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Before you buy a hot tub, it’s worth thinking about how to care for it, and primarily about chemicals. Many people do, and you’re probably one of those people if you’ve come to read our article. This is a very good decision because it’s not that difficult to understand this topic — in less than 15 minutes you’ll probably have a clear plan of action in your head.
The main thing I want to tell you before the main part: do not worry, picking up the chemicals for the hot tub is much easier than building the tub itself. I’m telling you this as an engineer with years of experience, and I assure you: sanitizers, oxidizers, and water indicators are not as scary as they seem at first glance.
Chlorine VS Bromine sanitizing system
That’s where we start. Sanitizers are the backbone of the care of your inflatable hot tub, the things that will clean the water in it regularly. There are two main types of sanitizers: chlorine-based and bromine-based. Each has its pros and cons, so take a good look at the following charts to decide your choice. Your next step in choosing chemicals will depend on it.
Chlorine sanitizing system
- More affordable than bromine
- It is sun-resistant (you don’t need to cover the hot tub, the chlorine works even under the sun)
- Destroys contaminants and bacteria faster than bromine.
- Usually, leave a pretty strong and distinct smell
- Can irritate sensitive skin
- Harder to keep pH balanced
Bromine sanitizing system
- Gentle with your skin and eyes
- Doesn’t have such a distinct scent as chlorine
- Lasts longer than chlorine
- Costs more than chlorine
- Acts a little slower
- Cannot be stabilized by exposure to UV rays (you’ll have always cover your hot tub)
Now, hopefully, you have a concrete impression of the difference in these sanitizers. If you need help selecting specific brands and models of the best sanitizers, we described them in our other article.
Essential chemicals for inflatable hot tub
There are a lot of chemicals on the market, but the truth is that you don’t have to use all of them. And there are even fewer of them that you will need all the time. That’s why we have divided them into essentials and nonessentials to make it even easier for you to understand.
As we said before, sanitizers are the most important part of the daily care of your hot tub. That’s why we talked more about them earlier. They kill bacteria and clean the water in your hot tub daily, so you should choose them responsibly.
Shock is a strong remedy that is similar to a sanitizer in nature but works more powerfully. It is designed to be used about once every 1-2 weeks. Shock handles the fine dirt that the sanitizer can’t handle.
The choice of the shock depends directly on what kind of sanitizer you have. The fact is that chlorine sanitizer combines with chlorine shock and bromine sanitizer combines with non-chlorine shock. If you choose the wrong type of shock for your hot tub, nothing bad will happen. But nothing good will happen either. If you mix chlorine shock with bromine sanitizer, the chlorine will increase the effect of the bromine. If you mix bromine shock with chlorine sanitizer, the bromine will simply accumulate in the hot tub.
Note: Since it is a strong chemical, always handle it carefully and follow the instructions!
Water Test Strips
Water test strips are your daily must-have for hot tub care. They are how you determine which chemicals and how much you need to add. Usually, you can use one strip to determine all the indicators you need. What are these indicators?
- Chlorine/Bromine levels
Chlorine and bromine levels are easy to check and monitor with water test strips. You should do this before adding sanitizer and before you want to soak in the hot tub. With these tests, you will know when and how much chlorine you should add to your water.
- pH Levels
The pH is the measure of alkalinity or acidity of the water, which varies from 0 to 14. 0 means that the water in your inflatable hot tub is very acidic and 14 is too alkaline. Ideally, it is recommended to keep the pH between 7.2 and 7.8, which means that the water should be slightly alkaline.
Total alkalinity affects pH levels, and at first glance, it seems to be the same thing, but no. In short, it is a measure of how well water resists changes in pH that can make it acidic.
If the Total Alkalinity (TA) is very high, then the pH level will also be high. As a consequence, the water can become turbid and scale will appear on the inside surfaces of the hot tub. But if the TA is low, the pH will be unstable and difficult to control. So in the first case, the problem can be solved by pH Decreaser, but in the second case, you will need a separate product, TA Increaser, because it won’t affect those unstable pH levels.
- Calcium Hardness
Calcium levels are also important enough to be monitored. If your water is too soft, you may not have enough calcium in your water. The fact is that if it is low, the water will begin to corrode any parts of your hot tub and reduce their lifespan.
pH Increaser & pH Decreaser
As I have already explained, pH levels need to be controlled and stay somewhere between 7.2 and 7.8. Now it’s time to clarify what happens if you don’t control it all.
If you let the pH drop too low, the water will be uncomfortable to soak in and you may have irritated skin. Also, acidic water corrodes metals.
If the pH is too high, the water will also be uncomfortable, but instead of corroding the metals, you may get limescale.
Flush Line Product
It’s not just the water that needs to be cleaned, but also jacuzzi parts such as piping and jets. There is a separate product for this, which perfectly cleans the parts that the sanitizer may not reach.
Filter cleaning may be overlooked by many, but it’s a mistake. If you spend a few minutes after using your hot tub to clean the filter, it will last longer. In addition, the sanitizer will be easier to do its job and will require less amount at a time.
If you’re too lazy to read it all, the table has information in literally a nutshell to be on point.
|Chemical||Why it is crucial|
|Sanitizer||It kills bacteria and cleans the water.|
|Shock Oxidizer||Destroys those pollutants that have been able to avoid standard water sanitizers.|
|Water test strips||You need them to test all-important water indicators to know what chemicals to use.|
|pH Increaser||If the pH is too low (acidic), the water will cause itching and it affects the corrosion of metals|
|pH Decreaser||If the pH is too high, the water will also irritate your skin and the metals can get scaled up|
|Flush Line Product||This is a pipeline flushing product that will clean mineral deposits, dirt, grime, and more that regular chlorine simply can’t handle on its own.|
|Filter Cleaner||Cleaning the filter will help you save on the amount of sanitizer and prolong the life of the filter.|
🧐There are a lot of brands that produce all these chemicals, and sometimes it’s hard to find the best one for value for the price. But we already have made research on all of them and made a separate article to make this choice as easy as a pie.
Additional chemicals for inflatable hot tub
- Alkalinity Increaser
We have already mentioned the importance of total alkalinity, and how it is related to pH levels. But since this is rarely a problem, we have categorized this product as a supplemental rather than a basic product.
- Calcium Increaser
We also told you about the importance of calcium in the water, but you may well be fine with it. You can even check the water hardness in the region where you live on the U.S. Geological Survey website. If the water in your area is still too soft (below 120 ppm), Calcium Increaser will help you.
- Foam Remover
Foam can be very annoying and discouraging. It comes occasionally from the sanitizers and sometimes from the different products you use when soaking in the hot tub (shampoos, shower gels, etc.). Dust and dirt can get mixed in with it and end up being an unpleasant sight. However, Foam Remover quickly removes foam, and if you encounter such a problem, it will not be superfluous in your household.
Clarifiers essentially help the water filters. They work like magnets and attract small particles of dirt, gathering them into larger pieces that the filter won’t let through.
Again, we have an abbreviated table to summarize:
|Chemical||Why you might need it|
|Alkalinity Increaser||If your TA is low, your pH levels are unstable, and this is the product that will help fix the situation.|
|Calcium Increaser||If the calcium level is too low, the water begins to corrode all working parts and shortens the service life of various systems (water heater, massage system)|
|Foam Remover||Foam is sometimes very irritating, and this product easily copes with it.|
|Clarifier||If the water is murky and dirty and water filters can’t cope with it, a clarifier is here to help.|
🧐 If you feel you need something from the list but are too lazy to figure out the brands and features yourself, we’ve already done it for you and compiled the highest quality products in another article.
Pre-made starter kits VS self-assembled kits
Sometimes it seems easier to buy a ready-made set of chemicals and not bother with the selection of all the products yourself. However, I do not advise you to rush to do it right away (although there are several quality kits, we have explored this topic earlier). What’s the catch?
- Kits are versatile and usually contain both must-have chemicals as well as minor ones that you may not need.
- Also, manufacturers usually don’t produce equally good quality and successful products in the same kit. That is, sanitizers may be better at one company, shocks at another, and pH Increaser & Decreaser at yet another.
If you don’t have the time or desire to figure out which brands are best for which chemicals, you can buy a pre-made starter kit at once and it will probably work great for you. But if you have 15 minutes of extra time, you can easily assemble your own set of products that are important to you. After all, we also studied individual products in each chemical category.
Do’s and dont’s with chemicals for inflatable hot tub
A few helpful quick tips before you leave to take care of your inflatable hot tub.
- Check Total Alkalinity and correct if necessary before pH levels.
- If you are using strong chlorine solutions, gloves and eye protection are recommended.
- Heat the hot tub water to 80ºF (30ºC) before adding chemicals. The heat helps the chemicals dissolve into the water faster.
- Take a shower before soaking in the hot tub to cleanse your body of excess grease, dirt particles, and chemicals (deodorant, makeup). This way you do yourself a favor and the hot tub water stays cleaner longer.
- Do not give up on using chemicals, because your hot tub won’t be safe to soak in.
- Do not use the hot tub immediately after adding chemicals. You need to wait at least 30 minutes, or preferably several hours.
- Do not mix bromine sanitizer with chlorine shock and vice versa, it will not work properly.
- Do not mix both bromine & chlorine sanitizers, it can lead to a dangerous chemical reaction.
- Try not to use pool chemicals for hot tubs, they usually vary in concentration.
So, you and I have explored the most important things about inflatable hot tub chemicals. Now you understand what certain chemicals are needed and what you can live without. First of all, you should take care of the sanitizer, the shock, and the water test strips. And then, I hope, you’ll figure out everything else.
Don’t forget that you have the option of either putting together your perfect chemistry kit yourself or choosing from pre-packaged kits. Each option is good in its way, the main thing is to use the chemicals correctly and follow the instructions. If you follow my advice, I give you a 98% guarantee that you won’t have any problems with your inflatable hot tub (but stuff happens in life, so 2% for that special case). Good luck with your hot tub chemical journey!
🙊Can you use an inflatable hot tub without chemicals?
In theory, of course, you can do so. But if you don’t use chemicals in your hot tub, the water in it will not be safe for your health.
😱What happens if you don’t shock your hot tub?
The sanitizer can not handle all the dirt the whole time, and small particles will accumulate in your water if you do not use the shock for a long time. The water will become muddy and dirty, and no one wants to use a hot tub.
💧How long can hot tub water go untreated?
After the first use of a hot tub, the water in it will not be so clean and safe for further use, and each time it will get worse unless you use chemicals to clean it.
⏳How often should I change the water in my inflatable hot tub?
If you use all the necessary chemicals, change the water every 3-4 months.
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