If you’re in the market for a new hot tub, you’ve no doubt heard all the claims. Saltwater spas are “chemical-free” and “a breeze to maintain”. They’ll save you “a ton of money” and are “way better” for you and the environment.
The question remains though—is there any truth to these claims? While certainly popular in recent years, are saltwater systems actually superior to traditional chlorine or bromine-based spas?
We’ll break down all the facts so you can make a more informed decision when purchasing your next hot tub.
Myth #1: Saltwater hot tubs are chlorine-free
While it’s true that water and salt are about as natural as it gets, when the two are combined inside a specialized electric cell, a chemical reaction known as electrolysis occurs. This reaction creates—you guessed it—chlorine. So, the next time someone tells you their saltwater spa is chemical-free, you can politely correct them.
Now, they may claim that their saltwater system produces significantly less chlorine than what is traditionally added to a hot tub. This claim, again, is untrue as they produce roughly the same amount. That said, when it comes to sanitizing sweat, skin oil, and bacteria, do you really want less chlorine or the carefully calculated amount that has been proven effective for decades?
Myth #2: Saltwater hot tubs will save you money long-term
The thinking here is that a 5lb container of chlorine granules will cost you anywhere from $30–50, whereas a 40lb bag of salt will set you back only half that. The problem is, it could take you years—or even decades—to make up for the initial investment of these costly systems (usually priced somewhere in the $500–5,000 range, depending on the quality of the system).
That doesn’t even take into consideration the additional hot tub salt cell (also known as a chlorinator cartridge) that will need to be replaced roughly every 3 years, depending on your frequency of use and the quality of the cell. These replacement cartridges will typically cost you upwards of $800.
Myth #3: Saltwater hot tubs are simple to maintain
Sellers of saltwater spas will often tout their products as being self-regulating, meaning owners won’t be required to perform regular pH tests and chemical level adjustments. However, due to the reaction between the salt and the ions, a saltwater spa may contain higher concentrations of calcium than a traditional hot tub. This means owners will have to add calcium remover to balance the water or deal with the occasional calcium residue buildup on the edges of their tub.
Of course, other routine maintenance—such as rinsing filters—will still need to be carried out. Oh, and that saltwater cartridge we mentioned earlier? That will need to be regularly cleaned as well.
Myth #4: Saltwater is better for your hot tub
Unfortunately, the process of electrolysis is not an immediate one. Why is this a problem? Just ask anyone who lives near the ocean or in an area where icy roads are regularly salted, and they’ll tell you just how corrosive salt can be. Salt attacks metals in particular, breaking them down and causing corrosion and rust.
While this isn’t much of an issue for pools that are typically made from concrete, plaster, or tile, your hot tub has a lot more components that are susceptible to damage. You will need to regularly wipe down your heaters, jet bearings, pump seals, and any other exposed metal parts and accents (yes, even stainless steel) to avoid costly repairs.
Oh, and do you have young children that love to splash? Saltwater can damage plants and bleach deck boards over time, so you’ll want to hose off those areas after use as well.
Discover the Cal Spas difference
At Cal Spas of Minnesota, we don’t say whatever it takes to make a sale—we say it like it is. If we don’t truly believe our hot tub or swim spa is the best option for your family, we won’t sell it to you. It’s that simple.
For over 35 years, we’ve been offering Minnesotans a complete lineup of home resort and wellness products designed to turn their backyards and patios into their own private retreats. Contact us today for a free spa consultation.