To help first-time floaters imagine what a float tank is like, I ask them to imagine the Dead Sea, or Salt Lake, or the Ocean. This gives them the same sense of 'floating' and relaxation, but there's a difference between all of these and a float tank.
It's the salt...
The Ocean, Salt Lake, and Dead Sea contain salts in the form of chloride mixed with a variety of other minerals...whether it be sodium chloride (NaCl), potassium chloride (KCl), magnesium chloride (MgCl2), it's all chloride. It's the same for table salt and kosher salt, they're 97.5% sodium chloride.
Epsom salts are not chloride. They're magnesium sulfate (MgSO4 + 7H2O). The H2O is hydrated version of this 'salt.' Magnesium sulfate is an inorganic salt that contains magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. These salts (the hydrated version, anyway) originally came out of a saline spring in Epsom, Surrey, England, where the salt came from the springs pouring out of the porous chalk in that region. They call them 'bitter salts', for their bitter taste, but Epsom salts are used by numerous cultures and countries as a cathartic in medicine, as a magnesium-boosting fertilizer in soil, to aid in fabric dyeing and leather tanning.
Epsom salts are highly water soluble and can easily pass thru the outer layer of skin and absorb into the body. This is one reason why we use it in float tanks. Another reason flotation tanks use magnesium sulfates is because of the magnesium. We talk more about the benefits and importance of magnesium in another blog post, so I won't go any further here, but continue on to more information about Epsom salts.
So consider a float tank like a massive bath tub, and you're about to take a 'bath' in a super-saturated epsom salt soak. You're not just soaking your feet, you're soaking your entire body, scalp, and absorbing all those great minerals into your body.
You scrub your body before entering the float tank to open the pores. When floating, the magnesium sulfate flows into your body as toxins and impurities are drawn back out thru the skin's pores.
After the float, you shower again, just to wash off residue salt. Not to worry, it's only sea salt that leaves a residue on the skin and dries your body out. Epsom salt easily rinses off, and it's been known for centuries to have a softening effect on the skin. The magnesium absorb into the body spreads thru muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments and into your brain, to relive muscle soreness, help heal injuries, and calm the brain.
Until next time floaters,
The Blue Oceans Float Team
Axe, Josh. "Epsom Salt - The Magnesium-Rich, Detoxifying Pain Reliever." Dr. Axe. N.p., 21 Sept. 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
Bond, Annie. "13 Wonderful Ways to Use Epsom Salts." 13 Wonderful Ways To Use Epsom Salts | Care2 Healthy Living. N.p., 11 Dec. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
"Epsom Salt Uses and Benefits." Epsom Salt Uses & Benefits | SaltWorks®. Salt Works, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
"Magnesium Sulfate." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Feb. 2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
"What Is Epsom Salt, What's in It and How Does It Work?" Epsom Salt Council. N.p., 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.