One of the questions people ask when they buy their inflatable hot tub is: Do I need to buy any inflatable hot tub chemicals as well?
The simple answer is: Yes.
It’s important to keep the water in your inflatable hot tub clean and hygienic, so that everyone who uses the hot tub stays safe and healthy. That’s why you need to add chemicals to your inflatable hot tub.
As long as you do it regularly, checking and maintaining the correct levels of chemicals in your hot tub doesn’t take very long, but it is important for all hot tub users. It also protects your investment by prolonging the life of your inflatable hot tub.
So let’s look at the chemicals you’re going to need.
A sanitizer keeps the water in your hot tub clean and hygienically safe, by attacking and destroying any harmful bacteria and algae that might build up in the water.
There are several different sanitizer options, so you are going to have to decide which sanitizer you are going to use:
Chlorine is the most popular inflatable hot tub water sanitizer by far. That’s because it’s very good at destroying bacteria, and it is the cheapest sanitizer you can buy.
However, it is also has a slight odor, and therefore some inflatable hot tub owners prefer a different option.
Do you remember going to the public swimming pool and there was that strong chemically smell? That was the smell of the chlorine that was added to the pool water. So if you decide to use chlorine in your inflatable hot tub, then that’s the smell you might get – although it will not smell quite as strong, as your hot tub is a lot smaller.
Strangely, the smell of chlorine is actually a good thing. That’s because chlorine only smells like that when it is ‘dying’. And the reason it dies is when it attacks and destroys harmful bacteria in the water. So when you smell chlorine coming off the water in your portable hot tub, that means it’s doing its job.
TOP TIP: You might see an inflatable hot tub that uses a salt system to sanitize the water. This is a special system that converts salt into chlorine. So even though you add salt, it turns into chlorine and therefore has exactly the same qualities as chlorine.
Bromine is the second most-popular choice of sanitizer amongst inflatable hot tub owners. It is equally effective as chlorine at keeping the water clean, and it has the advantage of being odorless.
However, bromine costs more than chlorine, and that prevents many people from using it. It also doesn’t last as long as chlorine, so you will need to add it more frequently to the water in your inflatable hot tub. This, of course, also drives up the cost.
Using minerals is a lesser-known option as an inflatable hot tub sanitizer. It is most often a mix of silver, copper, and other various minerals, which act together to kill the bacteria in the water,
However, it is not as effective as either chlorine or bromine, so you will need to add a little chlorine to achieve maximum cleanliness. This means that, with much less chlorine used in the mix, your inflatable hot tub will not smell of chlorine anywhere near as much as using only chlorine. That is why inflatable hot tub owners who use minerals like to use it.
Inflatable Hot Tub Sanitizers
Your inflatable hot tub will need to be shocked every now and then. This is also known as oxidizing.
This involves adding chemicals to the water to break down contaminants that cause odor and make the water turn cloudy. Shocking also reactivates the chlorine or bromine sanitizer in the water, turning them back into effective sanitizers.
Manufacturers generally recommend shocking your inflatable hot tub every week, but it really depends on how often your use your spa and how many people regularly use it. We generally find that once every two weeks is fine, even with daily family use.
There are two types of shock you can use, depending on the sanitizer you use.
Shock for chlorine hot tubs
Either choice works to oxidize the dead chlorine, which means turning it into gas which then escapes into the air. The shock also destroys dead cells, hair, body oil, sweat, and so on.
Both of these work to reactivate the bromine in the water, and gets it working again to sanitize the water. The shock also destroys body oil, sweat, dead cells, and so on.
Shock for mineral hot tubs
We recommend using a non-chlorine shock if you decide to use minerals as your sanitizer. This will re-energize the minerals and also keep the chlorine levels low. If you add a chlorine shock, however, you will notice the increased level of chlorine odor when the sanitizer starts working.
pH and Alkalinity
To keep your sanitizer working as efficiently as possible, you need to make sure the pH of your water is at the right level.
pH is a measure of how acid or alkali the water is in your inflatable hot tub. If the water is too acidic or too alkali (also known as base), then it can damage the water heater, filter, and massage jets. Therefore, you need to use pH testing strips daily, to make sure the water in your inflatable hot tub is at the right level.
The correct pH level for the water is between 7.4 and 7.6. You can get away with a level between 7.2 and 7.8 for a short while, although you will need to adjust the water as soon as you can to get it back into the ideal range.
Before you adjust the pH level, though, you need to check the Total Alkalinity of the water.
The Total Alkalinity is the buffer of the pH level. It acts as a control of the pH level.
To help you understand what can be a slightly confusing idea, think of it this way.
Imagine you have a thermometer in your living room. You check it and see that the room is too hot or too cool. Therefore you turn up the heating system or you turn it down, as required.
In this example, the thermometer is the pH level, and the heating system is the Total Alkalinity. In order to get the thermometer at the correct level (i.e. the pH) , you need to adjust the heating system first (i.e. the Total Alkalinity).
If your Total Alkalinity and pH are too high, you need to add pH decreaser.
If your Total Alkalinity and pH are too low, you need to add alkaline to increase the levels.
For more detailed information about this important topic, check out our article How To Test The Water In Your Inflatable Hot Tub.
WARNING: High pH and high alkalinity will cause your inflatable hot tub to go scaly, which turns the water milky. Low pH and low alkalinity will make the water acidic, which can lead to irritation of people’s eyes and skin. In either case, the water heater can quickly become damaged, so it is vital you regularly check – and adjust if necessary – both levels.
Calcium is an important mineral to have in your inflatable hot tub water. If the levels of this mineral is too low, the water will corrode any working parts and shorten the life of your water heater and massage system.
Therefore you need to add some calcium every time you refill the water in your inflatable hot tub. It is inexpensive, and once you have added it to the fresh water, you can forget about it until the next time you add fresh water.
Those are the chemicals you need to keep at hand when you own an inflatable hot tub.
As well as checking and balancing these chemical levels, in order to keep the water clean and hygienic, it is important that you drain the water and replace it regularly. We recommend refilling your inflatable hot tub every 3 months.
For more help on this important part of owning an inflatable hot tub, check out our article How Often Should I Change The Water In My Inflatable Hot Tub?