Spa Water Chemistry Management

spa-balance - image purchased - istock

Balanced spa water is important for several different reasons, and bad chemistry can affect the health of those using the spa or hot tub.

Too much or too little of certain chemicals will have negative impacts on health, but additionally it can damage the spa or equipment. This guide will explain some spa chemistry fundamentals as well as important steps for spa owners to remember.

Spa water is a great place for bacteria to grow – depending upon the temperature of the water. Warmth provides the potential for disease, viruses and bacteria to threaten all who get into the spa. You can even get sick from simply inhaling water vapor from a bacteria-filled spa.

No matter how clean you are, all users bring in small amounts of dirt, oils, and other unmentionable gunk, which accumulates from all of the bathers, combining together with other debris or dirt that gets in the water; spiraling out of control! The primary solution to this problem is spa sanitizers.

Spa Sanitizers

Sanitizers eradicate the germs and reduce the chances of bacteria causing illness. Before adding bromine to the water, spa shock is helpful as a preliminary step that will remove the contaminants, allowing any sanitizer to work even better.

Chlorine and bromine are the two effective spa sanitizers – both which provide for superior results. Chlorine is highly effective but can prove to be irritating to the more sensitive bathers, as it can cause eye or skin irritation. Free chlorine can be broken down by the UV rays from the sun, as well.

Brominebrominating-tablets is a more effective spa sanitizer, and without the side effects of irritated skin or eyes. Bromine effectiveness is also not affected by pH level changes in spa water. Bromine is best for use in indoor spas or covered hot tubs. Bromine is the preferred alternative to chlorine, simply because of the lack of side effects such as irritating skin and eyes.

Using spa shock in a bromine spa weekly is important to activate bromide ions, and keep the spa healthy. See Dr. Pool’s recent post on Building a Bromine Bank.

spa-frog-mineral-sanitizerMinerals such as copper and silver are also sanitizers, and are a helpful addition to your spa sanitation. Nature2, SpaRx and Spa Frog are spa mineral systems. They are constantly purifying the water, reducing the amount of gunk in the water, so your sanitizers don’t have to work so hard. When using mineral sanitizers in the spa, you can reduce the amount of chemical sanitizers by nearly half, and still maintain healthy, sanitary spa water.

Spa Water Balance

Here’s the factors to consider for spa chemical balancing – pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels, in that order. Because spas have a much smaller volume than swimming pools, levels must be monitored constantly. Low pH levels can be problematic because it causes irritation to skin and eyes, and can cause metal corrosion.

Total alkalinity levels that are too low will cause the pH levels to be erratic, while high total alkalinity can make the pH adjustment difficult. Calcium hardness is important to maintain because if too low, it can lead to foaming and deterioration to metal. If spa water calcium hardness levels are too high, it can cause cloudy water or scaly deposits.

a-b-c-blocksRemember your A-B-C’s. When you are adjusting the water balance chemicals, it is helpful to remember your A-B-C’s to recall the chemicals and the order to adjust. Start with Alkalinity and pH, Bromine or Chlorine sanitizer, follow that up with the Calcium Hardness.leisure-time-test-strips

Test the Water – with spa test strips, twice a week. Make checking the water a routine, every 3-4 days, so that you can get used to the process. Set a calendar reminder or task.

One Chemical at a Time. It is also important when you are adding chemicals to the water, that you add one chemical at a time. Separate each spa chemical addition by a few minutes so that each individual chemical can work its magic in the water. This gives your spa chemicals enough time to react without fighting each other, or getting in the way of the adjustment.

Change the Water. Another maintenance item to schedule is changing the water. The water should be changed on a 3 month rotation, for a spa with normal usage.

ahh-some-spa-cleanerBefore you drain the spa, use Ahh-Some plumbing cleaner to remove any build up of biofilms inside the pipes and equipment. This will help reduce your spa chemistry maintenance by removing these types of organic bacteria.

spa-cleaner-chemicalAfter you drain the spa, polish the inside of your spa shell with Spa Cleaner. This product will remove stains and scale and oily residue from the surface of acrylic or fiberglass spas. Safe to use on all spa surfaces and even can be used to clean your spa cover.

read-the-labelsRead the Label. It’s important to read the label on any spa chemical for information specific to how much to add to your spa. Read the treatment dosages and directions for use, and be careful when applying chemicals to your spa. Remember to keep them out of the reach of children.

Good spa chemicals will keep your water perfectly balanced, when used in proper dosage, and treated in the right order. Remember the order, and remember to test your spa at least weekly to protect the health of your soakers, and the health of your spa.

Enjoy your Hot Tub as the weather cools, we’ll talk again soon.

Alex Malamos
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Spa Water Chemistry Management — 2 Comments

    • Hi Tom, there is no easy way, it’s the see-saw of adding alkalinity down, pH up, alkalinity down, ph up, until the Alk comes down and the pH comes up, finally… I wish we had a chemical that did one without the other, but they are such close cousins… It can take 4-8 repeated treatments, over the course of several days

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *