As pipe-free pedicure systems gain popularity within the industry, and concerns over sanitation and salon safety preoccupy the minds of clients and nail techs, it forces the question: Are pipe-free systems a better option?
A relatively new technology for pedicure spas has been incorporated into many manufacturers’ pedicure systems in hopes that the ease of cleaning they offer will improve sanitary conditions in the salon and alleviate some client fears about the units. Called “pipeless” or “pipefree,” this new approach has allowed manufacturers to eliminate the need for internal pipes to circulate water in foot spas by using small turbines housed within the shell of the tub to churn the water instead. These new systems were designed to be completely accessible to the tech, making them easy to clean.
“The number-one concern in the industry is contagious diseases,” says Ken Bui, marketing director for Lexor Inc. (Baltimore), a manufacturer of pedicure spas.
Still, it is important to stress that the horror stories that permeate the industry are born of nail techs and salon owners who are negligent in the maintenance of their pedicure spas (piped and pipe-free alike) — not due to an inherent fault in the pedicure spa technology. In short, pipes are not the problem, people are.
Nancy King, an independent educator and industry consultant, is quick to point out that, “If a tech follows the rules, if she cleans and maintains her pedicure spa the way she is supposed to, she can offer a safe service,” regardless of whether she is using a whirlpool or pipefree spa. (You can learn more about the proper cleaning of pedicure thrones in “Footspa Cleaning Guidelines for Nail Technicians."
What Is a Pipe-Free System?
In short, a pipe-free system is a system that uses a motor-powered impeller to draw water from the tub into a jet where pressure forces it back out through either a hole or nozzle into the tub. The impeller looks similar to a boat propeller or fan, but rather than push the water away, an impeller creates suction that draws the water into it. The water never enters an internal re-circulation pipe and all of the components of the apparatus that touch water are designed to be easily accessible, removable, and disinfected.Water still enters and is drained from the tub through traditional plumbing.
In a traditional piped foot spa, water from the tub is drawn through an intake by a powerful pump, circulated through a series of pipes surrounding the tub, and forced back into the basin through various jets.