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What Chemicals Should I Use In My Inflatable Hot Tub?

You just bought your first inflatable hot tub. So you’re probably thinking you’re ready to host your first hot tub party, right? WRONG! Before you even think of jumping in your inflatable spa, you’ll want to be sure to treat your inflatable hot tub with a few chemicals.

Don’t worry. This isn’t a particularly difficult task—it’s just a matter of keeping a few water levels in check. So, are you ready to explore all there is to know about the chemicals you need to use in your inflatable hot tub? Then join us as we break down the basics.

What Chemicals Should I Use In My Inflatable Hot Tub?

Most of the chemicals you place in your hot tub are there for the sake of keeping your water levels stable and clean. You even get a few options when it comes to the type of chemicals you use. So here’s everything to consider.

Spa Sanitizer — Bromine or Chlorine

First things first. You’ll want a strong sanitizer to keep your hot tub in top shape. In fact, picking a powerful sanitizer works perfectly to eliminate those yucky bacteria that can build in your inflatable hot tub. So place this product near the top of your shopping list.

Now when it comes to sanitizers, you’ll find two major options: chlorine and bromine. As a whole, both finish the job quite well. So be sure to choose the sanitizer based on your personal needs and preferences.

Let’s first talk about chlorine. Here, you’ll find two different options to choose from—tablets and granules. Again, there’s no wrong answer here.

Tablets are what will fit inside that floating light bulb shaped container that shipped with your inflatable hot tub. Simply throw in as many tablets as your owner’s guide suggests. In most cases, these tablets will last you just under a week. But if you need them to last longer, some floating dispensers will allow you to adjust the rate at which the tablets dissolve. So if you’re going on a vacation, this feature is pretty useful.

On the other hand, you can throw granules directly into your inflatable hot tub. Then simply turn on the jets and let them dissolve in the water in 1-2 hours. Obviously, this method works much faster than the tablets. Also, keep in mind that you can also combine water from your hot tub with the granules in a small container and dissolve the sanitizer yourself. Even better, you can add the granules after you finish your time in your spa. So you can ensure your hot tub is clean for the next time you want to jump in.

Why Choose Chlorine over Bromine

  • It’s cheap.
  • It’s fast.
  • It’s easy to use.
  • It’s super easy to find at just about any spa store.

What to Watch out for with Chlorine

  • It produces a strong odour.
  • Tough on sensitive skin.
  • It outright burns if you add too much.
  • Chlorine can mess with your water’s pH levels—increasing your maintenance.

Bromine

Does chlorine not sound appealing for you? For those of us who don’t want our inflatable hot tubs smelling like a public pool, there’s always bromine. And much like chlorine, you get two options here—tablets and granules.

Bromine tablets work the same as chlorine. You simply add them to your floater and watch as the tablets slowly dissolve. Notice how we said slowly? That’s because bromine tablets dissolve at a much slower rate than chlorine—so you’ll need to wait about 5 hours before jumping in your inflatable hot tub.

Your granules will also work similar to chlorine. But with these, your only option is adding them directly inside your inflatable hot tub—you can’t dissolve them beforehand. Also, keep in mind that these granules will leave a sticky residue-like substance on your body. It’s not harmful, but it’s annoying enough that you’ll want to wash it off after jumping out of your portable spa.

Why Choose Bromine over Chlorine?

  • No odours.
  • No messing with your water’s pH levels.
  • Not irritating to your skin when used in correct amounts.
  • Great for sensitive skin.

What to Look out for with Bromine

  • It’s expensive.
  • It’s slower than chlorine.
  • Sunlight reduces its effectiveness.
  • More finicky than chlorine to maintain and use.
  • Harder to find at local stores.

Making the right choice here is pretty easy. Simply select the sanitizer based your personal lifestyle and needs. BUT—make sure you NEVER mix the two. And if you ever switch, you’ll need to perform a water change.

pH Increaser and Decreaser

So now that you’ve put sanitizer in your water—you’ve done all that’s needed and your hot tub will take care of itself from here, right? Again, wrong! Sanitizers are only the start of inflatable hot tub maintenance. If you want your water to reach optimal conditions, you’ll need to check and maintain pH levels as well.

Let’s start by answering the big question on your mind—why pH? On the surface, pH might not seem like something huge. But, if your water ever becomes too alkaline (high pH) or too acidic (low pH), things start to break. For example, you might notice your heaters, filters, and jets corroding—and in some cases, they stop working altogether. So keep in mind that bad pH levels will become expensive over time.

So before we jump into products, you’ll first need to know how you’ll adjust your pH levels. In other words, are you raising or lowering your pH? To answer the question, you have two options. The first is test strips. These are pretty simple—you just dip them in your water and get your result in a matter of 30 or so seconds. It really can’t get any easier.

Your other option is test kits. At first glance, these look like mini chemistry sets—and they’re pretty fun to use too. You simply collect some of your inflatable hot tub’s water in a tube. Then you’ll add the included chemicals. And within a few minutes, the water will turn a certain colour giving you the pH level.

Whichever test you use is up to you. Just keep in mind that your inflatable hot tub’s ideal pH level ranges from 7.2 to 7.8. Now that you find your pH level, you can decide which chemicals you’ll need for your water.

For reducing pH levels, we found Bestway Clearwater CH0008 pH Minus Decreaser for Swimming Pool and Spa Treatment did the job exceptionally well. If you need to increase your pH levels, then give Bestway Clearwater CH0005 pH Plus Increaser for Swimming Pool and Spa Treatment a try. We found this one got our levels where we needed in no time at all.

Alkalinity Increaser and Reducer

Unfortunately, chemicals aren’t all you’ll need to keep your pH levels optimal. Instead, you’ll also need to check your alkalinity levels. The logic behind alkalinity gets pretty complicated and sciencey. So we’ll skip the fluff and get to the bottom line.

If your alkaline levels rise too high, your pH levels will also increase rapidly. Likewise, when your total alkalinity levels drop too low, your pH will also drop to undesired levels. And when your pH levels go bad—well, you know the slippery slope from here.

But what all this really means is that you’ll need proper total alkalinity levels before you can even play with your pH levels. Thus, it’s important you check your inflatable hot tubs total alkalinity.

You’ll check your water’s total alkalinity with test strips. And much like pH tests, these strips mostly work the same. You dip and remove the test strips from water. Within a matter of seconds, the paper turns colours letting you know your total alkalinity levels. Pretty easy, right?

As far as desired levels go, you’ll want your water’s total alkalinity to fall in the range of 80-120 ppm. As you might have already guessed, you can add chemicals to your water to alter your total alkaline levels.

For raising your total alkalinity, we recommend Happy Hot Tubs Spa TA Plus Total Alkalinity Increaser. But we also found Leisure Time Alkalinity Increaser worked just as well. For reducing your total alkalinity, Hot Tub Works Spa pH minus Spa Alkalinity Reducer works.

Calcium Increaser

Your calcium levels will refer to the overall hardness of your water. Ideally, you’ll want some calcium in your water; otherwise, expect some corrosion of your equipment. But at the same time, too much calcium is also bad. In excessive amounts, calcium will cause your inflatable hot tub’s water to turn cloudy. You might even notice some foam as well.

Generally speaking, you’ll add more calcium if you live in a soft water area. Also note that once you add calcium to your water, you’ll need to repeat the process every time you change your water.

So how do you know when you need to add calcium? As a rule of thumb, you’ll add a calcium hardness increaser to your water when the hardness drops below 100 ppm. Also, if you live in a hard water area, you’ll want to fill your water with a softener instead of a tap. This will prevent any limescale and minerals from building up and damaging your pipes and filters.

Keep in mind that lowering your calcium levels is not something you can do with conventional chemicals. But products such as Leisure Time Defender work well for stabilising your calcium levels and prevent too much calcium growth.

Of course, if you need to add some calcium to your spa, you can also employ a great product like Leisure Time Calcium Booster.

Algaecide

Algae might be a healthy part of most water ecosystems. But let’s be honest—in your inflatable hot tub, it looks outright disgusting! Seriously, who amongst your friends wants to hop in an algae infested spa? Let’s also not forget how that murky water leads way to extra bacteria growth—yuck!

So to kill any unwanted algae in your inflatable hot tub, you’ll want to pick up a quality algaecide. ClearWater CH0006 Algaecide does the trick quite well. We recommend using this product weekly in your inflatable spa after performing your first water shock.

Water Clarifier

Sometimes, you’ll find your water just looks dirty and murky. In these cases, water clarifiers are your all-around solution. Overall, these products round up all the dirt particles in your pool—this makes it easier for your filter to trap these unwanted contaminants. Also, this product works great for cleaning up the residues of your other chemicals. Use the algaecide once and you’ll immediately see why you want a water clarifier.

A great product is Clearwater CH 0009 Clarifier. This will do a solid job of reforming your water to that clear look.

Foam Remover

Another unsightly feature that’s made any hot tub owner wince in disgust is the nauseatingly hideous foam. Even more disgusting is knowing that this drab layer to your inflatable hot tub forms from shampoos, deodorants, lotions, bodily oils, and just about anything else that flakes off the human body.

Sometimes, foam will even form from any chemicals you put in your water. Either way you look at it, there’s no denying that foam causes a murky and gross appearance to your inflatable hot tub’s water. But don’t worry—removing this foam is a simple and easy task.

All you’ll need for this is a great foam remover. Clearwater’s Foam Remover for Swimming Pools and Spa Treatment will do the job just fine. From here, just squeeze the chemical into your water whenever foam appears. After a few treatments, the foam will disappear entirely. Best of all, you won’t even need to touch the foam! You can’t argue with hands-free cleaning.

Stain Remover

Over time, natural scale will leave stains and marks in your inflatable hot tub. This will occur even more frequently if you live in hard water areas—or accidentally add too much calcium. Thankfully, removing these stains is pretty easy. All you’ll need is something like Clearwater’s Stain Remover for Spa and Pool Treatment. We found this product even removed metallic stains as well. So it’s great for keeping your inflatable hot tub looking fresh and new.

Natural Spa Chemicals (Mineral Sticks, Ozone, and Enzymes

Have you ever wanted a more natural solution instead of the manufactured chlorine and bromine? Then you’ll be happy to learn natural spa chemicals do exist.

Your first choice is mineral sticks. This product employs the power of silver and copper ions to keep your water fresh and clean. Moreover, this eco-friendly option also comes with a much more mild smell when compared to the strong odours of chlorine and bromine.

Sadly, not all is perfect here, so you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. For starters, mineral sticks lack the sanitation power of chlorine and bromine, so you’ll want to combine these sticks with a small amount of one or the other to keep your water bacteria free.

Because you’ll be combining these mineral filters with bromine or chlorine, you will also spend some more money at the end of the day. And lastly, mineral filters do not naturally fit to an inflatable hot tub’s filter. So to get these to work in your inflatable hot tub, you will need to summon your inner MacGyver—as you’ll need to be pretty resourceful to get these to fit. A great mineral stick sanitizer includes the Zodiac W20750 Nature2 Spa Stick Mineral Sanitizer.


This is a great product for keeping your water clean. Just remember to replace your stick every 3-4 months. You’ll also want to add MPS to your pool once a week with stick sanitizers. While this will allow you to use less chlorine/bromine in your pool, do note that MPS will cause some tests to cause your chlorine levels to read abnormally high—so don’t be too alarmed if that does happen. Even better, with some extra filtering and careful attention to water balance, you can forgo the chlorine/bromine altogether. For a good MPS product, give Zodiac W25000 Nature2 Spa Cense a look.

An alternative to mineral sticks is ozone. For the most part, this is another eco-friendly means of keeping your hot tub clean. Only instead of placing a bulky stick in your inflatable hot tub, you’ll inject the ozone into your water pipe with an ozonator. For products, the Del Ozone Spa Eclipse Dual Voltage works great for inserting ozone in your water.

Lastly, enzymes work as a great natural sanitizer. These work by targeting oils and destroying them before they are able to grow and pollute your water. Sadly, much like mineral sticks, this product is not strong enough to work on its own. Therefore, you will need to add a small amount of bromine or chlorine as well. One of the best enzymes you’ll find on the market is the Leisure Time Spa Enzyme.

Wrapping Up

Simply put, inflatable hot tubs are awesome. There’s no better way to relax after a long stressful day than to sit back and unwind is soothing jets of warm water. And let’s not forget how these spas make for great parties.

But remember, to get your inflatable hot tub to its peak condition, you will want to invest in some chemicals. But don’t worry, as long as you read through our guide, you’ll have all the information you need to keep your inflatable spa running for years to come. Sure, it might sound like a lot of work now. But give it a few weeks—and when you’re lazing in your at-home spa, you’ll see for yourself why hot tub maintenance is worthwhile.

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