Are you considering purchasing a saltwater hot tub? Saltwater hot tubs are a popular alternative to traditional hot tubs that use chlorine or bromine for sanitization.
But while saltwater hot tubs offer a number of benefits, they also have some potential drawbacks that you should consider before making a decision.
In this article, we will explore the 9 pros and 5 cons of saltwater hot tubs to help you determine if a saltwater hot tub is the right choice for you.
The 9 benefits of a saltwater hot tub
After installing a saltwater purification system in your hot tub, the system will begin to continuously sanitize the water to maintain a safe and healthy environment for soaking. Some more advanced models of saltwater hot tubs are equipped with features that allow them to automatically increase chlorine production during times of heavier use.
This can help to maintain an appropriate level of chlorine in the water and ensure that the hot tub remains safe and comfortable to use. Saltwater hot tubs are able to generate chlorine through a process called electrolysis, which uses salt to produce chlorine in a controlled and consistent manner.
By using a saltwater purification system, hot tub owners can enjoy the benefits of chlorine sanitization without the need to manually dose the water with chemicals.
Some saltwater hot tubs require less frequent draining compared to hot tubs that use traditional chlorine-based sanitization systems. With normal use, these hot tubs may only need to be drained once a year, while hot tubs that rely on traditional chlorine may need to be drained three or four times a year.
This can save a significant amount of time and effort in maintaining your hot tub, allowing you to spend more time enjoying it.
Because the system constantly monitors the chlorine levels and only produces as much as needed, there is less excess chlorine in the water. This helps to extend the life of the water and reduces the overall amount of chemicals present in the spa.
Additionally, water treated with a saltwater system tends to feel softer, smoother, and purer than water treated with traditional chlorine-based sanitization systems. This is due to the lower levels of chlorine and other chemicals in the water.
Saltwater is denser than pure water, which means it has a higher concentration of dissolved salt particles. This increased density makes it easier for people to float in saltwater compared to pure water.
The buoyancy provided by the saltwater helps to reduce the weight of gravity on the body, particularly on the joints and muscles. This can provide a feeling of relaxation and relief from tension.
Spending just 20 minutes in a hot tub filled with salt water every day can help to alleviate muscle tension, calm the mind, and improve overall well-being. Soaking in salt water can also provide other benefits such as improved circulation and skin health.
Gentler on skin
Saltwater spas and hot tubs are less likely to cause skin and eye irritation because they use fewer chemicals to maintain water quality. Traditional chlorine-based sanitization systems often produce chloramines and other chemical residues that can be harsh on the skin and eyes.
By contrast, saltwater purification systems generate chlorine from salt through electrolysis, which helps to maintain a consistent and appropriate level of chlorine in the water. This can result in a gentler overall experience, allowing you to fully relax and enjoy the wellness benefits of the hot tub without any discomfort.
Increased water chemistry stability
To reach the recommended salt concentration of 2,000-3,000 parts per million (ppm) in your saltwater hot tub, you will need to add about 2 lbs of salt per 100 gallons (1kg per 40 liters) of water. The minerals in the salt will help to increase the buffering capacity of the water, making it more resistant to changes in pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels.
The addition of salt will also increase the total dissolved solids (TDS) in the water, which can make it less aggressive and more stable in terms of water balance.
By adding the appropriate amount of salt to the water, the hot tub’s purification system can help to maintain a consistent and balanced water chemistry, which can improve the overall water quality and make the hot tub more enjoyable to use.
No unpleasant odors
Hot tubs equipped with saltwater purification systems do not produce chloramines, which are chemical compounds that can form when chlorine combines with organic matter such as sweat, body oils, and other contaminants present in the water. Chloramines can cause skin and eye irritation, a strong “chlorine” smell, and other unpleasant effects.
Cheaper maintenance costs
Saltwater purification systems are more cost-effective in the long run because they typically require less maintenance and extend the life of the hot tub water. Salt is generally less expensive than chlorine for hot tub maintenance when using a saltwater purification system.
Hot tub owners do not need to purchase and store large quantities of chlorine, as they would with a traditional chlorine-based sanitization system. Instead, they can simply add salt to the hot tub as needed to maintain the appropriate level of chlorine.
Convert any hot tub to salt water
Almost any hot tub can be converted into a saltwater hot tub by adding a salt chlorine generator. The generator is installed in the hot tub and connected to the water circulation system. When the hot tub is in use, the generator uses the salt in the water to produce chlorine, which is then circulated throughout the hot tub to sanitize the water.
The 5 drawbacks of a saltwater hot tub
While saltwater hot tubs may be more cost-effective to maintain in the long run compared to hot tubs with traditional bromine or chlorine-based sanitization systems, they have a higher upfront cost.
This is because the saltwater purification system and any necessary equipment are more expensive to purchase and install compared to traditional sanitization systems. To give you an idea, check out this Saltron Mini Salt System, which costs around $300.
Salt cells need maintaining and replacing
Saltwater hot tubs, like any other type of hot tub, require some level of maintenance to ensure that they remain in good working condition. One aspect of maintenance for saltwater hot tubs is the salt cell, also known as the chlorinator cell.
This is a component of the saltwater purification system that is responsible for generating chlorine from the salt in the water. The salt cell will typically need to be replaced every one to three years at a cost of around $140, depending on the model.
In addition to replacing the salt cell, it is also important to clean it on a regular basis, preferably every two to three months. While there are some maintenance considerations to keep in mind with saltwater hot tubs, many hot tub owners feel that the easy maintenance, non-irritating properties, and lower long-term costs make them a worthwhile investment.
One potential concern with saltwater hot tubs is that the salt in the water can cause corrosion over time. However, if the salt concentration is maintained within the recommended range of 2,000-3,000 ppm, it is unlikely to cause significant corrosion or damage to the hot tub’s finishes or equipment.
While the amount of salt present in a saltwater hot tub is typically not enough to cause significant damage, it is still a good idea to regularly wipe down any exposed metal parts to prevent corrosion.
In addition to wiping down exposed metal parts, it is also a good idea to regularly check the hot tub for any signs of corrosion and address any issues as needed. By maintaining the hot tub and paying attention to potential corrosion issues, you can help to ensure that it remains in good working condition for as long as possible.
Warm water only
Saltwater purification systems have difficulty producing chlorine at low water temperatures. When the water temperature drops below 65°F, the system may struggle to generate enough chlorine to effectively sanitize the water, even if the salt cell is working at full capacity.
In some cases, the system may shut down as a self-protection measure when low water temperatures are detected. This can be a concern for pools, but it is generally not a problem for hot tubs and spas as long as the water temperature is kept above 65°F.
The reaction between the salt and ions in the water can alter the chemical balance of the water in a saltwater hot tub. This can lead to higher calcium levels in the water compared to traditional hot tubs.
As a result, hot tub owners may need to use a calcium remover to balance the water and prevent the build-up of calcium deposits. Calcium deposits can form on the acrylic surface of the hot tub, which may be noticeable during regular maintenance.
To prevent calcium build-up, it is important to maintain the appropriate water chemistry and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for water treatment and maintenance.