Credit: San Juan Pools

Fiberglass-pool manufacturer San Juan Pools has begun to produce flotation tanks.

Originally known as sensory deprivation tanks, they have come to be known as isolation tanks or flotation tanks to avoid any negative connotations associated with the word “deprivation.” Inside the sound- and light-proof containers, people float in saltwater set at a temperature to match the skin. The idea is to remove sensory stimulation and induce a calm, meditative state.

San Juan was approached by a company seeking to buy tanks for its “float center” — a business in which clients purchase time in the tanks.

“They called and asked if we made them,” said Kirk Sullivan, president of the Lakeland, Florida-based manufacturer. We said, ‘No, we don’t make them.’ We didn’t even know what they were.”

After studying the products and discussing the potential customer’s preferences, San Juan decided to try manufacturing them by incorporating certain elements of pool circulation systems. “We took the point of view that this is just a small pool,” Sullivan said.

Most flotation tanks on the market are vinyl lined, utilize a flat-style water bed heater and only cycle the water in between users, moving it very quickly. Of course, San Juan would make the units of fiberglass, but also decided to set up a filtration system that could run during use. “We built it with a bottom drain, skimmers and returns, and standard pool circulation,” Sullivan said. “It has a cartridge filter, ultraviolet sterilizer and a titanium inline heater. It can run while you’re floating because we kept all the flow rates down and minimized the disturbance.”

To combat the corrosive effects of Epsom salts, which are used in the water to increase buoyancy, the circulation-system elements are made of plastic or titanium.

Though the $25,000 units are built for use in the approximately 1,000 commercial centers throughout the United States, Sullivan said his company has been approached by some residential customers.