Salt water hot tubs are becoming increasingly popular but are they worth the hype? Are they really better than regular hot tubs? Do they save you ‘lots’ of money? Are they healthy? Do they last longer? Easier to maintain? Is the water in a salt water hot tub cleaner, fresher, healthier and better?
This guide promises to answer your burning questions about salt water hot tubs. In a nutshell, YES, salt water hot tubs are better than simple hot tubs in some ways; yet there are some downsides too. They are costly to purchase (or convert) but save you a little money when you have to buy fewer chemicals; however, do not forget to include power cost and cell replacement cost in your calculations when you are looking at financial aspects.
There are health benefits of soaking in salt water hot tubs, but while considering them, do not forget certain points of caution. While they definitely use fewer chemicals, salt water hot tubs are not entirely chemical free. They do decrease the burden of maintenance, drainage and cleaning – yet you still have to do all three.
So, while it is true that certain characteristics give salt water hot tubs an edge over regular hot tubs, there are also downsides that you should be aware of before you make the decision to purchase it or convert to it.
There is a lot of confusing information available online about salt water hot tubs. Most of the information is contradictory and the readers do not know what or who to believe. This article tries to delve into all the details so that you can understand everything about salt water hot tubs.
Freshwater vs. Saltwater: What is the difference?
While the simple answer would be that a simple hot tub uses plain water and salt water hot tub has salt water, but the truth goes way deeper. There are technical differences and also there is a difference in the way they operate and their care requirements.
While we will guide you about the numerous benefits of saltwater hot tub, here we will also highlight the risk factors that are inevitable. I personally recommend my clients to see all sides of the story; not to just go for the benefits but equally, consider the attached risks.
What you will find here:
Here is a sneak peek preview of what you will find in this guide:
|Step 1||Quick look at the benefits and risks|
|Step 2||What is a salt water hot tub? How it works?|
|Step 3||Benefits + Are salt water hot tubs better?|
|Step 4||Disadvantages of using salt water hot tubs|
|Step 5||Debunking Myths|
|Step 6||Comparison of salt water, chlorine and bromine hot tubs|
|Step 7||Converting a hot tub to salt water|
|Step 8||Salt water inflatable hot tubs|
|Step 9||Reviews by users|
|Step 10||Wrapping up: pros and cons|
|Step 11||Expert Questions and Answers|
A quick look at saltwater jacuzzi benefits and risks:
- Salt water hot tubs have fewer harsh chemicals, that save your money and skin.
- Salt water hot tubs need lesser maintenance, cleaning and drainage.
- There is no unpleasant odor in salt water hot tubs.
- It is gentler to skin since salt water helps towards the softness of the water.
Here is the list of some expected risks that you must consider while going for this option:
- Salt, being a corrosive mineral, can damage the mechanical parts, cause corrosion and lead to the tub losing its coating.
- The chlorine generator is costly and needs maintenance too.
- Salt water hot tubs are not suitable for a very sensitive skin.
- The initial cost of buying salt water hot tub is higher and also the power cost increases as the temperature of the water must remain higher than 60-degrees Fahrenheit at all times.
- This system of relaxation is not eco-friendly as draining a salt water hot tub without caution can harm the environment.
What is a salt water hot tub?
Hippocrates (aka Father of Medicine) was one of the first people to declare the therapeutic and healing properties of salt water. The difference between a simple hot tub and a salt water hot tub is the addition of the salt cell chlorinator. The chlorinator releases the chlorine in salt water hot tubs; you do not need to add chemical chlorine directly into the hot tub. The chlorine released by the chlorinator dissolves to generate natural chlorine that keeps your tub hygienic.
How does salt water hot tub work?
Saltwater hot tub has a salt cell chlorinator installed in it (or added later, after conversion) that naturally releases chlorine into your hot tub water. Chlorine is produced from hot tub salt which eliminates the need for chemical addition of chlorine. Power supply having low voltage is provided so that the chlorine level can be adjusted through the cell.
What are the benefits of using salt water hot tub?
Nowadays, more and more people are looking for the latest models to use salt water hot tubs. I and my team are offering modern salt water hot tubs so that the soothing properties of the water can be fully enjoyed without the interference of chlorine. There are numerous health benefits of a hot tub which encourage anyone who can afford them to buy them. Here are some of the top benefits of salt water hot tub that ensures the healing and relaxing sensations.
- Therapeutic benefits
Dermatologists confirm that submerging in hot water is therapeutic and reinvigorates as it increases blood flow and heals with passive heating. Even David Cameron couldn’t resist the appeal of hot tub therapy.
- Passive heating
Research has backed health benefits resulting from passive heating and hot tubs are, beyond a doubt, one of the best ways of getting passive heating. The study also shows that soaking yourself in hot water can help you burn calories that are equivalent to a brisk walk. Science explains that the reason is the ability of hot water to make your heart beat faster.
- Best for sensitive eyes and skin
Salt water hot tubs don’t make the eyes and skin itchy as regular hot tubs do. Chlorine is produced naturally in these hot tubs and is released steadily in the water, which means that you are less likely to get cracked or dull skin after soaking in a salt water hot tub.
- No drainage hassle
Saltwater hot tubs need to be drained once a year (compared with once a quarter draining recommendation for regular hot tubs). Salt water hot tubs get less foamy and have lesser scum lines, so the water stays cleaner for longer. This further means that you are not bound to clean the hot tub after every usage; the tub would be ready to use each time.
- Stable quality of water
The chlorine produced by the cell ensures a more stable quality of water, where you will need to spend less time balancing the water and fidgeting while waiting for it to be balanced. Any hot tub owner knows that it takes up a considerable amount of time and patience to balance water in a hot tub.
- Lesser chemicals required
One of the most significant benefits of using the saltwater hot tub is that it does not require you to constantly buy regular quantities of chemicals for water sanitization. I and my team workers put in the extra effort while designing and manufacturing so that your salt water hot tub requires lesser maintenance. Roughly, salt water hot tubs need 1/4th of the chemical additives as compared to other hot tubs.
Are saltwater spas better than freshwater spas?
Researches have shown that buying a hot tub is one of the best favors you can do to yourself. Gone are the days when mineral or spring water used to attract people to the spa; now the trend of saltwater hot tubs is catching up. There are a number of benefits that are enough for making this particular spa type a preferable option:
- Friendlier to skin
Saltwater hot tubs are gentle on the skin. They are not suitable for the very sensitive skin type, but for most people, it does not cause any itchy skin or eyes. It also does not make the skin and hair hard.
- No nasty odor
Most of the times people are repelled from hot tubs, spas, and pools because of the odd odor; the cause of this odor is water that has been chlorinated using chemicals. Salt water system does not change the chlorine to chloramine (conversion to chloramine causes the nasty odor); when these natural chlorine molecules are used up, they change to odorless sodium chloride.
- Improved hydrotherapy
The best thing about the saltwater hot tub is that it offers all the benefits of a freshwater hot tub and many additional ones too. Especially people suffering from a disease like arthritis feel very relaxed in a salt water hot tub because warm bath helps arthritis by reducing stiffness in joints, and reducing inflammation of the joints.
- A lesser amount of chlorine
The major difference between a freshwater hot tub spa and a saltwater tub revolves around the fact that the former requires direct addition of chlorine; however, the latter doesn’t need such an addition as it generates the chlorine by itself, and also needs 4 times less of it.
- A comfortable experience
According to The Guardian, an increasing number of people are attracted to the comfortable experience offered by hot tubs and saunas. A major factor contributing to the popularity of salt water hot tubs is that people want a comfortable experience while not wanting to deal with the hassle of balancing chlorine levels. Salt water system releases chlorine gradually in the water and maintains an optimal level of chlorine in the water.
Disadvantages of using salt water hot tubs
- Higher initial cost
Keeping other factors aside, one must not forget that the initial cost of installing salt water hot tub is quite high. Not only it is expensive to purchase it the first time, but also the replacement cost of cells can turn out to be an added economic burden. Cells last for roughly 18 months and cost somewhere between $300 to $500 for each replacement. However, you may want to bear the higher initial cost as you will end up spending less on buying chemicals later on.
- High power costs
Since the water temperature needs to be maintained in a salt water hot tub so the electricity charges are going to increase inevitably. If the system has to maintain the chlorine levels by internal operation, then water temperature should not drop below 60 Fahrenheit.
- Corrosion risk
Salt water hot tubs are designed with material that resists corrosion. However, if you have converted an ordinary hot tub into a salt water one, you need to watch out for any equipment that can corrode because of the salt water.
Whenever something starts getting traction, inevitably rumors start spreading about it; the same happened with salt water hot tubs. As people start discovering more reasons to buy a hot tub, others start finding reasons to spread propaganda against it. Following are some common myths, that we are aiming to debunk here:
1. No maintenance is required
I gave a hearty laugh when I heard this for the first time. True that you do not have to take the headache of adding chlorine every time when you are using salt water hot tubs, but it still requires maintenance.
It doesn’t matter how much or what you use in order to sanitize it, there will still be maintenance required. As far as the chlorinator cells are concerned, they last for approximately 2 to 3 years before they should be replaced. While salt water hot tubs make maintenance easier, you have to devote sufficient time and pay attention to proper end-to-end cleaning on a regular basis.
2. No chemicals need to be added
That is not true in the case of any hot tubs. While you do not have to add chemical chlorine, you will still need to balance other properties like pH and alkalinity; chlorine is naturally produced in salt water hot tubs. You also will need either pH decreaser or pH increaser to balance the chemistry of your water.
3. No corrosion problems
Wherever there is salt, there is going to be a corrosion problem. Salt water hot tubs contain low levels of salinity, and that can be the reason of corrosion in metallic components, especially if there is no titanium coating. Corrosion can be prevented by wiping down the metals that are being exposed and taking care of maintaining the level of water salinity.
Salt water hot tubs vs. Chlorine vs. Bromine
|Salt water hot tubs||Chlorine hot tubs||Bromine hot tubs|
|Has an in-built salt cell chlorinator that produces salt water.Can be an original salt water hot tub, or a simple hot tub that has been converted to salt water later.||Chlorine in the form of tablets or granules is added in the tub.Effective when it comes to sanitizer.Gives off more odor than bromine.||Bromine is required in lesser quantity than chlorine.Has the tendency to kill bacteria more efficiently than chlorine.Leads to lower pH compared to chlorine.|
|Salt water hot tubs||Chlorine hot tubs||Bromine hot tubs|
|It maintains the chlorine level naturally.Does not cause itchy eyes or skin (though, ones with very sensitive skin should be cautious).Does not produce the foul smell.||Combines with organic material and bacteria to get rid of contaminants. Chlorine system is cheaper than other options.Works quicker than Bromine to get rid of contaminants.||It is more stable in hot water than chlorine and kills bacteria and contaminants slowly.Suitable for people with naturally sensitive skin.A fair amount of Bromine still stays in the pool after the shock treatment, resulting in a lower amount of Bromine required.|
|Salt water hot tubs||Chlorine hot tubs||Bromine hot tubs|
|The initial cost is quite high; also take into account cell replacement cost and increase in power bill.Can cause erosion of metallic parts.Can be harmful to the environment, especially when salty water isn’t diluted.||Has a very unpleasant smell.Weekly shock treatment gets rid of the used-up chlorine, resulting in more chlorine needed every time.Not beneficial for people having respiratory or allergy issues.Can cause a skin rash.||Bromine makes it trickier to balance water chemicals.Bromine can make your skin and hair hard.It costs more than a chlorine alternative.It has the characteristic foul smell too.|
How does it work?
|Salt water hot tubs||Chlorine hot tubs||Bromine hot tubs|
|Once the tub is installed, all you need to do is balance the chemicals. The water levels must reach the required height before you begin to install the salt system.||Chlorine hot water tub oxidizes the contaminants. Chlorine needs to be added on a daily basis, and then comes the part of balancing the water chemicals.||Bromine hot tub ionizes the contaminants. Bromine needs not to be added daily as sufficient amount stays in the water and performs its function.|
Conversion to a saltwater hot tub:
Conversion to a salt water hot tub can be done in two ways: Drop-In or In-line method. In either method, you need to add a chlorinator to the hot tub. Chlorinator is the piece of equipment that gradually releases chlorine in the water.
Drop-in chlorinator is the most convenient way to convert your hot tub into a salt water one. It does not require any permanent alterations or modifications to your spa system. It takes a few minutes to set up the whole system of salt water hot tubs using drop-in chlorinators. It requires a thin cord that is linked with the chlorinator cell and it hangs at the side of your hot tub.
Drop-in is considered the easiest method and is recommended by our team. You simply need to drop the chlorinator cell in your pool and fully immerse it in water. This method can be done by anyone at home.
If you are not in favor of a cord hanging beside the hot tub, then you can always go for an alternative option which is in-line chlorinator. In-line chlorinator requires to be placed directly into the hot tub system. In other words, it becomes a permanent part of your spa system.
This method requires plumbing into the existing system. This method demands special attention and expertise; the person doing it needs to know about the proper functioning of the system in order to make any changes.
Please note: If you have no expertise in installing the system, it is advised to hire a professional as carelessness in installation can cause damage to your spa system.
For enjoying salt water hot tub spa, you will need the following things:
- Salt water chlorinator (drop-in)
- Hot tub cleaner
- Spa line flush (system flush)
- Hose filter
- Garden hose
- Standard strips
- Filter cleaner
- Soft cloth
- Alkalinity increaser or decreaser (if required)
- pH increaser or decreaser (if required)
- Hot tub salt
- Salt water test strips
Steps of turning hot tub into salt water hot tub:
If you are aiming to convert your hot tub into a saltwater hot tub, you will need to follow these steps:
1. Draining and cleaning hot tub
In order to switch from one to another, it is important to remove all contaminants and any harmful residuals. You can use the line flush before the draining for clearing the tub.
2. Refilling the hot tub
Next step involves the refilling of your tub, but only after you have thoroughly cleaned the hot tub. You need to link the hose filter with a garden hose. The tub should be refilled with filtered and clean water. Let the water reach the recommended level.
3. Testing, adding salt and chemicals
Check the water for its salinity and alkalinity level, because even fresh tap water has minute amounts of salt in it. The testing would help you in adding the appropriate amount of salt. Regular hot tub strips (that you were already using for your regular hot tub) can be utilized to check the alkalinity and pH; if they need to be balanced, do so. Add ‘Hot Tub Salt’ to reach the desired salinity level (resist the urge to add any other salt).
4. Installing the control panel
Your salt water conversion kit must contain a control panel (and associated hardware). Put the chlorinator control panel along with the hardware on any side, near the base of the hot tub. Make sure the power cable is reaching the ground-circuit outlet.
5. Attaching the cables
Link the chlorinator cell with the power supply; however, the power cord must not be plugged into the outlet yet.
6. Placing chlorinator into the hot tub
The chlorinator is what will convert your hot tub into a salt water alternative as chlorinator releases recommended chlorine level into the water. Now it is the time for you to place the chlorinator into that part of your tub that is deepest. This is how the sanitizer will be distributed evenly.
Time for you to start it
Turn on the power supply and start the chlorinator using the control panel; check the manufacturer’s guidelines on specific instructions on how to start your generator.
Now your salt water hot tub is all set to give you a relaxing effect.
Saltwater inflatable hot tubs
Inflatable hot tub is a new product in the market and according to The Guardian, they have already grabbed the attention of people. The significant feature of this type of tub is that they can be set up at nearly any place of your choice. An additional factor towards its popularity is its low price. The main features of these tubs involve portability, durability, and ease of dealing.
Saltwater hot tub reviews
- Not much effort required
The use of salt water system does not require much effort. You only need to balance pH and alkalinity, which is really simple. According to an Amazon review, the headache of balancing chemicals is very low as compared to when you are using chlorine or bromine hot tub. No mess or fuss is created.
2. No special maintenance required
One of the most significant points that people highlighted is that salt water system does not require a lot of tiring maintenance job. However, the review below has pointed out not to let anything accumulate and you are good to go; accumulation happens when cleaning is not done on a regular basis.
3. Easier to install
Salt water hot tubs have been reviewed as an easy-to-install product. As far as chlorine and bromine water tubs are concerned they are not only tougher to install but there are other things to keep in mind like pH level, balancing and adding chlorine every time.
4. Lesser hassle of draining
Reviewers have mentioned a lot of good things about salt water system. A review declared that even in the duration of seven months, it required the water to be changed just once.
5. Comfortable to use
The product is highly preferable, it has got no bad odor and does not lead to itchy eyes. It gives an extra softening effect on the skin. The level of salt is not high, rather it is like ateardrop.
Salt water hot tub pros and cons:
Now that we have delved into all the details, let us recap the pros and cons of salt water hot tubs as a conclusion:
|No chlorine hassle: It doesn’t use chlorine which further aids by saving the skin from harsh chemicals.||High initial cost: The high initial cost cannot be overlooked. It is an inevitable fact that the traditional hot tubs are way cheaper than the salt water hot tubs. It can cost you an extra amount ranging between $500 to $5000.|
|No damage to skin: The water has fewer chemical additives so you can soak to relax without worrying about harsh chemicals that can damage your skin.||Replacement charges: The cell that is installed in a salt water hot tub is not for life; it works for about two to five years. The duration depends on the quality of the cell, the number of times you use your hot tub and lastly on your maintenance routine.|
|No redness or irritation: The chlorine added in chemical form is the culprit that causes redness to skin and irritation to eyes. A suitable amount of chlorine is gradually released the chlorine molecules later turn into sodium chloride.||Corrosion risks: Salts can cause corrosion, especially to metallic parts. The high salt levels are the source of damaging heaters and also underwater lighting.|
|Soft water: The presence of salt in the water makes it super soft. This would definitely add to your comfort level and relaxation.||Energy cost: It costs more in terms of power to keep the water temperature above the recommended 60 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|No foul smell: Salt water hot tub does not have that foul smell associated with chlorinated water in hot tubs.|
Expert Question and Answers:
1. Can any hot tub use salt water?
Most of the regular hot tubs can be converted into saltwater tubs by using a conversion kit. Before converting, talk to the manufacturer first, to check if your hot tub allows conversion. There are two methods (drop-in and in-line) that can be used to insert the chlorinator in a hot tub to make it salt water hot tub.
2. Can I use any salt in my hot tub?
You will need to use for 99.8% pure, granulated and non-iodized sodium chloride salt. The best would be to buy specialized hot tub salt.
Avoid adding table salt, sea salt (or any other salt), as those kinds of salt can contain other chemicals that can damage to your hot tub and void your warranty.
3. Are salt water hot tubs good for your skin?
Yes, salt water hot tubsare the source of skin softening because the water has fewer harsh chemicals. They cause no skin issues except for very sensitive skin types. Added advantages are the healing, relaxing and therapeutic qualities of salt.
4. How much does a salt water system cost?
The price range of saltwater system can range from $500 to $5000, while the price of a new salt water hot tub can be anywhere between $2000 and $32000.
5. How often should I change hot tub water?
Manufacturer’s guideline will reveal the exact duration. User reviews have mentioned that salt water hot tubs can last about 7 to 12 months before they need to be drained and refilled. It is advisable to drain water from a regular hot water every 3 months; however, salt water hot tubs can last longer before the water needs to be replaced.
6. What kind of salt can I use in the hot tub?
Sodium bromide salt water hot tub will use bromine while sodium chloride saltwater hot tub will use sodium chloride. Manufacturers provide preferred hot tub salt which works best with the model that you have purchased. I would mention it again, always use hot tub salt and refrain from using any other alternative salt.
7. Can Epsom salt be used in a hot tub?
Epsom salt is NOT a good option for salt water hot tubs as it leads to corrosion. Epsom salt is a good option for a foot bath or a bathtub, but not in a hot tub.
8. How do I adjust the sodium chloride levels in a salt water hot tub?
You can use salt water test strips for this purpose. If the strips show a low level of chlorine, then add 225 grams salt, let the water circulate and then retest. Common salinity requirement is 2500ppm (check specific number for your model).
9. What if I add too much salt in my hot tub?
If you have added more salt than recommended in your salt water hot tub, the simplest solution would be to drain some of the water and refilling with fresh water. Once done, let the water circulate for a while before testing to ensure if the salt level has dropped to the recommended level.
10. How much hot tub salt do I need?
There are different variants of hot tub salt whose constituents and cost vary. On average, a salt water hot tub uses roughly $7 worth of hot tub salt in a month. The actual amount you will need will depend on the manufacturer’s guidelines and the existing salinity level of your water.
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