An oxygen bar opened its doors on 458 Gilman St. two months ago, bringing the oxygen bar format back to the Madison area.
The iO2 Café, a self-proclaimed "aromatherapy hotspot," allows customers to sit back and relax in reclining chairs and entertain themselves by reading a book or watching television while paying to inhale oxygen.
But according to employee and recent University of Wisconsin graduate Samantha Peterson, customers have not been pouring into the bar.
"We just opened, so it'll probably take awhile to establish credibility and spread the word," she said.
The oxygen offered at the iO2 Café is not the usual oxygen molecules one would typically encounter in the atmosphere.
"The oxygen that we are used to breathing in everyday is only 21 percent pure," Peterson said. "At our venue, customers are able to inhale oxygen that is 90 percent pure."
Peterson said the café uses a machine to purify the air present within the store, and a "cannula nose hose" is hooked up to the machine to transport the purified oxygen to a customer's nostrils.
Breathing in the pure oxygen can help the customer relax, relieve stress, and diminish feelings of grogginess such as hangovers or headaches, Peterson added.
However, according to a report by the Food and Drug Administration, there have been no well-controlled scientific studies that prove any real beneficial effects of inhaling pure oxygen.
Employee and UW junior Alyssa Frederick conceded that may be the case and said that how much oxygen affects the patron is on a case-by-case basis.
"Inhaling the oxygen often gets rid of a headache I may have, and just gives me an overall euphoric feeling," she said. "Some customers say the same thing, and some don't seem to feel as much effect. It all really depends."
Customer Brandon Rifkin said the purified oxygen did not seem to change him at all.
"I guess it's nice to breathe in purer oxygen," Rifkin said. "But I didn't really feel any effects. It was comforting, but I'm not sure it was beneficial at all."
The iO2 Café offers 12 different flavors to choose from, including eucalyptus, vanilla and peppermint.
Peterson said every different flavor offers a unique health effect that others may not.
"All the employees are well-versed in the effects each flavor provides," she said. "We also have a pamphlet the customer can use if the choice is not clear to him or her."
Prices range from five dollars for a 10-minute session to $15 for a 30-minute session, and 30-day specially priced packages are also available. Peterson said it is common practice for oxygen bars across the world to limit their customers to a half hour.
"I don't know if staying on pure oxygen for longer than 30 minutes would cause health deficiencies," she said. "But oxygen bars typically only allow 30-minute long sessions. I think, if nothing else, 30 minutes is long enough to get all the benefits you would need."