Hot Tub Informtion
Freedom! Are you ready to give up chlorine and bromine?
Alternative Sanitizers are finally gaining acceptance
and catching the attention of many pool and spa owners !
There once was a
time, long long ago, when the only thing that pool & spa owners could use to
keep their water clean was chlorine. It was cheap and it actually worked pretty
well. But there was that strong chemical odor to deal with. Hey, that’s how a
pool should smell, no? People put up with it because there was no alternative.
Then hot tub spas started to become more popular in the 1980’s. As soon as
more people started installing hot tub spas in their homes, the odor and
harshness of chlorine began to cause more and more discomfort. It’s one thing to
smell like a chlorine tablet when you get out of an outdoor pool, but it becomes
much less acceptable after a long soak in your indoor hot tub! Another thing
started to become more apparent when large scale use of residential hot tubs
increased - chlorine, it turns out, is not really a very good sanitizer in water
over 100º. It drastically loses effectiveness as a sanitizer in hot water and,
as a result, people started adding more and more chlorine to their spas in order
to keep the hot water fresh and clean. That, of course, produced more chlorine
odor and the whole thing made hot tubing a less than pleasurable experience.
Something had to be done !
Enter Bromine. Bromine was great. It worked
best at temperatures between 90° and 110° and it was practically odorless. This
seemed to be the perfect way to sanitize a hot tub. Bromine really became very
popular in the mid 1980’s and is still the most widely used hot tub spa water
sanitizer. The only problem with it was that it only worked effectively within a
narrow PH and Alkalinity range. Many tub owners were having problems keeping
their pH and Alkalinity adjusted properly - and as a result their water was not
always staying clear and fresh. Additionally, Bromine cannot really be used
effectively in a swimming pool because it is rapidly "burned off" by the sun,
leaving the pool with little to no sanitizer.
The Ozone Generator was the
next major sanitizing innovation which was introduced in the mid 1980’s. Instead
of relying on only chemicals that were added to the pool or spa each week, the
Ozone Generator actually produced Ozone Gas which is injected into the water via
the return jets. Ozone is 3000 times more powerful than Bromine or Chlorine and
is a powerful oxidizer which almost medically sterilizes the spa water.
Ozonators do work very well, however you still need to keep your pH and
Alkalinity levels within the proper range and you still need to add a "backup"
sanitizer to the water (either a small amount of Bromine or Chlorine). Further
innovation was still needed to get us closer to a truly "automatic" water
Now it has been almost 20 years since the Ozonator has
been invented - and there still is no “perfect sanitizer” for pools or spas.
There have been many “Alternative Sanitizing” systems that have been
introduced over the last 20 years. Although no single product can do everything
chemically for a pool or hot tub spa, these Alternative Sanitizers sure go a
long way to making pool & spa care much easier - and pool & spa use more
The main things that consumers complain about when it comes to
their water chemistry problems are (in order): “chemically” odor, “musty” odor,
burning eyes, coughing from fumes, bleached bathing suits, hard to balance
water, hard to balance PH and/or Alkalinity, water turns green, water is always
cloudy, blonde hair turns green !
It would be nice if someone would
invent a pill that you simply drop in a pool or spa and it sanitizes the water,
adjusts the PH, clarifies, deodorizes and shocks the water too - and you just
need to add this magic pill once a month ! Now that would be an invention that
would make millions ! Unfortunately, in the year 2002, there is no such thing.
So a number of manufacturers have come up with a variety of products that
are now officially known as “Alternative Sanitizers”. We will try to give you a
brief overview of each type of product - noting the positive and negative points
of each. If you go shopping for Alternative Sanitizers, be a little wary of
dealers that only sell one type of Alternative Sanitizer and tell you “this is
the best one in the world”. Truth be told, they all have their good and bad
points, and it is ultimately up to you to select the right one for your pool or
Oh, one more thing. There is a legal and governmental definition for
what is “officially” considered a “sanitizer”. Accordingly, most Alternative
Sanitizers shouldn’t really call themselves “sanitizers” at all. A product or
chemical must get EPA approval to be officially called a “sanitizer”. Most of
these products are not actually EPA approved as sanitizers and should use the
term “water conditioner” instead. That is in the legal world. But in the real
world, most pool & spa guys - as well as consumers refer to them as Alternative
“Sanitizers”. You just have to remember to also add another sanitizer (shock) to
the water once per week.
Believe it or not, the
ultraviolet portion of the sun’s radiation and sunlight is actually a great way
to kill bacteria in pools or spas. Who knew? UV Sanitizers use the destructive
radiation of these ultraviolet waves to kill any and all live bacteria or algae
in water. A small glass chamber encloses powerful UV light bulbs and as the
water passes through the tube, the bacteria are killed by the concentrated
waves. It almost sterilizes the water. You are thinking “that’s great, let’s run
out and get one”. Wait a second...hold your horses. The down side to UV is that
it does nothing for water clarity, so you still get cloudiness - and it leaves
no residual disinfectant in the water. That means you still have to add a backup
sanitizer to the pool or spa (chlorine or bromine). The good part is that it
will definitely reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine you need to add. That
is the main benefit of UV.
The actual chemical name of
this type of sanitizer is polyhexamethylene biguanide. It is most commonly found
in “Baqua” type products. You can use it in a pool or spa and it contains no
chlorine or bromine. It’s claim to fame is that it is very gentle on the skin
and eyes. Some contact lens cleaning solutions contain biguanide ! Unlike UV, it
stays active in the water for a long time and is an effective killer of bacteria
and microorganisms. You still need to manually adjust the PH & Alkalinity of the
water each week and you also must shock the pool or spa weekly with a
“non-chlorine” shock. The only danger with Biguanides is that you cannot mix
them with chlorine or bromine. It’s somewhat difficult to “switch back” if you
find you do not like the way the Biguanide works. There are special chemicals
you must add to the water in order to switch back.
you release copper and silver ions into water, they kill all bacteria and algae.
The Ionization Unit allows water through a tube that electrifies copper and
silver alloy anodes, which produces positively charged particles in the water.
These mineral ions then go about their business killing everything in their path
! The PH adjusting is easier and less necessary with Ionizers because the ions
do not effect the acidity of the water. Ionizers can be used in pools or spas.
You still need to shock the water weekly and you may need to add a clarifier as
well. Overall, this is not a bad system, although the silver/copper must be
Often confused with Ionizers
because of the name similarity, Ozonators work on a totally different principle.
Ozone is a gas (like the “ozone layer” around the earth) that is produced by
ultraviolet light (UV) exposure to oxygen. When ozone gas is injected into pool
or spa water, it acts as a very powerful sanitizer and will kill off almost all
of the bacteria present. Ozonated water will remain clearer longer than just
using bromine or chlorine as the primary sanitizer.
purification is 3000 times more powerful than ordinary water sanitizers (bromine
or chlorine). It does not give off that "chemical smell" normally found in pools
and spas and tends to produce less skin and nasal irritation. An ozonated hot
tub spa can usually go longer between water drainings than a spa using other
sanitizer chemicals. With swimming pools, you will use much, much less chlorine
than you used to.
How does it work you ask ? There are two types of
Ozonators. One type produces the gas through Corona Discharge (electrically
charging the particles) and the other ozone generator contains an ultraviolet
light bulb (much more common).
On UV-style ozonators, the unit sucks in
oxygen from the surrounding air and exposes it to the UV light source. The
oxygen “O-2” is transformed into ozone gas which is "O-3" gas. This gas is then
sucked into the jet piping of the pool or spa by the "venturi effect" which
creates a suction that shoots the gas into the water. Some ozonators also have a
compressor which aides in the gas injection. The O-3 gas then goes to work
attacking any bacteria present in the water. Two of the oxygen molecules are
used up during the chemical reaction and the third oxygen molecule is released
back into the air. That molecule accounts for the "fresh" or "sweet" scent that
is often noticed coming from ozonated water.
They make Ozonators in all
different sizes depending on how many gallons of water you need to sanitize. You
still have to add a small amount of a back up sanitizer to the water and you
must shock the water weekly as well. The PH is not directly effected by the
ozone gas, but you will still need to test and adjust that each week too.
Generally speaking, the smaller Ozonators tend to work much better in hot tubs
than swimming pools because there is much less water to deal with. Also, most
hot tub spas are not exposed to direct sunlight all day, whereas most swimming
To make up for these factors, ozone manufacturers have come
up with Ozonators made specifically for swimming pools. These units are
substantially larger (and more costly) than hot tub Ozonators, however they can
output a much larger amount of ozone gas per hour and are thereby sufficient for
most pools - even outdoors!
FOR--Bermuda Dunes, Cathedral City, Coachella, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta,
Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Thousand Palms,