Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Waterbeds and Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF)

While there has been much discussion over the last 25 or so years about the validity of the theory of electromagnetic frequency (emf) and possible health risks with regard to waterbed heaters, the jury is still out. It has been established in the scientific community that there is a definite existence of emf, but it varies widely in intensity from appliances to wiring to just about every electronic product used today. Associated health risks have never been proven.
What are electromagnetic fields?
Electrical currents are what causes electromagnetic fields. Common household current is alternating current (AC), which reverses its direction (its charge) then switches back. A complete cycle per second is one hertz (Hz). For example, if your waterbed heater operates at 60 Hz, then its current changes direction 60 times per second. This cycle creates electric and magnetic fields at the same frequency. The fields created by power lines that distribute power throughout the country are power frequency fields. These currents are nearly everywhere we live. It exists in cars, trains, elevators, massage chairs, tv's and video terminals, just to name a few. Emf is ubiquitous throughout our society.
Most waterbed heaters manufactured today are low emf, or emf reduced, thus minimizing exposure. For those who wish to exercise extra caution, a timer can be used to run the heater when waterbeds are not in use. This we will recommend during pregnancies just to remain on the safe side. A waterbed mattress will usually not require heat in the summer months or warm climates for many of us, though some will disagree. Again, this issue is only theory. Generally, scientists on both sides say they are dealing at most with rare diseases and an increased risk that is almost infinitesimal, especially compared with life's other everyday risks.
No scientific data support definitive answers to questions about the existence or nonexistence of health risks related to wood frame waterbed heaters or softside waterbed heaters and electromagnetic fields. More research to produce more reliable information is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Waterbed Heaters and the Softside Waterbed

The softside waterbed, also known as hybrid waterbeds, combine the comfort and superior ergonomics of fluid support systems with the look, surface feel, and ease of use of an innerspring mattress. This is usually achieved by replacing rigid wooden frame waterbed sides (hardside), with soft foam. Every manufacturer sets out to achieve this a little differently, with some more successful in design than others. While some have come and gone, there are still several successful softside waterbed manufacturers that can still provide you with several choices of differing models to choose from. For this post, we will narrow these down to three basic types; Deepfill, (requires a waterbed heater), Midfill, (heater optional), and Shallowfill, ( heater not required or recommended).
Deepfill waterbeds have eight inches of water, and are most similar to their hardside counterparts, requiring that a heater be used because the user is in close contact to the watermattress, which has about 200 gallons of water in a king size. A standard waterbed heater (300 watt) can be used on this type of waterbed, but only if it is placed on a wooden surface. If the deck surface is made of foam or fabric, a low-watt heater (120 watt) should be used instead to reduce the risk of overheating the heater, and scorching the foam or fabric surface, which can lead to heater failure or, in extreme cases, fire damage.
These lower wattage heaters operate at a lower temperature using a wire alloy heating element, which is a bit more expensive, instead of stainless steel or foil.
Midfill waterbeds have about six inches of water, and augment that with at least two inches of foam over and/or under the watermattress. A low-watt heater ONLY can be used for this type. Full watt waterbed heaters should never be used on a midfill waterbed, as they produce more heat than can be carried off and dispersed by the watermattress, creating an overheating hazard.
Shallowfill waterbeds do not need a heater, as the ambient air temperature, combined with body heat is adequate warmth. Shallowfill can be either a tube system, or a watermattress. While some may think it's safe to use a low-watt heater, aka a tube heater, we do not recommend doing so.
There is also the issue of electromagnetic frequency (E.M.F.) with regard to waterbed heaters to be discussed. This will be the subject of a later post.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Waterbed Heaters and the Hardside waterbed

The heater is a critical component of hardside waterbeds. It nearly always is included in a complete waterbed package because the eight inch water depth of this type of waterbed will typically be about ten degrees farenheit cooler than the ambient air temperature, which, in most climates, is not very comfortable. Your skin surface temperature is usually 85-88 degrees. This is what most people find to be their comfort zone. In cooler climes and weather, many will adjust their waterbed heaters in the upper eighties to low nineties. Warmer air temps will, of course, require less water heat, and may not even cause the thermostatic control to turn itself on much at all, until there is a sudden temperature drop. It is desirable to keep a watermattress at a constant temperature, at least seasonally. This is the primary function of the waterbed heater. Most people just "set it and forget it" about once a season. These wood frame waterbed heaters are compatable with all types of waveless waterbed mattresses and full motion waterbed mattresses alike. They only require that your waterbed mattress be completely filled before being plugged in to a power source. Not doing so will cause it to burn itself up and create a potential fire hazard. These heaters are usually around 300 watts, and are manufactured to be placed on wood only, with 7-8 inches of water over it. Not doing so will certainly void your warranty. Softside waterbeds will require a different kind of low watt waterbed heater which we will explore in the next blog.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Waterbed Sheets and Bedding Primer Part 3

When it comes to which type of sheets work best on a hardside waterbed, there a few choices. Many customers tell me that they can't get waterbed sheets to stay put, others have told me they are too difficult to put on, and others have said they find tucking in oversize flat sheets to be the easiest. First of all, it is important to understand that an overfilled waterbed will cause the above problems. If there is too much water, it is too heavy. The watermattress should be filled level to the top of the frame. This will allow you to lift the water and mattress out of the way in order to place the sheet pocket into the bottom inside corner of the waterbed frame. If the four sheet pockets are evenly placed in their corresponding corners, and the bladder is not overfilled, your sheets should stay put under normal sleeping conditions. There is one type of waterbed sheets called stay-tuck that incorporates a 1/2 inch by about 7 inch pvc tube into the inside edge of the sheet pockets so that the weight of the water "locks" the tube into the corner of a wood frame waterbed, preventing any slippage. You can also improvise this if desired with a smooth plastic coat hanger. These sheets, like many others, have a topsheet sewn to the bottom sheet at the foot of the bed. Some like this, others don't. For those who don't, we have available "six pocket sheets" that are separate, and the top sheet has only two pockets at the foot of the bed to hold it in place. We often run phone specials on sheets, so give us a call toll-free @ 866.405.8353 and ask for the blog sheets special. We are currently offering two sheet sets for $100.00. More to come, and more great deals in the offering.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Waterbed Sheets and Bedding Primer Part 2

After settling on which type of waterbed mattress pad to choose, you will need to purchase a set of sheets. For those of you who sleep on a softside waterbed, you will not need to buy waterbed sheets specifically designed for a hardside waterbed. Unless you have a california king sized softside waterbed, you need only use standard size regular bedsheets. These are also known as eastern size sheets, and are available in eastern king, queen, full (aka double), and twin. You may, however, need deep pocket sheets if you have a pillowtop, or high profile mattress. These are readily available, as most high-end mattresses sold today are higher profile.
If you have chosen a hardside, or wood frame waterbed, you will need to buy waterbed sheets. These come in 3 sizes; king, queen and super single. These are all california, or western sizes. They are 6, 5, or 4 Feet wide, respectively, all by 7 foot long. These dimensions were adopted industry wide to make the most efficient use of lumber in their construction. These sheets are often packaged as a set with a top sheet, bottom sheet, and 2 pillowcases. Super single waterbed sheets usually have only one pillowcase. When applied to a properly filled watermattress correctly, these sheets stay put very well. We will explore this further in the next blog.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Waterbed Sheets and Bedding Primer- part 1

On just about every vinyl watermattress manufactured these days, there is usually a tag or sticker that warns that, among other things, a mattress pad should be used to prevent damage from body oils. This damage manifests itself as a hardening of the vinyl, which is uncomfortable and noisy. It can also crack in extreme cases. One such case comes to mind of an old customer who needed me to take a look at his waterbed. It felt like plexiglas, and had a small crack, which leaked when pushed on. After telling him this was in no way like any other problem i had ever encountered, and must be a result of some type of abuse, he finally confessed (in private) that he and his wife enjoyed covering each other in baby oil, and sliding around on the bare water mattress. While this sounds like a lot of fun, it destroyed his bed, so we do not recommend that practice. We do, however, advise that you use a fitted waterbed mattress pad to insulate, protect, and soften a vinyl watermattress. For added comfort and absorbancy you can upgrade to a quilted cotton mattress pad.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Waterbeds and Sex Part 2- Sex and the Softside Waterbed

The softsided waterbed, after having made it's debut in the mid 1980's has surpassed it's hardside, or wood frame counterpart in sales for nearly the last two decades. Many different manufacturers have come and gone, all offering slight variations and innovations in design. Now, just a few strong players remain in production, having distilled their most popular and sucessful models down to three basic design types which we will explore here with relevance to sex; The deepfill (8" depth), The midfill (6" depth), and shallowfill (6" depth).
The deepfill is the softside type that is most akin to a hardside waterbed, as they are about the same depth and can be offered with the same watermattress types, and both require a waterbed heater. Depending which type watermattress is ordered will determine the amount of motion. Some models offer pillowtops, others come with a plushtop. The plushtop is thin, and leaves very little between yourself and the vinyl watermattress, while the pillowtop provides a soft, billowy buffer. Other than that, with regard to sex, the same rules apply as with wood frame waterbeds with one exception; the soft sides are made of foam instead of wood and can be much more forgiving in the event of any accidental impact (giving new meaning to safe sex!).
The midfill and shallowfill softside waterbeds are a hybrid of a waterbed and an innerspring bed (what we like to call a "dead bed"). Because a waterbed needs 8 inches of fluid support, these beds augment this with the use of foam. A midfill will use 6 inches of water, buffered with at least two inches of foam, and a shallowfill will have 4 inches of water, in either tubes or a watermattress, with a minimum of 4 inches of foam above and/or below the water. Heaters are optional on midfill waterbeds, and are NOT recommended on shallowfill waterbeds. All three types can be purchased with a plushtop or pillowtop, and some high-end models offer visco memory foam toppers. These beds are more comparable to regular mattresses because they move less, and allow for better "traction". Instead of using springs for base support, which will compress in the same place nightly from your bodyweight, and eventually sag, they use water, which will resilliently feel the same in 20 years as it does today, topped by a soft and supple foam or pillow top. It really feels great! They all will have some rocking motion, but the shallower the fill, the less action. Tube beds have almost no side-to-side motion, but will still have some head-to-foot motion, so you can still "go with the flow" on all types. (Of course, playing a Barry White cd may enhance your experience.)
I am now confident that, given the information here, you can make an educated and informed choice of which type of waterbed will best suit your needs for practicality, comfort, and fun. Please post any feedback or questions you may have on this or any other relevant subject.