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Archive for the ‘spa chemicals’ Category

How to Shock a Hot Tub

February 1st, 2016 by

cloudy-spa-water-after-shockingWhat does it mean when we speak of shocking a hot tub? I like to say that my spa is shocked every time I remove my towel, but that’s just my little joke. :-)

Spa shock is an oxidizer that is used to destroy organic contaminants that have been able to escape normal daily sanitation. Oxidation involves the transfer of electrons, and when hot tub water contaminants or pathogens are oxidized, they lose electrons, and quickly expire, or cease to exist.

Today’s blog post is all about shocking a spa or hot tub. What, how, when and why a spa or hot tub is shocked. A shocking topic to be sure!

 

What is Hot tub Shock?

Hot tub shocks are made from a powdered form of oxidizer, either a form of granular chlorine, non-chlorine potassium sulfate salts or liquid chlorine (bleach). When using a biguanide sanitizer system (Aqua Silk), the spa shock is made of liquid hydrogen peroxide, which can not be used in a bromine or chlorine treated spa/hot tub.

Why do I need to shock a hot tub?

There are 3 main reasons to shock a spa: 1. To destroy excessive contaminants in a hot tub after use by several people, 2. To reactivate bromide ions into active bromine, and 3. To kill algae, bacteria, viruses and pathogens that may escape your normal daily sanitation chemical.

How to shock a spa with bromine?

Trick question – you don’t shock a spa with bromine. There is no such thing as bromine shock, although many people confuse bromide ions with spa shock. Bromides (aka Bromine Boosters or Reserve) are used sparingly to boost the ‘bromide bank’, which is reactivated into bromine by using chlorine granules, or MPS (aka non-chlorine shock).

How to shock a spa with chlorine?

Chlorine granules are available in varying concentrations or strengths, so follow label instructions closely for proper dosage. For a 300 gallon spa, 0.7 oz of Chlorine Granules shaken over the water surface, will raise the chlorine level up to about 10 ppm. This should be done with a balanced pH (in the low range of 7.2-7.4), and with the circulation pump running on high to help distribute the shock quickly. Keep the spa cover open or removed for about 30 minutes after adding spa shock, to allow reaction gas to escape and prevent damage to the spa cover. The hot tub should not be used until the chlorine/bromine level drops back below 5 ppm.

How to shock a spa with bleach?

Regular household bleach (non-scented and without additives) can be used in a spa, but the pH level may rise as bleach has a very high pH of 13. For this reason many spa owners may find it easier to use dichlor (chlorine granules) or non-chlorine shock (MPS), which are more pH neutral. Testing the water with a chlorine test kit will determine the proper amount, but for a 300 gallon spa, 1 cup (8 oz) of 5% strength bleach will raise the level to 10 ppm.

How to shock a spa with non-chlorine shock?

Chlorine free shock, also known as MPS (or PPMS) is Potassium Monopersulfate, or Potassium Peroxymonosulfate, is a quick dissolving and powerful oxidizer that is popular for use in spas and hot tubs. It’s not measured with a regular spa test strip, so following dosage instructions is important. For example however, when shocking a 300 gallon spa, 1-2 oz. of non-chlorine shock is used, broadcast over the water surface, with the spa pump running. Like other types of spa shock – add after you use the hot tub, not before.

Is Hot Tub Shock Dangerous?

spa-and-hot-tub-shock-smIt depends if you are shocking with 110V or with 220V! Just another little joke, but seriously folks, Spa Shocks are dangerous – if mixed with any other chemical, or allowed to become moist, or contaminated with dirt or debris, it has the ability to produce noxious fumes, catch fire or explode.

Yes, spa shock can be extremely hazardous, and must be stored in a cool, dry location, safely out of the reach of children. Overdosing your spa or hot tub with shock may damage the finish, or the spa cover. And using the spa before allowing chlorine/bromine levels to subside can bleach swimsuits or cause skin irritation or breathing difficulties.

Always follow the label instructions closely for dosage and use instructions, and keep your spa oxidizers clean, cool and closed. Be safe with spa shock because – oxidants happen! :-)

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Saltwater Hot Tub – Bromine or Chlorine

January 18th, 2016 by

saltwater-hot-tubs Before I write a post, I survey the ‘information landscape’ with a few keyword searches, to see what’s been written about the topic. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about saltwater hot tubs. Sounds very familiar, I heard the same discussions ten years ago about swimming pool salt water systems.

It smells like fear – fear of change, fear of losing bromine tablet sales, fear of the unknown. What really happens is that when a saltwater bromine or chlorine generator is installed, you won’t need to buy, store, transport or handle bromine tablets anymore.

You’ll still need other spa chemicals, because you still have to balance the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels. You may still need to use clarifiers, enzymes or foam out. And, you’ll still need to test the water regularly, and clean and replace your spa filters. In short, you’ll still do everything you do now, with exception to adding bromine tablets or oxidizer to the hot tub.

Saltwater systems for hot tubs are not a miracle product, but it does have a few benefits over sanitizing with bromine tablets or bromides/oxidizer or chlorine.

  • Softer water due salts; sodium chloride (for chlorine) or sodium bromide (for bromine).
  • Fewer peaks and valleys of sanitation. With other methods, levels are less consistent.
  • No worry about checking and adding tablets or shock to reactivate bromine.

SOFTER SPA WATER

Water softness or hardness is in direct relation of how much calcium is in the water, or the calcium hardness measurement of the water. For spas and hot tubs, low calcium from soft water is not a good thing, but that’s not what I mean when I say that saltwater hot tubs have softer water.

What I really mean is that the water feels softer on your skin, it feels almost silky, slick, or oily. This is because of the salts in the water, similar to how adding bath salts or spa crystals to your spa or bath water makes the water feel more … luxurious? It’s also less drying to the skin, as opposed to using tablets or shock oxidizer.

FEWER PEAKS AND VALLEYS

peaks-and-valleysA salt chlorine or salt bromine system can maintain a very consistent level of sanitizer in the water, with digital controls to program an exact level of chlorine or bromine. When using bromine tablets, it’s harder to control the dissolution rate of the tablet. When the floater or brominator is first filled, more bromine will be released than when the tablets are almost gone. To control this problem, you will need to turn down the brominator dial (or the floater holes), and as the tablets dissolve, open it up more.

For bromine spas that don’t use tablets but use a shock (MPS or Dichlor) to activate bromide ions, turning them into bromine, the problem is even more pronounced. Immediately after adding the oxidizer, the bromine level can shoot up very high (peak), and then slowly drop back down to a low level (valley).

LESS WORRY

With a saltwater hot tub system, bromine or chlorine production is steady and controlled, and you don’t have worry about adding more sanitizer at the exact moment it runs out, or catching it before it runs out, or drops to near zero levels. However, keep in mind that inline saltwater chlorinators or saltwater brominators only make chlorine or bromine when the pump is running. The Saltron Mini and other drop-in types of salt cells are an exception to this, since they are not plumbed inline, but hang over the edge of the spa or hot tub. But if your spa pump is running daily, any type of salt system can create enough chlorine needed for daily disinfection.

A lot of people don’t know that a saltwater hot tub can be either bromine or chlorine. Add sodium chloride NaCl, regular table salt, and your salt cell will create chlorine. Add sodium bromide salts however, and your saltwater hot tub will be a bromine hot tub. Bromine is more stable than chlorine in high temperatures and in varying pH levels, and is considered a better sanitizer for hot tubs.

Hot Tub Salt Systems are not a miracle productSalt systems for spas allow you to make your own ‘locally sourced and organic’ chlorine or bromine, on-site. But that’s all it does – replacing bromine tablets or other means of sanitation. Not a miracle product – it won’t reduce spa maintenance by too much, but it does have at least three clear benefits over traditional methods.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa Chemical Dosage Charts

January 11th, 2016 by

trutest-strip-reader-spa-lgI’ve heard it said that “spas and hot tubs are not just small pools” – indeed, they are very small pools.

So small in fact, that the equivalent of 4 people in a spa is like having 200 people in a pool! Wacky things happen to water chemistry when even one person is using the spa or hot tub – pH jumps, alkalinity drops, and sanitizer is pummeled.

But you know this – if you take care of a spa or hot tub, regular water testing confirms irregular water chemistry, in most hot tubs. And you know how to take care of it too, a little bit of this, a little bit of that… and your spa water is balanced once again.

Today’s post is designed to be a resource for the busy spa owner, a printable reference sheet of how much spa chemical to add, for an expected result. Print Out the image below and tape it inside the spa cabinet door, or on the lid of your chemical box. Plastic sleeves or report binders will keep it dry and readable.

OverDosing the Spa is very common. Measure spa adjustment chemicals carefully, using 1/8 cup (1 oz) or 1/4 cup (2 oz) kitchen measuring cups. Another useful tool, the kitchen tablespoon is 1/2 ounce, and the tablespoon is 1/6 ounce, or 0.17 oz. Add small amounts and test again after an hour or so of circulation. Keep a log book of chemical test strip readings and adjustment chemicals used – I know, sounds geeky – but it can be very helpful in getting to know your spa’s chemical personality, and how it reacts to people chemistry.

Not sure How Many Gallons is in your Spa? Mathematical formulas exist, but can wrongly estimate the gallons in a portable spa, due to the varied internal seats and shapes. The best way to calculate the number of gallons in a spa is to time exactly how many seconds it takes to fill the entire spa using a stopwatch. Then time the exact amount of time it takes to fill in five gallon bucket, in seconds. Divide Spa Fill time by bucket fill time to determine spa capacity. For example, if it takes 1800 seconds (30 minutes) to fill your spa, and 30 seconds to fill a 5 gallon bucket, then… 1800 ÷ 30 = 60 buckets x 5 gallons = 300 gallons. Another way to find out is to consult the owner’s manual, or search online by make/model – if the spa was built by a known manufacturer.

Spa Chemical Dosage Charts

Print out this chart and place it near your spa chemical storage area, for quick reference. Write or circle the number of gallons in your spa or hot tub.

spa-chemical-dosage-charts

spa-chemical-dosage-charts

One more tip: Always add one chemical at a time, allowing 15 minutes of circulation before adding other spa chemicals. Adding chemicals right on top of each other can affect the effect!

 

- Jack

 

How to Clean a Hot Tub

January 4th, 2016 by

deep-clean-your-spaSpas and hot tubs are fairly self-regulating; and don’t require a major time investment to maintain. However, to keep your spa in top condition and looking good, you do need to do some spring cleaning from time to time.

My technique is to drain half the spa water and refill every 4 months, with a deep cleaning every third interval, or once per year. Here’s the method that I use annually, to really deep clean my hot tub.

 

Step One: Flush the Pipes

Everyone knows how a toilet will grow a gross film if it’s not used (flushed) often; and the same for spas and hot tubs. The inside of pipes can become coated with a slick film that builds up along edges of pipe and air fittings. Low flow circulation pumps often don’t provide enough force to prevent bacteria build-up inside of pipes, filters and fittings.biofilm

Causes of biofilm in spas include those that have had mechanical down time or extended power outages, or temporary draining and standing empty. Poor water balance or sanitation slip-ups also allow bacteria to create clumpy communities, which protect themselves with a slick, slimy surface.

Biofilm is hard to prevent, even in well maintained spas and hot tubs. The best way to handle it is to use a spa flush product regularly. Chlorine or bromine can’t get past the greasy layer that protects biofilm. Use a product like System Flush, Jet Clean or Swirl Away to remove oils, organics, dirt and minerals, where biofilm bacteria makes a home.

This is the first step, because it’s done before draining the spa. Recommended once per year, or before draining a stagnant spa – one that has not been filtered for several days or longer. Add the solution and allow to circulate overnight, following label directions closely.

Step Two: Drain the Spa

After a flush, it’s time to drain out the water in the tub. A small sump pump can do it in about 20 minutes, or you can let gravity do the work by attaching a hose to the drain spigot on the spa. Spa water is fine water for the lawn or plants, as long as sanitizer or algaecide levels are not high. To be safe, move the drain hose often, or run it to a storm drain.

shop-vacFor stagnant spas, or tubs that have sat unfiltered and untreated, use the Shop Vac® to blow out the pipes with forced air (switch the hose to convert from vacuum to blower). This can dislodge any remaining gunk that is still in the pipes. Place the hose over returns, skimmer and drain ports, to force air in many directions.

If your spa has a forced air blower, turn it on to force remaining water out of the pipes. For seat or floor air jets, lay towels over the seat/floor before turning on the blower, to soak up the water. Getting out the last bit of water can be tricky, a wet/dry vac comes in handy, or a large sponge and a bucket.

Step Three: Clean the Spa

To retain the luster and protect the spa surface from UV rays and chemical problems, it’s recommended by spa manufacturers to clean the spa interior surfaces after draining. Be very careful not to use household cleaners, which can harm spa surfaces and contaminate spa water.

Harsh spray cleaners or cream cleansers can seep into air holes and cause a lot of problems. Use only natural spa cleaners like Citra-Bright to clean acrylic spas. To water-proof your spa, go the extra mile after cleaning and spray on Fast Gloss to protect your spa with a thin layer of silicone.spacover-cleaner-and-conditioner

Spa Cover cleaning is also recommended, to extend the lifespan of a spa cover. The underside is usually not treated, but if your cover is smelly, a 10% bleach solution can be sprayed on the underside, to combat a mildew odor. The top a spa cover however, needs regular care to keep the vinyl supple and strong. Use a spa cover cleaner, followed by a vinyl conditioner, at least once per year to stop damage from sun, snow and rain.

Spa Pillows should also be removed and cleaned with mild soap and water. Manufacturers recommend that spa pillows be removed and stored if the spa is not used regularly, because of the high temperatures and chemical effects. You can protect spa pillows with a Fast Gloss treatment.

Spa Filters are cleaned with a garden hose, from top to bottom, to rinse out dirt and debris. However, even strong pressure won’t remove mineral deposits or oily grime. To really clean a spa filter, soak the cartridge overnight in a spa filter cleaner to remove oils, grime (dirt+oil), and mineral deposits from hard water. Or, it may be better to replace spa cartridges that are near the end of a useful life (18-24 months).

Step Four: Refill and Balance

spa-cleaning-toolsManufacturers recommend that you place the fill hose into the skimmer hole or filter hole, which is a way to avoid an air lock after filling the spa. An air lock occurs when air is trapped in the pipes, especially in front of the pump.

If your fill water comes from an untreated source, or contains high levels of metals and minerals, or has a bad smell or color – use a pre-filter on the end of the garden hose to trap contaminants and impurities.aquachek-spa-test-strips

When the spa is full (don’t overfill it!) – test the water pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness levels and adjust if needed. Add a shock treatment to the spa, using MPS or chlorine granules, just to be sure the water is sanitary.

For bromine users like me, draining the spa depletes the “bromine bank”, so you’ll need to add a few ounces of Brom Booster, or bromide ions, to react with the bromine tablets. Until the bromine bank is recharged, the bromine cannot effectively disinfect the spa water.

After a refill, balance and shocking, let the spa circulate and filter for several hours, or overnight – running the heater to bring the water temp back up.

 

Is Your Hot Tub a Chemical Soup?

October 12th, 2015 by

chemical-soup-hot-tubsThe first question about the so-called “Chemical Free Hot Tub” is “What does it Mean to be Green?” The second question is “Can it be done?”; a chemical-free hot tub, that is.

When you speak of eco-friendly spas and hot tubs, you may be talking about saving energy, saving water, or preventing pollution.

It’s that last part I want to discuss today – preventing pollution of local watershed, while enjoying a hot tub without unnecessary and unnatural chemicals.

 

What Does it Mean to be Green?

There are several categories of spa and hot tub chemicals that are considered “Green”, most made of natural ingredients and harmless to plants and animals.

natural-spa-chemicals--Spa Enzymes: Enzymes are all-natural, microscopic organisms that eat oil and organics for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reduces the amount of sanitizers needed, and helps filtration by removing oily gunk.

Citrus Cleaners: When cleaning a spa, to remove water line marks or polish up the shell, be careful not to use household cleaners that contain harsh chemicals, but instead use a citrus or vinegar solution.

Natural Clarifiers: Companies like SeaKlear have used crab shells for years as a natural clarifier for pools and spas. Natural polymers help your filter by coagulating smaller particles into easily filterable clumps.

There are also several “Alternative” purifiers, or systems that can supplement your bromine or chlorine residual, but aren’t complete sanitizers – they can’t usually do it all.

Ozone: Ozone generators create small amounts of the O³ molecule, which is very powerful, and kills anything that can exist in water. But, the distribution method can’t get the gas in contact with everything.

Minerals: Even the Ancients knew the power of copper and silver to purify water; and for a spa it’s super easy to add minerals with a Spa Mineral Stick, there are many brands available.

UV systems: The Ancients also knew of the power of sunlight to kill algae and mold. When water is bathed in UV light, most pathogens, bacteria and viruses will die – but not everything.

In addition to sanitizing the water daily and continuously, a hot tub needs periodic oxidation, or spa shock.

Is a Chemical Free Hot Tub Possible?

You can reduce reliance on chlorine and bromine by using supplemental sanitizers like minerals or ozone or UV systems. Use non-chlorine shock (MPS), if you want to be chlorine-free.

But, you will still need to test the water and add balancing chemicals, to lower pH, or raise alkalinity and calcium levels, for example.

Unless you drained the water every time you use the hot tub (not very Green), you will need to maintain balanced water (pH, alkalinity, calcium), as well as daily disinfection to sanitize, and regular shocking to oxidize the water.

However – if you want to operate a spa or hot tub without bromine or chlorine, it is possible.

For low-use hot tubs, an ozone or UV system AND a mineral stick will keep the water clear. Shock (oxidize) the water with MPS after each use (very important). Filter the spa water for at least 6 hours daily, and buy a new spa filter cartridge every 12 months (very important). Adding a natural clarifier or enzymes to the spa can also aid in reducing the amount of sanitizer and oxidizer needed.

Chemical Soup Hot Tubs?

With supplemental sanitizers and careful water balancing, you don’t need to add 9 kinds of spa chemicals to maintain clear and healthy water.

Instead, over-filter the water and combine natural spa chemicals and alternative purifiers for daily disinfection, and oxidize with MPS after each use, or weekly.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

 

Most Popular Hot Tub Chemicals

October 5th, 2015 by

top-ten-spa-chemicals

 

Going over sales spreadsheets is one of my primary jobs here at hottubworks. Sales trends are interesting to watch, and important to know – so we can meet seasonal demand.

Knowing the most popular hot tub chemicals can also be useful to the spa owner! Don’t get left behind – here’s the spa chemicals that your neighbors buy most frequently.

This isn’t just a unit sales contest, to be fair we also used velocity and frequency, to produce a more accurate list of the most popular spa chemicals – by category. “May I have the Envelope Please….”

 

aquachek-spa-test-stripsAquaChek 6-In-1 Test Strips: We have a lot of Test Strips to choose one, but the 6-in-1 is usually the top seller in the category, seconded by the TruTest digital test strips. The 6-in-1 will test for everything you need bromine/chlorine, and also Free Chlorine, which lets you know if there are high levels of bromamines or chloramines in the water. Aside from total, free and combined sanitizer – this strip also checks your water balance levels of calcium hardness, total alkalinity and pH, all on one test strip.

 

spa-frog-floaterSPA FROG Floating System: Nature2 or the other mineral sticks are popular, but for an all-in-one solution, you can’t beat the Spa Frog, which has a bromine cartridge and mineral cartridge that fit into a cute little floating dispenser. The bromine cartridge (yellow) has an adjustable openings so you can set the amount that is released, and the mineral cartridge natural filters the water as it passes through the mineral cartridge (green). With just a few pounds of MPS on hand, this may be all you need to keep your spa clean! 

 

brom-booster-twoHTW Brom Booster: This product is popular for the bromine spa or hot tub (which is about 60% of spa users, by my estimate). When you drain the hot tub, as you should do every 3-4 months, you lose the “bank” of bromide ions in the water. It takes weeks and weeks for enough bromine tablets to dissolve to produce enough bromides in the water, so that bromine can be created. Complicated, just add a capful of Brom Booster after draining the spa , or significant dilution, to “build the bromide bank” again.

 

leisure-time-spa-56Leisure Time Spa 56 Chlorinating Granules: 56% blend is pH neutral and more stable in hot water than other types of granular chlorine. Don’t ever use pool shock in your hot tub, it’s too strong and evaporates within hours. Spa 56 can be used for regular chlorination or weekly spa shocking, and is a great way to reactivate bromides (see above) in a bromine spa. Just a capful of chlorinating granules can bring levels up quick, or be used as an effective way to control algae and biofilm.

 

leisure-time-defenderLeisure Time Spa Defender: A blend of organic polymers that locks up minerals like calcium, phosphorous, sodium, which can cause cloudy water and scale – and scale is bad for spas. If you live in a hard water area (and nearly 50% of the country does, by my estimate), you want to control the minerals by using a sequestering agent like Spa Defender. Natural formula protects your filter, heater and beautiful spa surfaces, which is why it’s one of our 10 most popular hot tub chemicals!

 

rendevous-natural-clearRendezvous Natural Clear for Spas:
Natural Clear is an enzyme that removes scum lines and foam by digesting oils, lotions, make-up, and other oily gunk that we bring into our spas and hot tubs. Helps control biofilm development by attacking the outer layers that protect the colony. Just 1 oz every other week removes oils from the water, which protects your filter cartridge, and keeps your spa and spa water looking good. This product is a must for high-use hot tubs or spas with small-ish spa filters.

 

culator-spa-pakCuLator Metal & Stain Spa Pak:
This is the only product that actually removes metals from your spa or hot tub water. Other chemicals just lock-up the chemicals with strong bonds, but CuLator actually absorbs metals in the safe and non-toxic pouch. Drop the Spa Pak into your skimmer or filter, it attracts all heavy metals, like iron, copper, manganese, cobalt, lead and other stain-causing minerals.

 

spa-alkalinity-increaserHTW Spa Alkalinity Increaser:
Your water’s Alkalinity is what keeps the pH in check – not enough Alkalinity and the pH level will bounce around a lot. In most hot tubs and spas, pH tends to rise when used regularly. That’s because all the oils, lotions, dirt, dead skin and other unmentionables that we bring into the spa – tend to raise the pH level. Spa Owners lower the pH regularly; which also lowers the Alkalinity over time. Keep Alkalinity above 80 ppm.

 

htw-spa-ph-minusHTW Spa pH Minus: And here’s the other part of the equation, the reason the Alkalinity level tends to drop over time, is that pH minus, while lowering pH very effectively, also lowers Alkalinity somewhat. Each time you add a half capful of pH Down into the spa, the Alkalinity takes a little hit. What are you gonna do? You have to keep the pH in check, or everything else will quickly go out of whack. Use pH Minus as needed to keep pH in the 7.4-7.6 range, so that your sanitizer is most potent, and stains and scale can be prevented.

 

leisure-time-filter-cleanLTO Leisure Time Spa Filter Clean – Overnight Soak: To really get your spa filter cartridge clean, you have to soak it in a solution. A good, complete spray with the hose is still needed, but afterwards, soak your spa or hot tub filter cartridge in a solution of Spa Filter Clean. Double action formula removes greasy deposits as well as scale, dissolving and lifting them from the cartridge fabric. After an overnight soak, hose off and then allow it to dry fully, to kill any bacteria. This is why it’s good to have a spare spa filter cartridge.

 

 

Back to my spreadsheets! I’m sure you can find many of these in your spa chemical storage. I use most of these products above in my own spa, and can attest to their usefulness!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

CDC Report on Recreational Water Illness

August 6th, 2015 by

CBS-News-Sick-SwimThe media is all abuzz about a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control that shows that Recreational Water Illness (RWI’s) are on the rise in American pools and spas.

Since 2010, a National Outbreak Notification System (NORS) has been established that allows public pool and spa operators to voluntarily report any outbreak of water related illness.

For the 2011-2012 reporting period, NORS has documented 1300 RWI’s in public pools and spas, with 75 hospitalizations and one reported death. Over half of the illnesses were caused by Cryptosporidium, or Crypto as it is more ominously known. Pseudomonas accounted for the majority of other illnesses.

What Causes Recreational Water Illness?

Where does it come from – it comes from bathers! Mostly from unwashed behinds, or from “accidental fecal release” of those infected with the parasite. Very tiny amounts of poop from an infected person can infect others – who accidentally drink the water, or absorb it into their eyes or open sores.

Crypto and other pathogens are not only found in human and animal stools, but can also be found in soil, food and on unclean surfaces. It can enter the spa in more ways than just the backside of an infected person. The CDC estimates that 750,000 Americans are infected each year with Cryptosporidium.

 

Why Doesn’t Chlorine Kill Crypto?

DEL Ozone MCD-50, it's what I use on my spa

Usually it does, but cryptosporidium has the ability to cloak itself from low levels (1-3 ppm) of chlorine or bromine. And if the pool or spa has high pH and/or a high level of chloramines – it becomes a very weak sanitizer, not strong enough to kill all pathogens. For this reason, the CDC recommends supplemental sanitation by Ozone or UV light systems, for pools or spas that have a high risk or history of infection.

 

Reducing Recreational Water Illness Risks

  • Shower with soap before using a pool or spa
  • Do not use a pool or spa if you’ve had recent diarrhea
  • Maintain spa bromine at 3-5 ppm, and use Ozone or UV
  • Balance the pH and shock the spa after each use
  • Keep your head above water and don’t drink the water
  • Limit spa sessions to 15 minutes

 

Is Your Hot Tub – Infected with Crypto?

bacteria-in-spasIt could happen, all it takes is one infected person who hasn’t showered to infect a spa or hot tub. The data collected by the CDC is entirely gathered from Public pools and spas, not residential – but a residential spa can become infected just as easily – all you need is an unclean bather, insufficient sanitation and poor water balance.

But I don’t mean to scare you – I would estimate that 90% of well-maintained residential spas are pathogen-free. When in doubt, shock the spa or change the water!

 

- Jack

 

 

 

 

Hot Tub Water Test: Like a Boss!

July 27th, 2015 by

TESTING-HOT-TUB-WATER-LIKE-A-BOSSTesting hot tub water regularly is important to avoid peaks and valleys of sanitation and water balance. Testing everyday is not needed unless your spa is used on a daily basis. Test your water 2-3 times per week, or more often if the spa is used frequently.

For years I used Test Strips to test my hot tub water, that’s what the Hot Tub Guyz (where I bought my first spa) told me to use. They even gave me a free bottle in a starter kit.

When I started working here at HotTubWorks – I was immediately shown a better way of testing hot tub water. It was in a product meeting, when someone asked when were going to start offering a real test kit for sale. I find out that we sell 12 different test strips for spa water, but we don’t have the “pool” test kit that everyone around the office uses.

It is now years later, and guess what – we still don’t sell the test kit which we all agree is the very best. Maybe this post will embarrass them into action! You can’t really rely on test strips for spa water – when you are only working with 300-500 gallons, it’s crucial to be accurate, or you can easily underdose or overdose.

Good Spa and Hot Tub Water Test

Spa-and-hot-tub-test-strips-travel-packSpa test strips are made to work with hot water, and are ‘calibrated’ especially for spas (whatever that means), but the wide range and hard to determine color matching makes them less accurate or reliable, when compared to other types of hot tub water testing.

 

Better Spa and Hot Tub Water Test

digital-strip-testerA better way to test spa water is to not abandon test strips, but to remove the human interpretation from the equation. No offense, but your eyesight and color matching skills aren’t what they used to be (mine neither!). The AquaChek Digital Strip Reader analyzes the test strip from 16 Million colors, and improves accuracy of test strip use immensely.

 

Best Spa and Hot Tub Water Test

The best way to test hot tub or spa water (if accuracy is important to you), is to use a liquid drop style, pool test kit. The one we all use here on our own hot tubs is usually, the K-2006, although some people have the K-2106. Both test kits are by Taylor, a well respected source.

Titration test kits are different, and here’s why. Take a water sample in a test vial and add the reagent. Then add an indicator solution, dropwise, or drop by drop, counting the drops until you achieve a solid color change (from red to blue for example). Multiply the number of drops x 10, and you have your calcium and alkalinity reading, accurate to within 5 ppm.

titration-test-for-hot-tubs

Yes it takes longer to do a titration test, but not much longer. You can do a full battery of tests, Bromine, pH, Alkalinity and Hardness in under 5 minutes. If your hot tub calcium or alkalinity is low, refer to the charts in the booklet, which tell you exactly how much adjustment chemical to add.

If your hot tub pH is high or low, you can do a titration test on the pH sample, adding Acid demand or Base demand reagents, dropwise, until your desired pH color is reached.

For measuring Bromine, and Bromamines, nothing beats a titration test. Traditional test kits have you add DPD reagent #1, 2 and 3 to the water sample vial, and compare the colors. FAS-DPD uses titration (drop counting) to most accurately determine chlorine or bromine readings to within 0.5 ppm.

You can buy the Taylor K-2006 test kit online - just not at Hot Tub Works! The box label reads Chlorine, but it tests for both Chlorine and Bromine. You won’t need the Cyanuric Acid test, unless you have an outdoor and uncovered spa.

taylor-fas-dpd-k2006-titration-test-kit-for-hot-tubs-and-spas

So, if you want to be accurate with hot tub water testing (and who doesn’t?), get the best hot tub water test available, and toss away your test strips for good!

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Test & Balance Hot Tub Water

July 6th, 2015 by

filling-the-spa-or-hot-tubI know some people who claim to have “perfect” spa water right out of the tap – “I don’t even need to test it”, they say.

That may be true for some people, but for the majority of spa owners, the water from the tap or hose may have very low levels of calcium, alkalinity, pH. Well water can also contain loads of minerals and metals, and city water can be full of chloramines and other water treatment byproducts.

When filling a spa after draining, you start fresh again, with “New” water. What follows is a step-by-step on how to test and balance spa fill water, to make it perfect for hot tubbin’.

 

1. Pre-Filter the Water

For well water, this is a must. “Yeah, but my well water goes thru filters and a conditioning system” you may say, but did you know that most outdoor hose spigots are not connected to a home water treatment system? Only kitchen, bath and laundry. You can fill a hot tub from a utility sink, if you have a faucet adapter, or you can just screw a pre-filter onto the end of the garden hose. A spa pre-filter traps minerals, metals, chloramines, bacteria and hundreds of other junk that you don’t want in your spa water.

For city water too, a pre-filter will remove pathogens and impurities (remember that city water is partially made up of raw sewage), and pre-filters remove chloramines. It also removes dissolved solids, down to 1 micron, which is quite small and invisible. Even if your tap water looks good and smells good, filtering it as you fill the hot tub will improve the water quality – and make your spa water easier to manage.

2. Check Calcium Hardness

The first step after refilling a spa or hot tub is to check the hardness of the water. Test strips can be used, but a liquid test kit is much more accurate. For hot water spas and hot tubs, water that is too soft can foam easily, and also makes the water aggressive and corrosive to pump seals and o-rings, and shiny spa finishes. Spa water that is too hot can cloud easily, and deposit scale around fittings and at the water line. For spa water that is too soft, (under 200 ppm), add Calcium Increaser to raise the level, making the water “harder”. For water that is already hard (over 400 ppm), common in many parts of the country, well – we don’t have a chemical to lower Calcium Hardness, but using the Pre-Filter can lower total hardness by several hundred ppm. Spa hardness is best in the 180-220 ppm range.

3. Check pH & Alkalinity

pH and Alkalinity are close cousins, as outlined in a recent post. Total Alkalinity measures the carbonates and bicarbonates in the water, which act as a buffer to pH change. If your pH “bounces” or changes easily, you likely have low alkalinity. If your pH is resistant to change, you likely have high alkalinity. For spa water with low alkalinity (under 80 ppm), add Alkalinity Increaser to raise the level. For water with high Alkalinity (over 150 ppm), use the pH Down chemical or other acid, to lower the level – which will also lower your pH level somewhat. After filling the spa, adjust alkalinity to the 80-120 ppm range. Spa pH should be in the 7.2 – 7.6 range. A proper pH helps bromine and chlorine work their best, and helps prevent damage to seals, o-rings and surfaces. If your tested pH is too high, add an acid (pH Down), and when it’s too low, add a base (pH Up).

4. Add Bromide & Bromine

One disadvantage to dumping the spa water every 3-4 months is that you lose your bank of bromide ions. Bromine, unlike chlorine, takes a while to build up a “bank” of bromide ions. It can take several weeks of waiting for bromine tablets to dissolve, shocking every few days – or the faster recommended method is to add some Bromine Booster to the spa. Just a few capfuls of Brom Booster brings up the level of bromide ions, so that you can see some results when you test the bromine level. After adding bromides to the spa, fill the spa floater or brominator with half a dozen 1″ bromine tablets. Test the bromine level over the next few days, your spa may need slightly fewer (4) or slightly more (8) bromine tablets, to register a consistent 3-4 ppm bromine reading.

>>> After all of that work, you’re ready for a dip in the tub! Here’s one more Tip: write down exact quantities of what you need to add to fresh fill water – chances are, your source water will stay fairly stable and consistent in it’s chemical balance, so write down exactly what you need to add to make it perfect for hot tubbin’.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

What Chemicals are Needed for a Hot Tub?

June 29th, 2015 by

hot-tub-chemistry-start-upSpa chemistry is something that needn’t make you anxious, and once you get the hang of it, most hot tubs will exhibit something of it’s own chemical personality, one that you will get to know well.

What I mean is, you will get to know when it needs more of something, and if you were to really geek out, and keep a spa chemical log, (like me!), you can see water balance trends over time.

For instance, my hot tub is tested 2-3 times per week, and I record my readings in a little book. If I flip back thru, I can see that about every 3 weeks I lower the pH, and about every 6 weeks I need to raise the alkalinity. I also see that on average, I use about 14 bromine tablets and 9 oz of spa shock every month. Good to know.

break-it-downBut you didn’t come here to hear stories about my hot tub – you came here to find out exactly what chemicals are needed to maintain a hot tub? What do you need to buy? And, what do you Really Need, and what is more… Optional.

There are a half-a-dozen different categories of hot tub chemicals, each with about a half-a-dozen different chemicals, from about a half-a-dozen different brands. And that’s what makes hot tub chemicals seem so confusing; let’s see if we can’t Break it Down into smaller chunks…

 

MUST-HAVE SPA CHEMICALS

  • Test Strips or Test Kit – test spa water 2-3x per week
  • Bromine tablets – for continuous sanitation
  • Bromine Booster – Raises bromide levels after draining
  • Spa Shock – regular super-sanitation, weekly
  • Spa pH & Alkalinity Balancers – as needed

NICE-TO-HAVE SPA CHEMICALS

  • Spa Calcium Increaser – increases water hardness
  • Hot Tub Clarifiers – coagulates small particles for easier filtering
  • Spa Cartridge Cleaner – get a second year with a deep cleaning
  • Mineral Purifier - purifies with copper and silver ions
  • Spa Polish / Spa Cleaner – clean and polish the spa shell

AS-NEEDED SPA CHEMICALS

  • Defoamer – for foamy spa water
  • Metal Remover – or metal stain removers
  • Spa Cover Cleaner – and conditioner
  • Jet Clean – biofilm cleaners
  • Leak Seal – seals up weeps, seeps, leaks6-month Bromine Spa Care Kit

A simple and more economical way to stock up on the basic spa care chemicals is to buy one of our 6 month spa care kits. We have 8 different spa chemical kits available from mild to wild, in your choice of bromine, chlorine or Nature2 mineral sanitation.

As a bare minimum, you have to have chemicals to test and balance the pH, continuously sanitize the water, and regularly oxidize (shock) the spa. An ozonator or mineral purifier by itself can’t do the job alone; in addition, put bromine tablets into a spa floater, and then add a few capfuls of spa shock after using the spa.

Also important is to test and maintain the pH and Alkalinity, so it doesn’t get too high or too low. Use test strips to test the water, and then add a pH or alkalinity increaser or decreaser, if pH has strayed outside of 7.4-7.6, or alkalinity is below or above the range of 80-120 ppm.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works