Learn from this website how to properly maintain hot tub and spa water from a pool & spa industry expert. Balancing spa water is much more difficult than balancing swimming pool water as the pH, alkalinity and sanitizer levels can fluctuate wildly.
In order to achieve a stable chemical balance it is critical that you have a solid and complete understanding of the interaction of hot tub chemicals. Unbalanced or poorly maintained spa water can be extremely hazardous to your health so bookmark this reference guide for future reference.
Bromine vs Chlorine Spa Sanitizers
Even more so than a swimming pool because of the hot water and potential for bacterial growth you must understand what sanitizer in the spa water is and how to effectively manage these levels.
What Is Hot Tub Sanitizer?A sanitizer is the chemical agent used to kill and restrict bacterial growth in a body of water. Most commonly for swimming pools and hot tubs there are two options which are chlorine and bromine. In swimming pools 95% or more of pool owners use chlorine as the sanitizer. For hot tubs the reciprocal it's true, in that approximately 95% of hot tub owners use bromine as opposed to chlorine.
Before choosing which sanitizer is right for you. It is important to understand the significance of sanitizer in spa water. Both swimming pool and hot tub water needs to be protected from bacteria by using a chemical sanitizer such as chlorine or bromine. Without the use of a chemical sanitizer or some other method of reducing bacterial growth, bacteria would grow unrestricted in the water.
The Importance Of Sanitizer In Spa Water
In a swimming pool this would be a problem and lead to algae growth but in a hot tub this could be fatal. The warm, damp and dark environment of a hot tub is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. If you do not take steps to ensure that it does not grow not only will it grow extremely fast, but the type of bacteria growing can become extremely dangerous.
Without a measurable level of chemical sanitizer in the water the amount of bacteria in your hot tub doubles in approximately 15 minutes. Imagine leaving your hot tub for a week without any chemical sanitizer and then hopping into the water, the amount of bacteria in the water is almost unimaginable. It is little wonder that so many people complain of hot tub itch otherwise known as follicular dermatitis from using hot tubs that have not been properly maintained.
How To Make Spa Water Safe?
It only takes one part per million of chlorine or 2 ppm of bromine and 60 seconds to kill all of the bacteria in hot tub water. That is all it takes to almost completely protect you inside the water so if you learn nothing else from this tutorial that and learn that.
This does not mean that you can sprinkle some chlorine or bromine into the water and be completely safe. There is such thing as sanitizer reserve and bacterial reserve. What this means is if you add sanitizer to a hot tub and waited short period of time and take a measurements of the water and read zero sanitizer, then all the sanitizer you added has been used, or consumed, in the process of killing the bacteria in the water.
Bacteria In Hot Tub Water
Just like you can have one part per million of sanitizer or 5 ppm or 20 ppm, you can have a little bit of bacteria, a moderate amount of bacteria or a huge amount of bacteria in the water.
If you are testing your water and still getting zero sanitizer or no chlorine or bromine in the water then this means there is still a bacterial reserve built up. You need to continue adding sanitizer to the water approximately every two hours and retesting. Once you can achieve and maintain a minimum of one part per million chlorine or 2 ppm bromine then the water can be considered safe.
Allergic To Chlorine Or Bromine?
When deciding between bromine or chlorine for your spa sanitizer it is important to recognize that chlorine and bromine are almost the same thing. The first reason that most consumers are considering which sanitizer to use is because they have experienced a negative reaction previously with one of the two and they are hoping that the other may be more beneficial to them to use.
The fact is that most hot tub related reactions are your results of a pH imbalance as opposed to a reaction to chlorine or bromine. Even if there is a reaction not related to pH then it almost certainly would be a result of a lack of sanitizer. Our exposure to chlorine in drinking water reduces the likelihood for strong reactions to chlorine and being that bromine is just a diluted form of a chlorine concentration a reaction with either is not likely.
Spa Water Sensitivity
It is common however for bathers to have a sensitivity to something in the water. Less severe than a full reaction a sensitivity will usually leave someone with very dry or itchy skin. This could be a result of too much sanitizer in the water as this is very common in poorly maintained a hot tubs, or more likely it is that the pH of the water is not in balance. PH imbalance in spa water is the number one cause for reactions in hot tubs.
Learn why pH balance in spa water is so difficult and why pH imbalance is the number one reason for reactions in hot tub bathers. Continue to the section on spa water pH