Can You Run a Hot Tub Without Chemicals?
The word "chemicals" is not synonymous with relaxation or wellness and that is why it makes a lot of hot tub buyers nervous. The key thing to remember is that any chemicals you put into your hot tub water are being added to make or keep the water safe for you and your family to bathe in. You are not adding chlorine to discomfort yourself, you are adding chlorine to make the water safe. You don't add PH Increaser to harm your skin, in fact it is probably the complete opposite! So the first key thing to remember here is that "chemicals" are your friend if used safely and correctly.
What would happen if you filled your hot tub and added no chemicals? Well it could be extremely dangerous. Certain bacteria and fungi experience optimal growth at temperatures between 25-40°C, which is the exact temperature range of a hot tub! It would take a matter of days for your hot tub water to turn into biological soup, the water would likely turn green and the danger to us humans would be huge.
So what about our good old friend, chlorine! This may be what you were referring to when you were wondering if you could run your hot tub without chemicals. Well then here is the good news, you DO NOT have to use chlorine in your hot tub, there are alternatives (to be discussed later). Chlorine most certainly gets a bad rep. This wonderful chemical is the most used disinfectant in the world, it keeps our drinking water clean and keeps hot tubs safe! At Happy Hot Tubs, we always reccomend chlorine first before looking at other water care options. The reason for this is that it is the cheapest sanitiser for you, the end user, it is the fastest reacting sanitiser meaning it gets to work on bacteria very quickly and most of all, we trust it! If you believe you are allergic to chlorine then I would get confirmation of this from a doctor. Here in the UK, Chlorine exists in the free/combined form in our drinking water up to 0.5mg/l so if you had a bad expereince at a public pool then this may not be a chlorine allergy, it could be another factor such as imbalanced PH or even perhaps not enough chlorine (bacterial infection). Make sure you consult your doctor if you believe you have an allergy to chlorine.
So if you are still not keen to give chlorine a go in your hot tub or you may not be able to due to allergy then there are other options. One option is Bromine. Bromine is from the same 'family' as chlorine however it is slightly slower reacting, slighty softer on your skin and works better at higher temperatures so it has a lot of appeal for many hot tub users. Bromine comes in tablet form and is available as infused granules too. Bromine is more expensive than chlorine but it does re-generate when you shock the water unlike chlorine so this in theory allows ou to reduce the amount of bromine you need to sanitise the water, which in turn could save money.
Salt systems are another hot tub sanitising option. Based on technology used in pools for many years, a built in cell uses the sodium chloride in the water to produce chlorine, which sanitises the water in your hot tub. The Freshwater Salt System from Hot Spring is a great example of a salt system. One of the benefits of a salt system is that you do not have to add as many chemicals as when you are dosing manually so this creates a nicer feel to the water. It is worth noting that this system still requires adjustment of your PH/Alkalinity and sometimes will require shock dosing.
There are other alternatives to traditional sanitisers like bromine and chlorine. Non-chlorine systems like Aquablanc have become popular on the UK hot tub market - these systems use oxygen tablets alongside an activator liquid to sanitise your hot tub water. They are softer on your skin than traditional sanitisers but tend to be more expensive and slower reacting than bromine or chlorine.
If you want to add a natural product to your hot tub that will mask the smell of chlorine, helps lock in your PH and leaves you with softer skin after hot tubbing then a great option is Silk Balance Gems. These are dissolvable pods that contain a patented formula of salts. All you do is add one of these weekly to your spa water. Silk Balance works alongside any sanitiser like chlorine or bromine and the benefits offer you a soft, natural feel to your hot tub water. So although you cannot run a hot tub without chemicals, you can run a hot tub without the harsh effects of chemicals with Silk Balance. Please note - you must drain your hot tub and flush out the pipes with Clean Start if you are switching your existing water to Silk Balance for the first time.