Could a hot tub chemical make you sick?
Using hot tub chemicals to sanitize, freshen, and balance our hot tub water is an up-hill and often futile battle. This is because there are always bacteria feeding biological contaminants like oils, soaps, lotions, soap residue and even proteins in the water of a spa or hot tub without a pre-filter system in place. Adding to this issue is the presence of “biofilm”.
Because these contaminants are microscopic, they can pass through the pours of most standard cartridge filter systems, continuing to circulate within the hot tub allowing dangerous and, potentially life threatening, bacteria to thrive. These floating contaminants are captured and the bacteria carrying biofilm must be intercepted by a much tighter mesh. Otherwise they will continue to circulate in the hot tub water, putting them in direct contact with the bodies of anyone entering the hot tub.
One of the biggest challenges for spa and hot tub owners is that many of these contaminants, such as calcium are white, in the case of biofilm, can even be transparent. This is of particular concern as most filters are also whit and the contaminants cannot be seen even when significant amounts of material is in the water or when some may get caught on a filter. It is often the smell of chlorine that alerts the hot tub owner to the presence of bacteria in the water. Chlorine only emits that familiar odor when it is being broken down during the process of killing bacteria. In fact, the only time you smell that strong chlorine smell from your spa or hot tub, is when bacteria levels a comparatively high.
While using spa chemicals to kill bacteria is something good and we definitely want that to happen in our hot tub, it is all too easy to forget that the dead bacteria are, in fact, another source of protein for the survivors. This now begins to explain the “often futile battle” we fight to keep our hot tubs sanitized, fresh, and balanced.
So what can we do?
By now you have probably realized that the only solution to winning the war on bacteria is to ensure that they and their nutrition are completely “removed” from the water – dead or alive!
One of the most effective systems to ensure that you keep your hot tub bacteria free is to use a 10 micron polypropylene media filtration system. That said, most standard filter cartridges don’t come close to that level of filtration. There are some very good reasons why this is true. Notably among these reasons is that to use a filter with that size mesh in a cartridge filter could create a blockage and burn-out the hot tub pump.
Cartridge filters can be cumbersome and, frankly, annoying to remove and install. As they would quickly become clogged with debris the likely result of using a cartridge filter like this would be that the owner would need to complete the chore of maintenance every month to 90 days. Not exactly a relaxing option. This is why the concept of pre-filters came into vogue. A pre-filter offers all the benefits of an inline filtration system but is so quick and easy to install and replace that it can be done on the fly, with no tools, and will not, therefore, create the blockage issues that can cause the pump to burn-out. At the same time, so long as it is a 10 micron polypropylene media filter, it will be incredibly effective at ensuring that all contaminants can be effectively removed from the hot tub water. All this happens before the water even reaches the standard cartridge filter.
How come it has to be polypropylene?
If you are unfamiliar with polypropylene, it is an incredibly helpful material when it comes to filtration of certain waterborne contaminants. Its greatest benefit is that it contains a positive charge. As many of the particles that feed and house bacteria are negatively charged, the material itself works much like a magnet. Rather than attracting ferrous metals, however, this magnet attracts those negatively charged materials and hold on tight to them in the mesh of the filter. So, by using this material we can gain two benefits. First, the tight weave of the filter itself. Second, the positive charge of the material pulls the unwanted, floating contamination to itself as the water passes through the filter.
Want a healthy clean spa alternative to another hot tub chemical kit?
Below is a video with a little more information on pre-filters. The video is specific to MAAX Spas & Whirlpool Spas, but the the Natural Spa company that is featured has been around for since 1997 and is constantly creating new filters and improving its products. If you agree that innovation and keeping your hot tub bacteria free are both good things, we encourage you to watch it.