Are Salt Water Hot Tubs Better? (maybe, here’s why)

I’d heard that saltwater hot tubs were easier to maintain and cost less to operate. But I wondered, can any hot tub can be turned into a saltwater hot tub and are salt water hot tubs better?

I decided to investigate and here’s what I learned:

Saltwater hot tubs use a small generator to convert salt to chlorine, eliminating the need for chlorine or bromine. Many users find they balance the water less frequently, resulting in big cost savings in addition to being far gentler on the skin and less hassle overall. So in many ways, saltwater hot tubs are better.

But it’s not quite that simple, and depending on what kind of hot tub you own now, it could be really expensive to convert it to saltwater.

So let’s keep reading!

There are several benefits to saltwater hot tubs. Of course, there are always disadvantages to switching as well. Read on to find out if a saltwater hot tub is right for you!

How does a salt water hot tub work?

A saltwater hot tub is exactly what it sounds like. It is a spa system that uses salt to keep the water clean instead of sanitizers such as bromine or chlorine.

So how exactly does a saltwater hot tub work?

First, you need to purchase a salt a saltwater chlorinator or chlorine generator. This saltwater generator converts salt to chlorine, which in turn sanitizes your water.

The generator contains a chlorinator cell composed of electrodes and titanium plates. When placed into the saltwater, the generator uses a small, safe amount of electricity to transform salt into chlorine.

It is unlikely that you will even taste the salt in your hot tub.

This is because seawater has a salinity of 35,000 parts per million (ppm). The recommended level of salinity for saltwater hot tubs is between 2,000 ppm and 3,000 ppm.

As long as you keep your hot tub clean and maintain it properly, you won’t even know you’re in saltwater.

Are salt water hot tubs safe?

With the magic of saltwater sanitation systems, you can have the ocean in your backyard!

But some people are still wary of saltwater hot tubs, don’t be! Saltwater hot tubs are completely safe, just like normal, regular hot tubs.

In some ways, saltwater hot tubs are even better than normal hot tubs. You’ll have clean water without the possible annoying side effects of chlorine. However, a saltwater sanitation system can be expensive at first.

The upfront cost of saltwater sanitation systems can be more expensive than the traditional hot tub installation. They can cost well under $500 with many just a few hundred dollars. However, the cost is offset by eliminating the recurring cost of water care supplies and test kits.

Salt is corrosive, but this corrosion is not a serious concern.

The level of salt in the ocean is much higher than in the hot tub. Additionally, the majority of high-end hot tubs are made with non-corrosive materials.

There is a slight increase of risk of damage to small parts of the hot tub due to exposure to salt. These parts include rubber seals and metal fixtures.

You will also need to replace your salt sanitation systems cell every two to five years.

This depends on the quality of the cell, frequency of use, and the level of care given. The titanium the cells are made out of can chip due to low salt levels or inadequate maintenance.

Be warned, there have been claims of saltwater systems damaging underwater lighting, heating systems, and liners.  However, saltwater sanitation systems are generally very safe!

Can you convert your hot tub to salt water?

You can absolutely convert your normal hot tub to one that uses a saltwater sanitation system!

The upfront cost of adding a chlorine generator can be upwards of $500. But most systems are plug and play (no plumber or electrician needed) and are about $400 bucks.

Most users also find that in the long run, the maintenance cost of hot tubs that use saltwater is way cheaper.

First, purchase a saltwater chlorine generator. If you haven’t changed your water in a while, go ahead. It’s not crucial, but it’s best to start with a fresh batch of water.

Check the chemistry of your hot tub. Especially keep an eye on the sanitizer level. It should be between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm.

To install your saltwater system, you’ll need a GFCI outlet. That’s just a fancy term for one of those outside electrical outlets that often has a plastic cover and also has a tiny button on the front that is like a mini-breaker.

Most houses have at least 1 nearby breaker you can run an extension cord to.

If you don’t have a GFCI outlet, you’ll need to hire a  professional electrician to install one. Once you have the outlet, mount the power supply to the wall of the hot tub and connect the salt cell.

Next, secure your cell holder with the given materials. If your sanitation system didn’t come with the materials, electrical tape is a good way to hold it in place. You should then read your instructions to ensure you correctly place the cell, either in the water or dangling over the edge of the tub (this may vary).

Plugin your generator to the GFCI outlet. Finally, add salt!

What is the best salt water conversion kit?

For a hot tub, most of which are between 400-600 gallons, this Saltwater Smart Chlorine Generation System by ControlOMatic will be great!

Just click that link to see the current price on Amazon.

Here are some of the many reasons I really like this one:

  • Under $400
  • Almost all 5-star ratings
  • Works on any hot tub up to 1,000 gallons
  • Plug and play – just run an extension cord to a nearby outlet
  • No plumbing required – Just drop the electrode into the water to start converting to salt
  • Self-cleaning – Just replace the electrode cell every 3-5 years
  • No more bromine or chlorine needed (but do monitor and adjust pH and alkalinity as needed)

CLICK HERE TO SEE IT ON AMAZON

What kind of salt do you use in a hot tub?

You can’t use normal table salt for a saltwater sanitation system.

Rock salt, table salt, and ice melt are all common forms of salt. These three common salt types contain impurities and additives which can damage plates in your salt generator.

You will want to use additive-free food-grade salt (not table salt) or refined mineral salt. These salts contain the correct level of sodium chloride you will need to achieve clean, healthy water for your spa.

My pick for the best salt to use is this 40-pound bag from Aquasalt on Amazon (click to see on Amazon).

Free shipping, under $25 bucks, and almost all 5-star ratings tell you what you need to know.

How much salt do you put in a hot tub?

About 1.5 pounds of salt per 100 gallons of water. So for the average hot tub owner, you’ll need about 7.5 pounds of salt.

How often do you add more salt?

Basically, you’ll want to change the salt every time you change the water. For most people, that’s going to be every 3-5 months depending on a few factors.

How often should you change your hot tub water?

I break down everything you need to know in a recent article. I cover whether every 5 months is fine, how to know when it’s time to change it by smell and appearance, and why some users need to do it every 3 months.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

So that bag of salt I recommended above should last you over a year, so this is cost-effective!

Make sure you invest in some saltwater test strips (they are included with the brand of converter I recommended above).

This will ensure the chemical makeup of your water is safe. The saltwater system won’t work correctly if the pH and alkalinity are kept within the recommended levels.

What are the benefits of a salt water hot tub?

There are a large number of benefits that come with saltwater hot tubs.

To begin with, there is an increase in water softness and buoyancy. The chlorine created by the saltwater generator keeps the quality of the spa water consistently soft for longer periods.

Next, the water is also more gentle on the eyes and skin.

Regularly chlorinated water can harm sensitive eyes and skin. Since this chlorine is naturally generated in saltwater hot tubs, it is less likely to irritate your eyes and skin.

A third benefit of the saltwater hot tub is that the unpleasant smell of chlorine is absent.

Salt systems prevent chlorine from changing into chloramines that produce an unpleasant smell. Therefore you are not coming out of the hot tub smelling terrible.

A fourth benefit, and the most important, is that a saltwater hot tub requires cheaper maintenance. After the generator is set up, the system will begin to sanitize the water.

Just be sure you test the water once a week. You won’t need to purchase chemicals like bromine or chlorine, just the hot tub salt.

But a common misconception is that you don’t need any chemicals.

You still need to balance the pH and alkalinity. Not sure how or why pH and alkalinity are important? In a recent article, I get into all the downsides of these being off and what the difference is between pH and alkalinity.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

You may also find you need to occasionally shock the water or add stabilizer. This isn’t set it and forget it. But many find they can go weeks without needing to do anything, which is awesome.

What are the best salt water hot tub brands in 2020?

There are some top quality hot tub brands out there. Here are a few that have been talked about by everyone. All of these brands can be equipped with saltwater generators, or have saltwater hot tubs you can purchase.

The first is the brand Jacuzzi. This is the brand that has been used to measure all other brands. These hot tubs work for long periods, mostly without issue.

Sundance Spas is another popular brand.

They are the largest builder of acrylic hot tubs in the world. Many of their models include a Wi-Fi module that allows you to control the tub through an app.

Cal Spas is another great brand, first established in 1978. They have a strong selection of various models and sizes of hot tubs. The majority of their hot tubs are geared towards family.

A fourth brand you should know about is Hot Spring Spas and Hot Tubs. They are similar to Jacuzzi in both price and quality. They are also known for their comfort and design.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about hot tubs, saltwater and if a saltwater hot tub is better?

A saltwater hot tub is exactly what it sounds like.

It uses a saltwater sanitation system to create chlorine out of the salt you put in your hot tub. This chlorine is then turned back into salt. The recommended level of salinity for saltwater hot tubs is between 2,000 ppm and 3,000 ppm.

While the upfront cost of a saltwater c, the maintenance cost is much cheaper. In your hot tub, you will want to use additive-free food-grade salt or refined mineral salt. Everyday salts such as table salt, rock salt, and ice melt can damage your hot tub.

Several benefits come with a saltwater hot tub. These include an increase in water softness, less irritation on sensitive eyes and skin, cheaper maintenance cost, and lack of chlorine smell.

Not quite ready to commit to a salt water system?

You can still keep hot tub rashes away by checking out my recent article where I cover the best hot tub chemicals for sensitive skin.

I get into the chemicals you must have but also some of the ones that are a waste of money. But most importantly, what chemicals are easiest on the skin and eyes.

Just click that link to read it on my site.


Photo credits which require attribution:

A Hot Tub by Sykes Cottages is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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