Hot Tub Chemicals can make or break your spa water. Nothing's worse than getting ready for a good soak (or maybe even a good hot tub party), only to find nasty, smelly, and otherwise gross water waiting for you once you remove the cover. Bad water is almost always a result of chemical imbalances - or in some cases, the lack of hot tub chemicals all together. Spas are no different than swimming pools in that they require several chemicals to not only keep the water looking great, but to also keep it safe for anyone who climbs in.
The good news is that it's usually possible to 'rescue' nasty water; and following a simple maintenance routine takes only a minute or two per day, and is all but guaranteed to keep your hot tub water pristine.
Sanitizers - Hot Tub Chemicals That Kill Bacteria And Algae
Have you noticed what happens if you leave a kiddie pool full of water for a week or two? It starts turning green. That's from microscopic aquatic plants called "Algae." Algae manages to bloom in almost any body of water, including hot tubs.
But if Algae is bad, bacteria is even worse. Bacteria loves warm water, and at 100 degrees or hotter (most hot tubs run between 100 and 104 degrees), all sorts of bacteria will flourish. This is largely what's responsible for offensive water odor - and it can make bathers very sick, and in the worst conditions, can actually be fatal.
Sanitizers kill bacteria and algae. The most common hot tub sanitizers are chlorine and bromine. Both are effective at neutralizing organic particulates and are available at any hot tub supply store.
It's important to keep the chlorine levels (or bromine levels) within a safe range - usually a few parts per million is all that's needed to keep the water safe. But if those levels get too high, these chemicals can actually cause human harm - sometimes serious harm! It's always best to follow the instruction on the sanitizer packaging for specific parts per million (PPM) ranges.
Another type of sanitizer is called "Shock." Unlike the other types, a shocking agent blasts any organic material with an intense burst of chemical sanitizer. It's both powerful and short-lived. In fact, many hot tub shocks are considered people-safe within 20 minutes of use. They are your best defense against a smelly hot tub.
PH Balancers - Keep Your Hot Tub pH Stable
Sanitizers are great at killing microscopic organic matter, but they are very "basic", meaning that they run very high on the pH spectrum. And adding them to your spa water will naturally raise the overall pH level. The solution is a lower-pH chemical (acidic) designed to balance out the chlorine or bromine.
Different hot tub supply stores might use different terminology here, as some call these chemical agents "Balancers," while others use the more direct name, "Acids" or "Hot Tub Acids." Don't let the scary name fool you, all it means is that it carries a lower pH level - as do all acids.
So what pH level is best? Most experts say a pH level between 7.2 and 7.8 is best.
Hot Tub Alkalinity - Keeping Your Spa pH Stable
It's one thing to reach that ideal pH range, but it's another thing to consistently keep the water there. Alkalinity helps in this regard. What is hot tub alkalinity? It's basically the water's resistance to pH changes. The more Alkaline the water, the more stable the pH becomes. Scientifically notated as "TA," most experts say a TA range of 80 to 100 PPM is both safe and stable.
Calcium - Hot Tub Water Softeners And Water Hardeners
You've probably heard the terms "hard water" and "soft water." Both are descriptors of Calcium levels in your hot tub. The higher the Calcium content, the "harder" the water; the lower the Calcium content, the "softer" the water. Generally speaking, a range between 150 to 300 PPM is ideal of Calcium levels in your spa.
Keeping Your Hot Tub Chemicals Balanced
Make checking your hot tub water a part of your daily schedule, then you're all but guaranteed to keep all chemical levels safe and within range. Not only will the water stay clean, clear and inviting, but it will also keep the mechanical parts of your hot tub (pump, pipes and filter system) running more efficiently and help them last longer.
Just remember, hot tub chemicals are dangerous, so handle them safely at all times.