Saltwater vs Chlorine Hot Tubs

Owning a hot tub is not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It takes weeks of thinking and planning because it is a long-term investment. But we take refuge in the fact that having a hot tub in our homes will always be worth it.

One of the many decisions you will make is whether you'll get a traditional chlorine-infused hot tub or one with a saltwater purification system. These words may come off as jargon to people who only want to be relaxed in a hot tub, but they're actually pretty simple. Read along to know more.

What is a Water Purification System?

Waiting for your water to smell funny or discolor before changing it can threaten the physical wellbeing of its users. But changing the water every week is simply impractical. Water purification systems or processes are put in place to keep your hot tub water from smelling off; or getting murky. There are two kinds.

Chlorine Pools

We all know chlorine is infused in water to keep it sanitary. Like a regular backyard pool, hot tubs need cleaning chemicals such as chlorine every time the water is changed. Every now and again, chlorine shocks are also put in the water to refresh it.

Chlorine purification is more common among hot tub owners because it's the first method practiced since it was manufactured. Therefore, chemical supplies are accessible from almost anywhere.

Saltwater Pools

Another option to keep your water breezy is to install a saltwater filtration system. Salt has natural antibacterial properties, so it's naturally clean and requires low maintenance (more on that later!)

One question we always get about saltwater pools is whether or not it tastes like the sea. The good news, it doesn't. Seawater is extremely salty because it has an extreme concentration of salt, which is at around 35,000 parts per million or ppm. A hot tub with a saltwater filtration system only has about 1,750 ppm. And water starts to taste at concentrations of about 3,000 to 4,000 ppm.

Pros and Cons of Each

Chlorine Pros

Chlorine is cost-efficient. Chlorine is an affordable chemical and has a long shelf life, so if you have the space, you can buy it in bulk.

Chlorine is effective. It has been the traditional cleaning method since it has been innovated, and that's because it gets the job done.

Chlorine is versatile. It's available in liquid, powder, and tablet forms for a wide range of uses.

Chlorine Cons

Before we discuss the threats that chlorine poses to us, let us clarify this: chlorine in itself is not harmful.

When chlorine is mixed with water, it forms what we call hypochlorous acid—which is responsible for killing pathogens and stopping them from contaminating the water. That's exactly how we want things to go, but that's not the end of the process.

Hypochlorous acid then infuses itself into the things it has just killed, and that includes ammonia from our sweat and urine. Hypochlorous acid then becomes chloramines—the real villain in pools.

Here's a great video by a YouTuber named Mark Rober cleverly explaining the concept,


So to make it accurate, we will list down the cons of chloramine.

Chloramine is an irritant. Because hypochlorous acid is corrosive, it tends to break down the protective moisture of our skin and let chloramine enter the pores. It causes various irritations and reactions, including but not limited to rashes, inflammations, and dryness.

Chemical burns and ulcerations. When our skins get direct contact with high chlorine concentrations, it can cause severe tissue damage that can sadly be irreversible.

Chloramine can worsen existing skin conditions. People with acne or dermatitis are at a much higher risk of getting their skins irritated by chloramine-rich waters.

Chlorine can fade our clothes. Because hypochlorous acid breaks down everything it comes in contact with, our clothes are also victims. This is why our clothes seem to fade more easily when we use them in chlorine purified pools.

Chlorine is more expensive in the long run. Sure, chlorine requires little to no upfront payment, but those small purchases amount handsomely if summed up.

Saltwater Pros

Low maintenance. All you have to do is make sure your pH and alkaline levels are balanced every now and then. Apart from that, cleaning could be done at least once or twice a year.

More affordable in the long haul. As mentioned earlier, you do not have to buy some form of chlorine every month.

Salt heals your skin. Completely opposite to chlorine, salt';s cleansing and healing properties are some of the things you will want to take advantage of.

Saltwater Cons

Saltwater filtration has a higher upfront cost. The saltwater filtration system works through a generator shocking the water to activate the salt's chlorine (salt is NaCl or Sodium Chloride, after all).

Salt corrodes. In greater concentrations (when abandoned), the salinity in the water can corrode your hot tub's vinyl lining.

Saline water is harmful to plants. Some states and counties have taken a proactive approach to this issue by banning the use of saltwater filtration systems altogether. Because of the water';s salinity, saltwater pools require extensive drainage planning.

Buying a saltwater hot tub or transitioning into one requires a great deal of research and planning. Good news though, we can always offer our professional opinion. You can give us a call at (520) 447-0741, and we will make sure to assist you the best we can.

Photo by: Zhang Kaiyv

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