Can I Use My Hot Tub With High Chlorine or Bromine Levels?

When you fancy a soak, having to wait around because sanitizer levels are too high can be pretty annoying. But is a high chlorine or bromine reading really that bad?

Avoid using your hot tub if the chlorine or bromine levels are above the recommended safe levels. Bathing in excess sanitizer is not only uncomfortable but can result in a range of health problems and may even cause death in extreme circumstances. Wait 24-48 hours for levels to reduce naturally.

Don’t rely on your senses when it comes to sanitizer levels. Many wrongly assume that a strong “chlorine” smell is the result of excess sanitizer. In actual fact, the odor is from chloramines, which is caused by a lack of chlorine.

What happens if sanitizer levels are too high?

Chlorine is such a powerful disinfectant that it’s classified as a dangerous chemical. Chlorine levels above 5 parts per million (ppm) can form carcinogen chloroform and other harmful chemicals.

When these chemicals are inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin, they can cause health issues like cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and even death.

Additionally, putting too much chlorine-based shock in a hot tub can create unsafe levels of chlorine gas. A chlorine level of 10 ppm or higher is extremely dangerous because it can cause harmful effects on the human body and can also lead to chlorine poisoning.

Inhalation of bromine vapor can also lead to headaches, skin irritation, coughing, and breathing difficulties. In more serious cases, bromine gas can damage organs such as the lungs, kidneys, and liver and result in intestinal complications.

Always wait until the sanitizer levels have reduced enough to become safe before taking a soak.

SanitizerSafe levels
Chlorine1-3 ppm
Bromine3-5 ppm

Here’s a closer look at some of the harmful effects of bathing in excess chlorine and bromine:

Muscle contraction

Soaking in hot tub water that contains excess chlorine can cause muscle contraction in the chest, which leads to pain. It can also cause the airways to become narrow, making it difficult to breathe. 

Skin irritation

Another effect of excess chlorine is that it can cause your skin to feel dry and itchy, leading to skin irritation and chemical burns. Along with skin dryness, there’s also a risk of hair dryness and brittle nails.

You should note that even with a safe chlorine level in your hot tub, you may still experience side effects if you’re soaking too frequently. 

Eye irritation

Another common symptom is when the eyes start to sting; however, most of the time, the cause of this stinging isn’t the chlorine but another chemical known as chloramine, which affects the pH balance of your hot tub water. 

The human eye has a pH of 7.4-7.6, so anything outside this range would irritate the eyes. It is also important to note that chlorine works more effectively within this range.

If you experience any form of eye irritations after taking a soak in your spa, getting some fresh air and rinsing your eyes with plain water for about 10-15 minutes can help. Still, you might need to consult a medical professional if the symptoms get worse.

Lung irritation

Chlorine and chloramine are respiratory irritants. High levels of these irritants can cause side effects like lung irritation, especially if you have lung injury or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Sometimes, these high levels can cause chlorine fumes to rise from the spa water and trigger a person’s asthma. Additionally, inhaling large amounts of this gas could cause pulmonary edema or fluid build-up in the lungs.

Change in hair color

Another effect of highly chlorinated water is that it turns blonde hair green. Since you don’t generally dip your head in hot tub water, this case is more common among people with long hair.

You should also look out for symptoms like nasal irritation, wheezing, blurred vision, burning in the throat and nose, nausea, vomiting, and coughing. 

Mishandling chemicals like chlorine can lead to serious injury. You should always read the instructions before using the chlorine product, as there are different types. For example, liquid and powdered chlorine are used differently.

It is also advisable to store chlorine in a well-ventilated place in case there’s a leak or spill.

How long does it take for sanitizer levels to drop?

If you’re not in a rush, you can wait for the sanitizer levels to drop naturally. This process takes one to two days to complete.

If you’re unable to wait around for the sanitizer levels to lower naturally, you can speed up the process by diluting the chlorinated water with fresh water.

But if you’re looking for an even faster means, then you should use a neutralizer product. All you need to do is add the chemical to your hot tub water, and within 24 hours, the sanitizer levels will have dropped to acceptable levels.

How to lower the sanitizer level in your hot tub

There are three ways to reduce sanitizer levels in your hot tub:

1. Naturally  

The easiest way to lower excess bromine and chlorine levels in your hot tub is to do so naturally without adding chemicals or water. Just leave the hot for a day or two, and the chemicals will break down naturally by sanitizing all the impurities in the spa water.

You can speed up the process by uncovering the hot tub and turning on the jets.

2. Diluting with fresh water

Diluting the spa water is another way you can lower the sanitizer levels. You would need to remove some of the chlorinated water and then add fresh water to dilute the remaining water in the tub.

3. Using a neutralizer

If you’re looking for how to lower chlorine in a hot tub fast, you should use a neutralizer. It is easy to use and is one of the most cost-effective methods.

Neutralizer contains sodium thiosulfate, which removes free and combined chlorine and bromine from spa water. 

When using the neutralizer, you must be careful not to overdose the spa because this will make it difficult to raise the bromine or chlorine levels back up.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a seasoned hot tub enthusiast. With many years of experience in the industry, he offers valuable insights on hot tub maintenance, health benefits, and relaxation techniques.

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