Getting up to temperature

The ‘one last obstacle’ turned out to be much more of a problem than I anticipated, but we got past it.

Our Float To Relax tank in the basement
The Space Burrito: our Float To Relax tank in the basement, wrapped with several layers of insulation.

We’ve got our demo tank running in the basement now, and Sara and I have both been in it!  It took quite a lot longer to it fully set up than we anticipated, but along the way it’s already been totally worth it as a test bed for the public center we’re building.

If you’re not on our mailing list yet, get on it!  Soon we will invite a few lucky names off it to help us give it a try for free.

This last problem was getting the tank up to temperature.  It needs to be at 93-94°F to be comfortable to float naked in for an hour or more, and ours was stalling out at 75.  At first I thought this was because of all the salt we needed to dissolve.  Epsom salt in heptahydrate form is endothermic when dissolving, and we were warned it would suck heat out of the water.  But even with all that finished, the tank was still stuck in the mid 70s, and I began to get a sinking feeling about the cross between tank’s 25-year-old waterbed-style heating element and the 55° unheated basement.

My first idea was to order an additional heating element from Amazon, an immersion-style bucket heater.  And then while waiting for that, got out a big roll of shiny, waterproof, aluminized bubble-wrap style insulation and some duct tape and gave the tank a jacket.

The bucket heater turned out to be a bad idea.  It worked for about 15 min and got the temperature up to 90°, then tripped the GFCI protection.  At first I wasn’t sure what had caused the problem, so I unplugged everything and reset it.  When I plugged the bucket heater back in, it instantly tripped again.  So, bad idea.

Fortunately, even before the bucket heater arrived, the insulation had been making a noticeable difference.  I went back to Home Depot, got a couple more rolls, and wrapped the tank up like a baked potato.  Double and triple layers everywhere remotely possible, and now it’s a couple days later and it’s finally appropriately tropical in there.

I remain nervous of what might go wrong next, but for the moment all signs are go.

About colin

Cofounder, FLOAT. Colin has been an astronomer and a software developer. He's watched the sun set from Angkor Wat and rise over the Arctic Circle, and believes that life is much too important to take seriously.