Chlorine or Bromine? How to Choose the Right Sanitizer for Your Hot Tub

After you’ve bought your hot tub, how do you decide whether bromine or chlorine is right for you? Both chlorine and bromine are popular hot tub sanitizers, but they get the job done differently.

When making the choice between a bromine and a chlorine hot tub, consider factors that impact upkeep, such as maintenance, effectiveness, sun exposure, and more.

Maintenance

Maintaining a hot tub for safe soaking and relaxing can be a challenge. Chlorine hot tubs require more active maintenance and attention than bromine hot tubs since pH levels can rise quickly and bromine is less affected by these pH fluctuations. Chlorine hot tubs also can’t handle large swings as efficiently as bromine hot tubs, requiring s more attention to prevent water from turning cloudy or green.

Recommendation: If you want to spend less time maintaining your hot tub, bromine is your best bet.

Effectiveness and Efficiency

The environment of your hot tub might help decide which chemical system is right for you. While bromine is better at killing bacteria and viruses, chlorine is better at attacking algae.

Efficiency is also a factor – Chlorine acts faster than bromine, but dissipates quicker because it breaks down faster in high water temperatures. Once the chlorine is used, it needs to continue to be replaced with fresh chlorine. On the other hand, bromine tablets take longer to dissolve, but dormant bromine salt stays behind even after the active bromine has killed off unwanted organisms. The bromine can be easily reactivated into active bromine multiple times, which makes it last longer.

Recommendation: It’s a matter of personal preference, depending on what works best for your particular situation. It may be worth trying both options and seeing which best fits your needs and lifestyle.

Water Temperature

Hot tubs have different chemical demands than pools, and the temperature you want your hot tub can also be a deciding factor between chlorine and bromine. Chlorine functions best between about 65 and 99 degrees, and it quickly turns into vapor at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Bromine is less effective at temperatures below 75 degrees, but it thrives in hot water environments, especially over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Recommendation: Bromine is better suited than chlorine to handle the temperature of the hot tub and to combat the buildup of waste materials in hot water.

Cost

Many people choose chlorine because it’s less expensive —  at first. Although bromine can cost  20% or more than chlorine, it can give you more bang for your buck.  After it’s added, bromine can easily be reactivated after it has killed all the bacteria which means that, over time, you’ll use less bromine and spend less money.

Recommendation: This is a pretty even decision depending on whether you want to spend less up front, but purchase more often or whether you want to spend a little more up front and have the product last longer.

Sun

If your hot tub is in a sunny spot, you need to consider the effect of UV rays. Chlorine can be protected from the sun with the right amount of stabilizer. Bromine is broken down by the sun faster, which means you will need more to compensate for the UV breakdown. However, when bromine is broken down by the sun’s UV, it leaves behind dormant bromine salt (sodium bromide), which can be reactivated by additional bromine or non-chlorine shock to perform additional sanitization.

Recommendation: Chlorine will help combat algae development and has higher tolerance for the UV rays.

Personal Considerations

Chlorine has a very distinctive odor,  can be an irritant to sensitive eyes and skin, and can also be damaging to hair. Experts say that bromine protects the eyes and skin better, and emits less odor than chlorine.

Recommendation: Bromine is less harsh across the board but still provides quality sanitization.

What Do the Experts Say?

We asked our chemistry expert to give his pick between bromine and chlorine for hot tubs:

Bromine! It remains effective in a wider range of pH levels (7.0 – 8.4) than chlorine (7.4 – 7.8), and therefore, it can better protect your water from bacteria and viruses. Also, bromine in itself is a strong sanitizer. At a high pH level of 7.8, only about 25% of chlorine is active, but bromine remains efficient. And its byproducts, bromamines (a combined substance), produce their own sanitizing action, making bromine an even more powerful bacteria and virus killer. As an added benefit, that bromine already in your water can be reactivated using potassium monopersulfate after it has killed the bacteria. Reactivated bromine means less chemical use and bigger cost savings for you in the long run.”

How Do I Decide Whether Bromine vs Chlorine is Right?

If you want to try bromine instead of chlorine, or vice-versa, you’ll need to drain your hot tub and flush the lines, refill and enjoy. Make sure you keep the bromine and chlorine separate, including the containers, tablets, and granules. Chlorine and bromine combined will create negative chemical reactions that can be unhealthy and even dangerous.

Once you’ve got everything back online, test it for a week or two and decide if it works better for you and your hot tub. Regardless of your choice never underestimate how crucial it is to keep your hot tub clean, sanitized and healthy so that you can enjoy all the benefits.

If you need help monitoring and managing the chemicals for your bromine or chlorine hot tub, consider a smart monitor like pHin. With its built-in analytics, pHin  will take the guesswork out of f how much and how often to add chemicals by sending exact instructions to your smartphone.

6 Hot Tub Mistakes to Avoid

Hot tubs can have many benefits – they can help with a post-workout recovery, de-stressing, and even be a place to host parties. If not properly cared for and safe for soaking, hot tub water can pose health risks, like coughs and rashes. Yikes!

The warm water in a hot tub needs special care to remain a safe place for whatever benefits you seek, whether it’s fun, relaxation, or recovery. The certified pHin pool care experts put together a list of 6 Don’ts of hot tub care:

1.       Don’t cut the power on a full tub

Whether you use your hot tub regularly, a few times a month, or a few times a week, it’s necessary to maintain the same water level and a steady temperature. For both cold and warm seasons, this is ideal to maintain the chemical balance vs.  letting your hot tub cool down and then reheating it for each use.

2.       If you see green, don’t get in

If you’re ready for a soak and your hot tub water looks a little off, has a weird foam, green tinge, or flowing foam – don’t get in. These are signs that your hot tub water is unbalanced, unsanitary, or unsafe, and can have health risks. It will need chemical attention to be re-balanced, or you may have to drain and refill the tub to resolve the issue.

3.       Say “no” to plastic covers

Maintaining hot tub water is a delicate balance. A greenhouse setup or a plastic cover can magnify sun rays and trap heat in the tub. This extra heat can make it challenging to maintain a healthy water balance, and can even melt the plastic cover. It’s best to use the hot tub cover recommended by the manufacturer.

4.       Some like it hot – but don’t go over 104° F

The heat of the hot tub can be soothing for tired muscles, or even help with common headache symptoms. But be careful – a hot tub’s max temperature should be 104° F. Heating your hot tub above this level can be unhealthy and dangerous for swimmers, and could also damage your hot tub.

5.       Skip the soaps and suds

Aromatherapy can enhance hot tub relaxation, but it’s best to keep soaps, scents, and suds out of the water. Adding these products is not recommended by most hot tub manufacturers, as they can be detrimental to your system, requiring a drain and refill or  an expensive repair. It’s also a best practice to rinse off in the shower before getting into the hot tub. If you’d like some extra soothing scents, you can try an essential oil diffuser or candles in your hot tub space.

6.       Don’t forget your filters

For best results, hot tub filters need to be cleaned every two to three months and completely replaced every two years. Even if you don’t regularly use the hot tub, changing filters is important, because buildup can be a cause of unbalanced water and affect the lifespan of your hot tub. For a more efficient hot tub, the silver ion cartridge needs to be changed every four months.

Bonus tip #7: Use technology to monitor your hot tub water

Whether you have a service tech who manages your hot tub or you’re taking on the task yourself, the best way to know exactly what’s going on in your hot tub water is to have a smart monitor that analyzes it for you. The pHin has built-in analytics, a mobile app, and Bluetooth connectivity that keeps you informed about your hot tub water and guides you with chemical instructions.

Learn about the three simple steps for pool care with pHin.

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid when Adding Hot Tub Chemicals

Managing the pH level of your hot tub is like an ongoing science experiment. It can be difficult to keep up with your water’s chemical levels as they’re ever-changing. It’s  critical to keeping your hot tub safe for your family and friends, as unbalanced water can have health implications for those who come in contact with it.

To keep your hot tub balanced, avoid making these three mistakes:

#1: Not Testing the Hot Tub Water

When it comes to hot tub water, pH and alkalinity are cousins, and you can’t adjust the pH and alkalinity of your hot tub accurately if you don’t know the levels in real-time. Most people check manually with test strips and charts to balance their pH and alkalinity levels. The process can be tedious and sometimes might feel like you need a chemistry degree to figure out the right balance — but it doesn’t really have to be that hard.

Hot tubs can be fickle. When a pH is too high in a hot tub, the water becomes scale forming. High pH can cause premature equipment failure and increase your sanitizer consumption. Highly acidic water makes it more difficult for your sanitizer to work effectively, leaving bathers in your hot tub exposed to potentially harmful contaminants. Alkalines serves as buffers for the pH. When any metal part comes into contact with water that has low total alkalinity, it can corrode, putting heating elements, pipes, and heaters at risk. Calcium scaling can also occur, making it more difficult to keep surfaces clean and plumbing free of scale buildup.

You can use a smart water monitor like pHin, which tests your water balance over 1,000 times per week and sends you an alert if anything needs to be adjusted. The proven technology makes the process much easier, more convenient, and more accurate.

Recommended pH Level: 7.4 – 7.6

Recommended Alkalinity Level: 125 – 150ppm

#2: Not Keeping the Cover Off Long Enough While Adding Chemicals

It takes time for the chemicals you add to your hot tub to become fully functional, as they emit gases while absorbing into the water. When adding chemicals to a hot tub, it’s important to leave your hot tub cover open for at least 15 minutes so they can breathe and work effectively. When chemicals don’t properly dissipate, the water feels acidic. Bathers may also feel uncomfortable, experiencing skin or eye irritability as acidic water strips their skin of its natural oils, leaving it feeling itchy and dry.

Sanitizers such as chlorine and bromine will better defend against bacteria, viruses, algae, and other contaminants from forming in your water if you keep the cover open for an adequate amount of time. Without oxygen, the chemicals are less effective. Chemicals like shock also require oxygen to circulate, oxidize, and clean the hot tub.

#3: Not Checking and Adjusting Chemicals Often Enough

There are a lot of reasons as to why your water level are off. Often, people accidentally add too much pH increaser when they are trying to correct a low pH level, they measure incorrectly or they spill. For some of us, the local water source may naturally have a higher than normal level. You may have to check and adjust your chemicals more frequently depending on how much you use your hot tub. If you use it daily or recently had a party with a large group of people, you might need to add more chemicals than usual. It’s a best practice to check and adjust the chemicals and shock your hot tub at least once a week, However if you have a large group or if there’s a possibility that leaves and other organic materials may have gotten into your hot tub, you may need to check it more often.

Smart water monitors check the chemical balance of your hot tub multiple times a day and will alert you if you need to add any chemicals. The beauty of an automated system is that you always know your hot tub is perfectly balanced the second you are ready to hop in.

Five Ways to Enjoy Your Hot Tub This Winter

Most people put their hot tubs in hibernation mode during the summer when it’s just too hot to enjoy the spa. As the last leaves fall from the trees and the first fall chill hits the air, it’s a good time to uncover the hot tub and prepare it for a full season of winter fun. While hot tubs are a perfect après-ski gathering place to soothe sore muscles after a day on the slopes, there are so many other ways to make the most of it during the winter.

Here are five reasons to enjoy your hot tub throughout the winter months:

  1. De-stress from the holidays. As winter kicks in — so do the holidays! But there’s an added layer of stress for most of us — decorating, shopping, family dinners, and work parties all create more stress for our already-busy lives. Schedule a few minutes every couple of days to enjoy your hot tub and let some of the tension soak away. You’ll feel better, be more focused, and be in a better mindset to truly enjoy the holidays. 
  2. Connect with family. Hanging out in the hot tub with your family is a great opportunity to enjoy quality time and genuine conversations. Lots of people focus on dinner as the main time to chat about school, work, and life — but let’s be honest, with the demands of work, after-school activities, commutes, and everything else life throws at you, finding time to dine together as a family just doesn’t always happen. Jumping in the hot tub in the evening is a great way to wind down, have meaningful conversations and, as an added bonus, keep everyone away from screen time — a great way to get a good night’s sleep.
  3. Recover from workouts. It’s important to keep up a consistent workout routine, and in the cooler winter months, that often means shifting your exercise regimen indoors. Any time you change your workout, you may experience different sets of achy muscles. The warm water can help soothe muscles after your cool down, and you can experiment with jet settings for added massaging so you’re ready for the next day of exercise.
  4. Socialize with friends. It can be hard to find time with friends, especially during the holidays. Sometimes we think that a quick Facebook or Instagram check-in counts as a connection, but quality time in-person is more valuable. Inviting friends over for a cocktail or cocoa and a dip in the hot tub is a great way to inspire genuine conversations and face-to-face connections with friends. Keep a couple of extra comfy spa robes and some flip-flops around so that your guests are warm and comfy, and feel like they’re being pampered.
  5. Enjoy peace and quiet. Being bombarded by the news, social media buzz, traffic, and meal planning all add to the stress of a busy day at the office or helping your family get through the week. Spend a few minutes in the hot tub, listening to the calming sounds of bubbling water, gazing at the stars, and breathing in the crisp, fresh air. This quiet time  connecting with nature can make you feel calmer.

Make sure your hot tub is well-maintained throughout the winter season with a few simple tips:

  • Clear out any leaves or debris. Fall leaves are beautiful but they clog filters quickly.
  • Make sure the water level is full. If you haven’t changed your water recently, now is the time to drain your hot tub and fill it with fresh water.
  • Check and clean or replace your filters. It’s a good idea to have two sets of filters so you can clean one set while using the other set.
  • Check and adjust the chemical levels…pHin makes it incredibly easy to keep your chemical levels correct by alerting you on your mobile device when they need attention.
  • Make sure your cover is in good shape and sealed to keep the heat. No matter how cold it gets outside, it’s not recommended to have your hot tub set at more than 102°F, especially if you have children.

How do you benefit from your hot tub? Sound off with us on Facebook or Twitter.

For help keeping your hot tub in top-shape, learn how pHin can help.

pHin Doubles Scannable Chemical Database

Pools, hot tubs, and swim spas are meant to be enjoyed, but it also  can take a lot of work to keep their water clean and safe. Water chemistry can be confusing but the pHin Smart Monitor provides an easy way to make pool and hot tub care more fun, with less work.

pHin has helped thousands of families by taking the guesswork out of water care so they can just have fun enjoy their pools and hot tubs. pHin floats in the water, measuring temperature, pH, and sanitizer levels over 1,000 times per week. With pHin’s monitoring subscription, alerts and our three-color notification system makes pool and hot tub care easy to understand. A blue disc indicates balanced water, orange advises that the water is safe for swimming but needs attention, and red cautions that the water is not safe and needs chemicals.

When the water needs to be balanced, the pHin gives specific dosing recommendations. Users get detailed instructions on the chemicals they need to add to their water, whether it’s bromine, saltwater, or chlorine. The system also works with hundreds of chemical brands so families can choose what’s right for their pool or hot tub.

The pHin team is always working hard to improve the experience, and we’ve just doubled the number of scannable chemicals in our database! pHin users can check out the new chemical brands added including Poolife, hth, and Leisure Time directly from their app. It’s easy to select which chemicals to use by simply scanning the chemical’s barcode or from a drop-down list. See the full list of supported chemicals here.

pHin is the proven path to easier water care.

Considering a Hot Tub for the Winter? How to Pick the Right Hot Tub for You

One of the great things about the Internet is the amount of information at your fingertips at any given time. When you’re looking to make a major purchase, such as buying a hot tub, this wealth of information is a great help. Even if you’re replacing an old tub, chances are you bought the previous one some time ago and your preferences, as well as styles and features, may have changed.

Unfortunately, picking your way through the information online is often challenging. Before you start your quest, answer these questions. Then, let those responses guide your choice.

How will You Use the Hot Tub?

The main function of your hot tub should be the primary focus when purchasing. Are you looking to exercise with your tub? Perhaps you should consider one with built-in fitness equipment or a swim spa. If your goal is hydrotherapy, then you need to make sure the tub you choose has the proper jets and features designed for your particular health condition. You also need to consider how often it will be used. Will it be used daily? How long will it sit with nobody using it? In that case, you need to consider the amount of energy it will take. Your tub’s purpose comes first and foremost when deciding which model is right for you.

Where Will You Install It?

Location might not seem like that big a deal, but in reality, it is incredibly important. Will it be indoors? Then you need to place it in an area both large enough for the tub and that allows easy access for service calls. If you want it outside, you need a tub that stands up well against the elements and your particular climate. You also need to ensure there’s enough space for servicing the hot tub.

No matter where you put it, you need to make sure that the surface the tub rests on is level and flat, and close to both a power and water source. You’ll need the correct wiring to run the hot tub, so keep that in consideration when it comes to placement. As for water, you will need to empty and refill the hot tub a few times a year, so make sure that wherever you put it has adequate drainage.

Is the Tub Energy Efficient?

A hot tub requires electricity to run, so keep the energy efficiency of your tub in mind. The best hot tubs have high-quality insulation, and even indoor spas should be well insulated. It is also recommended that you get a thick, insulated cover so that your tub can retain heat even when it is not in use. Also keep an eye out for spas that use a separate pump system for the jets and water circulation, as they tend to be more energy efficient.

Residents of California should make sure that their hot tub meets California Energy Commission requirements.

What Size Do You Need?

Size might not seem like an important factor in choosing your hot tub, until you’ve taken it home to install in a specific space and it doesn’t fit or you can’t get it through the doors. Or, you go to set it up in your backyard and realize there’s nowhere to put it where it can be easily serviced. Portable spas are relatively small in size and can still accommodate two to three bathers without overcrowding. There are also above-ground and in-ground spas.

In-ground hot tubs typically don’t come in a large variety of sizes and are more labor intensive to install. Above-ground spas provide a larger number of size options and, while more labor intensive than an inflatable unit, tend to offer less maintenance requirements than an in-ground model. They also tend to be more energy efficient.

What Is Your Budget?

Other than the primary function of your hot tub, cost will probably be the biggest factor in choosing your new unit. Beyond the initial purchase price, you need to consider the cost of maintenance. Look at the accessories (steps, covers, etc.) and chemicals you’ll need to keep the tub in tip-top shape. Also consider long-term costs of running the hot tub. While the unit with solid foam insulation and a high-end filter might cost more than the one with basic insulation and filtration, it could save you money in the long run. Better insulation means retaining heat and spending less on power to keep the unit hot, and a better filter means less time and money spent on chemicals and cleaning. In some cases, spending more up front can save you more over time.

Additional Considerations

Research is key; look at models and specifications online, then go into a store to actually check them out. Most reputable dealers should let you test a few models to see how they feel. Consider everyone that may use the hot tub, including kids, friends, and family, and how the tub would be for them. When the time comes to actually buy a unit, you can purchase either in store or online, but make sure to ask about warranty service. It is also a good idea to buy from a dealer that has been in business for a while, since they are more likely to be there a year or two down the road.

If you want to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

Chemicals Demystified: Balance Pool and Hot Tub Water Chemistry in 7 Steps

Besides good filtration equipment and a general cleaning routine, chemicals are the most important factors to maintain a safe and healthy swimming pool or hot tub.

Your Pool or Hot Tub is Similar to a Mini Water Treatment Plant in Your Backyard

Just like how the municipal water you use at home for drinking, bathing and cleaning needs to be treated with chemicals at a water treatment facility in your area, the same way the water in your pool or hot tub needs to be treated. 

Unlike our lakes and rivers, which take care of themselves both ecologically and naturally, our pools and hot tubs are “self-contained” vessels and do not constantly exchange the water. Bacteria and aggressive water can deteriorate the surface of the pool or hot tub, damage the plumbing and equipment, and cause harm to bathers.

Chemicals Help Protect Your Investment and Keep Your Pool Sanitized

Almost every chemical used in a pool or hot tub is to protect the vessel and support system. Only the sanitizer and control of pH are tied primarily to bather health and safety. 

Minerals, pH buffers and shocks are required at times to adjust the water chemistry so that you, your family and friends can be safe from waterborne pathogens, algae infestation, perpetuated cloudy water and deterioration of the pool and its support systems.

 

7 Steps to Maintain Balanced Water Chemistry

Let’s start with the basics: Every pool needs chemicals. Yes, even salt water pools. The role of the salt water chlorine generator (SWCG) is to produce the sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) in the vessel. The SWCG does not maintain the pool or hot tub water balance and does not eliminate the need to add chemicals to maintain a worry-free pool or hot tub.

1. Go for products with high active ingredients

  • Make sure you get the most for your money: read the labels. Get the most concentrated active ingredients and low inert ingredients. It is typical to have some “inert” ingredients, however, the higher the inert ingredients, the lower the concentration of the active products. Whenever in doubt, ask a pool professional for a brand recommendation.

2. Know the parameters of your pool or hot tub

  • Be sure to know the water volume as accurately as possible. It will help you calculate the proper amount of chemicals to add without over- or under-dosing. Just like how you wouldn’t want to give an infant an adult-sized medication or vice versa, you wouldn’t want to over-or under-chemicalize your pool.

3. Add the right amount, evenly distributed

  • Always measure how much your are adding and follow the “directions for use” located on the product labels.
  • Unless stated otherwise, apply the required chemicals in the deepest part of the vessel and with the pump system operating to get a thorough mixture throughout the entire body of water. Rinse empty containers with the pool water and dispose or recycle as required.
  • Some interior surfaces and certain chemicals require pre-dissolving prior to adding them. Again, refer to the “directions for use”. Brushing behind newly added chemicals will help any undissolved product get into the solution and avoid staining or harming the pool or hot tub surface.

4. Follow the proper sequence

  • Since many chemicals interact with each other, make sure you add the chemicals in the proper sequence and avoid unnecessarily wasting the product. 
  • For instance, if the pH, total alkalinity and chlorine all require an adjustment, the proper sequencing to adjust those factors would go in this order: total alkalinity, then pH and lastly chlorine as each of those particular factors are dependent on each other.
  • Additionally, when the “directions for use” instructions call for a time delay, it generally implies a minimum period of time and not sooner than. 

5. Think safety first when handling chemicals

  • Always add chemical downwind and away from you to avoid coming in direct contact with the product.
  • Unless directed, do not add any pool chemicals into the surface skimmer to avoid damage or harm to you and the pool.
  • If there is a spill near the pool, rinse the spilled chemical into the pool water. If an acid is spilled away from the pool, neutralize the acid with some baking soda or copious amounts of water rinsing it to a fully diluted neutralized state. Avoid any spilled chemicals from coming into contact with your skin, eyes or clothing. Use gloves if needed.

6. Remove the cover

  • If you use a cover, always remove it when you add chemicals, and replace it when directed by a professional or the product label.

 7. Store chemicals responsibly

  • You know the drill: always keep pool and hot tub chemicals in a cool and dry area and away from children and animals. A plastic shed or storage bin works great as some chemicals may react with metal and cause staining or corrosion. Clearly label the products in their storage containers and do not mix products together as some can cause chemical reactions and health hazards.

Maintaining the right water chemistry can be intimidating and time consuming.

It often becomes a guessing game, and if not done correctly, constant chemical imbalance can be detrimental to the health and safety of your pool. 

Thankfully, the guessing game is about to change. With pHin, you can have a perfectly balanced pool 24/7 without all the hassle. It’s fast and easy. 

Order pHin at www.phin.co.