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Home Hot Tubs Hot Tub Chemicals 10+ Must-Have Chemicals for Inflatable Hot Tub Worth Trying in 2022

10+ Must-Have Chemicals for Inflatable Hot Tub Worth Trying in 2022

Taking care of an inflatable hot tub is actually easier than it looks. In this article, we’ve explained in simple terms what chemicals you need and why you need them (+ found the best products in each category).
Chemicals for inflatable hot tub

When you buy an inflatable hot tub (especially for the first time), what do you want most? That’s right, to finally start using it. But a hot tub is one of those things that requires some maintenance. No, it’s not as complicated and scary as it seems at first glance — and we’ll prove it to you. 

So don’t think of the word “chemicals” as a bad thing in this context. They are to help you, not hurt you. And we’ll tell you about all the right chemicals for your inflatable hot tub in our article, simply and understandably. 

Must-have chemicals for inflatable hot tub

There are too many chemicals — we agree with you. And you don’t need all of them. You’ll find the ones you absolutely must have in the table below, and the ones you need in specific cases we’ve described in another section.

Water testers
JNW Pool and Spa Test Strips 7 in 1
JNW Pool and Spa Test Strips 7 in 1
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Water test strips are needed to check pH, chlorine, bromine, and alkalinity levels to understand what chemicals to add.
Sanitizer
Spa Choice Granules Chlorine — the best for fast and affordable sanitizing
Chorine granules
Spa Choice Tabs Bromine — the best for odor haters with sensitive skin
Bromine tabs

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The sanitizer is used to clean the water in the inflatable hot tub and maintain hygiene.
Chlorine sanitizer is best for fast and affordable sanitizing.
Bromine sanitizer is best for odor haters with sensitive skin.
Shock
SpaGuard Enhanced ShockChlorine ShockLeisure Time Non-Chlorine ShockNon-chlorine Shock
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If the water is still muddy at some point after the sanitizer, you need to use a shock. This product is super strong and kills microparticles of dirt, which the sanitizer can't handle.
pH Decreaser
Clorox Pool&Spa pH Down
Clorox Pool&Spa pH Down
pH Decreaser
Clorox Pool&Spa pH Down
Clorox Pool&Spa pH Down

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If pH is higher than 7.8, water can itch/burn your skin or cause other troubles with your hot tubpH stands for potential hydrogen and its normal level is between 7.2 and 7.8. If pH is lower, your water becomes too acidic and can cause surface corrosion and other troubles

Why an inflatable hot tub needs chemicals

The answer to this question is quite simple. Since you don’t replace the water in your inflatable hot tub after every bath, the water needs to be cleaned. Chemicals are used just to purify and balance the chemical elements in the water. (A little further on, we talk about all the important water indicators). 

It doesn’t matter how often you use your hot tub — it can be year-round, only in winter, or only in summer. But before each use, you need to make sure the water is clean and safe for your body. That’s why some chemicals are needed.

Sanitizers review: Chlorine VS Bromine

As we mentioned earlier, sanitizer is important to keep your hot tub clean and hygienically safe. The two most popular types of these substances are chlorine and bromine sanitizers. Both are effective, but they work differently. We’ve created a little comparison chart to make it clear.

ChlorineBromine
✔️ Gives the fastest effect
✔️ It’s the most affordable option
✔️ Easier to use than bromine
✔️ Best choice for sensitive skin
✔️ It’s odorless
✔️ Requires less amount at once to keep your hot tub clean
Usually leaves a pretty strong scent
Can irritate your skin and eyes
It can disrupt pH levels
It’s pricey
Sensitive to the sun (if you have a hot tub without a cover, bromine will not work
for you)
Takes longer to get the effect

As you can see, both chlorine and bromine sanitizers have their nuances and positive aspects. Depending on the individual characteristics of your body and your hot tub, one or the other may be right for you. 

That’s why we’ve researched the sanitizer market and found two models that we think are the highest quality and worth your attention.

Spa Choice Granules Chlorine — the best for fast and affordable sanitizing

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Pros

  • The fastest effect 
  • The best deal for money
  • Does decent sanitizing work
  • Small granules perfectly dissolve in the hot tub

Cons

  • The package is not easy to open
  • If you have sensitive skin, it can irritate it a bit
  • Instructions are not very clear

If you are looking for a quick and easy sanitizer, and your skin is not very sensitive (as well as your sense of smell), then Spa Choice Granules Chlorine is your best choice. Chlorine granules quickly dissolve in water and effectively clean it, protecting it from bacteria and algae. And it’s the most affordable sanitizer option for today. Also, if your hot tub doesn’t have a cover, chlorine is the only option for you as it is sun-resistant (unlike bromine).

The only tangible disadvantage of this model (apart from the above-mentioned smell and possible irritation) is the confusing lid. At first glance, it’s pretty hard to open, but don’t worry. First of all, even Amazon shoppers have explained in detail and simply (even with a video) how to open the package. Second, the intricate clasp is a guarantee that children won’t open the sanitizer accidentally or intentionally. After all, chlorine is quite poisonous, and you can easily burn yourself with it.

How to use it?

If you are using your hot tub for the first time, it is recommended that you add 6 teaspoons of Spa Choice Granules Chlorine per 500 gallons of water. After that, you should check the FAC with test strips. If below 4-5 ppm, add more. You will be able to use your hot tub when the FAC is down to 3-5 ppm.

When maintaining your hot tub clean, the rules are almost the same but use 3 teaspoons per 500 gallons of water.

Spa Choice Tabs Bromine — the best for odor haters with sensitive skin

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Pros

  • Best fit for sensitive skin
  • Doesn’t have any fragrance
  • Perfectly clears the water
  • Don’t mess up with pH levels

Cons

  • Some customers complain about loose packaging
  • It’s pricey
  • Breaks down under the sun

If you’re willing to pay a little more for comfort and total absence of odors, Spa Choice Tabs Bromine is there for you. The more expensive cost of bromine is offset by the fact that the same amount of bromine lasts longer, so you don’t have to worry about it. It’s easier to use because it’s more stable in hot water and retains its residual content longer. When the bromine completes the disinfection cycle, it remains dormant in the water. Just add a little shock and the bromine will continue its disinfecting work. It is also more gentle on the skin than chlorine, but just as effective at cleaning. 

Bromine also has its disadvantages. It works a little slower than chlorine and is not resistant to the sun. That is, you should cover your hot tub when using it. Also, a few customers have complained about a weak lid, but these are quite rare cases. 

How to use it?

Bromine is different from chlorine in use. It comes in Spa Choice as tablets, and you have to put the tablets in the feeder or automatic brominator installed in the hot tub (if you have it). It is advised to put 3 tabs in your feeder or brominator per 300 gallons of water. You can enter a hot tub when the bromine level falls to 2-5 ppm. 

For maintaining your hot tub add 3 tablets per 300 gallons when they’re over, and that’s it. The owners say it lasts about a month, so keeping it clean becomes a walk in the park.

Oxidizers AKA Shock — What and why?

Shocking or oxidizing is a helpful procedure for an inflatable hot tub and is recommended once every 1-2 weeks (depending on the frequency of use). Shock is a very strong chemical that destroys any contaminants that make the water muddy or dirty. That is, it is often used when chlorine or bromine fails, but it’s not an everyday thing. 

As we have already mentioned, the shock reactivates dormant bromine or chlorine and makes them work again. 

Be careful: be sure to read the instructions before using the shock so as not to go overboard the amount. 

Shocks are usually chlorine and non-chlorine. Chlorine shocks are combined with chlorine sanitizer and non-chlorine shocks are suitable for bromine sanitizers. They are equally effective when combined with appropriate sanitizers.

❗One more note: If you mix chlorine shock with bromine sanitizer or bromine shock with chlorine sanitizer, in general nothing bad will happen. But these substances will in both cases react chemically, which will not lead to the desired results. In the first case, the chlorine will intensify the effect of the bromine, and in the second case, the bromine will simply accumulate in the hot tub.

We can recommend SpaGuard Enhanced Shock if you have chlorine sanitizer & need chlorine shock, and Leisure Time Non-Chlorine Shock if you have bromine sanitizer & are looking for a non-chlorine one. 

SpaGuard Enhanced Shock
Leisure Time Non-Chlorine Shock
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Water tester — all indicators that need to be tested

Water testing is the first thing you should do before adding any chemicals to your water. This is necessary to understand what basically should be used because if your pH is normal, you don’t need to deliver a pH Increaser or Decreaser.

The process is as simple as possible: take the test strip, dip it in the water for a few seconds, take it out and see what colors the fields are colored in. Then you simply compare them to the ones drawn on the box to understand the levels of bromine, chlorine, etc. 

It is best to test the water 3 times a week to monitor the condition and, if necessary, adjust the levels with the necessary products.

You can save this table to make it clear what levels are best for the water in the hot tub.

Guidelines for optimal hot tub chemistry
Water indicatorIdeal RangeProducts to adjust

Free Chlorine3 to 5 ppmSpa Choice Granules Chlorine
Bromine2 to 5 ppmSpa Choice Tabs Bromine
Total Alkalinity80 to 120 ppmSpaGuard Spa Total Alkalinity Increaser
pH7.2 to 7.6 ppmClorox Pool&Spa pH Up

Clorox Pool&Spa pH Down
Calcium Hardness200 to 400 ppmSpaGuard Spa Calcium Hardness Increaser

pH Levels

The pH is the indicator that determines the acidity or alkalinity of water. The pH can range from 1 to 14, where 1 is totally acidic and 14 is freaking alkaline. As you have already realized, extremes are not what we need. 7 is neutral, but it’s best for water to be slightly alkaline, so the ideal pH is between 7.2 and 7.6.

What are the risks of deviations? If the pH is low (acidic), you will be uncomfortable in the hot tub in the first place. Acidic water will sting your eyes, and it is bad for the tub itself in that it can start corroding metals. 

High pH will actually sting your eyes and cause itching, too. But it can also make the water cloudier and murkier, and scale can spread on the filters, jets, and other elements of the hot tub. 
The pH level in your hot tub will not necessarily always be higher or lower than normal. But if it is, we suggest using pH Increaser or pH Decreaser depending on the situation.

Clorox Pool&Spa pH Up
Clorox Pool&Spa pH Down
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Alkalinity

Total alkalinity is closely related to pH. We won’t go into the maze of science so as not to confuse you, and we’ll explain in simplified terms. The higher the alkalinity, the higher the pH — you remember the consequences. Plus, it works the same way in reverse. So adjusting your alkalinity is something you need to do before you move on to pH levels.

If the testers show low levels of alkalinity, we recommend using SpaGuard Spa Total Alkalinity Increaser — it does its job perfectly. And if you need to reduce the overall alkalinity in your hot tub, pH Decreaser or hydrochloric acid can help. Unfortunately, the pH Decreaser trick only works one way. You still need an Alkalinity Increaser because, in a situation where pH is normal and alkalinity is down, you need an Alkalinity Increaser as it doesn’t affect pH l

Calcium Hardness

The last indicator worth paying attention to is calcium. Usually, its level is normal or below normal. If it is lower, you should use SpaGuard Spa Calcium Hardness Increaser. Low calcium levels contribute to the fact that the water begins to corrode different parts of the hot tub — heater, massage system, etc. Therefore, if you see a result below 120 ppm on the test strip, we recommend using a calcium increaser.

Extra chemicals you may need

If for some reason your water becomes muddy and dirty, and you can not or do not want to use a shock, there is a special product for clearing the water, which is the so-called clarifier. We think the Leisure Time Cleanser is one of the best models for the job.

Another thing you might need is a foam remover. Yes, the foam in your hot tub can be annoying. It can come from substances you use (shampoos, shower gels) or sometimes from sanitizers. It can also be mixed with disgusting particles of dirt from your skin, or particles of oils, deodorants, or whatever. The bottom line is that the water will be contaminated, which is not what we’re going for. If you’re facing a foam problem, we suggest using Leisure Time Foam Down Cleanser — it’s already proven to be effective and has received hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon.

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Chemicals cost and how to save up

The question of money is, as always, one of the most important. Many people worry that maintaining a hot tub will cost too much and it’s not worth buying one because of that. Let us try to dissuade you: this is not true, because you will not use most of the chemicals regularly. The most important ones are, in fact, sanitizers and test strips, because they are really in use almost daily. 

It’s hard to save money on chemicals because if you don’t use them, it can cost you more in the long run. But we do have some tips:

  • It’s better to buy large packages of chemicals, especially if you’re sure of the brand — it’s usually more cost-effective. 
  • If you don’t use the hot tub for some months, it’s better to drain the water — that way you’ll save on both chemicals and electricity. 

Summary

Keeping your hot tub clean is not as difficult as it seems. In fact, all you have to do is understand all the chemicals once and you already feel like a pro, right? 

Test the water, use sanitizer and (less often) shock, and add other chemicals like pH Increaser/Decreaser, Alkalinity Increaser, Foam Remover, etc. as needed. As simple as ABC, right? Just choose the proper products and enjoy your hot tub all year round. 

FAQ

🧴What chemicals are needed for inflatable hot tubs?

Usually, you need sanitizer (chlorine or bromine), water test strips, and a shock oxidizer. Depending on your water condition you may also need pH increaser/decreaser, alkalinity increaser, and calcium increaser. Extra chemicals that might be useful are foam remover and clarifier.

❓How do I add chemicals to my inflatable hot tub?

First of all, you should test your water indicators. Then, depending on the results, you can add pH increaser/decreaser, alkalinity increaser, or calcium increaser (follow instructions!). Sanitizers people usually add after every hot tub use. But anyway read instructions for every chemical you use to ensure everything is done properly.

💧How do you keep inflatable hot tub water clear?

Use your chlorine or bromine sanitizer to maintain the water clear in an inflatable hot tub. They kill bacteria and algae and keep the clearance in the tub. Also, use shock once in 1-2 weeks for super-cleaning.

🛁What chemicals should I put in my hot tub for the first time?

For the first time, you will definitely need a sanitizer. It’s better to take pH increaser, pH decreaser, and calcium increaser as well, but test your water first to find out what you need to add.

💦How soon can you use the hot tub after adding chemicals?

It’s all individual, but you usually have to wait a few hours at least. To be confident, test the water and ensure all readings are normal before using your hot tub.

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