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Should I Use Salt Water In My Hot Tub?

salt water hot tub

If you're in the market for a hot tub or are a seasoned hot tub owner, you've likely heard about the supposed benefits of using salt water and why its the greatest and easiest to maintain system, but is this true? We are sharing why a salt water hot tub is probably not the best option for many people due to:

  • Additional Routine Maintenance
  • Higher Costs
  • And Readily Available Alternatives

So, if you still think salt could be a good fit for you, read on and then decide for yourself.

Additional Regular Maintenance 

Are salt systems maintenance free? While most people are under the impression that salt systems are almost completely, if not entirely, maintenance free, this is not the case at all. In a perfect world, salt systems are great; however, there are many variables involved in making them work that must be regulated. Firstly, the salt cell must be changed every few months to stay in working order. While cell replacement is not all that difficult and can be done yourself without the help of a service professional, it is still a necessary extra step.

Salt water is naturally harder, which means that over time, calcium scale builds up on the cell and makes it inefficient. This means that you will need to routinely clean your cell with a specialized cleaner. You will also need to use a water softener when filling your hot tub to help keep hardness levels down. Periodically you may need to partially drain and refill or completely drain your spa and start over.

Also, despite the belief that salt systems are maintenance free, the chemical balance must still be tested and regulated. Alkalinity and pH can still fluctuate with a salt system and balancers will need to be added.

Higher Maintenance Costs Compared to Chlorine

The upfront costs associated with a salt system for your hot tub are relatively low; however, the ongoing maintenance costs are higher. The salt cell cartridge requires replacement every 4 months on average. A pack of three, a year's supply, costs around $300. As stated before, the cells are fairly easy to change, so there does not need to be an additional service call cost, but it is still added upkeep. 

Salt water also tends to take an extra wear and tear on your equipment due its natural hardness. The calcium level of your water will rise with any added granular chemical, but rises especially sharply with salt water. This means you will need to spend more on water softener products and may even need to more frequently drain and refill your tub. If you are on well water, you should expect to incur even higher costs to soften your water. All in all, you can expect to spend about $600-800 yearly for additional maintenance on a salt water hot tub. 

When deciding salt water vs chlorine, be sure to assess your and your family's needs. If costs aren't a major concern and you have skin irritation problems, salt may be a good option. Do your research and talk to your local hot tub dealer to determine what is best for you.

Alternatives to Salt

If you are someone who has considered salt water due to skin insensitivities to chlorine or bromine, you still have other options. Many chemical lines offer an enzyme solution that provides sanitation to the water while being gentle on skin. Also, have a UV light and/or Ozonator can help with sanitation and require a lighter chemical treatment to keep the water clean.

Key Takeaways

Salt systems, in theory, can be a great way to sanitize your hot tub; however, in reality they are often burdensome and not really worth it. Due to higher costs and added maintenance, you are often better off looking at other alternatives. With this in mind, for some people, salt can be really great, ,just so long as you are willing to put in the extra effort.

Still Have Questions About Salt Water Hot Tubs?

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