What is floating?
Floating is known by many other names, such as Sensory Deprivation, Perceptual Isolation, Float Tanks and Isolation Tanks. It's an activity where you get half of your body submerged in water in a dark, noiseless room for long periods of time (generally 1 to 3 hours).
The point is to deliberately reduce your body's sensory stimulation to the max in order to help you relax, focus and connect with yourself during the time on the water as in the absence of stimulation, you mind begins to wander, which can lead to hallucinations.
Can I float with a new tattoo?
As you can imagine, in order to float consistently, the water in the tank is a solution with Epsom salts. Both being submerged in water and prolonged exposure to salt can promote fading of your tattoo no matter how old it is. There is even a term called Salabrasion to describe a method of tattoo removal (which we don't advise you do - here are a few better ways to deal with an unwanted tattoo).
If we are talking about a newly made tattoo the answer is simple: no, you shouldn't. Here are the reasons why:
- There's likelihood of ruining your tattoo with fading and discoloration (fading is much more likely during the first few weeks when the skin has not fully healed). If you're not sure your tattoo is healed or not, you can try applying a small dose of hand sanitizer to your tattoo: if it stings, it's not fully healed and you need to wait some more. We recommend 4 to 6 weeks of healing before floating.
- You can make the water dirty by releasing ink or even blood into the water - this would be really disrespectful to the owners of the floating tank
- If your tattoo did heal completely, the water will burn your skin (just like it burns any other open wounds in your lips, fingers, etc.)
What can I do to keep my tattoos safe?
So if you want to protect your new (but healed) tattoo or even your most precious works, the process is simple: reduce the contact between the water and the skin area where the tattoo is. There's two ways you can do this:
- If it's a small tattoo you can cover it with petroleum jelly. Most Floating Centers will have it available and will likely offer it to you since it is used to cover new scars or exposed injures (to reduce the burning sensation caused by the contact with the water).
- If it's a medium sized tattoo, you can applyvitamin A&D ointment after you have had your pre-floating shower and before you get in the tank. Make sure you dry the area pretty well before applying the ointment.
- If it's a bigger tattoo, you can cover it completely with something like second skin or even celofane when second skin is not available. If you're going with this option, you should speak with the responsible at the Floating Center prior to your session to make sure they allow you to float with it.
Now, if you look like this:
Full bodysuit example, from SickTattoos.org
There's only one solution to protect all of your tattoos at once: not floating at all.
Remember to keep your art pieces safe and enjoy your floating sessions!