How to Maintain a Hot Tub Without Chemicals


Chemicals and blissful hot tub soak are not so congruent, are they? Just the word “chemicals” is enough to make you nervous!

  • Hot tub chemicals are needed to destroy bacteria and other microorganisms, keep the water well-balanced and improve the bathing experience to make it relaxing and therapeutic.
  • There are many reasons why you may want to go for chemical-free maintenance: reduced cost, maintenance efforts, and less harshness maybe some of the predominant reasons.
  • You can steer clear of chemicals by using Ozonators, ionizers, UV or salt-based systems and enzyme treatment. But there is so much involved that just that.

Enjoy a more natural hot tub treatment by going pure and natural if the thought of using chemicals freak you out!

Why Don’t People Want to Use Hot Tub Chemicals?

1. The off-putting smell of chemicals

Chemical smells, especially that of chlorine, can be extremely unpleasant and noxious to some. If you find that you need to hold your breath to avoid the distasteful smell of chemicals, probably chemical sanitizers -especially chlorine, is not for you.

2. Reduced Cost

To maintain your hot tub properly, you need to add a lot of chemicals. So, some hot tub owners prefer alternatives to not just cut costs, but reduce the effort involved as well.

3. For a more “natural” experience

Some people just like things to be kept natural as part of their lifestyle. Moreover, these chemicals can cause irritation to the eyes, throat, and skin. Particularly, if overdosed. Chlorine can also cause a bleaching effect, and dry out your skin and hair.

Can you have a Hot Tub Without Chemicals?

You cannot run a hot tub with absolutely no chemicals whatsoever.

There are half a dozen alternatives you can use to chlorine and bromine sanitizers, but you may still need to use some chlorine or bromine sanitizers to eliminate the bacteria and viruses and make your hot tub water safe and hygienic to soak in.

If you do away with chemicals completely, you are just putting yourself and other bathers at risk of infection and diseases.

What are the Alternatives to Chlorine and other Chemicals in a Hot Tub?

There are half a dozen non-chemical hot tub systems that drastically reduce the amount of chlorine and other chemicals needed to sanitize your hot tub.

1. UV Systems:

Did you know sun rays kill bacteria? The same is used in hot tubs to destroy bacteria and other contaminants in the hot tub. While they effectively destroy bacteria, they will not keep your water sparkling clear, so you will still need to add some chemical sanitizers to achieve the sanitization you are looking for.

2. Salt-bases Systems:

Salt-based systems eventually generate chlorine, so they do not provide a chlorine-free tub.  When salt is electrolyzed, it generates chlorine. However, the two negatives of chlorine systems -chlorine odor and harshness on skin and eyes – are eliminated.

3. Ionizers

Ionizers inhibit the growth of bacteria and algae by releasing copper and zinc ions into the water. You may be unable to achieve the degree of sanitization you want as the water will still be cloudy and not completely clear. Adding some sanitizers is the way around it.

4. Ozonators

This system is more expensive, as you need to make your hot tub Ozonator-ready. Ozone – the very gas that protects the earth – is released into the water- to rid the water of contaminants and destroy bacteria and other microorganisms.

5. Biguanides

This is a natural way to go about sanitizing your hot tub. But you will still need to shock your hot tub regularly. This is where the problem arises. Biguanides are non-interactive with chlorine and bromine, so you should give your hot tub a chlorine and bromine-free shock.

6. Enzyme-based treatment

A natural spa hot tub treatment that eliminates contaminants is enzymes. But it does not destroy bacteria directly, so you still need to use sanitizers, but in smaller quantities. As always, shocking your hot tub is still necessary.

So, as you can see, most of these systems still require some chemicals and shock treatment.

How to Reduce the Amount of Hot Tub Chemicals?

Elimination is out of the question, but a reduction is very much possible!

Apart from alternatives to chlorine and bromine, several basic hot tub maintenance practices can dramatically reduce the amount and number of chemicals you need to use in your hot tub.

1. Keep your hot tub covered:

This is very important if you are looking to maintain your hot tub with fewer chemicals. When not in use, it is a good habit to keep the cover closed.

The cover will prevent insects, leaves, and debris from entering the hot tub. It also provides insulation to the water. As a result, your sanitizer lasts longer, and your water will be cleaner. Consequently,  you will need only fewer chemicals.

If your hot tub is left uncovered, UV rays from the sun will break down the sanitizer, allowing bacteria to grow and thrive.

2. Maintaining and cleaning your filter:

Whether you are using chlorine or non-chlorine hot tub, keeping your filters clean is an essential part of hot tub maintenance and reducing the use of chemicals. Filters trap oil, lotion, and debris, so they need to be cleaned out every 1 or 2 weeks. Just a basic clean up would do.

A basic cleaning will remove the debris trapped in filters but will not remove contaminants like lotion, oils, and soap. You will need to soak the filter in a cleaning solution every 3 to 4 months for this.

Remember, if your filters are not clean, more sanitizers will be needed to fight the first and debris. This makes only less sanitizer available to destroy bacteria. So you will need to add more sanitizers to keep your hot tub water clean, safe, and clear.

However well you clean and maintain your hot tub, the filters will eventually wear out. So they need to be replaced every 1 to 1.5 years.

3. Keep your hot tub water properly balanced:

Keeping your hot tub water well-balanced is easy. You need to test it often!

This means testing your spa water with test strips 2-3 times per week. You need to test the sanitizer level. If it is low, add more. If it is less, stop adding chlorine or bromine sanitizer till the level comes back down.

Other important tests to put your spa water through is:

  • PH test.
  • Alkalinity test.

The recommended PH range is 7.2 to 7.8. And the recommended Alkalinity range is 80 to 120 ppm.

The reason hot tub water needs to be well-balanced is-improper levels will reduce the potency and effectiveness of the hot tub sanitizers.

Shower before use:

Many hot tub owners think that it is okay to soak in the tub without taking a shower because the sanitizers will do the job right! But you need to do your part!

The lesser the number of body oils, bacteria from your body, and personal care products like shampoo or makeup used, the lesser will be the number of chemical sanitizers required to keep your hot tub clean and sparkling.

Changing the hot tub water:

Even if you follow all the above recommendations, your hot tub water will accumulate total dissolved solids, commonly called TDS, over some time. These include metals, minerals, chlorides, small amounts of organic matter, and ultra-fine debris.

Draining, cleaning, and filling up your hot tub water can reduce the number of chemicals required to ensure proper water sanitizer levels.

If the TDS gets too high (above 1500), your water can feel hard against your skin. Also, your water may turn cloudy and may start to foam.

You need to drain and change the hot tub water every 3 to 4 months. For non-chlorine hot tubs, you need to change the hot tub water more frequently. Draining your water every 2 to 3 months can do the trick!

Running pump longer:

The purpose of a pump is to let the water run through the filtration system and ensure that the sanitizer and heat are distributed throughout the water to keep it clean and warm.

Stagnant water can turn out to be a hot tub’s worst enemy as it provides a breeding ground for bacteria. It can also attract mosquitos, bugs, and other insects.

Browse through your hot tub guidelines, and run the pump according to the duration recommended or for around 8 hours per day.

Let the pump do its job, and have your hot tub ready for you when you feel like soaking in it!

Final Dip

Maintaining your hot tub is paramount if you do not want to deal with expenses with damage, repair, or replacement. With time, it gets easier to maintain your hot tub, leaving you with more time for why you bought a hot tub in the first place: to enjoy it thoroughly!

A little love and a little care, and your hot tub will repay you with many hours of relaxing, therapy, and enjoyment!

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