm water creating an extremely dense solution that allows your body to float effortlessly on its surface. Your body is fully supported by the silky water and you will float half in and half out of the water without having to swim or hold yourself up. We measure the water’s depth and specific gravity for buoyancy every day, so regardless of your size or muscle mass, you definitely will float!
The benefits of Epsom salt are elusive and surprisingly not robustly studied. Despite everyone “knowing” that Epsom salt baths help soothe sore muscles and detoxify the body, there is no peer-reviewed research proving the effects of Epsom salts, particularly when it comes to transdermal absorption (through the skin). There isn’t evidence to show that it doesn’t work either – there is merely a lack of research altogether.
The skin is our bodies biggest organ and acts as an effective waterproof barrier, protecting the body from harmful things in the environment. Even though the skin is somewhat permeable, minerals such as magnesium may also be blocked from absorption.
We have also heard people saying that floating can’t be good for you because “they heard” that soaking in an Epsom salt bath “detoxifies” the body and that staying in for more than 20 minutes means you will reabsorb toxins through the skin. This is a myth and completely unsubstantiated. Words “detoxify” and “toxins” are very misleading and vague – there is no evidence that soaking in an Epsom salt bath or float tank for any period of time will eliminate any toxins, reabsorb toxins or detoxify the body (whatever that actually means). This is purely an old wives’ tale.
So why the heck are we so forthcoming in presenting these claims? Because we want to be honest about floating and what it can offer. We don’t want to make any comments that cannot be supported by research or make empty promises. Despite the lack of science supporting the benefits of Epsom salt, we have heaps of anecdotal feedback about how amazing people feel after floating. Our customers report a deep sense of relaxation in their physical bodies, lightness and limberness, release of tension and restfulness. Whether this is from laying buoyant on the surface of the water, the stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system or the absorption of magnesium from the Epsom salt solution, it’s hard to tell. What we do know is that floating leaves our customers feeling amazing!
Keen to give floating a go? Book in online or give us a ring on 04 470 7729.