Can You Use Bath Salts in a Hot Tub? (No, but you can use this)

Hot tubs are a great way to relax after a long day. That’s why so many spas and resorts use hot tubs at their facilities. But lots of people who are looking to enhance their relaxation have wondered can you use bath salts in a hot tub?

Here’s what I know from owning 4 hot tubs:

Bath salts, especially Epsom salts, aren’t recommended for hot tubs. Too much salt or oil can gum up the water & filter. If the salt is magnesium-based it can cause flash burns when it mixes with chlorine. But you can convert your hot tub to a saltwater hot tub resulting in smoother, softer, & better-smelling water.

But that’s just a quick snapshot. There’s a lot more to know about hot tubs and how you can enhance your hot tub experience, and take it to the next level?

For instance, there is a way to use bath bombs somewhat safely in a hot tub. And there are a few hot tub-safe aromatherapy products too that can make your hot tub smell and feel more luxurious.

So let’s explore some options.

Can Epsom salts be used in a hot tub?

Epsom salts are a chemical composition called Magnesium Sulphate, which is an Alkaline chemical compound.

For a long time now, Epsom salts have been thought of as having healing properties. That is why many people all over the world soak parts of their bodies in them. People have reported:

  • Relief of sore muscles and joints
  • Increased ability to flush toxins
  • Relief from joint problems

However, you should never add Epsom salts to your hot tub!

This is because salt levels above 1500 ppm can be corrosive in a spa depending on the pH level. And to get the full benefit from Epsom salt, they recommend a whopping 20,000ppm!

So if you got even halfway to the recommended dose of Epsom salt, it would be almost 10 times higher than it should be to avoid damaging your hot tub.

An unbalanced pH level in your hot tub can cause other issues, such as corrosion of the hot tub equipment (gaskets, seals, plastic pieces, metal parts, etc.) and reduced performance of the hot tub sanitizer.

Most importantly, chlorine and magnesium should NEVER MIX! These two chemical compounds, when mixed, cause a reaction that would create flash burns on your skin. (source)

Epsom salt in your hot tub will also cause the buildup of Total Dissolved Solids. In turn, this causes scale to build up, which damages your hot tub.

Can you use essential oils in a hot tub?

Essential oils can help you feel relaxed or invigorate you.

They can also help soothe aching muscles and are commonly used to help manage stress, anxiety, and a host of other ailments. Using essential oils in your hot tub can increase the spa-like effect of your hot tub.

However, you must use essential oils in the RIGHT way.

Aromatherapy is often used as an add-on to massages, and research suggests that it can provide extensive benefits for both the mind and body. Today, aromatherapy is defined as the controlled use of essential oils to promote physical and spiritual well-being.

The power of aromatherapy has been studied extensively, and clinical trials support its effectiveness for promoting relaxation.

So, it sounds like a great idea to put some of these oils in your hot tub and enhance the relaxation, right?

Unfortunately, your hot tub isn’t built to circulate and filter thick substances like these oils. Adding oils that are designed for hot tub usage can cause build-up and damage to your hot tub over time.

However, there IS a product on Amazon designed for a spa-like aromatherapy experience!

It’s called InSPAration Hot Tub Spa & Bath Aromatherapy (click to see it on Amazon). An Amazon’s Choice product with tons of awesome reviews. Best of all, it contains no oils to gunk up the water or filter and it WON’T change the pH or throw other chemicals out of balance.

Free shipping too!

Some oils can cause a photosensitive or allergic reaction on your skin.

This means that after your skin has been exposed to the essential oil if it is exposed to sunlight or other UV lights, you may experience:

  • A rash
  • Blisters
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Symptoms similar to a bad sunburn

Photosensitivity is mostly caused by citrus essential oils. (source)

However, there are certain aromatherapy options specifically designed to safely enter your hot tub water care system. They come in a wide variety of fragrances and forms. These include crystals, liquids, salts, and capsules.

But one of my favorite products to add is called Silk Balance Natural Hot Tub Solution (click to see it on Amazon). It softens the water and eliminates bad odors from it, creating a more spa-like experience.

How can I make my hot tub smell nice?

A smelly hot tub is more common than you think.

The first thing to do is to take your hot tub’s cover off. Hot tub covers, especially after many years of use, can build up bacteria (especially in the cracks and crevices). They can also become water-logged.

This leads to them smelling bad.

Move the hot tub cover away from your hot tub, and determine if the smell is coming from it or the water. And if it is coming from the cover, this will save you the time of playing and balancing with the chemical levels.

If you determine that the cover is indeed the source of the foul odor, simply clean the cover thoroughly and put it back on.

If it turns out your water is the culprit of the bad smell, here’s what you should do:

Step 1:

The first step in decontaminating unbalanced and smelly water is to hyper-chlorinate the water.

This will give your water an extra dose of sanitizer to help kill the bacteria in it. To hyper-chlorinate, bring the chlorine level in your spa to at least 100 parts per million.

Use granular chlorine, such as a Cal-Hypo product (click to see my pick on Amazon) to do this.

Pre dissolve the chlorine granules in a five-gallon bucket. This is so the rough granules don’t damage the acrylic surface of your hot tub. Add the chlorine and then circulate the water at high speed for a half an hour with the cover closed and all jets turned on.

This will ensure maximum circulation.

Step 2: 

After you’ve done this, leave the hot tub cover off for a few hours.

This will allow the gases to escape. You should only do this when you know it will not rain or be windy. This is because you do not want debris to fly into your hot tubs water, ruining the chemical balance you just fixed.

Step 3: 

If you do all this yet the smell continues, consider draining your hot tub entirely.

After circulating the hyper-chlorinated water, add an item like Oh Yuk! (click to see on Amazon) to your water. Oh Yuk! will clean out any biofilm build up in your plumbing, jets, or filtration system.

After completing the cleaning, you’ll empty your spa water and complete a refill. Then just treat the water normally as all of that bacteria build-up should be gone.

Still struggling with smelly or cloudy hot tub water?

There are several possibilities and solutions. Luckily some of those solutions DON’T involve draining and refilling your hot tub.

So, if your hot tub water is smelly and cloudy, check out this recent article. I get into all the probable causes and solutions and get you back soaking faster.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Do bath bombs ruin hot tubs?

While it’s possible to find some bath bombs that are OK to use, they CAN RUIN your hot tub if you aren’t careful.

Many bath bombs come filled with glitter, confetti, or even flower petals. While it makes the hot tub look cool, these can damage the jets of your hot tub.

The particles clog up the jets, which causes them to malfunction or stop working.

You can stop this from happening by wrapping the bath bomb in a nylon sock and putting it in the water. This way the coloring still happens, but the little pieces of glitter, confetti, or flower petals won’t clog up the jets.

Bath bombs can also leave behind oil. You’ll need to clean your hot tub to get rid of it. If not, it will cause damage to the pipes.

If you find any bath bombs without confetti or glitter, these can be used safely in your hot tub. However, overall it seems like a lot of extra work or risk, so it isn’t recommended.

All of those oils, debris, glitter, etc can also find their way into your filters too.

Proper filter cleaning is critical and will extend the life of your filter (saving you money as they aren’t cheap). So make sure to do a quick clean with a kitchen sprayer or garden hose every 3-4 weeks, especially if you have used bath bombs.

Then do a deep chemical soak every 3 months. I walk you through all the steps of both in this recent article.

What’s better, a salt water hot tub or chlorine?

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.

So while you don’t want Epsom salts in your hot tub, you can create a more spa-like experience by converting your hot tub to saltwater.

Next, the saltwater 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 less 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.

Overall, it really depends on what you are looking for in your hot tub experience. Weigh the differences between the two systems and determine which one you like more.

I get into all the pros and cons of saltwater systems in this recent article.

I even show you a fairly inexpensive solution you can add to convert yours that doesn’t require a pro to come out and install it!

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Did I answer all your questions about whether it’s OK to use bath salts in a hot tub?

So what did we learn today?

Epsom salts should not be used in your hot tub because they can cause damage. Additionally, many types of bath bombs can cause damage to your hot tub. Although if you take the right precautions and clean up afterward you can use them.

You also shouldn’t use essential oils in your hot tub, and instead, check out some of the aromatherapy I mentioned above that are safe to use in your hot tub.

Most bad hot tub smells come from water that is not well-balanced or has biofilm buildup in the plumbing. Luckily, we also covered solutions for all those issues too.

Ultimately, changing your water regularly is the key to keeping it safe and enjoyable to soak in.

I get into how often you should change your hot tub water in this recent article. But I also show you how I drain mine in just 15 minutes, saving a ton of time over the usual 2-3 hours.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

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.

Recent Content