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Archive for the ‘Chemicals & Water Chemistry’ Category

Hot Tub Preppers: Be Ready for Holiday Visitors

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December is upon us, and cars and planes will soon be packed with people, visiting relatives for the holidays. Around my house, a popular ‘amenity’ for our guests has always been our 8-person spa, especially for those that don’t have their own hot tub at home.

Now is the time to step up spa maintenance, kick it up a notch to have over-filtered and over-sanitized water, and hot water for your guests. Now is also the time to review some spa safety standards, and be sure that your hot tub will be safe for all family visitors – adults, kids and pets.

 

1. Balance the Waterphoto of nature2 test strips

Unless your water needs changing that is; if your water has 2 or 3 months of age to it already, go ahead and do a complete drain, refill and re-balancing of the water. Otherwise, balance the pH and Alkalinity to 7.2-7.6 and 80-100 ppm, respectively. The next step may be to add calcium increaser, if your fill water is below 150 ppm. In my area it comes out very soft, around 80 ppm, so I add a few lbs of calcium when refilling. Soft water can cause staining, foaming and other problems.

2. Shock the Spa

For shocking the spa, you can use either chlorine spa shock like Spa 56, or you can use non-chlorine MPS shock, but in either case don’t be shy about it – hit it hard, which is usually about 1 – 1.5 oz., see label for correct dosage. Run the pump on high when shocking a spa, and leave the cover open for 30 minutes or so after shocking with chlorine. Shock the spa after each heavy usage while visitors are staying at your place.

photo of cartoon spa filter - copyright Hottubworks.com3. Change the Filter

A new filter cartridge and a new mineral stick from Frog or Nature2 will boost the water clarity and purity, to a point where it can take a sudden increase in users, without turning cloudy or dull, or foamy and greasy. I usually replace my filter cartridge every December anyway, and use a new Nature2 stick every 4 months, so it works with my schedule.

4. Increase Filter Run time

If you do expect to have more spa users than normal this month, it may be a good idea to adjust the timer settings or the programs to filter the spa an extra 20% – 50% longer each day, to compensate for the additional bather load. A little extra insurance to be sure that the filter system can handle the increased users.

5. Add Clarifierhottubworks spa clarifier shown

This one is my little secret weapon, what clarifier does is – it acts like a magnet to tiny particles, making invisible stuff clump together until it is large enough that the filter will trap it, which makes your water look great, even with the lights shining through the water. TIP: Do Not over-dose with clarifier, follow label instructions, and treat only once weekly, or it can have the opposite effect, and make your spa water cloudy!

6. Carpet Runner

My spa sits about 8 ft from the back sliding glass door, across a fairly clean, but gritty, concrete paver patio. I buy these runner carpets at my local ‘home’ store, for about $40, and they last nearly a year. I’m due for a new one, they’re about 2’x8′ and in dark colors that look good for quite awhile. You can put one inside the house too, for ‘drippers’ dashing into the house.

7. Towels and robes

I have an antique console leaning up against the back of the house and I stock the cubbies with lots of colorful towels, and hang a few robes and lots of hats (don’t forget the hats). I also have a small hand drawn (cute) sign that says “Please bathe before Use”, as a reminder to not use the spa as a bath tub. And plants, lots of plants (if you live in the south). Even plastic plants are very nice to have, surrounding the spa.

8. Spa Supervision

Don’t forget to set some ground rules, spa safety must come first. Many tragic accidents around spas and hot tubs actually happen at the homes of relatives, by people unfamiliar with the basic ground rules.

  • No single spa users, 2 or more people at all times
  • No unsupervised children under age 14
  • No pregnant women or persons with high blood pressure
  • 20 minutes maximum soaking time
  • 104° F maximum temperature

 

Finally, make sure the heater is running well, see Danny’s post last month about the most common spa heater problems and how to troubleshoot them. And be sure to close-up the spa yourself after use, unless you can train an ‘able-body’ to remove and replace the spa cover, safely and properly, so you don’t have to. 🙂

 

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

6 Hot Tub Chemicals You Should Always Have

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If you are like most spa owners, you have more than 6 spa chemicals on hand, and like most of us, there is a larger collection of various spa chemicals, including sanitizers, balancers, clarifiers, cleaners and other specialty chemicals.

Every spa is different in terms of what is needed for proper and optimum water chemistry. Things like spa use frequency, number of users, cleanliness of users, filter size and effectiveness, pump run times, fill water quality and factors like sun, wind and rain can all call for different spa chemicals, at different times.

However, there exists a core set of spa chemicals that a hot tub owner should always keep in stock, because they are used more often than others. You will need other spa chemicals from time to time, to adjust water balance to proper ranges, or to control other water conditions, but keep a good stock of the basic inventory.

 


SANITIZERS

Every spa needs a means of controlling the ABC’s – algae, bacteria and contaminants, on a daily basis. When hot tubs first came on the scene, everyone used bromine tablets as the primary sanitizer. 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.

Many spas are outfitted with ozonators, which allow for much lower levels of bromine, or you can use a spa mineral stick to accomplish pretty much the same thing. Frog has two popular bromine+minerals floating sanitizers, the traditional Spa Frog floating system and the new round flip-floater, called @ease.

Chlorine tablets are not used as a spa sanitizer, because they dissolve too slowly, and lower pH and raise cyanuric acid levels, however Spa 56 by Leisure Time is a popular granulated chlorine that dissolves quickly and maintains a chlorine residual for 5-7 days.

SHOCK

Spa shock is in a class of chemicals known as oxidizers, because they will oxidize contaminants in the water, pipes and filter. Even though spa water may be clear, there exists at any given time, various ABC’s and other particles and byproducts that reduce sanitizer 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, and reduce build-up of oils, soap, skin, dust and other particles that enter the spa naturally. You can use chlorine spa shock or non-chlorine spa shock (MPS), they are both very effective.

CLARIFIER

Spa Clarifiers are positively charged polymers that are strongly attracted to negatively charge particles, which make water cloudy. They work by forming large clumps of very small particles, those that would normally pass right through your spa filter, making them easy for your filter to trap.

Clarifiers like 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. Leisure Time’s  Protect Plus also adds a stain & scale additive, and Rendezvous’ Natural Clear adds an enzyme to remove oils and soaps from spa water.

pH DECREASER

At any given time, you may need either pH increaser -or- pH decreaser, but most people 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 a better breeding ground for algae and bacteria.

pH should be maintained in the 7.2-7.6 range, just slightly basic. If you are having trouble adjusting your pH, or if pH is very erratic, changing fast and often, test the Total Alkalinity of the spa water. 80-120 ppm is best, to provide a buffer for the pH level, helping it to remain steady for longer periods. Add Alkalinity increaser if below 80 ppm, and use pH decreaser to lower alkalinity levels in excess of 120 ppm.

COVER CONDITIONER

This one doesn’t need a long explanation, other than 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 dish sponge to clean surfaces.

After drying, apply the spa cover conditioner to seal and protect the vinyl from rain, dirt, snow and sun. Regular use can add years to your cover lifespan by preventing breakdown and tears in the outer vinyl surfaces.

FILTER CLEANER

Hosing clean your spa filter gets most of the big stuff, but 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, like Rendezvous Filter Fresh or Leisure Time Filter Clean. Just soak your cartridge in a bucket or pail of water with the recommended amount of filter cleaner added, or use our own spray-on filter cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes, before rinsing clean.

 


 

As mentioned above, you may need other hot tub chemicals from time to time, but these are what I call the core set of chemicals – those that are needed most often, which are also (coincidentally) the most popular spa chemicals, or those that are purchased most often. I hope this was helpful!

 

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin

 

Save Money with House Brand Spa Chemicals

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If you are like me, you buy a lot of house-brand food at your grocery store, or if you opt for the house wine or house dressing at a restaurant, you know that house-brand products use the same recipe as national brands, but sell for a much lower price point.

It’s the same with our house brand spa chemicals – 12 Hot Tub Works branded chemicals for cleaning, balancing and sanitizing your spa water.

Hot Tub Works spa chemicals are made with the same recipe as Leisure Time or Rendezvous products, but without fancy 4 color bottles and a national advertising and sales force budget. As a result of these cost savings, you can save 20-30% on your hot tub chemical expenses. Now isn’t that nice.

 

Hot Tub Works Spa Cleaning Chemicals


HTW spa-hot-tub-cleaning-chemicals shown

 

Hot Tub Works Spa Water Balance Chemicals


HTW water balancers - spa and hot tub chemicals shown

  • Calcium Increaser: Use to raise Calcium Hardness into the range of 180-220 ppm.
  • pH Plus: Use to raise pH level into the range of 7.4-7.6.
  • pH Minus: Use to lower pH level into the range of 7.4-7.6. Also lowers Alkalinity.
  • Alkalinity Increaser: Use to raise Total Alkalinity into the range of 80-120 ppm.

 

Hot Tub Works Spa Accessory Chemicals


image showing brom booster, clarifier, spa protect adn spa metal out

  • Brom Booster: Bromide Ion booster to replace those lost after draining and refilling spas.
  • Spa Natural Clarifier: With Chiton, natural polymers to coagulate suspended particles.
  • Spa Protect: Metal and Mineral sequestering agent to protect shiny spa surfaces.
  • Spa Metal Out: Stain removal and prevention treatment for metals and minerals.

 

>>> We don’t manufacture every spa chemical that is available – but for these top selling 12 items, we are proud to have our own house brand of high quality spa chemicals available to you, at significant savings over name brand spa chemicals.

And if you buy hot tub chemicals during This Week’s Sale (changes weekly) you can save an additional 20%, or more!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Leak Repair using Leak Sealer

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Leisure Time Leak Seal, item ZJWelcome back, students of spa! Today we tackle one of those topics that can keep spa owners up at night – a leaking hot tub.

The most common leak for spas and hot tubs is probably pump shaft seals, thermowells, spa unions and spa jets. Wooden hot tubs can seep and weep water from between the wood staves, especially during temperature swings as the wood expands and contracts.

If you have an obvious mechanical failure of seals, gaskets or plastics, the best solution is to buy the correct spa parts, and fix the leaking spa properly. However, in cases where there is no obvious puddle beneath an obvious drip – you may want to try a leak sealer.

I’ve used Leak Seal for a spa leak on my own spa, and I can tell you it works, but I can also tell you that it doesn’t work – let me explain. Leak Seal works great for dripping glue joints, seeping gaskets, weeping o-rings and oozing wooden hot tubs. Leak Seal will also seal up cracks in filter housings or pinhole leaks in flex pipe and spa hoses – but it’s no miracle worker! If you have a real ‘gusher’, don’t waste your money on Leak Seal, but replace the offending gasket, manifold or jet body.

Leak Seal is made from Sodium Silicate, sometimes called “Liquid Glass”, which behaves a bit like blood in it’s ability to clot together. Strong bonds stack the silicate together at the source of a leak. The process takes many hours of circulation to build up layers of the stuff, until the leak is sealed.

 

Leisure Time Leak Seal Instructions

  1. Fill Spa to normal water levels.
  2. Remove the spa cartridge filter(s).
  3. Open all valves and all spa jets.
  4. Shut off spa heater, blower and ozonator.
  5. Pour 1/2 bottle (16 oz) into spa skimmer or near drain.
  6. Run jets on high for 4 hours to circulate (slowly add water if needed)
  7. Switch pump to low speed for 20 hours.

After 24 hours (adding water if needed, to keep the tub full), inspect closely for any continued water loss. At this point you will notice one of three things. Either the leak has stopped completely, partially, or not at all. If the spa has stopped leaking, then alright! 🙂 If the leak has slowed, but not stopped completely, a second treatment (all 7 steps above) is recommended. If it didn’t work at all, you have a leak that is too large for Leak Sealer to fix. 🙁

As a final step, and whether or not it worked to fix your leaking spa, you should drain and clean the tub to remove the remaining silicate, which will clog up your filter and leave residue around the water line. Drain the tub completely, and wipe down all surfaces before refilling with fresh water.

After refilling, operate the spa on low speed only for a day, with the heater Off – especially if leaks were suspected to be in the plumbing or around spa jets. The leak sealant silicate patch will continue to harden, becoming fully cured in 48-72 hours, depending on water temperature.


As I mentioned at the outset – Leak Seal is not a miracle product, but it does work for small leaks and drips, and can form a permanent repair. If it doesn’t work in your case, please don’t get upset and write reviews entitled “complete waste of money”, or make comparisons to snake oil – it’s just that your spa leak requires a more ‘mechanical repair’.

And at $20 a bottle, Leak Seal is a bargain, especially if it seals the leak – which it does, over half of the time, by my estimates.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Hard Water Issues in Spas and Hot Tubs

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water-hardness-map-of-US

Do you live in the “Red Zone”? Having hard water means that you have a lot of calcium in your water, and soft water means that you have less, as it comes out of the tap. Hard water is less sudsy in the shower, and it can leave scale deposits in your sinks, shower and also in hot tubs.

In most cases, a little scale is no problem, but in some cases, calcium hardness levels can reach levels of 400 ppm or more, which can lead to problems.

Hard water problems in hot tubs start when calcium begins to come out of solution, giving you frequently cloudy water and scale deposits on your spa. Scale can deposit in out of the way places, like your heater element or less frequently used jets, or can build up along the water line of your spa or hot tub.

 

How Hard is Too Hard?

The water hardness map of the US shows the generally accepted maxim that anything over 180 ppm is classified as “Extremely Hard” water. However, many spas and hot tubs can operate effectively with much higher levels. If you have a test kit or test strips that measure for calcium hardness levels in your spa, you can easily check your spa water to see if you have hard (or soft) spa fill water. Most spas and hot tubs will be fine with calcium hardness levels of up to 400 ppm. After that, and you may begin to see signs of scaling and cloudy water conditions.

 

So What, Who Cares?

OK, fair question, and a great SNL skit phrase. How about this? You don’t care if you don’t have a calcium hardness problem. If your hot tub water is very hard, you’ve seen scale deposits before, and know that these salts leave ugly waterline deposits, but they can also scale inside of a spa heater, filter or ozone injectors. Hard hot tub water can be corrosive and when high enough, excessive calcium can interfere with sanitation and filtration. Hot water temperatures makes the calcium more active, causing cloudy water and scale deposits more easily, as opposed to cooler pools.

 

Treatments for Hard Hot Tub Water

They used to say there was nothing you could do, but nowadays there are several ways to manage hard water levels in a spa, so it doesn’t become a problem. The most important thing is a LOW pH and Alkalinity, which helps keep calcium in solution, so it won’t come out to cloud the water or deposit as scale. For hard water hot tubs, keep your pH in the 7.2-7.3 range, and Alkalinity in the 80-90 ppm range.

Pre-Filter1. Filter the Calcium. Maybe you have an expensive home water softening system, and can fill the spa after it’s been treated. Many outside hose spigots are not connected to home water treatment systems. Fear not, you can use the Pleatco Spa Water Pre-Filter, to take out minerals, metals, chloramines and other particulate contaminants in your fill water. Just screw it onto your hose and turn on the water, the Pre-filter traps sediment, metals, minerals, and removes foul odors! Good for 2-3 fills.

2. Combine the Calcium. There is a pool chemical called CalTreat, by United Chemical Co., which bonds to calcium carbonate, until a large enough particle is created to be removed by your filter cartridge. Follow the instructions carefully, and over a period of one to two weeks, you may reduce calcium hardness levels by up to 200 ppm (results and reviews are mixed for Cal Treat). Afterwards, soak your cartridge in a spa filter cleaner, or replace with a new spa filter. calcium-and-scale-control

3. Control the Calcium. Calcium and Scale control, like Spa Metal Out, are chemicals that keep calcium and other minerals (and also metals like iron and copper) tied-up in solution (sequestered), keeping them dissolved, so they don’t precipitate out to make the spa cloudy or deposit as scale or crystals. After the initial dose, just add a maintenance dosage weekly, to keep minerals in a “sequestered” state. It will also loosen and dissolve some scale deposits from heater elements and filter cartridges.

 

Treatments for Soft Hot Tub Water

Hard water is a common issue for spa and hot tub owners, but so is Soft Water. If you live in one of the purple, blue or white areas on the map, add a Calcium Hardness Increaser to your spa or hot tub, each time you fill with new water. Whereas hard water can produce stains and scale, soft water can be corrosive to the soft and shiny parts of your hot tub. It also leads to excessive spa foaming problems.

Add Calcium Hardness Increaser when your spa or hot tub is less than 150 ppm. Try to maintain at least 180 ppm in your spa, for proper water balance, equipment and surface protection and preventing spa foam. Each time you drain and fill your tub, you’ll need to add calcium again, but once you add it, calcium does not deplete, but stays in the water.

 

– Jack

 

 

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Saltwater Chlorine or Saltwater Bromine?

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saltwater-chlorine-or-saltwater-bromineSalt water chlorine vs. salt water bromine. Which is better?

The chlorine vs. bromine debate, along with the pros & cons of using a hot tub salt system have been hashed out before on this blog, but what if you already love spa salt water generators, and wonder about using sodium bromide, instead of sodium chloride as the necessary salt.

Bromine is better than chlorine in a hot tub, as it stays potent in high temperatures and in a wide range of pH values, and has less odor. So why not use Sodium Bromide instead of Sodium Chloride in a spa or hot tub with a salt generator?

  • Sodium Bromide salt is much more expensive than Sodium Chloride salt. This is because of the higher cost of raw materials. It costs only $5 in NaOCl after draining the spa (unless you use Dead Sea Salts, which are much more costly), but to replace the NaOBr, it can cost $25, each time you drain.
  • Bromine Generators cost twice as much to purchase than equivalent spa chlorine generators. Roughly $200 for salt systems, and $400 for bromine systems.

But wait ~ aren’t Bromine tablets also twice as expensive as using spa chlorine tablets? Yes. Bottom line is that Bromine costs more than chlorine, no matter how you introduce it to the water.

For many spa owners, it’s worth the extra cost to have a Bromine spa.

Spa Chlorine and Bromine Generators

saltron-mini-power-supply-and-cellCan you use bromide salts with a salt chlorinator? You could, after draining and refilling with fresh water, add sodium bromide ions to the water to create bromine, instead of chlorine. However, salt chlorine generators such as the Saltron Mini are optimized to work with sodium chloride, although the manufacturer told me that either salt can be used.

Is there a difference between Salt Brominators and Salt Chlorinators? There are small differences in the salt cell coatings and in the salt level required for operation, but the operation or technology is the same. They both convert ions into a sanitizer, which afterwards revert back to the base salt, where the process can begin again. Spa Salt Bromine Generators, such as Tru Blu and the Gecko Alliance in.clear bromine salt system for spas.

What type of Salt is used in a Saltwater Hot Tub? If you are using sodium chloride, be sure to use a pool salt with a high 99% level of purity, without added caking agents, desiccants or iodine added. For a bromine spa, add pure sodium bromide salts to the spa, the same bromide booster that is used to build the ‘bromine bank’ when using bromine tablets. Many spa salt system owners also use Dead Sea Salts, which contain potassium and magnesium, in addition to sodium.

Hot Tub Ozonator VS. UV Light VS. Minerals

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OZONE-VS-UV-VS-MINERALS
When it comes to sanitizing your spa or hot tub, you have a lot of choices. When I first started hot tubbing, we didn’t have all these fancy purifiers, and until the 80’s we had to use pool chemicals!

Chlorine and Bromine are an easy way to keep the water constantly protected. But – there’s a dark side! It smells bad, bleaches suits, dries skin and hair, and can be unsafe to store and use.

And that’s why a cottage industry sprung up, offering alternatives to traditional sanitation methods. Let’s talk about all 3 – Ozonators, Ultra Violet light, and Mineral Purifiers.

Hot Tub Ozone

del-mcd50-ozoneHow it Works: Ozone is called the ‘World’s Most Powerful Sanitizer’ and indeed packs quite a punch. An ozonator or ozone generator shoots a small electric charge across an air filled gap to separate oxygen O² into O¹. The singular oxygen atom quickly bonds to a nearby O² molecule, to become O³, or Ozone. The additional oxygen atom makes O³ very unstable, destroying any unfortunate particle that gets in the way.

Down Side: Ozone is cheap to produce, however the circulation pump must be running, to draw the gas into the line. When the pump is off, ozone is not being produced. Ozone also has a very short life, and due to the gaseous state, it will rise to the surface and gas-off quickly.

Maintenance: Spa ozonators require replacement of the ozone tubing and check valve every 1-2 years. CD (Corona Discharge) models require CD Chip replacement every 1-2 years, while AGP (Advanced Plasma Gap) units can last up to 5 years.

Effectiveness: Using a spa ozonator can allow you to reduce reliance on high levels of chlorine and bromine, by as much as 50%, according to manufacturers. Ozone destroys Giardia, Pseudomonas and Crypto and is a powerful oxidizer.

Hot Tub UV Light

spectralightuv-lampHow it Works: UV light purifiers work by irradiating the water, as it rushes by a UV lamp that is producing a specific wavelength 254 nm within the UV-C spectrum. When exposed to UV light of this specific wavelength, living particles actually have their DNA rearranged and become unable to reproduce. This renders the particles as inert, and only from a millisecond of exposure to the UV-C light.

Down Side: Like Ozone, UV light is cheap to produce, but is only being produced while the pump is running, pushing water over the UV-C light bulb or lamp. UV system strength can be reduced by high water flow rates, cloudy water and water temperature. And it has no ‘shelf life’, sanitation only takes place for an instant, while the water is passing under the eerie blue light.

Maintenance: Spa UV light systems use a special bulb to create the UV-C light. In most cases, these bulbs will need to be replaced every 1-2 years, as they begin to lose effectiveness over time. Cleaning the quartz lens regularly is also recommended, to remove dust or grime deposits.

Effectiveness: Like Ozone, UV purification is a tried and true secondary sanitizer, and can reduce your reliance on chlorine or bromine. It also inactivates (renders inert) parasites and pathogens like Ozone, when sized and used properly.

Hot Tub Mineral Purifiers

spa-mineral-sticks-for-hot-tubsHow They Work: Mineral purifiers for hot tubs and spas are slim cartridges that you drop into the hole in the center of your cartridge filter. They’re filled with Silver and Copper pellets which slowly dissolve at a controlled rate. The silver and copper act together as a biocide, with silver oxide as the sanitizer and copper working as an algaecide. Using a mineral stick, like the others, can allow you to reduce chlorine or bromine usage by up to 50%.

Down Side: Mineral sticks for spas are also not as powerful as ozone, and cannot kill the strongest of pathogens that may come into the water, although they come close.

Maintenance: Most mineral sticks are replaced every 4 months, when the silver and copper depletes. No other equipment involved, so no other maintenance is needed.

Effectiveness: Unlike ozone and UV, mineral sticks create lasting protection by maintaining a residual of silver in the water. You will notice an immediate improvement in water quality and can appreciate using less sanitizer or filter aids to keep the water clear.

 

Your mileage may vary, but having a secondary sanitizer makes sense and is recommended by the MAHC (Model Aquatic Health Code). It can help reduce reliance on harsh chlorine or bromine, and also acts as a nice back-up for those occasional gaps in coverage, if you know what I mean.

In most cases, all of these systems tend to cost the spa owner about $100 per year, but you can realize some savings in other chemical costs, and will enjoy the peace of mind knowing that your spa water is extra-clean, I know I do! I use Nature2 and Del Ozone on my own spa.

How to Shock a Hot Tub

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

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

 

What is Hot tub Shock?

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

Why do I need to shock a hot tub?

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

How to shock a spa with bromine?

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

How to shock a spa with chlorine?

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

How to shock a spa with bleach?

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

How to shock a spa with non-chlorine shock?

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

Is Hot Tub Shock Dangerous?

spa-and-hot-tub-shock-smSpa Shocks are dangerous – if mixed with any other chemical, or allowed to become moist, or contaminated with dirt or debris, it has the ability to produce noxious fumes, catch fire or explode.

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

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

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Saltwater Hot Tub – Bromine or Chlorine

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

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

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

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

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

SOFTER SPA WATER

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

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

FEWER PEAKS AND VALLEYS

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

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

LESS WORRY

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

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

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

Spa Chemical Dosage Charts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spa Chemical Dosage Charts

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

spa-chemical-dosage-charts

spa-chemical-dosage-charts

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

 

– Jack