Swim Spa Chemicals

Do Swim Spas Need Chemicals?

If you don’t have access to a lot of space, a swim spa may be an ideal substitute for a full-sized swimming pool. Similar to a full-sized swimming pool, you’ll need to regularly add chemicals to your swim spa. Why do swim spas need chemicals? Because swim spas are closed systems that simply recirculate a finite amount of water over and over. Chemical additives help maintain the balance of the water chemistry after all the body oils, soap residues, cosmetics, personal care products and comestibles end up on the water. Swim spa chemicals also prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and other potentially dangerous pathogens that thrive in warm, dirty water.

Can You Run a Swim Spa Without Chemicals?

You could run a swim spa without chemicals, but it’s highly recommended that you don’t. As mentioned, failing to add chemicals to swim spa water will encourage the proliferation of all sorts of nasty bugs and viruses that could end up making you very sick. Think of running a swim spa without chemicals the same as using the same bathwater for weeks or months on end. Eventually, it’s going to be saturated with dirt and will be far from pleasant to swim in. If you drained the swim spa after every use, as you would with a bathtub, you could get away with operating a swim spa without chemicals, but that would take a long time and would likely be much more work than is practical.

How Can You Cut Down on Swim Spa Chemical Use?

If you’re concerned about using too many chemicals in your swim spa, the best way to cut down on the amount you have to use is to keep the water as clean as possible. This would mean showering before you got into the water, replacing the cover when you’re finished using the swim spa, not eating and drinking in the swim spa and adhering to a regular water testing and swim spa maintenance schedule. However, even with all these actions in place, you still wouldn’t be able to eliminate the use of chemicals.

What About Alternative Swim Spa Cleaning Systems?

You may have heard about alternative swim spa cleaning systems such as ozonators, saltwater systems, ultraviolet sanitizers or ionizers. The fact is that all these types of alternative systems still rely on chemical sanitizers to some degree. They may reduce the actual amount of chlorine you need to physically add to the water, but as in the case of saltwater systems, chlorine is still a primary sanitizer, but the source is just different. So yes, you can cut back on the chemicals that you’re physically adding to the swim spa with some of these alternative systems, but you’re not getting away from chemicals entirely.

What Type of Chemicals Do You Need for A Swim Spa?

There are two main types of chemicals that you’ll need to use in a swim spa: water balancing chemicals and sanitizers.

Water Balancing Chemicals

As their name suggests, these types of chemicals keep the water chemistry in balance. This includes pH levels, total alkalinity levels, calcium hardness levels and more. Properly balanced water chemistry leads to more comfortable water and helps inhibit the proliferation of organic compounds. Allowing these levels to get out of balance can lead to irritating, cloudy, foamy and/or foul-smelling water. It can cause deposits to form and clog up the plumbing. It can also lead to rusting of metal components and etching of the surfaces in and around the swim spa. By testing the water regularly and acting upon the results, you can prevent these things from occurring.


Sanitizers are used to quickly eliminate bacteria in the water. Most sanitizers are chlorine or bromine-based and work by breaking down the chemical bonds in bacteria and other pathogens. Sanitizers are added to the swim spa a few times a week to prevent bacterial growth. They’re used in conjunction with an oxidizer that helps reactivate chlorine that’s been bound up with ammonia.

Now that you understand why swim spas need chemicals download a free buyer’s guide for more information.

Swim Spa Guide

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