The Basics of Hot Tub Chemistry

Keeping your hot tub’s chemicals balanced is essential to maintaining clear, clean water that is safe for all users. Knowing how to properly balance your hot tub’s chemistry will also help keep your equipment in great shape for years to come.

Below you’ll learn the ins and outs of hot tub chemistry for beginners to keep your hot tub running strong.


Chlorine is a sanitizer, which means it kills viruses, destroys bacteria, and prevents unsightly algae. It is the most commonly known sanitizer and is highly effective in keeping water clean and safe. Chlorine comes in easy to use tablets and granules. To keep your water at its best, make sure your chlorine level stays between 3 and 5 mg/l.


Like chlorine, bromine is a sanitizer, but many hot tub owners prefer it because it is a mixture of sodium bromide and chlorine, which means it lacks the overpowering smell of chlorine. You can choose between tablets and granules, both of which are simple to use. For the best defense against bacteria and algae, keep bromine levels between 3 and 6mg/l.

Shocking Your Hot Tub

Every hot tub owner should shock their hot tub on occasion to eliminate odors, dead organic material, oils, and dirt. If you want to shock your system while receiving added benefits, use a non-chlorine shock that includes water clarifiers and pH buffers. For a simple and efficient shock, you can use the chlorine or bromine you have on hand at a higher level.


Your hot tub’s total alkalinity level (TA) reflects the water’s ability to keep the pH stable. The ideal level for TA is between 125 and 150 mg/l. A level below this can cause corrosion while a level above this will cause cloudy water, so it’s essential to keep the TA in check. When dealing with TA, first adjust the total alkalinity. Next, check and adjust the pH. Completing the process in this order will ensure that the pH stays balanced.

pH Level

When we consider the alkalinity or acidity of hot tub water, we’re talking about pH. A pH between 0 and 6 reflects acidic water, a pH of 7 is neutral, and readings between 7 and 14 indicate basic water.

Test strips are the easiest way to make sure your pH is balanced. If you keep the pH level between 7.4 and 7.8, your water will be slightly basic and at an ideal level for sanitizing. This range also ensures that your hot tub stays protected while your users remain comfortable.
Always avoid allowing your pH level to fall below 7. If it does, it can quickly damage your jets, pump seals, and head cushions. If you discover that your pH is low, it’s crucial to remedy it as quickly as possible, and certainly in fewer than three weeks.


It’s best to check the calcium level in your hot tub each time you refill it with new water. Keeping your calcium level between 100 and 200 mg/l is best, as lower levels can cause corrosion and higher levels cause cloudy water and calcium deposits that can damage the heating element, equipment, and shell. If your calcium level is above or below these levels, there are many products you can use to balance the calcium and remove deposits.

Now that you know the basics of managing your hot tub chemicals, download our buyer’s guide and start looking for the perfect hot tub for your lifestyle.

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