What is Oxidizer for Hot Tubs? (Same as shock? How often?)

Hot tub owners love to soak in our tubs. But sometimes all the chemicals you need are confusing. A lot of new hot tub owners have wondered what is oxidizer for hot tubs?

Here’s what I know from owning 4 of them:

Oxidizers are the same thing as shock. There are chlorine-based & non-chlorine products. While sanitizers remove bacteria and viruses from the water, oxidizers remove non-bacterial contaminants & organic matter. They also turn bromamines or chloramine back to their original state helping with the sanitizing process.

But there’s a lot more to know about hot tub oxidizers than just that. So let’s keep going!

There’s a lot more to maintaining a hot tub than what first meets the eye. But don’t fret, it’s quite simple once you read up and understand it all.

Hot tubs are one of the best ways to relax and erase any stress in your life. But you have to keep up maintenance, otherwise, the water will become filled with bacteria and diseases that can make you sick.

In this article, you’ll learn some of the important aspects of maintaining your hot tub, including oxidizers, sanitizers, and what shocking is.

There IS a distinct difference between oxidizers and sanitizers. Both are an important part of cleaning your water and ensuring it is safe to soak and relax in.

Read on to find out all about maintaining your hot tub.

What is hot tub shock and is that the same thing as an oxidizer?

Shocking a hot tub means that you apply a dose of chlorine or non-chlorine shock to the hot tub water.

The purpose of this is to break down unwanted bacteria, organic waste, and other contaminants. This is so your hot tub’s water is clean and safe to soak in.

Hot tub shock is an oxidizer. An oxidizer is a chemical that takes electrons from a particle when it encounters one. Basically, the oxidizer breaks down organic matter. As previously stated, this ensures your hot tub water is clean and safe to soak in.

Shock can come in various forms, including liquid and powdered. Chlorine shock can come in granular form. Non-chlorine can come in a salt form. And of course, there is liquid chlorine.

You should always check your hot tub owners manual or manufacturer to ensure you can use the sanitization method of your choosing. You should always carefully monitor the number of chemicals in your water.

Shocking your hot tub also removes bromamines and chloramines. Those are a by-product of sanitizing your water with either chlorine or bromine.

Bromamines and chloramines are bad.

That’s because they fool your test strips into thinking your water has the correct amount of bromine or chlorine in it. And often it’s very low or may have none at all.

Then, when you use a test strip and think everything’s fine, and don’t add more bromine or chlorine, you can put yourself at risk for bacteria or viruses.

So shock your hot tub about once a week to prevent this.

When should I shock my hot tub?

As I mentioned, you should shock your hot tub once a week.

This ensures that bacteria are killed and your hot tub is sanitized. Shocking also removes organic compounds that are added to the water by anyone who bathes in it.

Multiple bathers and heavy usage can increase the number of organic compounds in your hot tub’s water. A final reason for shocking is that it ensures the reactivation of your water sanitizer (bromine or chlorine). More on that soon.

To shock your hot tub, first remove your hot tub cover so that oxygen can reach the water. Next, make sure that the pH level is correct. It should be between 7.2 and 7.6 for a chlorine sanitizer, and between 7.0 and 7.4 for bromine sanitizer.

Additionally, if you’re unsure about the difference between bromine and chlorine, read this recent article. One is definitely better for hot tubs than the other. There’s also no harm in switching from one to the other (but don’t use both at the same time).

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Next, make sure the jets are on so the water is circulating. You should measure out 1/2 oz of non-chlorine shock per 400 gallons of water, or 1.25 oz. of chlorine shock per 400 gallons of water.

Add the shock to the water, and then leave the cover off of the hot tub for twenty minutes.

Not sure how many gallons are in your hot tub?

It’s actually easy to calculate! In a recent article, I break down a few of the most popular methods, but I also give some averages if you just want to ballpark it.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can you shock a hot tub too much?

It is always possible to put too much shock in your hot tub, or any chemical you use to treat the water. This really only happens if you are not careful, and accidentally add too much.

Don’t sweat it though. This happens to all of us.

Always make sure you read the label of the shock you are using. Different shock/oxidizers have different strengths. You want to make sure you don’t underdose or overdose the hot tub’s water.

Also, ensure you carefully measure your shock dosage. If you are even 1/2 an ounce off, either under or over, you can underdose or overdose your hot tub.

In general, there is no set time frame of how long you must wait before you can enter your hot tub after shocking it. It can take anywhere from twenty minutes to twenty-four hours.

This is especially true if you shock your hot tub too much. All you can do is continually test the chlorine levels (if using a chlorine shock) and wait until they are stabilized.

Unsure about how soon you can enter your hot tub after adding chlorine or bromine?

As with shock, it can sometimes be as short a time as 20 minutes. But there are a few important factors to understand before you climb in. Luckily, I have a recent article that goes into great detail about how to know how long to wait.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What’s the difference between an oxidizer and sanitizer?

There is a difference between oxidizers and sanitizers.

A sanitizer is used to destroy disease-causing germs. When you sanitize water, it means you are removing bacteria from your hot tub.

On the other hand, an oxidizer/shock does not destroy bacteria and is also not a sanitizer.

An oxidizer uses oxygen to consume the organic waste that bathers bring with them into the hot tub’s water. The oxidizer converts organic waste into harmless gas that is released into the atmosphere.

So to recap, sanitizers kill germs, bacteria, and disease.

Oxidizers are used to remove non-bacterial contaminants and organic matter. This includes the by-products from chemicals, dirt, algae, leaves, and anything brought in from bathers.

Oxidizers convert chloramines (if you use chlorine) in the water back into chlorine. Or if you use bromine, it will convert bromamines in the same way.

This ensures that chlorine/bromine is active in the hot tub, and will sanitize the water. Oxidizing (shocking) your hot tub regularly is an important step in keeping your hot tub’s water clean.

Should I use a chlorine shock or a non-chlorine shock?

Many people are unsure of what they should use to clean their hot tub; chlorine shock or non-chlorine shock.

Let’s start with pricing. Chlorine granules come out cheaper (6.55 a pound) by the pound than non-chlorine shock (MPS).

Next is strength. Both are relatively even in strength.

Here’s another way to break down both of them. Basically, chlorine will dissolve quickly and has a neutral pH.  It sanitizes and oxidizes organic contaminants and diseases. It also has a lower price point. Finally, there is a chemical odor when chlorine is used.

MPS shock has a low pH and also dissolves quickly.

It is an excellent oxidizer and a good sanitizer.

Additionally, unlike chlorine shock, you can use your hot tub almost immediately after shocking it with non-chlorine shock. You should wait at least twenty minutes before entering. There is also no odor and is more expensive than chlorine shock.

Overall, I prefer bromine for my sanitizer and a non-chlorine shock.

It’s easier on the skin, has less odor, and holds up better in hot water than chlorine-based products. My favorite non-chlorine shock on Amazon is from Leisure Time.

It’s an Amazon’s Choice product with almost 1,000 near-perfect reviews. It comes with free 2-day shipping.

And it comes in at just a little over $7.00 per pound, so only a small amount over what a chlorine shock would cost you.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE CURRENT PRICE ON AMAZON.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about hot tub oxidizers?

When you shock a hot tub, you apply a dose of chlorine or non-chlorine shock to the hot tub water.

The purpose of this is to break down unwanted bacteria, organic waste, and other contaminants. This is to ensure that you have clean and safe water to soak and relax in.

Hot tub shock is an oxidizer.

Oxidizers break down organic matter, ensuring clean water. You should shock your hot tub once a week. Shocking removes organic compounds that are added to the water by anyone who bathes in it.

Sanitizers and oxidizers are two different chemicals, used for two different purposes. A sanitizer is used to destroy disease-causing germs. An oxidizer uses oxygen to consume the organic waste that bathers bring with them into the hot tub’s water.

It is always possible to put too much shock in your hot tub. Ensure you properly follow the instructions. It can take anywhere from twenty minutes to twenty-four hours for the water to be safe to soak in.

Non-chlorine shock (MPS) and chlorine shock have a few differences that will help you determine which one you think is best for you.

Chlorine shock is cheaper than non-chlorine shock but keeps you out of the hot tub longer.  Both have relatively the same strength. Chlorine has an odor, while the non-chlorine shock is odorless.

Remember to check your chemical levels, including pH and alkalinity. Enjoy your relaxing soak!

Too much chlorine can cause skin rashes and irritation.

If you have sensitive skin, read this recent article to find see all my top recommendations for the best chemicals to use. Just click that link to read it on my site.


Photo credits which require attribution:

Spa and hot tub area by Victoria Herring 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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