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Can Any Hot Tub Use Salt Water?

For those who are always on the lookout for different ways of maintaining their hot tubs, they’ve likely come across so called salt water systems. For those who haven’t heard about this different method of keeping your hot tub water clean, the knowledge that they could experience softer, silkier water while spending less money on chemical additives and less time keeping the water chemistry balanced could be enough to persuade them to look into converting to a salt water system. But can any hot tub use salt water? The fact is that there are relatively cheap and simple aftermarket add ons that can make the conversion of any type of hot tub possible. If such a transformation seems appealing to you, we’ve come up with an article to help clear up any issues.

Salt Water Hot Tubs Explained

While conventional hot tubs require the addition of chlorine or bromine to the water for sanitizing purposes, salt water hot tubs instead use a salt additive. Through the process known as electrolysis, salt water systems utilize a chlorinator (also known as a chlorine generator) to break the salt down into its fundamental elements of sodium and chlorine. So, although chlorine is still sanitizing the water, a salt water system removes the need to handle corrosive substances such as chlorine or bromine directly. The chlorinator is able to break the salt’s chemical bonds and create a continual, but balanced, source of chlorine.

Hot Tub Salt

Hot tub salt is identical to table salt in its chemical composition, however, hot tub salt is much more coarse than table salt and formulated specifically for dissolution by the chlorinator. You can obtain hot tub salt from hot tub dealers and pool and hot tub supply shops. At its ideal concentration, hot tub water is 10 times less salty than the water found in the ocean. It even contains lower concentrations of salt than what’s found in human tears. For this reason, rust and corrosion of metal hot tub parts aren’t overly problematic.

Why Can Any Hot Tub Use Salt Water?

Converting a conventional hot tub to use salt water simply comes down to the matter of installing a chlorinator. Aftermarket chlorinators can be hardwired into the plumbing (in-line) or simply hung over the edge of the hot tub and into the water (drop-in.) In-line systems may cost more and require some plumbing expertise, but they do their job while remaining hidden from sight. Drop-in chlorinators are much more conspicuous, but they are relatively cheaper and easier to install. 

What Are the Advantages of Salt Water Hot Tubs?

Handling of Chemicals
Although you’ll still need to use pH increaser and decreaser and periodically shock the hot tub water, salt water systems remove the need for handling corrosive raw chemicals such as chlorine or bromine. 

Buffered Water
The addition of salt increases the buffering capacity of the water. This means that fluctuations in water chemistry levels such as pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness are curtailed. This results in a reduced need to balance the water chemistry and the need for fewer chemicals while doing so.

Irritant Free Water
Chloramines are typically responsible for the chemical odour found in hot tubs and swimming pools. They can also cause irritation of the skin, nose and eyes. But salt water hot tubs are relatively free of chloramines because any excess chlorine is rapidly converted back to salt. For this reason, salt water hot tubs are found to cause less irritation.

Cost
Hot tub salt is much cheaper than chlorine tablets. And although converting your hot tub will come with an upfront cost, over the long run you’ll spend less money on chemical additives.

To learn more about hot tubs and types of water systems, download a free buyer’s guide.