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A Sparkling Clean Hot Tub Without Chemicals

by Sonja Albrecht
Repair Home Columnist

Before the dawn of alternative sanitizers, hot tub owners faced a difficult decision: add harsh chemicals, or watch the hot tub go the way of the garden pond. Neither extreme dovetailed with the idea of a decadent outdoor soak. But a new generation of home spa sanitizers has brought much-needed improvement to hot tub maintenance. Here's how to keep your outdoor bath sparkling--without harsh chemicals.

Greener Sanitizers, Cleaner Water

Today's hot tub sanitizers have undergone vast improvement with the advent of greener alternatives. Your pool contractor can give you a complete rundown of your options, but here's a brief overview of natural hot tub cleaners.
  • Ultraviolet (UV). It's about time we heard some good news about UV radiation. UV sanitizers use the destructive radiation of the sun's ultraviolet rays to kill live bacteria and algae in the water. This system sterilizes the water by passing it through a small glass chamber where it is exposed to powerful UV light bulbs. Since there is no residual disinfectant in the water, however, your hot tub will need a dash of chemical sanitizer as a backup.
  • Biguanide. Polyhexamthylene biguanide, that is. As you may have guessed from the name, this is a synthesized chemical. But it's very gentle on the skin, eyes, and the environment. It even appears in some contact lens cleaning solutions. Biguanides are a big improvement on harsh chemicals such as chlorine and bromine, but they do require the same careful monitoring of Ph and alkalinity levels.
  • Ionizers. This chemical-free alternative kills microorganisms by releasing copper and silver ions into the water. Water flows through the hot tub's Ionization Unit, where electrified copper and silver allow anodes to produce positively charged particles in the water. As one enthusiastic pool contractor puts it, "These mineral ions then go about their business killing everything in their path!" Every offending bacteria and algae particle, that is.
  • Ozonators. Another villain recast as a savior, ozone gas (AKA a major component of smog) is injected into hot tub water, where it acts as a powerful sanitizer. 3000 times more powerful than most chemical sanitizers, in fact. Potentially harmful ozone off-gas is reabsorbed by the ozonator and converted into oxygen.

These home spa maintenance options represent a huge improvement over the traditional technique: dumping chlorine into the hot tub. You won't avoid chemicals altogether, but you'll greatly reduce or eliminate the need for them. A pool contractor can help you decide which option is best for you.

About the Author
Sonja Albrecht works as a writer and editor for an online media company. She has also taught college writing and completed a Ph.D. in English.