Spa Chemicals can be hazardous. Here’s some stories of “When Spa Chemicals Attack” – or more correctly, when humans misuse or mishandle spa chemicals, and the injuries and fatalities that can result.
Earlier this month, a small explosion occurred in the New Jersey home of Russell Rocca. He was mixing chemicals used in his hot tub, and doing something wrong. He may have added water to chlorine, instead of the other way around – or, the chlorine may have been contaminated with other chemicals or any organic contaminant.
Lesson #1 – Always add chemicals to water (not water to chemicals), and always keep your chemicals clean – never let dirt, leaves or any contaminant mix with an oxidizer like chlorine or bromine.
And just 5 days ago, a hotel employee in Victoria, Canada mixed together two spa chemicals, and the reaction released a toxic gas, resulting in a hotel evacuation and haz mat response. Fortunately no one was injured, although the employee was taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties.
Lesson #2 – Never mix pool or spa chemicals. Adding an acid and a chlorine together can produce a mustard gas that will dissolve your lungs. Keep chlorine and bromine tablets and shock in a sealed container, stored separately from your acids like pH down or stain removers.
One of our spa techs here has an interesting story. It didn’t make the news, because police and fire were not notified, but it goes like this. He was servicing a spa on a weekly route that he maintained, and needed to shock the spa. Not having a scoop, he cut an ’empty’ soda bottle in half and used it to scoop out the spa shock from a larger bucket. In a few short minutes, he looked back to see the back of the pickup truck on fire.
Lesson #3 – Never allow any liquids to contact your spa chemicals. Soda pop is very acidic, and alcoholic drinks even more. Use only clean and dry scoops to measure and add your spa chemicals.
According to the CDC, most injuries associated with pool and spa chemicals fall into these groups:
- Mixing incompatible chemicals
- Spills and splashes onto skin or into eyes
- Dust inhaled when opening container
Storage for your Spa Chemicals
Spa and hot tub chemicals need a clean, cool and dry area, out of the reach of children. Some spa steps have storage areas beneath a flip up lid, but these may be unsafe for chemical storage. I use a small plastic file box for mine. Not a large one, but a smaller version that’s just perfect for the upright and narrow bottles used for spa chemicals.
Separate your pH down and other acids from chlorine or bromine tablets, or spa shocks and oxidizers. Sealed plastic chemical containers are safer for storage than bags or boxes. For child safety, make sure that all of your chemicals have child proof lids, and that you store them out of their reach.
Happy Hot Tubbin’
Hot Tub Works