Once you make the decision to purchase a hot tub for your home, chances are you’re pretty anxious to get it set up, filled up, and hop in for a nice, long soak. However, before you install your new hot tub, you need to decide what type of water-sanitizing system you want: chlorine or saltwater.
Both have their pros and cons, so choosing the best system for your spa will depend entirely on your needs and preferences.
Of all the hot tub-sanitizing chemicals available, chlorine is probably the most popular. Chlorine is so popular because it’s less expensive than other sanitizers, it’s incredibly simple to use and it tends to be stronger and more effective at keeping the water clean. In addition, chlorine is known to hold up well in the sun, and is also very easy to balance—just dip a testing strip, note the results and add more chlorine accordingly.
One of chlorine’s disadvantages is how harsh this chemical can be on your skin, leaving it feeling dry and even irritating your eyes. Chlorine’s telltale smell is another disadvantage for some, since it can be overwhelming. However, for others, this smell is a comforting reminder that the hot tub water is clean. Given chlorine’s strength, when too much is present in the water, it has a tendency to bleach swimsuits and cause them to wear out faster than they should. But when balanced properly, this should not happen.
Saltwater systems have increased in popularity over the past several decades as more people are turning to natural products in place of harsh chemicals. These systems have gained favor in many households because water sanitized this way tends to be more gentle on the skin, with the system acting somewhat as a water softener in addition to a sanitizer. Caring for a saltwater system takes less time and effort, which makes these systems desirable among busy homeowners.
For most consumers, the biggest drawback to a saltwater system is the cost of both the system itself and the salt necessary to maintain it. Another disadvantage is salt corrodes metal. So these systems can cause serious damage to a hot tub if they’re not diligently cared for. Because of the risk of damage, saltwater systems usually are installed aftermarket, a change that voids most hot tub warranties.
The Choice Is Yours
Prior to deciding which system is best for your hot tub, consider your own personal needs and the amount of time and money you desire to put into hot tub water care. Once you know what’s most important to you, the decision should be easy.