The Simple Way to Balance Hot Tub Chemicals

balance hot tub chemicals

Maintaining the chemistry in your hot tub is relatively easy, once you know the basics. To help you keep your water clean and clear of bacteria, here is a simple guide for your hot tub chemicals that can be used as a quick reference.

First Things First

Before adding any chemical to your hot tub, remember to test the water. Test strips are crucial for ensuring your water levels are correct or, if not, for helping you determine which chemical to add. You always should make sure you have chemicals on hand to balance out the alkalinity, pH and sanitizer levels, along with performing a shock treatment on your spa.

Alkaline Balance

The most difficult part of testing the alkalinity of your hot tub is retrieving the test strip from the container. You must be careful to touch only the outer edges of the strip to avoid transferring damaging oils from your fingers onto the strip, rendering it unusable. Once retrieved, dip the strip in the water and wait for the alkaline color to register. Matching this color with the guide on the test strip will allow you to determine whether your hot tub needs an alkaline increaser. It will tell you if the numbers are too low or if you should contact the hot tub dealer to determine how to deal with too much alkaline in the water.

pH Balance

Balancing the pH levels in your hot tub is very much like balancing the alkaline, in that one dip of the same test strip will let you know if something is wrong. Ideal hot tub pH levels are between 7.2 and 7.8. When they fall below this, the water becomes very acidic and can cause eye irritation and put your hot tub at risk for corrosion. If the numbers are too high, the water becomes dirty, cloudy and unsafe. Depending on the reading, you will either add a pH increaser or a pH decreaser to return the pH to a safe level.

Shock Treatment

You should administer a shock treatment to your hot tub’s water about once a week. This treatment helps oxidize any organic contaminants that are in the water, helping the water return to a cleaner and more balanced state. It’s recommended you use dichlor shock when replacing the water in your hot tub and non-chlorine shock for regular maintenance.


Three types of sanitizers are used in hot tubs: chlorine, bromine and salt. Of the three, chlorine and bromine are the least expensive, which is why they are most commonly used. Salt water systems, which ultimately generate chlorine and bromine from salt, typically are not found in hot tubs because salt easily can corrode any metal parts within the tub. Sanitizing chemicals are essential to the safety of your hot tub. Too much or too little of these chemicals makes the water unsafe. It is important to check the levels of sanitizer daily and make adjustments as needed. Caring for a hot tub can be a lot of work, but is well worth it when you’re able to relax in the warm, bubbly water at the end of a long day.

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