Electric bath

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Artists Rendition of the Electric Bath as a tanning bed based on photos from a catalogue.

The term Electric bath applies to various devices. These include: an early form of tanning bed, which was used on the RMS Olympic, RMS Titanic,[1] SS Adriatic[2] and in various light care institutes; a cabinet in which ultraviolet light is applied to the user via lamps. These were often upstanding variations of the common electric bath and they continue to exist today; an electrically heated steam bath. Often, these devices were given the name "portable Turkish bath".

Tanning bed[edit]

The electric bath as an early tanning bed was an old sunbed device designed and produced by the German firm of Heraeus, which produced various ultraviolet lamps in the early 1900s, as well as a particular self-standing horizontal reclining tanning device known as the electric bath.

The electric bath consisted of a wooden stand which held an electrical power supply. Above the wooden stand was a green sheet-metal cabinet lid which held many ultraviolet lamps, and four additional lamps which could be set into the lid and hooked in with metallic clamps. The additional lamps were placed on either side of the bath lid, as well as at the end to provide the user with extra tanning around the arm and feet areas.

Users would open the lid, recline on a metallic surface placed upon the wooden stand, and close the lid. Often, a bath attendant would set the timer on the bath to a specified time, and the lamps would light up, sending waves of ultraviolet rays at the users skin, creating a tan.

The early models of the Heraeus electric bath were quite dangerous, as conditions such as skin cancer were not known to be caused by the ultraviolet rays given off by the lamps during the time period they were used in the device. Care had to be taken that the device was used in moderation. Many users survived and enjoyed the experience, although various recounts include mentions of being burnt, most likely caused by staying in the recliner for more than the recommended time of 30 minutes.

The electric bath was used on the RMS Titanic inside the Turkish baths. Women could use the bath through morning hours, and men could use it during afternoon and evening hours. A ticket was required to use the bath, and could be purchased from the bath attendants for a modern equivalent of one dollar.

The bath was also included in the game Titanic: Adventure Out of Time by Cyberflix. It featured a frightening sequence of a young man being electrocuted in the bath. It was depicted in the game as a steam bath rather than a tanning bed.


  1. ^ "VICTORIAN TURKISH BATHS: Ocean liners: RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic |". Victorianturkishbath.org. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  2. ^ "VICTORIAN TURKISH BATHS: Ocean liners: SS Adriatic |". Victorianturkishbath.org. Retrieved 2013-09-24.