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What’s the Difference Between Hot Tub and Spa?

If you have any interest in hot tubs, spas, Jacuzzis and other tanks of warm water used for recreational or hydrotherapy purposes you may have noticed there’s a lot of interchangeability among the various names for these small pools. What’s the difference between hot tub and spa? Is a Jacuzzi the same thing or something altogether different? In this article, we’ll try and clear up the confusion among the many different terms for warm water hydrotherapy tubs. It won’t be easy because despite what’s written here, you’ll continue to see the various terms exchanged all the time. But at least this article will begin to untangle some of the confusion associated with the industry.

What Is A Hot Tub?

To define the difference between a hot tub and a spa, it’s probably best to start with the hot tub. At its most basic form, a hot tub is a tank filled with warm water that is used for relaxation and/or hydrotherapy by one or more people simultaneously. Most often the hot tub is equipped with jets that propel the water to create bubbles and a massaging sensation when directed towards the body. The water is not emptied after each use. A water filtration system is used along with chemical treatments to keep the water clean and fresh. 

A name you will often hear to describe a hot tub is Jacuzzi. The fact is that Jacuzzi is a brand name that’s been popularized to the point that it’s almost become a generic term for a hot tub. But the fact is that Jacuzzi is an American company that was originally involved in designing and manufacturing hydraulic pumps which were eventually incorporated into hydrotherapeutic uses. By creating jets that mixed air and water they were able to build their business by selling them to hospitals to help with patients’ joint pain. The popularity of the hot tub line has meant that their brand name has become synonymous with one of their products. A similar thing has happened to many companies such as Kleenex, Velcro, Tupperware, and others.

What Is A Spa?

If you’re ever looking for vacation ideas it’s very likely you’ve come across the term, “spa break.” People you know may have told you they’re “going to the spa,” or that they’re treating themselves to a “spa day.” When used in the way it usually means they’ll be spending time at a place that features a variety of facilities ranging from tanks of warm water, massage rooms and other types of body treatments. These facilities are normally part of a hotel or sporting hall while the actual word “spa” describes the amalgamation of all the various body treatments that are available. 

What makes things confusing is that many people and businesses refer to a spa when they actually mean a hot tub. As such, spa can be a word that describes a tank of warm water with jets used by multiple people for relaxation or hydrotherapy purposes. Some people insist that the word spa can only be used to describe a facility that provides a variety of body treatments, but those people are often fighting a losing battle. You’ll find many companies, trade publications and members of the general public that refer to hydrotherapy tanks and hot tubs as a spa.

Hot Tub or Spa?

When it comes to using the proper term, unfortunately there really is no authority to keep things clear and concise. Many hot tub manufacturers and retailers feel that the term “hot tub” is nowhere near as elegant as the term “spa” and therefore prefer to use the supposed classier term. For obvious reasons, spa facilities are more likely to use the word “hot tub” if their businesses offer the use of hydrotherapeutic hot water tanks. Saying they have a spa within their spa facility just gets too confusing.

To find more information about hot tubs and spas, download our free hot tub buyer’s guide.