Saltwater Hot Tubs
Patty Fraser and Laura Robson - Fall 2014
Any tub can be a salt water hot tub. Even yours!
It is not the hot tub itself that is “salt water” – it is the sanitation system! This system can be used in any hot tub, provided there is room for it to be plumbed into the equipment under the cabinet, and it is programmed for adequate circulation.
Salt generators (also called salt systems or bromine generators) convert bromide salt into active bromine to sanitize hot tub water. The amount of salt in the water is less salty than your tears and feels silky soft.
The three things that encourage the growth of bacteria are: warmth, water, and organic material. Sanitizers like bromine eliminate the third component, organic material, from your hot tub so that bacteria will not grow in it. In order for any sanitizer to work efficiently, the alkalinity and pH of the water must be within a fairly narrow range. When a hot tub is first filled, we balance these parameters to ensure the bromine or chlorine will do its job well. Unlike traditional chemicals, salt generators do not affect the alkalinity or pH over time, so usually a smaller amount of balancing product and sanitizer is necessary.
When you first use your bromine generator, you will need to determine the maintenance level that works for you and your family. It often takes a week or two to be sure what the ideal setting is, but once you do, your water will always be ready for you. Then, instead of using a powder chemical to shock your hot tub after use, there is a boost button on your salt system control panel that you press on your way out of the tub. It is adjusted for the number of bathers to get just the right boost of sanitizer, keeping your tub fresh and safe without going overboard on chemicals.
Is salt water safe for my hot tub? YES. The earlier generators had fewer settings so that it was easy to over-sanitize your hot tub. Sometimes this created problems with corrosion of the motor or other parts of your hot tub. Now, there are over 50 level settings to allow for a very precise maintenance level. This means that there is no damage to any part of your hot tub.
Do I still use Bromine or Chlorine in my salt water hot tub?YES (in a different format). Salt generators for hot tubs use Bromide salt (and swimming pool salt generators use Chloride salt) and converts it into active bromine (or chlorine, respectively). Bromine is more stable at the 100o to 104o temperature range in your hot tub so it stays active in your water longer than chlorine will.
Is it true I only have to change the water in a hot tub with a bromine generator once a year? YES. Hot tub water needs changing because of chemical build up that makes the water chemistry difficult to maintain. Because a bromine generator provides a continuous supply of sanitizer that does not change the pH or alkalinity of the water, you don't add water balancing chemicals regularly. This means that your hot tub can go an entire year before needing the water changed.
The number one benefit of using a bromine generator is easy use. The entire process of sanitization is automated; there is no easier way to maintain your hot tub.
A bromine generator saves you money in the long run. A salt system pays for itself in 3 to 5 years in reduced chemical cost.
A bromine generator will save you time, as you will not need to run to the store to purchase chemicals more than once or twice in a year, you will not need to constantly balance water chemistry, and your water changes will be yearly instead of seasonal.
Salt generators also use an automated system to activate just the right amount of bromine for your hot tub – you will have a more stable concentration, allowing you to keep your active bromine level at the lower end of the safe range.