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Archive for the ‘Chemicals & Water Chemistry’ Category

Can You Put Epsom Salt in a Hot Tub?


Can you put epsom salt in a hot tub?

Hot tubs and Epsom salts are synonymous with relaxation and pain relief for sore joints and muscles. Wouldn’t it be great if you could combine the two? Of course! In fact, many people use pure Epsom salts in their bathtubs at home. But can you put Epsom salt in a hot tub? In most cases, the answer is NO. Here’s why.

Chemical Reactions

Pure Epsom salts are an alkaline compound also known as Magnesium Sulphate. The mildly acidic properties of Epsom salts can very quickly disrupt the total alkalinity and pH balance of the water in your hot tub. Unbalanced water can launch a cascade of other problems, including reduced sanitizer performance and corrosion of your hot tub equipment (metal parts, plastic pieces, seals, gaskets, etc.).

Total Dissolved Solids

When using a regular bathtub, the standard recommendation  is to add 2 cups of Epsom salts to feel the full therapeutic effects. Now, let’s think about that for a minute. The average bathtub holds about 80 gallons of water. On the other hand, the average hot tub holds about 400-500 gallons. To reach the same concentration level in your hot tub would require 10-12 cups of pure Epsom salts. That’s a lot of solids being added to the water! A bathtub can be drained quickly and easily, and the water is only used once. Unfortunately, a hot tub can’t be drained as often or as easily, which leads us to our next point.

To avoid scale buildup on spa surfaces and equipment, many spa manufacturers recommend draining and refilling a hot tub when the level of total dissolved solids (TDS) reaches 1500 ppm or higher. Failure to do so can potentially void the warranty. High TDS levels can also cause problems with cloudy water. Using our previous comparison, adding 10-12 cups of Epsom salt to your hot tub will quickly raise the TDS reading far past the 1500 ppm maximum threshold. Spa heaters usually sustain the most damage from scale buildup, but water lines, jets, pool pumps and tub surfaces can also accumulate scale if proper water balance is not maintained.


Rather than pour pounds and pounds of pure Epsom salts into your spa, risking long-term damage to the tub, plumbing and equipment, why not try a safe yet effective alternative instead?

spazazz aromatherapy productsHot tub aromatherapy products offer many of the same benefits as Epsom salts. In fact, most aromatherapy crystals use Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom salt) as the primary ingredient. The key difference is that spa aromatherapy crystals have been specially formulated for use in spas and hot tubs. Smaller quantities are needed to achieve the same effects, and they don’t negatively alter the water chemistry or cause problems with spa equipment. Most spa crystals are also formulated with vitamins, minerals, moisturizing nutrients and natural herbs and botanicals. And of course, there’s the unique aromatherapy experience that can elicit any desired benefit or mental state. De-stress, detoxify, rejuvenate, reduce pain and inflammation, breathe easier, boost energy levels or promote a better night’s sleep – anything is possible with aromatherapy.

There are also alternatives to aromatherapy crystals that promote the same therapeutic benefits. Spa elixirs help you to relax while also softening the water and moisturizing your skin. Revolutionary new spa bombs offer the same benefits as the increasingly popular bath bombs. However, unlike standard bath bombs, spa bombs won’t damage your hot tub equipment, alter the water chemistry or clog up your filter.


In most cases, you should never add pure Epsom salts to your hot tub. Despite this warning, if you still want to try, just be sure to drain and thoroughly clean the hot tub immediately after you’re done soaking to avoid long-term damages to your spa. You can achieve the same therapeutic effects by using spa aromatherapy products, which are specifically formulated for use in spas and hot tubs. These products won’t upset fragile water balance, harm the equipment or cause scale buildup on tub surfaces. Hot Tub Works carries dozens of aromatherapy products from top brands like Cover Valet, PharmaSpa, Spazazz and Zodiac. 

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.

10 Reasons Why Your Spa Water is Cloudy


Cloudy Hot Tub WaterWhy is my spa water cloudy? If we’ve heard that question once, we’ve heard it a thousand times. It may be the number one water problem plaguing spa owners.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about cloudy spa water, such as “Bromine will make your spa cloudy,” or “Metals in the water cause cloudy hot tub water.” There’s also the ever-present sales pitch – if you just had this super-special-magical water treatment, all of your spa water problems will disappear! Right

While the right chemicals will help correct the underlying issue, hot tub water problems usually require a bit of diagnosing and troubleshooting first. If your spa or hot tub water is cloudy, hazy, milky or turbid, your problem is likely one of these situations below. It could also be a combination of more than one.

1. High Calcium Hardness, Total Alkalinity or pH

how to fix cloudy hot tub waterYour spa water chemical balance may be to blame. Take an accurate reading of your calcium hardness, alkalinity and pH levels. In areas where hard water is common, calcium can easily come out of solution and cloud the spa water. If your calcium hardness levels are greater than 300 ppm, use a chemical balancer to lower the pH, calcium and alkalinity levels in your spa.  This will help to keep your spa water clear and prevent scaling and cloudy hot tub water.

If your test for total alkalinity shows high levels in excess of 150 ppm, excess carbonates can come out of solution and make the spa cloudy. High TA levels will also make it hard to control your pH and keep it in range. Use pH decreaser to lower TA to around 100 ppm. If your spa pH level is outside of the range of 7.2-7.6, adjust accordingly for easier control of cloudy water.

TDS, or total dissolved solids, is not usually a concern in spas and hot tubs. But if you have not drained your spa in a very long time, you could have a very high level of dissolved solids in the water. When water reaches its saturation point, which means it can’t absorb more solids, frequent bouts of cloudy water to be expected. If your TDS reading climbs higher than 1500 ppm, it’s time to drain and refill the spa.

how to fix cloudy hot tub water

2. Low Spa Sanitizer Levels

Some people are sensitive to bromine or chlorine, and try to operate the spa with as little as possible. That may be OK if you have other sanitizers working, such as an ozonator or a mineral cartridge, and your water chemistry is balanced, particularly the pH level.

Otherwise, spas should always have a level of 2-3 ppm of bromine, or 3-5 ppm if using chlorine. When the sanitizer level drops below 1.0 ppm, foreign particles in the water run rampant, and organic contaminants grow at a faster rate than they are being destroyed.

A proper sanitizer level should destroy the particles that induce cloudy water. To give your sanitizer a boost, shock the spa water regularly. Be sure to shock the water after a several people have used the spa, or if sanitizer levels have suddenly dropped to very low levels. If a chlorinated spa shock is clouding your water, try using non-chlorine MPS shock instead.

how to fix cloudy hot tub water3. Cloudy Fill Water

Maybe the problem is not with your spa, but in your fill water. Nonetheless, balanced and sanitized spa water with proper filtration should be able to self-correct, and you’ll have clear water within a day or so. A spa clarifier can help coagulate suspended particles for easier filtration. In most cases, it may be better to use a spa pre-filter to remove particulates that cloud up spa water. Just attach it to your garden hose when adding water or refilling your spa or hot tub.

4. Air in the System

Small particles of air or tiny bubbles can make the spa water appear cloudy. If your spa has bubbles coming into the returns, but your air blower and spa ozonator are turned off, you may have an air leak on the suction side of the pump. The suction side is anything before the spa circulation pump. A loose union fitting before the pump or a loose pump drain plug can pull air into the system.

Low water level in the spa can also bring air into the spa, giving the water the appearance of being cloudy or hazy. Inspection of the pipes and equipment before the spa pump can reveal the source of the air leak, which can then be fixed with sealants or lubricants.

how to fix cloudy hot tub water

5. Spa Filter Problems

This is a common cause of cloudy spa water. A spa filter cartridge may be positioned incorrectly, allowing for water to bypass the filter cartridge. Make sure the cartridge is fully seated on both ends to force the water to go through the pleated spa filter material.

A spa filter cartridge won’t last forever, and each cleaning reduces its efficacy a little bit more. After about 15 cleanings, replace the spa filter and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in water clarity. Depending on how much the spa is used and how much is asked of the filter, you should replace the spa filter every 12-24 months.

how to fix cloudy hot tub waterSpa filter cartridges can also become gummed up with oils or minerals, drastically reducing their filtration ability. These substances can be very difficult to remove with a garden hose alone. Spraying or soaking a cartridge with spa filter cleaner before cleaning will break down greasy or crystallized deposits and restore full flow to your filter.

DE filters are more commonly used on inground spas, and if a DE filter grid develops a hole, it will allow DE filter powder to come into the spa. This will cloud the water and leave deposits of a light brown powder on the seats and floors of the spa.

6. Spa Pump Problems

There are a number of pump problems that can lead to cloudy spa water, the first being the amount of time the spa filter is running each day. You may need to increase the amount of time that the spa pump operates, to increase your daily filtering time. Running a pump only on low speed can also contribute to ineffective filtration. Run it on high for at least 2 hours every day.

Another issue could be with the spa impeller. It could be clogged full of pebbles, leaves, hair or any number of things. The vanes on a pump impeller are very small and can clog easily, which will reduce the flow volume considerably. Another possibility is that the impeller is broken. The pump turns on, but the impeller is not moving, which will reduce flow rates to zero.

If you have no flow from your spa pump, there could be an air lock, especially if you have just drained and refilled the spa. To fix an air lock, shut off the pump and loosen a union on the pump and allow air to escape, tightening it when water begins to leak. If the pump doesn’t turn on at all – well, there’s your cloudy spa water problem. There could be a tripped GFCI button, loose wires, bad contactor or relay, or another control problem.

Air leaks before the pump, as discussed above, also makes the pump less efficient by reducing the overall water volume. Water leaks after the pump are also a problem, in that your water level will soon drop below the skimmer intake, begin to take on air, lose prime and stop pumping your water through the to fix cloudy hot tub water

7. Biofilm Problems

Biofilm is a slimy bacteria that coats the inside of pipes and fittings. In extreme cases, it will cloud the water, and you may notice slimy flakes floating on the water, or have severe issues with spa foaming. Biofilm forms quickly in a spa that has sat empty and idle for some time. If you suspect a biofilm contamination, lower the pH to 7.2 and use spa shock to raise the chlorine level above 10 ppm. Follow this up with a treatment of Jet Clean to remove biofilm deposits. To prevent future buildup of biofilm in your pipes, try adding an enzyme product to your hot tub maintenance regimen.

8. Salt System Problems

Salt systems are becoming more popular with spa owners, although they are much more prevalent in swimming pools. The issue with salt systems is that it is possible to place too much reliance on them, and never check your chlorine level. Spa salt cells need occasional cleaning to maintain chlorine output.

Adding salt to your spa when needed may cloud your water temporarily, until the salt becomes fully dissolved. When adding salt, be careful not to overdose. Run the jets on high for greater agitation of the water.

9. Biguanide Problems

If you use a non-chlorine, biguanide sanitizer in your spa and have difficulty with cloudy spa water, you are not alone. This is the main complaint of using a PHMB sanitizer. You may find relief by draining and refilling the spa, then changing the spa filter, which is probably gummed up with residue. Using spa chemicals with any amount of chlorine, or using algaecides or any other non-approved chemical will not only cloud the water in a biguanide spa, it can also create some wild colors, too!

10. Soaps, Lotions, Cosmetics and Hair Products

This problem is common to just about every spa, unless you shower well before using your spa. Everything we put on our body and in our hair can end up in the spa, bringing oils, phosphates, detergents and a hundred other undesirable chemicals into the water. These can consume sanitizer, clog spa filters and make the spa water cloudy and foamy. If your spa has a high bather load or is used as a giant bath tub, you can expect issues with water clarity. Adding spa enzymes can help control greasy gunk and reduce sanitizer demand and clogging of your spa filter.cloudy spa water

Cloudy spa water is not so difficult to find and fix, but remember that you may have more than one of these issues working against you. Consider each cause of cloudy spa water carefully. If you’re dealing with cloudy water in your hot tub, it’s likely one or more of the situations above. Draining the spa regularly is one more piece of advice to prevent cloudy water. Depending on how much the spa is used, draining it every few months is a good way to keep your spa water from becoming cloudy in the first place!

Mineral Sanitizers for Hot Tubs


mineral sanitizer for hot tubMineral sanitizer systems for hot tubs have become quite popular in recent years. But the concept is nothing new. In fact, many ancient cultures used silver to sterilize their water, including the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. Modern hot tub mineral systems are much more advanced. They come in many shapes and sizes, but all have the same end goal in mind: clean, clear water that’s easy to maintain.

Mineral systems pack a one-two punch when it comes to sanitizing your hot tub. Minerals can effectively sanitize a hot tub on their own. But in order to create a complete water care system, a low level of bromine or chlorine must be added to supplement the minerals. Both support each other in fighting water contaminants, which reduces the amount of chemicals needed to disinfect your hot tub. Bromine use decreases by up to 50%, and chlorine use can drop by as much as 75%. With fewer harsh chemicals in the water, you won’t experience itchy skin, faded swimsuits or unpleasant chemical odors.

In addition to sanitation, mineral systems work to maintain your hot tub in a few other ways. We mentioned the reduced need for sanitation chemicals like chlorine and bromine. It’s common knowledge that lower chemical levels mean less skin irritation. What we didn’t tell you is that mineral systems also condition the water for a luxurious, softer feel. After just one soak, you’ll be asking yourself why you didn’t try a mineral system sooner! Water balance is always top of mind for hot tub owners, since pH levels tend to fluctuate between uses. Another benefit of mineral sanitizers is that they keep pH balanced for a longer period of time. Balanced pH helps avoid cloudy water, leaving you with clean, clear hot tub water that truly sparkles. Customers who use a mineral sanitizer system are able to immediately see and feel a difference in their hot tub water.

There are many different ways you can use a mineral sanitizer in your hot tub. Complete floating systems are among the most popular, but mineral sticks for filter cartridges are also very common. If you’ve never used minerals before, it can be hard to choose between the different styles. Here’s a quick overview of our most popular hot tub mineral systems:

FROG @ease floating sanitizer

FROG® @ease®
Complete Mineral System with Chlorine

Hot tub maintenance is impossibly easy with the FROG @ease Floating System. Just test and re-balance the water once or twice each week, shock the spa once per month, and replace the silver SmartChlor® cartridge every 3-4 weeks. No guesswork needed – the system will flip over when the cartridge is empty. Patented SmartChlor technology keeps free chlorine levels at a constant level of 0.5-1.0 ppm. No more spooning chlorine granules into the water! SmartChlor does it all for you, using 75% less chlorine than a standard dichlor hot tub. The blue mineral cartridge lasts about 4 months, and is replaced with a new @ease kit. Each cartridge comes pre-filled, so there’s no messy measuring or dosing required. When it comes to hot tub sanitation, FROG @ease is the lowest maintenance system on the market today. For newer hot tubs with an in-line system, FROG @ease in-line cartridges are available

FROG Serene floating sanitizer

FROG® Serene™
Complete Mineral System with Bromine

If you prefer to use bromine in your hot tub, FROG Serene offers many of the same benefits as FROG @ease. FROG Serene uses up to 50% less bromine than a typical bromine spa, and maintenance is simple. Test and balance the water once or twice per week, add a weekly dose of shock, and replace the yellow bromine cartridge every 2-4 weeks when empty. The bromine cartridges have 6 settings to treat hot tubs up to 600 gallons. Minor adjustments may be needed until the water maintains an ideal bromine reading of 1.0-2.0 ppm. Cartridges come pre-filled so you never have to handle chemicals directly. The blue mineral cartridge lasts up to 4 months, and the green floating holder can be reused time and time again. FROG Serene cartridges are also available for in-line systems on newer hot tubs.

FROG Filter Mate mineral sanitizer

FROG® Filter Mate™
Supplemental Mineral System

Mineral sticks were first introduced to the hot tub industry over 20 years ago. Still today, they offer an effective way to reduce the amount of chemicals in your hot tub water. Just install one FROG Filter Mate in the core of your filter cartridge, and replace it every 4 months. That’s it! Since these systems don’t include bromine or chlorine like a complete mineral system, they do require a bit more hands-on maintenance. You’ll need to add a small amount of your favorite sanitizer to create a complete sanitation system. As with any other hot tub maintenance program, shock the water once per week, and maintain proper water balance for best results.

Mineral systems are a popular hot tub sanitation option for many reasons. Upgrading your hot tub to a mineral sanitizer system is very simple, and you’ll enjoy cleaner, clearer, softer water that’s much easier to maintain. Why not give it a try? Get back to enjoying your hot tub, and leave the stress of maintenance behind.

Product Spotlight: FROG® @ease® Floating Sanitizing System


frog @ease floating sanitzer

Hot tub maintenance. It’s a dreaded, yet necessary, chore that very few hot tub owners actually look forward to. Owning a hot tub is no small task! You’re adding sanitizer granules daily, constantly testing and re-balancing the water, shocking the spa once (or more) each week and trying to keep everything clean. Some days, it never ends. Wouldn’t it be great if you could focus on enjoying your hot tub and not spend so much time maintaining it?

GREAT NEWS! We have a simple solution for your problem. It’s called FROG® @ease®.

frog @ease floating sanitizer

Introducing FROG @ease

The FROG @ease Floating System offers a unique, low-maintenance approach to hot tub sanitation. This is accomplished with Fresh Mineral Water®, the secret behind every FROG product. Instead of relying solely on chlorine to sanitize the water, FROG @ease kills bacteria in two ways. It does this by pairing a low level of chlorine with a special blend of EPA-registered minerals. A normal hot tub requires chlorine levels around 3-5 ppm to keep the water properly sanitized. But with the FROG @ease Floating System, you achieve the same effect with a much lower level of chlorine – only 0.5-1.0 ppm. The result is water that’s Cleaner, Clearer, Softer and Easier®.

  • CLEANER: It kills bacteria in two ways, using minerals and a low level of chlorine.
  • CLEARER: Minerals help keep pH balanced, leaving you with clear, sparkling water.
  • SOFTER: Minerals condition the water, resulting in a softer feel against your skin.
  • EASIER: Cartridges come pre-filled. No mess, no guess, and no stress!

frog @ease floating sanitizer cartridges

How Does it Work?

Two cartridges make up the @ease Floating System. One is a mineral cartridge (blue), and the other is a SmartChlor® cartridge (silver). Minerals are an effective sanitizer on their own, but they require a low level of a standard sanitizer to create a complete water care system. This is where FROG’s patented SmartChlor technology kicks in.

SmartChlor is nothing like dichlor, which gets used up quickly and needs replenished often. Instead, the SmartChlor cartridge is self-regulating and only releases more chlorine when needed. This allows the @ease System to maintain a constant level of free chlorine in the hot tub. No more yo-yo effect with sanitizer levels. No more adding dichlor granules before/after using your hot tub. Best of all, there’s no more messy measuring of chemicals. SmartChlor does it all for you, while using up to 75% less chlorine than a standard dichlor system. Though 0.5-1 ppm may not sound like much sanitizer, this low chlorine level is actually better for you and your hot tub. It’s softer on skin, won’t fade swimsuits, produces less odor, and it won’t corrode spa surfaces like higher levels of chlorine can do.

The FROG @ease floating sanitizer flips upside down when the cartridge needs replaced.

No Mess, No Guess, No Stress

With FROG @ease, there’s no guesswork. Each SmartChlor cartridge lasts about 3-4 weeks. When empty, it flips upside down to signal that it’s time for a replacement (as shown at right). Replacement SmartChlor cartridges come pre-loaded, so it’s easy to swap out the old cartridge with a new one. To boost sanitizing power, use a non-chlorine MPS shock once per month or when replacing the SmartChlor cartridge. It really is that easy!

The @ease mineral cartridge lasts about 4 months, and is available in the FROG @ease System kit. The kit includes a 4-month supply of FROG @ease Test Strips, which act as a SmartChor outage indicator and measure pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness levels. The complete kit also includes a packet of FROG Jump Start® shock for starting up a freshly refilled hot tub.

To start, balance and shock the water. Next, connect the mineral and SmartChlor cartridges. Adjust the SmartChlor dial setting to match your hot tub size, and toss the @ease Floating System into the water. That’s all there is to it!

FROG @ease floating sanitizer works for any hot tub.

Will FROG @ease Work for Me?

FROG @ease is suitable for any hot tub up to 600 gallons. Even if you’re currently using another sanitizer, it doesn’t take much to switch over to @ease. It’s easiest with a chlorine hot tub – just place the system in the water, and you’re ready to go! If you’re currently using bromine as the primary sanitizer, you’ll need to start with a clean slate. Drain the water, purge the lines and refill the hot tub as you normally would after cleaning. Balance and shock the water before adding the @ease Floating System. Your hot tub has now been converted to @ease, and you can start enjoying the benefits of Fresh Mineral Water.

Why Switch?

frog @ease floating sanitizer

The FROG @ease system isn’t just Cleaner, Clearer, Softer and Easier. It’s also a SMARTER way to approach hot tub maintenance.

  • Replace the SmartChlor cartridge every 3-4 weeks.
  • Shock the water once per month with non-chlorine oxidizer or MPS.
  • Start over with a fresh @ease kit every 4 months when you drain the hot tub.
  • Test the water at least once per week, and re-balance as needed.

FROG @ease does cost slightly more than dichlor. Yet customers who have tried it insist that it’s worth the money due to better water quality and time saved on maintenance. But we haven’t even mentioned the best part: there’s also a risk-free 90-day satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not completely satisfied with your new FROG @ease floating system, you can request a refund or system replacement. So why not give it a try? FROG @ease will soon have you saying “No more!” to dichlor.

frog @ease floating sanitizer system


Hot Tub Enzymes: Frequently Asked Questions


hot tub enzymesThere are many chemicals that help to keep your spa water clean and clear. However, one of the most effective products for boosting sanitizer efficiency and removing organic materials from the hot tub technically isn’t a chemical at all – it’s a protein! We’re talking about hot tub enzymes.

What are Hot Tub Enzymes?

Enzymes are biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions without undergoing changes themselves. In the case of spas and hot tubs, enzymes attach to non-living organic materials in the water, including body oils, lotions, cosmetics, dirt, sweat, dead skin cells and other unsavory substances. The enzymes work to break these down into smaller particles, helping reduce sanitizer demand and prolonging the life of your filter.

How do Hot Tub Enzymes Work?

Once an enzyme attaches to the organic materials in the water, it becomes much easier for sanitizers like chlorine and bromine to break them down.Think of enzymes as a natural digestion aid for your hot tub. Since they don’t attack living organisms like algae and bacteria, enzymes are not considered a sanitizer. However, they do supplement your existing sanitizer in keeping the water clean and clear. Without an enzyme, organic contaminants start to accumulate at the water’s surface and along the waterline as a greasy layer of scum. Not only does it look bad, but this scum can also clog up your spa filter over time.

How Long do Enzymes Last in a Hot Tub?

Once organic material has been broken down in your hot tub, the enzymes are free to move on to the next contaminant. Their molecular structure is not changed during this chemical reaction, so the enzymes remain in your water for continued use. They don’t get used up in the same way that sanitizers do. Most hot tubs only require a small weekly dose to maintain an effective level of enzymes.

Will Enzymes Work for My Hot Tub?

Yes! Hot Tub enzyme products are compatible with most popular sanitizers, including chlorine, bromine, ozone, biguanide, saltwater chlorine generators and mineral systems. They are specially formulated to tolerate the warm water temperatures.

Why are Hot Tub Enzymes so Popular?

Enzymes are incredibly useful as a clarifier, foam preventer, odor eliminator and a remover of surface scum and waterline stains. They also help to prolong the life of your filter, slow the rate of biofilm buildup in plumbing and reduce sanitizer demand. To top it off, enzymes are non-toxic, non-corrosive, hypoallergenic, biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Why not give ‘em a try? Hot Tub Works carries leading enzyme products from brands like Natural ChemistryLeisure Time and Rendezvous.

Leisure Time Enzyme - 1 Qt.

Leisure Time

Natural Chemistry Spa Perfect

Natural Chemistry
Spa Perfect

Rendezvous Natural Clear Enzyme Clarifier

Rendezvous Natural Clear
Enzyme Clarifier


Spa & Hot Tub Chemicals for Dummies


spa-chemicals-for-dummies-book2In today’s post, we follow up on our popular Beginner’s Guide to Spa & Hot Tub Care, and get more granular with our newest installment: Spa Chemicals for Dummies.

The book pictured is not a real book – not one that you can purchase, anyway. And by no means am I calling our blog readers dummies; it’s just a fun title used for an in-depth informative guide on using hot tub chemicals. Because such a book does not exist, this post will explore some basic hot water chemistry topics that may confuse a novice hot tub owner.

Subjects like how to test water, what chemicals are needed for a hot tub, how to treat common water problems, as well as info about alternative sanitizers like ozone and minerals will all be included in this blog post.

So, without further ado, here’s our in-depth guide to hot tub chemistry. Or, as we like to call it, Spa Chemicals for Dummies!


Types of Spa Chemicals

We carry more than 100 different spa and hot tub chemicals in our online store. No wonder it can be so confusing for new hot tub owners! To help make it easier, we’ve broken this section down into six categories of chemicals, each with a short description of what they are, when they’re used and for what purpose.

Balancers: Spa chemistry is not overly complicated. When I speak about “water balance” and balancing chemicals, some people’s eyes glaze over, but it’s really quite simple! Balanced spa water is simply when your spa chemical readings are all within the proper ranges. Specifically, we want chemical ranges for pH at 7.4-7.6, total alkalinity at 80-120 ppm and calcium hardness at 150-250 ppm. When all three are within range, your water is balanced. If you really want to geek out and determine more accurate water balance, you can use a Saturation Index calculator. Of all spa balancing chemicals, pH reducer is probably the most commonly used. This is because pH and alkalinity tend to rise in spa water, and a pH decreaser effectively reduces both. If spa water is soft or you’re noticing low hardness levels, raise it with a calcium booster. For a low pH and/or alkalinity test, use a pH increaser and/or alkalinity increaser to raise the levels.

Clarifiers: If your spa water is cloudy and lacks clarity or sparkle, it may be time for a new spa filter cartridge. If the filter is fine, there may be issues with water sanitation. Clarifiers are polymers that have a positive charge and attach themselves to negatively charged water particles floating around the hot tub. What starts as a microscopic particle eventually ends up as a large clump of hundreds of particles, large enough to get trapped in the filter. That said, clarifier chemicals are used for spa filters that need a little help, or when water conditions turn poor. Be careful not to overdose with clarifier however, or it may have the opposite effect and gum up your spa filter. If your hot tub water is always clear and sparkling, you may have no need to use a clarifier chemical.

Cleaners: In this category of spa chemicals, we have cleaning chemicals for your spa filter cartridges, cleaner and conditioner for your spa cover, cleaning and polishing products for your spa shell, as well as Jet Clean to purge biofilm buildup from your plumbing lines. Generally speaking, you should NEVER use household chemicals to clean your spa or accessory items. The only exception to this rule is using a mild soap, but only if you rinse it thoroughly afterwards to prevent the spa from foaming. In my own spa, I use filter cleaner, spa cover conditioner (my tub gets a lot of direct sun), and I use Jet Clean once or twice per year to prevent buildup in the pipes.

Sanitizers: A sanitizer is the everyday chemical used to kill pathogens like bacteria, fungus, mold, viruses, etc. Most spa owners will use either bromine or chlorine as the main sanitizer. Granular chlorine is hand-fed when chlorine is preferred, or you can use bromine tablets, which is usually the easiest route. You can also use sodium bromide (a.k.a. bromine booster) and then a small amount of spa shock (either chlorine or MPS) to activate the bromide salts into bromine. Never use chlorine tablets in a spa, as they’re formulated for use in swimming pools and are often too strong for spas; doing so could damage spa surfaces and equipment. You must keep an active level of sanitizer at all times in spas and hot tubs – about 2-4 ppm bromine or 1-3 ppm chlorine. If the level drops below the recommended range or near zero, pathogens, algae and other contaminants will begin to grow and multiply quickly, even in hot water and even when covered tightly.

Shocks: Spa shock is also a type of sanitizer, but it’s used differently than normal spa sanitizers. Chlorine and non-chlorine (MPS) spa shocks are quick dissolving and fast acting. Shock is used to kill anything that your daily sanitizer has missed, or it can be used to supplement your daily sanitizer, such as after a four-person soak in the spa. Spa shocks are also used to activate bromide salts and convert them into bromine. If you use bromine tablets, this isn’t necessary. But shock is still useful for giving the spa a sanitizer boost after heavy use, or as a regular weekly or biweekly shock treatment just to be sure the water is sanitary. Another use of spa shocks is to kill algae, remove foul odors, correct water discoloration or poor clarity, or resolve a variety of water issues from many causes. For best results, always check water balance and adjust as necessary before shocking a spa. Follow label instructions for treatment info and dosage to match your spa size in gallons/liters.

Specialty: Specialty spa chemicals are chemicals that don’t fit neatly into the other categories. Chemicals like Foam Down or Foam Out (removes surface foam), Metal Gon/Defender (keeps metals and dissolved solids in solution), enzymes like Natural Clear (dissolves oils naturally), algaecides (prevents algae growth in hot water spas) or Leak Seal (seals up small leaks) all fit into this catch-all category. You may have some need for these chemicals at some point to resolve water-related issues in your spa. Then again, you may be lucky and only rarely need specialty chemicals. Some people also group aromatherapy products into the specialty chemicals category, but these are not for correcting a water balance or hot tub issue. Aromatherapy is for YOUR benefit, and can be used anytime you settle in for a soak. At least when you need specialty chemicals, you’ll know where to find them!


How To Test Spa Chemistry

There are two ways to test hot tub water – with test strips or with a test kit. Unless you fancy yourself a chemist and prefer to use a titration test each time, I usually recommend multi-purpose test strips, which test for all the important stuff in just one to two minutes. The secret to spa chemistry is not sold in a bottle, but it is pretty simple. Just test your spa water two or three times per week with regularity, and adjust in small increments as needed. You will begin to see patterns in the water’s chemical fluctuations, especially if you keep a test log book. Even if you don’t write down your readings or enter them into an app, over time you’ll come to know your own hot tub’s chemical personality.


How To Store Hot Tub Chemicals

  1. Keep out of reach of children.
  2. Store in cool, dry location at 50-80° F.
  3. Only open one container at a time.
  4. Tight lids keep out moisture, children and prevent spills.
  5. Protect chemicals from spills, mixing and contamination.

We’ve covered the topic before with some neat spa chemical storage ideas, but the general idea is to, number one, keep out of reach of children. Secondly, store spa chemicals in a cool, dry location, which usually means indoors. Temperatures of 50-75° F are best for prolonging chemical shelf life, helping to prevent gas formation or the hardening of granules. Always open, use, and tightly close only one chemical at a time. Tight lids keep out moisture and small children, and also prevents spills, accidental mixing or contamination. Very important tip: never allow spa chemicals to mix with each other or become contaminated with any substance (dirt, leaves, etc.). A fire or explosion could result. Also, don’t hang onto old spa chemicals; use them up or dispose of them. If you live in an earthquake zone, it’s recommended to keep chemicals close to the ground, and not high on a shelf where they may fall and spill their contents. Again, make sure children can’t access these chemicals.


What Chemicals Do I Need for a Spa or Hot Tub?

  1. Spa sanitizer – usually bromine or chlorine
  2. Spa pH increaser and decreaser
  3. Spa alkalinity increaser
  4. Spa calcium hardness increaser
  5. Spa shock – either chlorine or MPS

As a minimum, you’ll need most of these spa chemicals. You’ll likely use pH reducer more often than pH increaser, and probably adjusting the levels two or three times per month. Total alkalinity and calcium levels will usually hold steady for a month or more once it has been adjusted after a spa drain and refill. Spa shock will be needed for weekly use, in addition to a regular spa sanitizer for daily use. You may also have a need for other chemicals from time to time such as filter cleaners, metal removers or clarifiers. Many of our customers like the convenience of our Spa Care Kits, which are complete 6-month chemical packs for bromine, chlorine or Nature2 spas. These kits include a pre-filter for your water hose and up to a dozen other items.


What are Natural Spa Chemicals?

  1. Mineral sticks
  2. Ozone
  3. Enzymes

ozone-minerals-mpsFor those that want to avoid the smell of chlorine or the slightly softer scent of bromine on your skin, try approaching water sanitation from a different angle. Instead of using chlorine or bromine, you can use Spa Mineral Sticks, which use silver and/or copper ions to help purify the water. You can also use ozone, injected into the plumbing from an Ozonator. Both of these systems, coupled with regular use of MPS (a non-chlorine oxidizer), some extra filtering and careful attention to good water balance can allow you to operate most spas without the use of chlorine or bromine. Also in the natural chemical category are enzymes, which are natural scum eaters, helping to remove contaminants in the water by naturally digesting them. While not a 100% chlorine-free or bromine-free option, you can also reduce chemical use with a floating mineral system that uses supplemental bromine or chlorine cartridges.



dummies-guyIf you made it all the way to the end of this post, you are now a well-informed hot tub owner who knows how to properly balance and sanitize spa water! The great thing about maintaining spa chemistry is that if things go really bad, you can always replace the water and start fresh. Then again, you should be doing this every three or four months, anyway. Remember to re-balance your water’s chemistry, and rebuild the sanitizer levels or bromine bank after refilling.


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.

The Chlorine Free Spa – Is it Possible?


chlorine free spa

It’s a common question that we get in our call center: “Can I run my spa (or hot tub) without chlorine?” The quick and smart answer is usually, “Sure, you can use bromine!” Then they say, “But isn’t that the same thing?” It’s not, really. Bromine has less of a smell, it’s not quite as harsh on skin and hair, and it has other advantages over chlorine.

But seriously, the real answer is YES! You can run your spa without chlorine OR bromine, and still have a safe and sanitary spa. It requires using some modified methods to make sure that pathogens don’t thrive, but it can be successfully done. Here’s how.


Replace Your Filter Cartridge More Frequently

For most spas under halogen treatment (chlorine or bromine), I recommend that the spa filter cartridge be replaced every 12-24 months, depending on its size and how much the spa is used. For those who wish to go chlorine free in the spa or hot tub, I’d recommend that you double the frequency, and replace your spa filter every 6-12 months.

Some spa filters are available with more square footage. When you search for a replacement spa filter by dimensions, model number or cartridge number, you may see two spa filters listed. They both have the same dimensions, but one costs more. The more expensive spa cartridge will have more pleats and thus more surface area, which will do a better job of filtering.

Drain Your Spa or Hot Tub More Frequently

Draining the water out of your spa should be done every 4-6 months, depending on your rate of usage or if the water goes bad. For those using a non-chlorine method in the spa, increase the frequency to every 2-3 months, or at least every 4 months.

When draining a non-chlorine spa, be sure to use a purging product to remove any build up inside the pipes, hoses and jets of your spa. Without a halogen residual, biofilms can form faster and create a biohazard in your spa water. I use Jet Clean every other time I drain my spa to keep organics and oils from building up in hidden crevices.

Ozone + Minerals

DEL Ozone MCD-50

For a spa that doesn’t use chlorine or bromine, you need something to kill bather waste and bacteria. My recommendation is to use a spa ozonator and a mineral sanitizer, such as Nature2 or Spa Frog. The combination of these two – an ozone sanitizer and a mineral purifier – takes care of most disease-causing bacteria.

Check on your ozonator regularly to be sure that it’s on and operational, and replace the mineral cartridge as directed, to keep a proper amount of silver and copper ions working. These two treatments working together will do most of the job in keeping your spa water healthy.

Non-Chlorine Shock

Cense shock by Zodiac

Ozone + minerals can do most of the job. But to be sure, you need to oxidize the water, or shock the spa. Non-chlorine shock has no odor, and does not affect water chemistry. You can use the spa immediately after treating the water.

My recommendation is to use a few tablespoons of non-chlorine shock after every spa use, or at least weekly to control and destroy any pathogenic microbes that are able to get around the ozone and mineral treatment.  Also known as MPS, Zodiac Cense is a great product that will oxidize quickly and also adds a nice scent to the water.

Keep Your Spa Water Balanced

This is important no matter what your spa sanitation method may be. However, it’s especially important when you are operating a chlorine free spa or hot tub. Maintain your pH level at 7.2-7.5, your alkalinity at 80-120 ppm and your hardness at 180-220 ppm. Use fresh test strips or fresh reagents and test your spa water at least twice per week, adding water balance chemicals as needed.

Shower Before Using the Spa

shower before using hot tubI know some people (ok, I’ve done it too) who treat their hot tub like a big bathtub. After working in the yard all day or dancing all night, they jump in the spa to “clean off.” Well, when you bring perspiration, body oils, makeup, or if you’ve gone to the bathroom (#2), without washing yourself, this creates a large sanitizer demand in the water.

I’m not saying you must always shower before using the spa. But if you don’t, be sure to give it a good shocking afterwards with MPS.

It can be awkward to ask your friends to shower before coming over, so use an enzyme product to help break down oils and organics, and retain healthy spa water that all can enjoy.

And that’s it! You can successfully operate a healthy spa or hot tub without using chlorine and bromine if you follow these steps above.

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.