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How to Make a Salt Water Hot Tub: The Complete Guide

Making a Saltwater Hot Tub

There has been a lot of hype in recent years surrounding saltwater hot tubs, some say it provides health benefits such as detoxification of the skin and organs and also giving the skin an extra special glow after soaking in it for some time. These benefits have not been proven however, there are some benefits associated with using salt in a hot tub. For example, you want to reduce the use of harmful chemicals in your hot tub and you wish to reduce the cost and maintenance of your tub then transforming your hot tub into a saltwater hot spa might be a good idea.

Salt Water Hot Tub: What is it Anyway?

A saltwater hot spa is similar to a saltwater swimming pool in the sense that it replaces the usual chlorine with salt. Chlorine cleanses the water and reduces harmful bacteria growth in the pool water. Salt does the same thing by converting to chlorine in the water, at the end of the day, salt is actually sodium chloride.

One of the questions that people often ask is how salty is the water? Can you taste the salt in the water? This is the answer to the question, you will probably not be able to taste the salt in the water, and if you can, the taste will certainly be very mild. Why is this? This is the case because:

Saltwater ratio for seawater is approximately 35,000 parts per million (ppm)

Experts recommend the saltwater ratio for hot tubs to be approximately 2,000 parts per million, the best ratio being around 2,500 parts per million.

You begin to taste saltwater when the levels get to around 3,500 parts per million, therefore, if you add the recommended amount of salt and you ensure that your pH levels are correct, you really should not be able to taste the salt in the water.

The Salt to Chlorine Conversion: How Does it Work?

The process begins when you put the salt into a saltwater chlorinator, then you place this into your hot tub. Saltwater chlorinators are often referred to as chlorine generators, they consist of a chlorinator component that is made up of titanium plates and electrodes. When you put the generator into a saltwater hot tub it works by sending out a tiny electrical charge, this converts the salt to chlorine. The process of converting salt to chlorine using an electrical charge is called electrolysis. This happens by separating the chlorine from the sodium. Yes, electrolysis is often used to remove excess hair from the body, but it definitely won’t have this effect on you when you use the hot tub.

Salt is Relatively Inexpensive

A mistake that some people make when considering converting their hot tub into a saltwater hot tub. They assume that they can use any salt, table sort for that matter, this is wrong! You need to use a specific type of salt which is generally packaged as pool salt. There is no real difference in terms of the chemical make up the salt however, it is the consistency of it that makes all the difference. You don’t want a salt that is too fine, this won’t work in a chlorine generator. You need a very specific consistency for it to work effectively in the chlorine generator. You can also look out for something labeled, hot tub salt. It is relatively inexpensive and you can purchase large amounts of it to reduce the overall cost.

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The Advantages of Using a Salt Water Hot Tub

Here are some of the advantages of using a saltwater hot tub:

  • Less Irritation

Many swimming pool users and spa users complain of irritated skin and eyes, especially when using pools or tubs that are heavily chlorinated. This problem will surely be greatly reduced when using a saltwater hot tub. Although chlorine is present in the water, it is released into the water in small doses making it less harmful. The water is also much softer which is generally gentler on the skin and eyes than heavily chlorinated water.

  • Easier to Maintain

Saltwater hot tubs are much easier to maintain than chlorinated hot tubs because the chlorine is released steadily on a consistent basis, there is less need for constant water testing. Reducing the overall maintenance time.

  • Cost-Effective

Purchasing sacks of hot tub salt are cheaper than buying chlorine generally and you won’t need to top up the salt as much as you would have to top of chlorine therefore, you will save money over time.

You would have to continuously test the pH levels of your hot tub water to ensure that it stays within the correct range but you would not need to test the saltwater levels as much as you would chlorine levels. You should also consider getting some salinity test strips to test for saltwater levels periodically.

Salt Hot Tub Myth Busters

There are a lot of advantages to using saltwater hot tubs however, there are so many misconceptions surrounding using them. Here are a few myth busters to debunk some of the stories associated with using a saltwater hot tub.

They Don’t Need to Be Maintained

A myth that is often connected to using saltwater hot tubs is that they do not need to be maintained. This is simply not true, there is no swimming pool or hot tub that does not need to be maintained, this is simply not possible. You will still have to at some point clean the hot tub, test the saline levels and the Ph levels. There is no possibility of never having to maintain your hot tub just because you decided to switch to a saltwater hot tub.

You also need to make sure you clean the cells and other components using muriatic acid, to remove any gunk or sludge that has accumulated over time.

They Contain No Chemicals at All

Another huge misconception is that saltwater hot tubs contain no chemicals at all. This is most certainly not the case, they certainly contain less harmful chemicals, however, they do still have some chlorine or bromine in the water, also at times, you might need to use a Ph increaser or decreaser to level out the ph.

They Never Corrode Anything

Be careful of this misconception, this idea that saltwater hot tubs are corrosion-free is a dangerous one. The saltwater can eventually corrode some metal parts in your hot tub. You need to check to find out if your hot tubs heating component is made from titanium. If it is, saltwater can wreak havoc with it. One way of preventing corrosion is to ensure that you constantly clean metal parts, also check the saline levels to ensure that you do not have too much salt in the water.

What Type of Chlorine Generator Do You Want?

When you make the decision to convert your hot tub into a saltwater hot tub, you need to decide what type of chlorine generator you want to use. There are two types for you to consider, in-line or drop-in. These two areas the most common types of the chlorine generator.

What are the Differences?

Drop-In Chlorinators

These are simple to use and require less maintenance than other types of chlorine generators. You do not have to alter anything in your hot tub to use this type of generator, which makes it attractive to first-time users.

One thing you might not appreciate very much is a cable that sticks out over the side of the tub, this might be quite annoying to some but really it should be a small price to pay for the easy setup of a drop in a chlorinator.

In-line Chlorinators

You might not want to deal with a chlorinator chord hanging over the edge of the hot tub therefore, you could opt for an in-line chlorinator instead. With this type, you would need to actually install this into the plumbing. It is certainly more time consuming and it might be more expensive to fit however, if you want something that is totally out of sight, you might want to opt for this type instead.

Note: If you have never had any experience with plumbing then it might be a good idea to employ someone to install it for you.

Installing a Drop-in chlorinator

Installing a drop-in chlorinator is pretty simple, it is best to speak to a professional if you have never installed an in-line chlorinator before. Installing a drop-in is a relatively simple process, here are the instructions:

Firstly, you need to gather everything that you are going to need:

  • Drop-in Chlorine Generator
  • Spa line flush
  • Water hose
  • Filter cleaning solution or you might need to get a replacement filter
  • White vinegar for cleaning the tub
  • Cloth to clean the tub
  • Hose filter
  • Water testing strips
  • Salinity Testing strips
  • pH increaser (if necessary)
  • pH decreaser(if necessary)
  • Pool salt or hot tub salt
  • Screwdriver

Note: you might need an alkalinity decreaser or increaser as well as calcium hardness solution.

  1. Remove all the water from the tub, utilize the line flush prior to draining the tub to remove any excess residue. Use a hose or sump pump to clear out all the water. Use vinegar and water to clean the dirt from the hot tub.

Here you would need to either clean or fit your replacement filter.

  1. Replace the water by connecting the hose filter to the hose.
  2. Test the saltwater levels

Prior to putting in the salt, test the saltwater levels. Once you have tested then you can determine how much salt to actually put in. Follow the directions on the packaging to get the exact measurements.

General Testing

Using standard test strips, test for the various chemicals in the water. You need to be checking the pH levels and calcium hardness levels as well as the alkalinity of the water.

Put the Control Panel in Place

When you purchase your chlorinator, there will be some kind of control panel for putting it in its place. Put it at the edge of the hot tub or somewhere close.

Connect the Wires

Connect all the wires however, do not plug anything into the power supply at this point.

Put the Chlorinator into the Hot Tub

Place the chlorinator into the hot tub by submerging into the deep side of the hot tub. Place the wire over the edge of the hot tub.

Fire it up

Plug everything in and fire it up.

Caution: Make sure you read all the instructions in the manual.

To conclude

Saltwater hot tubs are cheaper to operate than chlorinated hot tubs, they do require less maintenance but never assume that they require no maintenance at all. The saltwater is gentler on the skin making them perfect for anyone with sensitive skin and eyes.

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