While floatation therapy has been growing in popularity by leaps and bounds, another alternative therapy has also caught on in a similar (albeit smaller) way: salt therapy, also known as halotherapy. While salt is involved in both float therapy and halotherapy, the two treatments are actually very different. Here’s why.
What is Salt Therapy?
Salt therapy may sound like a New Age practice, but it’s actually a centuries-old tradition. For hundreds of years, Eastern Europeans have traveled to local salt caves as a kind of natural health spa, claiming the salt helped them breathe better and stay healthy. According to many proponents, salt therapy grew in popularity in the 1840s when a Polish doctor noticed that salt miners didn’t have nearly as many lung problems as coal miners—inferring that had more to do with the positive attributes of working with salt than the negative attributes of breathing in coal dust—and became a prominent advocate in the medical community for the benefits of halotherapy.
Today, modern salt therapy spas offer man-made salt rooms, where the walls, floors, ceiling, and even furniture is made from salt. Additionally, salt-infused air is pumped into the room. Fans of halotherapy report that these salt rooms help relieve symptoms of asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and skin inflammation.
Is Float Therapy a Kind of Salt Therapy?
The short answer is no. Float therapy is considered quite separate from salt therapy. The practical differences are that halotherapy is about breathing in dry salt, while float therapy involves floating in Epsom salt-saturated water. Additionally, salt therapy generally uses Himalayan rock salt, while float tanks are filled with Epsom salt—which is magnesium sulfate, a mineral that is fundamentally different from sodium chloride.
However, the two practices do share some similarities. Generally, salt therapy involves resting quietly in a salt room for at least 20-30 minutes, usually without a smartphone or laptop (although some include personal TVs). That’s quite a significant change of pace for most of us, so some individuals find salt therapy quite relaxing! Floating shares the “unplugging” aspect of salt therapy, although goes quite a bit further by allowing individuals to float weightlessly in a tank and removing all distractions, including light and sound.
Floating has also been linked to helping alleviate the symptoms of asthma, but primarily through its secondary benefits of relieving stress and enhancing sleep—recommended by doctors as general treatments for reducing asthma attacks.
Differences Between Float Therapy and Halotherapy
Besides dry salt versus Epsom-saturated water, one other major difference exists between halotherapy and floatation therapy: the scientific research. Only a few small studies have been conducted on halotherapy, and their results have been inconclusive; doctors interviewed on the subject tend to have mixed responses to halotherapy.
In contrast, floatation REST (as the academic community calls floating) has a host of studies backing up its benefits: stress relief, boosting athletic performance, fibromyalgia and chronic pain relief, and supporting learning and creativity.
Still, thousands of people claim that halotherapy helps with breathing or respiratory issues, and it may just be that the necessary research hasn’t been completed yet. If you prefer to go with a tried-and-true method for reducing stress or unplugging from the daily grind, though, we would love to introduce you to floating! Read our Before You Float guidelines for first-time floaters, contact us with any questions, and book your float online today!