Believe it or not, pH balance and Ron Burgundy DO have something in common – they’re both “kind of a big deal”. In the case of pH, it is one of the most critical facets of ensuring the spa chemistry is where it needs to be. Today we’ll explore why pH balance is important in a hot tub.
One of the first questions many people ask when they’re new to water chemistry is “Why is pH important?” There are many correct answers to this question, and with that comes the elimination of many common hot tub myths:
- Bather comfort. Far and away, the most important reason the ideal pH range in a spa is 7.4 to 7.6 is because a healthy pH for the human body is approximately 7.5. When the pH of the hot tub water matches the pH of the fluids in one’s body, the water will feel much better than if the two are not aligned. This contradicts the myth that has seemingly existed forever, that discomfort caused by water is the result of too much chlorine. This notion is mostly false. When people complain of itchy skin, irritated eyes, and other annoyances when using a hot tub, 99% of the time, it is the result of improper pH balance. If the water doesn’t “feel right”, the pH is probably not in balance.
- Hot tub will live longer. People often inquire as to how long a hot tub should last, and the answer is contingent on several variables. One of the biggest, is whether or not proper pH is maintained in the spa. For instance, if the pH always tends to be higher than 7.5, the water is too alkaline. This can cause calcium scale, which can build up on the equipment, plumbing, jets and all over the spa. The calcium scale significantly reduces the life of those spa components. Alternatively, if the pH is too low, it is too acidic. Acidic water is corrosive, and will eat away at the equipment, plumbing, jets and spa. If the pH is kept around 7.5, the water generally will not form scale and it won’t eat away at the hot tub either!
- Water clarity. Another common myth is that clarity of water is an easy gauge of how clean the water is. While everyone desires water that’s crystal clear, it should be clear for the right reasons. Acidic water will generally be absolutely beautiful, sparkling clear but it will also be corroding everything it comes into contact with. Alkaline water will sometimes be cloudy, even when the filter is clean and the sanitizer is properly maintained. Water that has the correct amount of sanitizer, a properly working filter and correct pH balance is the best recipe for clear water.
- Sanitizer effectiveness. Whether you are using chlorine, bromine, or some other type of water care, the majority of sanitizers are most effective when the pH is 7.5. When pH is lower than 7.5, sanitizers tend to be overactive, which not only contributes to the already irritating nature of the acidic water, but those sanitizers get used up too quickly because they’re working too hard. If the pH is higher than 7.5, the sanitizers are far less effective and may contribute to the cloudiness of the water. Maintaining a proper pH is the best way to ensure that sanitizer is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do – eliminate contaminants.
For water that looks inviting, feels great and ensures that everything in the hot tub does exactly what it should do for the length of time it’s supposed to, take care of the pH. Stay tuned for next week’s post on how to corral that evasive pH!