Sanitizers and Oxidizers
Now that you understand what it means to balance spa water, let’s look at the chemicals that disinfect the water, making it clean enough to soak in. Close monitoring and adjustments of sanitizer levels are crucial to a healthy spa experience. High water temperatures create an ideal breeding ground for algae and bacteria. Plus, a heavy bather load makes it difficult to maintain the proper amount of sanitizer in the water at all times. Compared to a swimming pool, the low volume of spa water in relation to the number of bathers makes hot tub water a bit more difficult to manage. For example, it’s estimated that 2 people in a hot tub create contamination proportionate to that of 60 people in a typical swimming pool. If that doesn’t illustrate the importance of spa water care, consider this: One person in a spa produces about 1 liter of sweat per hour.
Despite the grossness of such alarming facts, rest assured that hot tub use is safe and healthy if water is sanitized and balanced per industry standards (see Recommended Water Balance for Residential Spas, at left).
The two categories of disinfectants are sanitizers and oxidizers. Sanitizers kill pollutants like algae and bacteria. Oxidizers (often sold in concentrated forms called shock) will burn up or remove any accumulated waste
products such as sweat, body oil, shampoo, soap, and urine. Spa water needs both a sanitizer for day-to-day use and an oxidizer for periodic shocking. Some common sanitizers, such as chlorine and bromine, also oxidize. Others, such as biguanide, are only sanitizers and require a separate oxidizing chemical to work effectively.
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