How Long Will a Hot Tub Last Without Chemicals?

Portrait of young woman sitting in swimming pool

Using the right chemicals is crucial to have a safe, clean, and good smelling hot tub. But since some people react strongly to chlorine, you’ve probably wondered how long will a hot tub last without chemicals?

Here’s what I’ve learned:

On average, a hot tub will last about a month without sanitizer before the water becomes unsafe to soak in. Without sanitizer, the risk of contamination increases with every soak. And sanitizer aside, if the water used to fill the hot tub has poor alkalinity or pH, that can pose a risk immediately.

And, if chemicals are being used, it could last 3-4 months before the water needs to be changed.

It’s not advisable to not use chemicals as this increases the risk of having a hot tub that’s host to contaminants and harmful microorganisms.

When used in the right proportions, hot tub chemicals are safe and gentle on the skin. So, it’s wise to make them a regular part of the maintenance regime.

In this article, we’ll explore some vital info around alternatives to using a hot tub without chemicals.

Let’s dive right in.

Can you use a hot tub without chemicals?

It’s not advisable to use a hot tub without any chemicals. Without chemicals, the hot tub becomes unsafe and can cause hot tub rash, and the water becomes host to harmful microorganisms. Over time, the contaminants in the water also have an adverse effect on the hot tub’s equipment.

While we should all be conscious about our imprint on the environment, the truth is that there is hardly any viable alternative to using chemicals for maintaining a hot tub.

Even “alternatives” that do not require chlorine or bromine often need shock in order to make sure that the hot tub water is sanitary and safe.

Of course, you can decide not to use chemicals, but that makes your hot tub gross and dangerous. Why?

The contaminants and harmful microorganisms would have a field day because the warmth of the tub makes it an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive!

In time, the water would also be smelly and discolored. That’s too high a price to pay for going natural if you ask me.

Say you’ve added chlorine or bromine to the hot tub water, how soon after can you enjoy a soak?

I explored this in some depth in a recent article, where I shared the ideal wait time. Luckily, there’s 1 way that allows you to get in immediately!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can you go in a hot tub without chlorine?

It is OK to use an alternative to chlorine in a hot tub, but do not get in a hot tub without any sanitation method. Bromine is the most common alternative to chlorine. But there are also enzyme-based sanitizers in addition to salt water and Ozone systems.

Chlorine is cheap and fast-acting.

It’s the most common sanitizer, but there are options if you’re allergic to it or you just want a change. Let’s check out the options.

Instead of using chlorine, you could use bromine as your primary sanitizer. It’s not as harsh, it’s not as smelly, and it works more slowly, seeing as it’s more resistant to heat.

It’s simply a bit more expensive. It’s actually what I use. And, my wife and I have owned 4 hot tubs for over 15 years.

I even explored the differences between chlorine and bromine in a recent article of mine. I explained that bromine is more stable and more effective at killing bacteria and viruses, while chlorine is less stable, not as effective, and requires more frequent applications.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

If you don’t want to use bromine, you could use an Ozonator and minerals to kill off the bacteria and contaminants.

No matter the kind of sanitizer you use, you’ll need to shock the water weekly. So, you could use non-chlorine shock. However, I have found that a small amount of chlorine shock results in clearer water.

Filters are also a key component in keeping the water clean.

The filtration system circulates the water, traps, and removes contaminants. To keep the filters clean, you’ll need to wash them every 3 weeks, deep clean them every 3 months, and replace them every 12-24 months depending on how often you use the tub and if you change the water on schedule every 3 months.

Lastly, it’s vital that bathers have a shower before using the tub. This will dramatically reduce dead skin cells, lotion, shampoo, hair which all get into the water.

How long does it take for bacteria to grow in a hot tub without chemicals?

Bacteria could start growing in a hot tub without chemicals within 2-3 days. When bathers enter a hot tub, oil, dirt, grime, sweat, and germs get washed into the water. Some bathers may also have residue of urine and fecal matter on them.

In a few days, the tub can become a highly conducive host to bacteria.

Imagine having a bath in the same body of water day in day out, and imagine having friends and family over to do the same. It’s easy to picture how gross the water would quickly become, right?

It’d also become slimy in no time. Bacteria love warm slimy places.

This is why in just a matter of days, a hot tub that’s not been treated can become a health risk. Did you know that even when hot tub water is being treated with sanitizers, some bacteria develop a protective “coat” that makes them hard to kill?

It’s called biofilm.

It’s not hard to picture what’s likely to be the case in a body of water that’s left untreated. It’d be discolored, smelly, and contagious. Luckily the product Oh Yuk! on Amazon makes getting rid of biofilm quick and easy.

So, using the right chemicals is vital.

How often should you change the hot tub water? I explored this in a recent article of mine, where I advised that it should be changed 3-5 months depending on the frequency of use. But there’s 1 rule of thumb that makes the exact time frame clear.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Does it hurt the hot tub’s equipment to not have chemicals?

Hot tub equipment can be impacted negatively if the hot tub is left chemically untreated. High or low pH can lead to corrosion, and contaminants can clog the filters and jets. There can also be calcium build-up inside the heater, pump, or pipes.

Having a hot tub requires regular maintenance. One of such is checking and making sure the water chemistry is right.

When this is not done, the water can become too acidic. Its alkalinity or calcium level may be too high or too low, which can result in discoloration and corrosion of the equipment.

The use of sanitizers is another vital maintenance activity that involves chemicals. These help disinfect and rid the hot tub of contaminants.

They complement the work of the hot tub’s filtration system.

If they are not used, the filters would be overworked since they may be overwhelmed by the volume of debris it has to contend with. It would get very dirty quickly and can become defective.

Say chlorine is your sanitizer of choice. Is it safe to use your tub when the chlorine level is low?

I shared the answer in a recent article of mine. Unfortunately, there’s also 1 thing that can make chlorine levels look good on a test strip when the levels are actually too low.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What are the best natural alternatives to hot tub chemicals?

The best alternatives to traditional hot tub chemicals include enzyme-based chemical alternatives such as Spa Marvel or Baqua Spa, Ozonators, and salt water systems.

But, in most cases, it is difficult to completely dispense with traditional hot tub chemicals. Let’s check out an alternative to traditional chemicals.

We’ll look at Spa Marvel Trio on Amazon. It’s a combo that includes a cleanser, water treatment and conditioner, and a filter cleaner.

Spa Marvel chemicals are enzyme-based — they’re made of natural compounds. It’s packed with skin conditioning elements that moisturize your skin naturally.

They’re gentler on your skin and hot tub, and it’s awesome for sensitive skin.

It removes the contaminants, odor, and microorganisms that make your hot tub an unpleasant and risky place to be. It removes substances that have been trapped in your filter.

They’re relatively inexpensive and last longer than traditional hot tub chemicals. You can use a bottle for up to 3 months. It’s got great ratings on Amazon, and almost all are 5-star.

CLICK HERE to check out Spa Marvel Trio on Amazon.

Conclusion

Using the right chemicals in the right proportion is one of the secrets to enjoying your hot tub for a long time. 

In the article, we looked at the effects of not using chemicals and if one could use a hot tub without chlorine. 

We also checked out how long it takes for bacteria to grow in a hot tub when proper maintenance is not being done.

But don’t forget the impact on the hot tub equipment when chemicals are not used. And we wrapped up by looking at alternatives to traditional hot tub chemicals.

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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