May 23, 2012

Hot Tub and Spa Water Chemestry

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Spa Water Chemistry

Hot tubbing is great and if you’ve owned a spa or hot tub for very long, you also know how relaxing it can be. But in spite of all the natural health benefits there are some potential health risks you need to be aware of.

A hot tub or spa is full of hot water that does not get changed with each use like your bathtub. Hot water over time can become a breeding ground for all sorts of microorganisms. The health risks can include, but are not limited to septicemia, skin rash and infection, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and legionellosis – a potentially fatal infectious disease.

These risks can be can be eliminated and controlled with proper spa and hot tub water maintenance.

Today, we have many fantastic ways to treat and sanitize hot tub water, so lets discuss a few things you need to know about treating your hot tub or spa water.

Shock Treatments

One of the first things to discuss when it comes to spa and hot tub maintenance is shock treatment. Shocking you spa or hot tub water is a way to breakdown dirt, soaps, body oils, lotions and other impurities that cannot be removed by your hot tub’s filter. It is recommended to shock treat you spa or hot tub water from time to time to keep these impurities from building up and becoming food for bacteria and algae.

Most manufacturers recommend a non-chlorine shock treatment, but there are several treatments available. Please see your owner’s manual for your manufacturer’s recommendations.


Chlorine is not used as often because of the odor and because it breaks down so quickly in the hot water. Bromine Tablets or Granules are a more popular method of sanitizing hot water today. They have a relatively low odor, but they are not odor free. While bromine is very effective, some people have a low tolerance for it and it can cause skin dryness.

There are other sanitizers that use copper ionization to kill bacteria and algae and they are very effective. They also have the advantage of being truly odorless which is important to many spa and hot tub users. The levels of copper also remain very low so the water is still safe for people and pets.

One thing to keep in mind with copper ionization is it is not compatible with other chemicals used to treat stains and inhibit metals. You need to use only those chemicals that are specifically designed to work with the copper.

Balanced Water

What do we mean by balanced water? Well, simply put, balanced water is neither too alkaline nor too acidic.

Water that is too alkaline has a very high pH and can cause scale to build up and create problems with the hot tub or spa equipment. Water that is very acidic has a low pH and can erode and damage plumbing and seals.

Balanced water is right in the middle and also helps sanitizers work a lot better. You can easily test the pH of your water by using simple test strips.

Total Alkalinity

Total Alkalinity is important because it really indicates how well the water will maintain a change in pH levels. Chemicals that raise or lower the pH of your water can adjust total alkalinity. See your user manual for specific recommendations.

Staining and Scale Buildup

Unsightly stains and scale not only make your hot tub look old and uninviting, they can become very difficult to remove over time. We recommend using a stain and scale preventer to keep your tub looking nice.

Water Hardness

In some areas of the country, water hardness is not a problem and in fact may require adding a chemical to increase the amount of dissolved calcium in the water. Here in Arizona, we have extremely hard water and that needs to be considered when adjusting your water chemistry. You typically cannot remove dissolved calcium from your water. Please see your user manual for specific recommendations.

Other Water Chemicals

There are various other water chemicals that will solve most any problem you have with your spa or hot tub water. There are de-foamers to reduce foam, and even scents to make your spa or hot tub water smell nice adding to the overall experience. In all cases it is important to check your user manual or speak to your manufacturer before trying something new in your spa water.

Leisure Time Chemicals

One of the best ways to start off right each time you drain and refill your spa or hot tub is to use a hose filter that will filter a lot of the initial impurities from your water making it easier to find balance and create a safe hot tubbing environment.

Maintaining your spa or hot tub water will allow you to safely enjoy your hot tub or spa for years to come.