How hot should my bathwater be?
February 7, 2007 3:27 PM   Subscribe

What temperature should a good hot bath be?

I love having a nice hot bath, but I rarely find time for it these days. Also, I am terrible at judging the correct temperature before I step in. I frequently run a hot bath, step in, then have to get out a couple of minutes later because I am on the verge of passing out. If I try not to make it so hot, I end up shivering in a lukewarm bath. So, this becomes another reason I rarely take baths.

So, in order to remedy my bath-drawing failures, please tell me what temperature my bath should be. I'm happy to be a dork and take a thermometer into the bathroom.
posted by Joh to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you've already got the thermometer, what do you need us for? Next time you draw a bath, take it into the bathroom with you. Make a note of the temperature of the bathwater. If you're on the verge of passing out, make your next bath a little cooler. If you're shivering in a lukewarm bath, make the next one a little warmer. Repeat until your bathwater is, like baby bear's porridge, just right.
posted by box at 3:34 PM on February 7, 2007

I love baths, and I had your problem before, but I have my own weird solution. Instead of filling the bath and then getting in, I get in the tub first, and then start the water.

Actually, to be more specific, I let the hot water run for a bit so it's warm, and get a decent temperature, but don't plug it up just yet. Then, I get in, put the stopper in, and then adjust the temperature to taste as it fills.

Also, if you don't know about 'em already, bath bombs from Lush are divine (I don't work for them or anything, I just LOVE THEM WITH WILD ABANDON).
posted by pazazygeek at 3:36 PM on February 7, 2007

Well, based on my experience with hot tubs, 110°F is probably too hot. However, for me, 98° is too cold. I like to keep it around 104°F.

My friend from Alaska was perfectly happy in the hot tub when the thermal regulator broke and the temperature was around 115°.
posted by muddgirl at 3:52 PM on February 7, 2007

I don't have a thermometer in the bathtub, but our outdoor hot tub is set from 102 to 106.
posted by tula at 4:02 PM on February 7, 2007

my partner and i just talked about your question -- she's a proud member of a bath-centric culture (ie., japan) and has introduced me to the joys of bathing.

it seems to me that a thermometer won't work because the water will cool soon after you find the "right" temperature. adjusting the water to your body and your body to the water is part of the therapeutic experience, i think.

sometimes i have to get out of a too-hot bath, cool myself off, drink some water, and then get back in. by then the water cools.

other times, i've filled the tub three-quarters of the way with hot-warm water and adjusted with cooler water once i'm in. the trick is to make sure that you have enough hot water left, too.

i think its okay to vary your approach and water temperature because some days you may need more heat than other days.

lush bath bombs are great. drops of essential oil and a closed bathroom door are also good. have fun!
posted by kiita at 4:05 PM on February 7, 2007

Just get better at trial and error!

No one can tell you the right temp for a bath, because it's a matter of personal preference. You'll just have to figure out your own preferences on your own!
posted by Kololo at 4:11 PM on February 7, 2007

We keep our hot tub around 100 or 101.
posted by fvox13 at 4:32 PM on February 7, 2007

I second the "fill the tub with you in it" method. I do find it a good idea to 'prewarm' the tub first - like a tea pot. Get the water good and hot and slosh it up the sides. The drain, enter & plug.

I like to spend a lot of time in my bath and prefer it a little on the slightly too hot for comfort end of the temperature spectrum. To help alleviate any discomfort I bring large quantities of cold beverages with me. Figuring that I'm going to sweat but it'd be silly to end up dehydrated whilst immersed in the wet stuff. 2-3L of something mild generally suffices. I like OJ mixed 1/2&1/2 with water. Maybe with a little lime.
posted by mce at 4:37 PM on February 7, 2007

Your hand is your thermomenter. Make it hot, then cool it down to a bearable temp.
posted by madstop1 at 7:32 PM on February 7, 2007

In my bathtub, if it's 107 coming out of the tap, by the time it fills up it is 104 which is perfect. Yes, I use a kitchen thermometer to check. Yes, I have been made fun of for this. But that is a small price to pay for PERFECT BATHS.
posted by SampleSize at 7:45 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

I tend toward baby-boiling temperatures. If I'm not red like a lobster when I emerge, I feel disappointed. I also stand staunchly in opposition to the fill-while-in-the-tub crowd. What pleasure is there in the perfect contrast of cold air and warm water if you allow yourself, like the boiled frog, to become acclimatized gradually to the difference? The shock is the pleasure.

That said, I frequently have to get out after only ten or fifteen minutes because of the heat. I find that leaving the door open, thus preventing steam retention and promoting deliciously chilly drafts, helps somewhat with the lightheadedness. I also like to simply wait as long as I possibly can, and then stand up immediately into a lukewarm shower stream; after the scalding hot bath, the cool-but-not-biting water feels scrumptious.

Oh, and Lush bath bombs are the bomb.
posted by Netzapper at 8:42 PM on February 7, 2007

Thank you SampleSize! I knew someone out there would have made a science of this :) Any more temperature geeks around?
posted by Joh at 10:31 PM on February 7, 2007

+1 for getting in the tub while it fills. I find that I have slightly different heat tolerances from day to day, so there's no magic temp that always works for me. (I take a bath almost every day. I never realized we bath-takers were so rare.)
posted by somanyamys at 5:49 AM on February 8, 2007

I too am an inveterate bath taker, but I do it differently from lots of the folks above. (In the bath while the water is running? That is just sick. Then again my tub is huge and water pressure poor.) I run it at the highest, body scalding temp, till it is almost full, then run a little warm. Yes, this will be too hot. Fortunately, cold water also comes out of your tap, which can be manipulated by foot. So as I sit in the bath, I will run cold water in as I get too hot, making sure to put my toe under the stream of cold water itself. Do not add water until the whole thing feels just right, as you will then be cold. Just cool yoursef. Then run some warm water as it cools off.

Yes, that is a lot of water. Yes, it will run out the overflow trap. But that is how I take enjoyable hour-long baths. (After swim practice. Because I like water a lot.)

As a final note, if you get into the bath and it is too cold and you have used up all the hot water, significant others can boil water on the stove and add it to your bath, if they love you enough. This too is awesome.
posted by dame at 6:27 AM on February 8, 2007

I have no idea if it would apply to you, but just remember to be careful about getting too warm if you are pregnant.
posted by TedW at 6:53 AM on February 8, 2007

Thanks Ted, yes it does apply to me currently, which is why I am suddenly interested in baths again, and obsessing over the correct temperature. I plan to err on the side of caution, as I do not want to get to passing out temperature!
posted by Joh at 1:10 PM on February 8, 2007

Also don't forget to drink lots of liquids before/during/after. It's easy to get dehydrated because being wet already, you don't notice that you're sweating.
posted by exceptinsects at 3:51 PM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Congratulations on your impending arrival! Anyway, since it sounds like expanding on my earlier answer is appropriate, you might want to look at the websites run by ACOG and AAFP for some medically sound advice. The gist of the concern about baths and pregnancy is that some types of birth defects are more common in women who regularly use hot tubs. Even so, the vast majority of women who use hot tubs (>95%) will not have a problem. The critical body temperature seems to be 102-104 degrees F. Hot tubs are worse than regular baths because they are continually heated, thus raising the body temperature more than a regular bath. So if you keep a regular bath at 102 degrees, you are unlikely to get your body temp that high unless you keep adding hot water. The other thing to remember is that the risk is highest during the first trimester, so you can be a little more lenient after that. I am not an ob-gyn, however, so if you want actual medical advice that would be the person to go to.
posted by TedW at 5:47 PM on February 8, 2007

i live in japan. the bath in my apartment is fantastic. as a professional cyclist i bath a lot. the fill is automatic to a sensor at the push of a button. it sets and maintains the temp automtically as a well. the benchmark temp is 108-110, but i often have it hotter. the baths in japan are deeper than the us ones which is great as well.
posted by edtut at 2:05 AM on February 10, 2007

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