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Gina Galvin's Posts

Great Gifts for Hot Tubbers


hot tub giftsLooking for hot tub gift ideas? Shopping for friends and family can be hard. It’s important to consider both their wants and needs when purchasing a gift. However, it can sometimes be difficult to find something that’s unique and that can be used and appreciated. Some of the best gifts are those that help make the person’s day-to-day life easier or more comfortable.

If you’re looking to buy gifts for your favorite hot tubber, you’re in luck! This week’s blog is full of great gift ideas for spa and hot tub owners. We’ve pulled out all the stops in this new list of gift ideas, from fun and unique spa accessories to helpful maintenance kits and packages. Your gift is sure to be a big hit!


spa-side-patio-heateraz propane fire pit heaterSpa Side Patio Heater

When the weather outside turns cool at night, having a free-standing propane patio heater sitting next to the tub is sooo nice. Once only affordable for high end restaurant patios, prices for full size patio heaters have dropped to levels that everyone can afford. For instance, AZ Patio Heaters has a model starting at $180, with 48K BTU output and standing 87″ tall. The adjustable flame lets you dial in the amount of heat output, and wheels allow you to tip and move the heater around to different locations on your patio or deck. If you’re looking for something a little more decorative or something that can be used under a shorter patio, AZ Patio Heaters also makes a propane fire pit starting at $354 . The stylish slate top and slatted aluminum design pair well with just about any backyard setting. It’s multi-functional, and the convertible lid allows it to be used as a small table when the flame is not in use.

hot-tub-umbrellasCantilevered Umbrella

For spas and hot tubs that are out in the open, a cantilevered umbrella is great for providing shade and protection from the elements. Shade not only keeps the user comfortable, it also protects the spa cover and spa cabinet from UV rays. Even so, the most common reason to use an umbrella over a spa is to block rain and snow while using the hot tub. Sure, a soft rain or lightly falling snow can be nice while in a spa, but too much of a good thing can spoil your soak. What once cost thousands of dollars a decade ago is now quite affordable. Our 9′ diameter hot tub umbrellas make great gifts at $299, and they’re available in a wide variety of colors.

towel-warmerTowel Warmer

For the ultimate spa experience, what’s better than a toasty towel? Roll up two towels, close the lid and turn it on. A 50 minute timer shuts off the appliance automatically for safety reasons. But that’s perfect for a hot tub session, which shouldn’t exceed 30 minutes. Like many of the items on this page, towel warmers were once found only at high end resorts, and cost nearly $1,000 when they were first introduced. Nowadays, they make affordable gifts and everyone can buy an electric towel warmer. Find one for just $90 on Hammacher Schlemmer.

custom wooden spa signCustom Hot Tub Rules Sign

Amusing and whimsical, custom hot tub rules signs collect the most common hot tub sayings like “what happens in the tub stays in the tub,” “swimsuits optional,” or you can opt for tamer messaging about relaxation. Custom signs, available on Etsy and other craft sites, allow you to order it with custom sayings or include the family name. For as little as $10-$50 you can give a wooden, hand painted, custom spa sign to your friends with hot tubs.


napa-chiller-bucketLED Champagne Bucket

One of the coolest spa accessories this year, the Napa Bottle Chiller with LED lights is a fun way to keep your favorite beverage cold. The bottle chiller softly glows in 24 different colors, with four light show modes and two brightness settings. The rechargeable battery fully charges in just four to five hours with the included AC plug, or you can use the optional solar charger when using outdoors. If the person on your gift list is looking for a unique way to add character to their patio, this product can also be used as a lighted planter. At just $99, the Napa Bottle Chiller makes a great hot tub gift that’s suitable for any budget.

LED-wine-glassesLED Plastic Goblets

One of the biggest hot tub rules is “No Glass.” Broken wine glasses or tumblers in the spa can be dangerous. Glass sinks quickly to the bottom, and small shards of glass under your feet or in your seat would not be pleasant. In most cases, this can mean completely draining the spa for a complete cleaning. So what can you do? Check out these LED plastic wine glasses! The lights are liquid activated, and they turn off when the glass is empty. Internal batteries last for years. You’ll find LED champagne flutes, wine glasses and rocks glasses on Amazon, starting at $21 for a set of six.

underwater-light-show-and-bluetooth-speakerUnderwater Light Show

This product is one of the more fun gifts for hot tubbers. It’s a floating LED lamp that creates a disco ball effect with a splash of psychedelic colors. It’s actually made for pools, but in the small space of a hot tub or spa the effect is much more dramatic. Underwater Light Show has seven color changing light shows with auto shut-off to conserve battery power. This model runs on three AA batteries, included in the kit for just $20. We also carry the Bluetooth Floating Speaker & Light Show for $60. This unit is rechargeable, and connects to any Bluetooth device. Enjoy playing music through the waterproof speaker while watching one of the vibrant lightshows.

i-love-my-hot-tub-coffee-mugHot Tub Novelty Items

Hot Tub novelty gifts include T-shirts, caps and of course coffee mugs. “I ♥ Hot Tubs” is one of the most common sayings printed on mugs, but you can also find “Keep Calm and Hot Tub ON,” or “This is not a Coffee Mug, it’s a Hot Tub for my Donuts.” You can even create something custom for your friend of family member. Every hot tub owner should have at least one mug with a hot tub cartoon or some other reference to their hot tub. Mugs are not just for coffee, either. Hot Tub Mugs can be used for hot chocolate or hot tea, and the steaming mug can be brought into the tub. Check out the cute ones from Zazzle, starting at just $17.

digital-spa-test-strip-readerDigital Test Strip Reader

For the colorblind or hue challenged, estimated to affect nearly 5% of the population, a digital spa test strip reader is the perfect gift! But even if you can easily discern between shades of pink and yellow, using a digital test strip reader will definitely improve testing accuracy. This handy tool makes it easier to test the hot tub water more often. Test results appear on the digital screen in just 15 seconds, along with low/high indicators. It stores the previous nine test results for quick reference of water balance trends. The AquaCheck TruTest Digital Strip Reader is only $68, and it comes with 25 test strips to get you started.

spa-hot-tub-gift-basketHot Tub Gift Basket

One of the best gifts for a new hot tub owner is to send them a basket filled with spa goodies. It’s really easy to put together. Just find a basket and some straw paper at the local hobby and craft store. Roll up a few inexpensive but colorful towels, then add some useful spa accessories. Some suggested items include a cute ducky thermometer, spa test strips, aromatherapy crystals and small spa cleaning supplies will all fit nicely in a basket. You can also purchase a spa care kit, which includes many products needed to properly care for a spa or hot tub. Spa care kits come in all purposes and prices from $42 and up.

Looking for more ideas? We have you covered! Check out these 10 Gifts for the Spa or Hot Tub Owner.

6 Hot Tub Chemicals You Should Always Have


spa chemical storageIf you’re like most spa owners, you probably have more than just six spa chemicals on hand. There is often a larger collection of various spa treatment products, including sanitizers, balancers, clarifiers, cleaners and other specialty chemicals.

Every spa is different in terms of what is needed to maintain optimum water chemistry. Things like frequency of use, number of users, cleanliness of users, filter efficiency, pump run times, fill water quality and Mother Nature can all call for different spa chemicals at different times.

However, there is a core set of chemicals that spa owners should always keep in stock. You will still need to use others from time to time. But these six essential spa chemicals are used more often than others, and you should keep plenty on hand.

hot tub sanitizer chemicalsSANITIZERS

When it comes to spa care, it’s best to remember the ABCs – algae, bacteria and contaminants. It’s important to keep these controlled on a daily basis with high quality spa sanitizers. When hot tubs first came on the scene, almost everyone used bromine tablets as the primary sanitizer, and it is still the most popular option for spa owners today. Bromine tablets are used with a bromine booster to build up a bank of bromide ions, which can be easily regenerated by simply adding a shock oxidizer to the spa.

Chlorine tablets are not used as a spa sanitizer because they dissolve too slowly, lower pH and raise cyanuric acid levels. Chlorine tabs are only meant for swimming pools. However, granulated chlorine, such as Spa 56 by Leisure Time, dissolves quickly and maintains a chlorine residual for 5-7 days.

Many modern spas are equipped with ozonators, which supplement sanitation and allow for much lower levels of bromine or chlorine. You can also use a mineral stick or or other mineral product to achieve lower chemical levels in the water. Two popular mineral stick brands include Nature2 and FROG. FROG also has two models of popular floating sanitizers – the traditional Serene bromine + mineral system and the new, low maintenance chlorine + mineral system called @ease.

hot tub shock chemicalsSHOCK

Spa shock belongs in a class of chemicals known as oxidizers, meaning they will oxidize contaminants in the water, pipes and filter. Although your spa water may be clear, at any given time there may be various “ABCs,” byproducts and other particles that reduce sanitizer performance and filter effectiveness. Spa shocks destroy everything in the water, both inert particles and pathogenic organisms.

Shock your spa after each use, or every 7-10 days, whichever comes first. Shocking regularly is important to kill bacteria that may have escaped your daily sanitizer. It also helps reduce the build-up of oils, soap, skin, dust and other particles that enter the spa naturally. You can use either chlorine spa shock or non-chlorine spa shock (MPS) – it’s up to you! Both are very effective. Multi-purpose MPS shock, such as Zodiac Cense, combines the benefits of a powerful shock with relaxing aromatherapy.

hot tub clarifier chemicalsCLARIFIER

Spa clarifiers are positively charged polymers. They are strongly attracted to negatively charged particles, which are often the culprits of cloudy spa water. Using this law of attraction between the two charges, clarifiers work by forming large clumps of very small particles that would normally pass right through your spa filter. These larger particles are easier for your filter to trap, which helps clear up cloudy water faster.

Clarifiers like Leisure Time Bright & Clear make the water more pure by removing dissolved solids, which increases the effectiveness of your sanitizers and shock. This, in turn, makes your spa water last longer, increasing the length of time between water changes. In addition to its clarifying properties, Rendezvous Protect Plus uses a stain and scale prevention additive. There’s also Rendezvous Natural Clear and Leisure Time Enzyme, which use natural enzymes to break down and remove oils and soaps from spa water.

hot tub ph balancing chemicalspH DECREASER

At any given time, you may need either pH increaser or pH decreaser, but most people typically need the latter. Spas and hot tubs are small bodies of water, and with regular use, pH tends to rise in most spas. When pH rises above 7.8, sanitizers become less effective, and scale can form more easily. High pH is also an ideal breeding ground for algae and bacteria.

Spa pH should be maintained in the 7.2-7.6 range, which is just slightly basic. If you are having trouble adjusting your pH, or if the pH is very erratic and changes fast and often, test the total alkalinity of the water. Total alkalinity between 80-120 ppm is best to provide a buffer for the pH level, and helps it remain steady for longer periods. Add alkalinity increaser if below 80 ppm, or use pH decreaser to lower alkalinity levels higher than 120 ppm. A pH balancer can also help keep the pH within the ideal range for a longer period of time.

hot tub filter cleaning products


Hosing your spa filter clean will get most of the big stuff. However, it won’t easily remove oils and mineral scale, which clog up the pores of spa filter cartridges. In such cases, the water pressure can push oil and minerals deeper into the fabric fibers, contributing to early failure.

Spa filter cleaners gently lift oils and mineral scale with a combination of mild acids and degreasers. Rendezvous Filter Fresh and Leisure Time Filter Clean are a couple of the more popular filter cleaner options, as is Natural Chemistry Filter Perfect. Just soak your cartridge in a bucket of water with the recommended amount of filter cleaner added. You can also use a spray-on filter cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing clean.

hot tub cover care


This one doesn’t need a long explanation. If you regularly condition the marine grade vinyl on your spa cover, it will look better, stay cleaner and last longer. Clean your spa cover first with a mild dish soap and a sponge to clean surfaces.

After drying, apply the spa cover conditioner to seal and protect the vinyl from rain, dirt, snow and sun. Regular applications of conditioner can add years to your cover’s lifespan by preventing breakdown, fading, cracks and tears in the outer vinyl surfaces. Some cover conditioners come packaged as a handy disposable wipe for quick and easy cover maintenance, while others are available in a spray bottle. You can also clean and condition the cover using an all-in-one product like Leisure Time Cover Care and Conditioner.

You may need other hot tub chemicals from time to time, but these are what most would consider to be the “must have” core set of chemicals. These six groups of spa chemicals are needed (and purchased) most often. If you keep your chemical cabinet well stocked with the essentials, your spa will always stay sparkling and ready to use. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to stock up for months at a time, our 6-month spa care kits are the best way to stock up and save. Plus, you won’t have to worry about buying more chemicals every few weeks.

How to Buy a Hot Tub


how to buy a hot tubThinking about buying a hot tub? You’ve come to the right place! Whether you’re buying from a nearby hot tub dealer or you’ve found a smokin’ deal for a portable spa online, knowing how to choose a hot tub can save you from a lot of headaches later.

Today’s post is more or less a Hot Tub Buying Guide. We’ve put together a checklist of items to consider before making your purchase. Don’t get soaked by a bad deal on a sub-par spa! Let us walk you through the ins and outs of hot tub shopping, and we’ll teach you how to buy a hot tub the right way.


What’s Your Budget?

The prices for portable hot tubs are all over the place, with hard shell models costing anywhere from $2,000-$7,500 or more. Hot tubs on the lower end of the price scale tend to have smaller pumps, fewer jets and few (if any) bells and whistles. On the higher end of the scale, you’ll find full-featured spas with over 100 jets, super-sized pumps and heater, 10 points of light, water features, sound system, you name it. If you’re new to hot tubs and just want to “test the water,” so to speak, there are also inflatable hot tubs for only a few hundred dollars.

Price will also be impacted by size. If there will only be one or two people using it 90% of the time, look for a smaller tub. Smaller hot tubs will also be cheaper to operate and easier to care for.

Don’t forget about the extras involved with buying a hot tub. Some hot tub packages include a locking spa cover, while others may not. Steps or handrails for safe entry and exit are normally not included in the listing price. After you buy your new hot tub, you’ll also have to think about ongoing maintenance supplies, including chemicals and cleaning supplies. Finally, there’s the delivery and setup fees, and most spas will need a dedicated electrical circuit. Count on about $400 for an electrician to wire it up.

Where Will You Put It?

This is very good question. When full of water, hot tubs weigh thousands of pounds. The spa has to sit on something solid, such as a concrete foundation or slab. If you want to place it on a wood deck or balcony, you’ll need to install additional supports for reinforcement. If you plan to put it indoors, consider the splash-out and humidity factor. If outdoors, consider some protection from the sun and rain. No matter where you plan to put it, measure the gates and/or doors to be sure you can get it there in the first place!

Any location should be fairly close to the home’s breaker panel, where the power to operate the spa will come from. Remember that only very small spas can be plugged into a 115V outlet. You’ll also need access to a water spigot and hose to add fill water to the spa.

Finally, consider safety factors. Whether installed indoors or outdoors, the spa should be enclosed by a sturdy fence or locked doors, in addition to a locking spa cover.

What Features Do You Want?

Just like a car, a hot tub has some standard options. These include a pump, heater, underwater light and a spa-side control panel. Bonus options are plentiful! Here’s a quick list of some popular upgrades:

  • More pump horsepower, up to 5 hphow to buy a hot tub
  • Two pumps – circulation and jet pump
  • High capacity heater – 5.5 kw or 11 kw
  • Air blowers – to add bubbles!
  • 18 points of light – inside, outside, etc.
  • Water features – neck rollover jets, laminar jets
  • Ozone or UV purification systems
  • Audio or video systems
  • Upgraded insulation, ideal for cold areas

Where’s the Best Place To Buy a Hot Tub?

There are many places to buy a hot tub. You can go online, to a local spa retailer, a big box retailer, or you can find tempting deals at expos and fairs.

Online: Competitive prices for hot tubs online can save you a lot of money upfront. In many instances, you can easily save $2,000 over buying locally. On the flip side, it will be delivered to your driveway and you won’t have assistance with setup and installation. Empty spas can weigh 500-900 lbs, and can be very unwieldy to move from the driveway into position. But, if you have some large furniture moving equipment and a few strong friends to help you, it can be done! If you buy a hot tub online from a reputable website (like, you can be confident that you’ll always have technical support and troubleshooting assistance by phone or email, should you ever need it.

Spa Store: If you want as little risk as possible, and you don’t mind spending a premium for peace of mind, visit your local spa store. If you can swing the cost, having a hot tub installed by professionals really is the best way to go. You also will have the advantage of easy warranty service or repairs if that becomes necessary. With most local stores, you won’t have to sweat the details. Because you spent $8,000-$10,000+ for a new hot tub, you’ll become something of a VIP client – for a while, anyway. These stores will sometimes set up vendor booths at expos and fairs in the area, where they’ll often promote sales with special pricing.

Big Box Retailer: Prices at big box retailers are another way to save a few thousand dollars. A select few will have installation services available, in addition to regular driveway delivery. The models they sell tend to be major brands with Balboa components, but double-check to be sure you aren’t buying a cheap no-name spa pack or knockoff brand. Unfortunately, there’s not much service after the sale from a big box store. They don’t have any spa experts you can call, although if there is a warranty issue, the local rep can usually be called in to assist. Warranties for hot tubs from big box retailers tend to be shorter than warranties for hot tubs purchased from a trusted spa store.

What Brand of Hot Tub Should You Buy?

No matter where you buy your new spa or hot tub, be sure to buy a trusted name brand spa and spa pack. Don’t buy something that’s cheaply made, imported, or looks like it was built in a garage. You want equipment and components that are tried and true, not imitation generics that aren’t made to the same standards. The cheaper the quality, the more you’ll spend on spa parts at repairs in the longterm. With well-known, reliable spa components, you’ll also have a network of knowledgeable service centers and easy-to-find parts at your fingertips for future repairs.

Do some online searching of the spa make and model, as well as the spa pack (pump/filter/heater/controls). Make sure it’s made by a respected brand that has been around for some time.

One last tip – don’t buy a used spa!!! The useful life is probably near the end, anyway. Even a good deal won’t seem so grand if you are constantly plagued with problems. Most used tubs have been neglected and abused by the time they are sold as “gently used.”

Hot Tub Heaters: Gas vs. Electric


hot tub heaters gas or electric
In the old days, all hot tub heaters were gas-fired heaters. Or small pool heaters, specifically. Most hot tubs were not kept hot all the time, and they were not covered with a thick, insulated cover or spa top. Instead, they were heated up on demand.

When portable spas came on the market in the late 70s, manufacturers were looking for a way to market a plug-and-play appliance that could be easily installed without too much hassle. The spa pack was born – an integrated electric heater and controller system.

Nowadays, most spas and hot tubs are heated with an electric heating element, which is tucked into a stainless steel tube. Gas heat is always an option, however…so which is better? Today, they fight to the finish – Gas Spa Heaters vs. Electric Spa Heaters!


hayward gas spa heaterGAS SPA HEATERS

Gas spa heaters, such as the Pentair MasterTemp or the Raypak 106A, are powered by either propane or natural gas. They can be used for inground spas, free-standing wooden hot tubs, or even for portable spas if installed outside of the spa cabinet. A gas line is connected to the heater by a gas contractor to provide a constant supply of fuel, which is ignited by spark ignition.


PROS: Gas spa heaters do have some benefits, including:

  1. Low Operation Cost: Natural gas has become less expensive in recent years. Propane gas is more costly, but produces slightly more BTU’s than natural gas.
  2. Fast Heating: Gas heaters are the clear winners when it comes to the speed of heating. A gas spa heater can add 1-2° per minute, whereas an electric heater may take an hour to add a few degrees. This lets you keep the spa at a lower resting temp, and heat it up quickly as needed.
  3. Overcomes Obstacles: For large spas over 700 gallons, or for poorly insulated spas or wooden hot tubs that are used year-round in freezing climates, electric spa heaters can cost a small fortune to operate when compared to gas heat.

CONS: Gas spa heaters have a downside (like most everything), including:

  1. Higher Initial Cost: A gas spa heater costs about $1,000 alone. In addition, it needs to have a gas line connected to the natural gas meter (or the propane tank). Costs for a buried gas line vary based on the distance of the meter to the heater, and this added cost can sometimes exceed the price of the heater itself.
  2. They’re Gas: Accidents with gas spa heaters rarely ever happen, but it is a possibility. If you’re concerned about the safety of gas appliances, you should consider the associated risks, which include gas leaks and carbon monoxide exhaust.
  3. External Installation: Not that they are ugly, but you can’t exactly tuck a gas heater underneath a portable spa. It needs to sit outside in the open air, with access to fresh air and clear sky above for the exhaust.


electric spa heaterELECTRIC SPA HEATERS

Electric spa heaters are sometimes called flow-thru heaters, which are basically a long electric heating element inside of a stainless steel tube. Union connectors on the end make it easy to access the element inside the slim, compact tube. Attached to the tube are temperature sensors, high limit and pressure switches to monitor temp and water flow.


PROS: Electric spa heaters have their own benefits, including:

  1. Low Operation Cost: If your spa is located in a mild climate, is well insulated and has a good spa cover, using electric spa heaters is  usually less expensive to operate than gas heaters. That is, of course, unless you live in an area with expensive utilities.
  2. Low Initial Cost: Electric spa heaters cost much less to purchase than gas heaters – usually in the $100-$300 range. Also, there’s no gas line to run. Most spa heaters or spa packs are powered by 240 volts from a 60 amp GFCI circuit breaker.
  3. Low Repair Costs: Electric spa heaters are simple devices, and repairs usually cost less than $100. Gas heaters are much more complicated by design, and repair expenses are much more costly.

CONS: Electric spa heaters are also not perfect. Here’s some common complaints:

  1. Slow to Heat: The best you can hope for is 2-3° per hour on a small, well insulated spa with a 5.5 or 11 kw element(s). Cold outside temperatures and high winds can reduce heat gain to just 1° per hour on spas with smaller 4 or 5.5 kw elements, and smaller 1.5 kw heaters may not be able to keep up.
  2. They’re Electric: We all know that water and electricity don’t mix, but spa heaters are protected by a GFCI and several safety components to prevent overheating and electric shock. However, accidents can still happen with 240 volts.
  3. Higher Operational Costs: This is always a possibility, depending on circumstances. If your electrical costs are greater than 25¢ per kw, you’ll reach a tipping point where it costs more to heat with electric spa heaters than with a gas spa heater. Especially for spas or hot tubs with poor insulation located in cold Northern climates, you will find it more expensive to maintain hot water during winter.


For most people, myself included, an electric spa heater is simpler and cheaper, both in the short run and the long run. For those who live in much colder regions than Southern California, however, a small gas heater may be a better choice. It may also be a smarter investment for low use spas, which can be maintained at 85°, and cranked up to 104° in just a half hour.

COST COMPARISON: If you want to figure out the cost comparison between gas and electric, it takes 8.34 BTUs to raise one gallon of water one degree Fahrenheit. Assume that heat loss is constant in both cases (although it does increase during colder months), and know that gas heaters are only 80% efficient, while electric heaters are nearly 100% efficient. Then you can compare your cost of gas (in therms) and electricity (in Kilowatts) to produce your own analysis.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear winner in this contest! In the end, it really comes down to what will work best for you and your hot tub or spa. Both types have their fair share of pros and cons when it comes to purchase price, operating costs, installation and frequency of use.

Romantic Hot Tub Ideas


romantic hot tub ideasLove is in the air, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! If you’re like me, you’re so over the typical Valentine’s dinner and a movie. The restaurants are all so crowded, and they usher you in and out as quickly as possible. Rushing out on a work night and trying to make everything feel so romantic can almost feel forced – there has to be a better alternative!

We have an idea if you’d like to try something different this year. Cancel the fancy restaurant reservation, and put away the slinky dress and high heels. Make a unique, personalized date for the two of you in your hot tub! It’s easy to pull off with just a little bit of planning. We’ve gathered a few tips and ideas to get you started.

The Spa-posal

The romance begins with a courtly gesture. Put together a memorable invitation that builds interest and anticipation. The ASK is more than just a simple proposition. It’s all about the presentation and packaging, and asking your special person to join you for a romantic night in.

  • valentine's day invitationHand-written invitations, hand delivered on fancy stationery is hard to resist. It’s an overture that will melt his/her heart.
  • Post-it Notes – Write your proposition in fancy script over many heart-shaped Post-it notes, placed on the bathroom mirror or in strategic locations around the house.
  • Send flowers in advance from a local florist. As an added touch, you can write a loving sentiment to your beloved.
  • Gift wrap a robe and slippers, a new bathing suit or some other nice gift. Include your date night invitation inside the box.
  • Print two tickets to a “Hot Show” on a ticket printing website, or make your own design using your favorite image editor.
  • Spell it out with sweets – Write your proposal on a cake, or use Valentine’s heart candies for a clever and tasty message.

Like any good invitation, be sure to include a specific date, time and location. Make it as formal or personalized as you want. Any gesture from the heart is sure to be well received. To kick it over the top, name the evening according to a theme. “Evening Under the Stars” or “Hot Tub Heaven” will help generate more excitement and enticement. It will also help you in planning your date, branding the evening as though it were at a resort spa or an exclusive tropical hideaway.

Choosing a Gift

The gift comes before the big event, so it’s actually a pre-gift, given at the start of the evening. Choose a sweet and thoughtful gift that’s related to the theme or your evening plans. As mentioned above, the gift can be combined with the “ask” in many clever ways.

  • Fluffy robes – Soft, matching robes and slippers. Bonus if you buy two sets so you match each other.
  • valentine's day giftBlooming flowers – A bouquet of his or her favorite flowers is still one of the most romantic and sensual gifts you can give.
  • Chocolate dipped fruits and berries, or go for the traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates.
  • Romantic apparel – For her, a new spring hat or summer dress. For him, a sports jacket, cap or pair of nice shoes.
  • Watches and jewelry – Take pictures of their favorite pieces, and visit a local shopping mall to find something similar. A new watch or a shiny bracelet makes for a perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

The pre-gift is an important part of the evening’s allure. It doesn’t need to be extravagant, nor does it need to be “store bought.” Remember, the presentation of the gift is key. It’s not so much what’s in the box, but how you wrap it and present it. Be sweet!

Setting the Mood

Setting the mood for the evening is also key. The hot tub is a natural mood setter, and adding little touches here and there can help make it more romantic. Use a few decorative elements or some personal touches to really make your spa area more inviting. Here are a few ideas on how to set a romantic tone around the hot tub.

  • Soft music and soft lighting – Set up some Bluetooth speakers and play a soft, romantic playlist. Use some candles to light the path or set a few around the tub.
  • aromatherapy crystalsRose petals – Create a path of rose petals leading to the spa. Set aside a bowl of petals to add to the water’s surface just before you and your partner enter the tub.
  • Tropical plants – Add a few large green tropicals or flowering plants around the spa to soften the view and add some natural flora.
  • Aromatherapy – Our diverse selection of scented elixirs and spa crystals add sensual aromas to promote relaxation and heighten the five senses. It really works!
  • Bottle of champagne, chilling in an ice bucket, with two (plastic) champagne flutes. Classically romantic.
  • Hang curtains – If your spa is out in the open, hang decorative privacy screening around spa. Using material like bed sheets or sheer fabric will usually do the trick.

Having a few conversations starters ready to go can help keep things light and fun. Playing “Remember when…?” or dreaming together about exotic travel plans are two good starters. Exchanging back, neck and shoulder massages is another great way to get relaxed and enjoy your time together.

Planning the Food

For snacks in the hot tub, I always recommend fruits and veggies, especially colorful berries and fruit wedges. Avoid any greasy foods or dips. Just some brightly colored fruits, best enjoyed au naturel. Here are some more romantic ideas for dining on Valentine’s Day.chocolate covered strawberry

  • Al fresco dining by candlelight – Set up a table for two on your patio, and enjoy the starlight overhead.
  • Private dining by candlelight in the comfort of your own home.
  • Private sunset picnic at the beach, lake or your favorite scenic overview.
  • Appetizer smorgasbord – Fill a large platter with your favorite restaurant style appetizers.
  • Breakfast for dinner – After soaking in the hot tub, jump in the car to go to IHOP or a small local diner.
  • Dinner with friends – Before kicking off your romantic evening at home, plan an intimate Valentine’s dinner party with a few of your closest friends and their partners.

Don’t be afraid to heat things up this Valentine’s Day – or any day, for that matter! Your hot tub is the perfect way to spend quality time with your significant other and personalize it for just the two of you. This Valentine’s Day is sure to be a day to remember.

New Year’s Eve Hot Tub Party Ideas


new year's hot tub partyNew Year’s Eve is coming up fast! If you’re thinking about what to do for a small New Year’s Eve party, you’ve come to the right place. There’s no better time for a hot tub party than on New Year’s Eve!

Ring in the new year with a midnight dip in the warmth of your spa or hot tub. It’s simple, really. Just invite your close friends and family members over around 9 p.m., and have the music, snacks and drinks ready to go.

Even if the holidays have left you procrastinating on party plans, we have a few last-minute ideas on how to plan your New Year’s hot tub party.


The day before the party, check and balance your spa water, then thoroughly clean the filter. Vaccuum out any dirt or grit in the tub, give it a thorough wipe-down, and shock the water the night before the party. You want the spa to be as clean as possible for your guests! Also clean the walking paths around the spa to prevent dirt from being tracked into the water. For a finishing touch, try adding a bit of your favorite aromatherapy to the spa right before your guests arrive.

spa jetsIf it’s just a few friends or a small, intimate group of people at your hot tub party, you can decide whether or not you want to use the hot tub this year or next year – or maybe you’ll actually be in the tub when the clock strikes twelve.

Most New Year’s Eve hot tub parties never actually turn into hot tub “parties” until the new year starts. Everyone will come out and touch the water, and maybe say some nice things about the spa. But in my experience, at least for New Year’s, the REAL hot tub party starts after midnight.

Expect about half of your guests to be gone by 12:30, as they head home to relieve baby sitters or get some needed rest before the end of the holidays. For those that are still around, soaking in the spa is a great way to celebrate the new year!

No matter what time the spa use starts, be sure to remind your guests of the buddy system (no single users allowed), and have them limit their soaks to no more than 30 minutes. These two rules will keep guests safe and help everyone enjoy their fair share of time in the hot tub.


Have some good music playing and make sure it’s loud enough to be heard over the jets, but don’t leave electrical devices sitting too close to the spa unless it’s something like a waterproof speaker. Plugged in devices should never be set on the edge of the spa, and for obvious reasons. The music should be close enough to keep things lively, but not so close that it becomes a potential safety hazard.

If you have neighbors, you’ll probably need to turn down the music shortly after midnight. Turning down the tunes will also encourage your guests to keep the noise at a reasonable level. Leaving the air blower usage at a minimum will also help keep the noise down.

Most importantly, don’t forget to have Auld Lang Syne ready to play at midnight. It’s tradition! “Should auld acquaintance be forgot…


waterproof cardsIt never hurts to have some extra sources of entertainment at a party. Board games, charades, or even outdoor games like cornhole, washer pitching, horseshoes or lawn bowling can help pass the time. If you happen to have a deck of waterproof playing cards lying around, you can start a game in the hot tub.

As the clock creeps closer to midnight, be sure to have the TV turned on and tuned into the ball drop in Times Square. Also, keep an eye on the skyline for fireworks. If it’s an option, you might consider providing your guests with sparklers for a mini fireworks show in your backyard.


For your inside party, platters of pigs in a blanket, seven-layer dip, gourmet popcorn, fruit and veggie trays or any other type of snacky food will fit the bill perfectly. A spiral sliced ham with potato rolls, cheeses and mustards make for an easy display. Small bowls of nuts and candies are simple to put together, and a few desserts like cookies, brownies, cakes or pies are great for those with a sweet tooth.

In the spa area, usually the outside party, do yourself a favor and prohibit food. Fruit may be OK – strawberries, grapes or apples perhaps. But keep all other kind of food away from the spa. I remember a few years back, when I cleaned my spa filter from what appeared to be Cheetos – disgusting! Let your guests know in advance: no food, no glass in the hot tub.


champagne near hot tubTradition dictates that you must have champagne (or some other sparkling beverage) available at midnight for toasting. For large crowds, buy the plastic flutes that you can assemble, fill and distribute on large trays. For smaller parties, just a few bottles and some special glasses is all you need. Plastic flutes are a must if you’ll be doing your toast in the hot tub!

Near the spa, offer infused water or light juices for your guests to drink from festive plastic cups. On New Year’s Eve, I don’t ban alcohol from the tub, but I do encourage guests to drink a glass of water before they get in the water or right after they get out. Better to be safe than sorry!

Tradition also may dictate that on New Year’s, you pull out the good stuff. Whether it’s beer, wine, vodka or fine whiskey you are serving, make sure you have some premium brands available. It’s an end-of-year blowout, after all!

Happy New Year!

Cloudy Hot Tub After Shocking


cloudy hot tub water


Getting cloudy water immediately after shocking your spa or hot tub is pretty common, and usually considered normal. After all, there are a lot of chemical reactions going on when you shock a spa! Clear water should return to a spa within just a few hours.

That said, when adding just ounces of a spa shock makes the water cloudy, there are probably other things going on. Here are just a few reasons you might be getting cloudy hot tub water after adding spa shock.


Swimming Pool Shock

Using pool shock will almost always make your spa or hot tub cloudy. It’s not as refined and the particles are much larger, meaning they won’t dissolve right away. Pool shock is also loaded with calcium, which can be a problem if you’re in a hard water part of the country. If you want to use chlorine shock, use Spa 56 chlorinating compound, which is specially formulated for hot tubs. The best advice for shocking a spa or hot tub is this: DON’T use pool shock. Only use spa shock for spas and hot tubs.

High pH & Alkalinity

Before you shock a spa, it’s always best to check the water’s pH and alkalinity. This is especially true if you add shock right after using the spa – few sweaty bodies into your hot tub can spike the pH and alkalinity levels up too high. When the pH and alkalinity are out of balance, strong shock treatments can knock carbonates and bicarbonates out of solution and make your spa water cloudy. Keep some spa pH decreaser on hand so you can use it to lower both pH and alkalinity.

Hard Water Hot Tub

My water comes out of the tap with a calcium hardness of about 450 ppm. This is high, but not as high as some in nearby desert areas or those drawing from a well. When your spa water is hard, that means it has a lot of dissolved calcium in it. Spas and hot tubs operate best around 200 ppm, and when there is more than that, it can come out of solution as visible scale on spa surfaces. If your spa pH is high and you also have high calcium hardness, shocking can make the spa water cloudy. To avoid this problem in hard water areas, fill your spa with water that has gone thru water softening tanks, or use a pre-filter on your garden hose to keep calcium levels low.

Lotions & Potions

If you host a get-together and there are a lot of people using your hot tub, the water may get a little funky by the end. It’s a common reaction to add spa shock once the party’s over, but then the water turns cloudy. Why? It’s because of all of the body oils, sweat, dirt, makeup, lotion, deodorant and who knows what else that has washed into your hot tub. Spa shock doesn’t do very well with oily gunk. The shock has trouble breaking it down, which can turn your hot tub cloudy after shocking. To prevent this problem, keep your spa as clean as possible and encourage everyone using the hot tub to take a quick shower – or at least be reasonably clean – before stepping in. Using a spa enzyme once a week can also help to break down the oils and organic materials at the root of this problem.

For best results, keep the spa as clean as possible, make sure calcium hardness stays around 150-200 ppm, and maintain proper pH and alkalinity levels to lower the risk of cloudy water when shocking your spa. If cloudy water continues to linger after a few hours, keep reading. We have another blog that can help you isolate and fix the cloudy water culprits hiding in your hot tub: 10 Reasons Why Your Spa Water is Cloudy.

Hot Tub Water: Test Like a Boss!


Manage hot tub water balance with a proper test kit.

Testing hot tub water regularly is important to avoid peaks and valleys of sanitation and water balance. Testing every day is not necessary unless your spa is used on a daily basis. Instead, test the water 2-3 times per week – more often if the spa is used frequently.

When you are only working with 300-500 gallons of water, it’s crucial to be accurate. Otherwise, it’s easy to underdose or overdose your hot tub when adding chemicals. Here, we’ll show you the good, the better, and the best of the business when it comes to testing your spa water.


spa test strips

GOOD Hot Tub Water Test

Spa test strips are made to work with hot water, and are “calibrated” especially for use with spas. They are inexpensive, easy to use, and several options are available depending on your needs. You can use test strips that for a single aspect like bromine levels, or you can use a multi-test strip that looks at six (or more) components of your spa water.

Test strips are both useful and economical, and many people use them to keep their hot tub water balanced. However, the wide range of results and hard-to-determine color matching scale can make them less accurate and less reliable when compared to other types of hot tub water tests.


BETTER Hot Tub Water Test

AquaChek TruTest Digital Pool Tester

A better way to test spa water is to not abandon test strips, but to simply remove human error from the equation. The AquaChek TruTest Spa digital test strip reader analyzes the test strip from 16 million colors, which improves accuracy of test strip use immensely.

Replacement TruTest strips cost as much (or less) than other multi-test strips, so it doesn’t take much to keep a constant supply handy. The AquaChek digital reader measures free and total chlorine or bromine, pH and total alkalinity with excellent precision in just seconds.


BEST Hot Tub Water Test

Taylor Test Kit

The best way to test hot tub or spa water is to use a “liquid drop style” titration test kit. Titration test kits are different, and here’s why. First, you take a water sample in a test vial and add the reagent. Next, you’ll add an indicator solution 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. When testing for sanitizer levels, accuracy falls within 0.5 ppm.


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 less than 5 minutes. If your balance is off, the charts in the booklet will tell you exactly how much adjustment chemical to add. There are more options available for the type of test you’d like to perform on your hot tub, but the more inclusive tests usually come with a higher price tag.


When choosing a hot tub water test, it really comes down to what is most important to you. If you’re looking for unparalleled accuracy, a titration kit or digital strip reader are the both a good way to go. If you check the water often and don’t want to spend a lot of money on testing supplies, regular test strips are a solid option. The digital test strip readers have become quite popular in recent years because they offer a good balance between test strips and titration kits when it comes to cost, accuracy and ease of use.


July 4th Hot Tub Party


Fourth of July PartyWant to get some friends and family together, but don’t have a swimming pool? Do what I do – host a July 4th hot tub party!

Planning a hot tub party on the 4th of July is just like any other Independence Day party. The only difference is that your guests can enjoy a relaxing soak in the spa. Watching fireworks from the hot tub is one of the best ways to enjoy the show!

Needing some quick and easy tips on hosting a successful 4th of July hot tub party? You’re in luck!


Prepare the Spa

A few days to a week before the party, check the water balance. Lowered the pH down around 7.3-ish, and gave the spa a healthy shock treatment. On July 3rd, clean the filter and vacuum the spa. Before the guests arrive, bring an extra ounce of “wow” to your party with some aromatherapy crystals in the tub. Nothing says a summer party quite like a cool glass of sweet sangria, and Spazazz brings that essence to your spa with their Wild Fiesta scent.

Get creative with fun and patriotic signs to direct your guests to the hot tub. If the spa is behind the house, hang a sign on the side gate or the front door to direct them toward the back. This will also save you time with your guests since you won’t be running back and forth to point them in the right direction. Spice it up with American flags, red/white/blue confetti or balloons to make it festive and noticeable!

Don’t Start Too Early

If you’ll be serving alcohol at the party, be careful not to start the party too soon! If you start around 6 or 7 p.m., there will be plenty of time to eat, drink, relax and socialize before the fireworks start. This shorter timeframe on the party also means that guests leaving the party after the show will still be in a relatively sober state of mind.

patriotic playlist

Pump Up the Jams

It should go without saying – every good party needs good music. For your 4th of July party, create a playlist full of patriotic songs and let the good times roll! Save the best ones to play during the fireworks so your guests can be serenaded under the glittering glow of lights.

Even if it’s just sparklers, no Independence Day party is complete without John Philip Sousa’s famous version of “Stars and Stripes Forever” playing in the background.

Turn Down the Heat

If you can get away with it, turn the heat in your spa down to around 100 degrees. Especially if you have guests that are unaccustomed to hot tubs, this will help you to worry less about the guests overheating or staying too long in the spa. You may even want to have cooler water, around 85 degrees, and use your spa as a cool dunking station for your toasty guests.

If your hot tub buddies are old pros, they may want it bubblin’ at 104 or less. However, remember to limit each guest to 30 minutes maximum in the tub. This will allow room for other guests to enjoy the spa, and it will also prevent dehydration and overheating on a warm summer night. With alcohol, a lightheaded, dizzy feeling can come over those who spend too much time in the spa. Because of this, it’s also a good idea to help your guests get out of the spa safely.

Patriotic Food & DecorationsFourth of July Party

There’s no need to overdo it, so don’t stress out about having a dozen different red, white and blue recipes and elaborate decorations. Focus on just a few recipes and decorations.

In addition to the previously mentioned gate sign to direct guests to your hot tub in the backyard, you can add patriotic vibes to the party with a number of simple accents. A nice red tablecloth, a firecracker centerpiece, and a proudly flying American flag are all a good place to start.

Simple dishes and finger foods will be easy to both prepare and enjoy, so you don’t have to get too crazy with it. Don’t forget to offer plenty of hydrating refreshments to your guests.

Whether it’s just a few friends or a block party – have a super-terrific 4th of July! Happy Birthday, America!

Hot Tubs with a View


Every once in a while, we like to step away from the nitty gritty of spa and hot tub maintenance to feature topics around hot tub lifestyle, design and decor. A showcase for hot tub owners who have created a true spa oasis with innovative decking, landscape or location.

And speaking of location, some settings are just a natural fit for a hot tub. Continue reading for a collection of 11 beautiful hot tubs with spectacular views, some of which are available for short-term rental! If your hot tub has a great view, leave a comment with a pic – maybe I will add it to the list!

Estes Park Colorado Hot Tub Home VRBO Rental - Photo by Linda, Owner

Estes Park, Colorado, VRBO Rental – Photo by Linda, Owner


Hot Tub on Smith Mountain Lake, Va, Home Away Rental, Photo by Owner

Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, Home Away Rental – Photo by Owner


Buffalo River Arkansas Rental with Hot Tub, Photo by Buffalo Outdoor Center

Buffalo River, Arkansas, Rental with Hot Tub – Photo by Buffalo Outdoor Center


Hot Tub at Fossil Bay Resort, Shirley, BC, Photo by Fossil Bay - click to visit Fossil Bay site

Fossil Bay Resort in Shirley, British Columbia – Photo by Fossil Bay


Hot Tub overlooking a California Bay, Zillow Photo by Brad Anderson

Overlooking a California Bay – Zillow Photo by Brad Anderson


Scottsdale, Arizona Hot Tubs- Zillow Photo by Imagine Backyard Living

Scottsdale, Arizona – Zillow Photo by Imagine Backyard Living


Hot Tub with a View of Lake Tahoe, on VRBO, Photo by Owner

Lake Tahoe, California, VRBO Rental – Photo by Owner


Hot Tub on a Yacht, Photo by Miami Boat Charters

Yacht with a Hot Tub – Photo by Miami Boat Charters


Hot Tub In Seattle with a View on, Photo by Owner

Seattle, Washington, listing on – Photo by Owner


Acorn Cabin Rentals #701 Hot Tub in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Photo by Acorn

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Acorn Cabin Rentals #701 – Photo by Acorn Cabins


Penthouse Hot Tub view overlooking Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia, Penthouse View – Photo by



I would Love to soak in any one of these hot tubs with a view! My home hot tub view is not quite as grand, like most people I look across the backyard, noticing all the plants and things that need my attention.

Oh well, I can always close my eyes, and can imagine that I’m on vacation, somewhere fabulous! That’s the greatest thing about hot tubs – it doesn’t really matter where it is, I can always find my happy place!




Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works