A Glorified Bathtub

My experience in a sensory deprevation tank

As I walked in, the overwhelming scent of peppermint and salt hit me, and immediately a headache began to form. Though I hadn’t been nervous before, I suddenly felt anxious.

I’d been chosen by the journalism editors to try out the newest hipster trend: sensory deprivation tanks. These tanks are simply dark, covered bathtubs that are half-filled with salt water. In theory, you float effortlessly and are able to clear all thoughts from your mind and sometimes even hallucinate. I was excited to try it out as I was sore from a track meet the previous day and was hoping for a relaxing experience.

Doubts began to form, however, when I got the email that confirmed my appointment. “We released a thousand white doves from our roof and began ceremonial preparations for your float at Float Seattle,” read the email. Wait, what? The email continued. “Last night a single candle was lit by our Swedish float specialist and silence fell over the gathered crowd as he donned white satin gloves to begin the purification process.” By now, I was convinced that everyone at the place was on drugs, but I was determined to go through with the appointment anyway.

After I walked into the cloud of peppermint-salt aroma, a guy with long hair came out to greet me. Despite being a minor, he assured me that no waivers or paperwork had to be filled out. I was offered water and tea and led into a smaller waiting room as he prepared my tank. I flipped through a few guest books and was slightly reassured by the positive reviews, even though some seemed a bit loopy. “It was AMAZING!!!” was next to the one that read, “I felt like an amoeba.”

After a few minutes, the guy ushered me into a small room with a shower and the tank, which was long, rectangular and intimidating. The guy explained the water was exactly skin temperature, which would make me feel as if I were floating in space.

After he left and closed the door, I put on a bathing suit and gingerly stepped into the tank. I closed the door from the inside and lay down. I was terrified, only hearing the noise of my own breath. I couldn’t distinguish the air from the water, and the scent of salt filled my nose.

A small cut I didn’t know I had on my hand stung. The one thought that popped into my mind was, “I feel like I’m being pickled.”

The experience after that was unremarkable. It was warm, and I naturally floated on the surface. I actually got bored and entertained myself by pushing off the walls. After a bit, the tank felt stuffy so I opened the door to breathe.

I was able to relax for a few minutes at a time, but never felt the complete tranquility that was advertised. I only had one moment of dislocation, where I felt as if I was slowly spinning inside the tank.

After my hour was up, I felt slimy and my hair was crusty. It took me 15 minutes to wash off the salt with the sweet-smelling shampoo that was provided. Unfortunately, I never got the salt out of my ears and the day after I still tasted salt whenever I swallowed.

Overall, I wouldn’t pay money to do this again. I didn’t particularly enjoy laying in a salty, smelly tank, and I believe that the same experience could be achieved by laying in a salt water bathtub with the lights turned off. No Swedish float specialist needed!

By Olivia Poolos