Hot Tub Sanitizers and Disinfectants

According to many hot tub dealers, one of the most confusing issues for customers is regarding water cleanliness. And whether they are researching on the Internet, or asking a retail sales clerk, the terminology and product options are more confusing than explanatory. Customers often hear about alkalinity, pH levels, water hardness, sanitizers, oxidizers, and chlorine. But they still walk away in wonder, without even an understanding of the basics.

Sanitizing and disinfecting a hot tub is probably the most important component of maintenance. It’s the sanitizers that kill bacteria and viruses, and prevent algae growth. In general, the most common sanitizers for hot tub are chlorine and bromine. Chlorine is usually the sanitizer that’s added to swimming pools. Chlorine is also safe for hot tub use, but in a different concentration. For hot tubs, chlorine is available in tablets or granules.

To keep things simple (and not too technical), it’s best just to understand the basics of chlorine. In general, there are five different types. And while all chlorine products are considered to be sanitizers/disinfectants, each type has a different quality, composition, and use. Important to note with any of the products is the actual level of “available chlorine”. In short, higher “available chlorine” means more disinfecting power for the product.

Sodium Hypochlorite

This is a liquid chlorine product that has between 10% and 12% “available chlorine”. The term “available chlorine” denotes the specific amount of chlorine released into the water. As a product, sodium hypochlorite is most commonly used in larger swimming pools.

  • Lithium Hypochlorite

This is a granular chlorine product that has about 35% “available chlorine”. Lithium hypochlorite is known for dissolving quickly – ideal for “shocking” – but most used for residential swimming pools. It can be helpful for hard water problems or calcium problems.

Calcium Hypochlorite

This is a chlorine product that’s available in granules, pucks, or tablets. Calcium hypochlorite has an “available chlorine” level of between 40% and 80% and is considered to be the most popular of domestic chlorine products – very common for use in home swimming pools.

  • Trichlor and/or Dichlor

These chlorine products are primarily used in outdoor swimming pools and can be purchased as pucks, tablets, or in granular form. The “available chlorine” level is between 80% and 90%. At this high level, these products are commonly used to address issues with algae.

For the typical hot tub owner, product advice from a reliable hot tub dealer can be very valuable. And it’s often best to get advice that’s directly related to the size of the hot tub and the pattern of personal usage. The priority with any effort to sanitize and disinfect is to kill bacteria, pathogens and viruses. Whatever chorine product is chosen, most every hot tub dealer will discourage using domestic bleach in a hot tub. Bleach is not a good sanitizer; it will affect pH balance negatively; it could cause damage to the hot tub cover; and it has a deteriorating affect on filters and plumbing.

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