Purchasing a hot tub is a big decision, and throughout the purchasing process, you might be considering a saltwater hot tub. Saltwater hot tubs have gotten a lot of attention over the past few years. They’ve been categorized as the safer, more natural, chemical-free alternative to traditional hot tubs, which might leave you to wonder, “Are saltwater hot tubs better than traditional tubs?”
The reality is that both saltwater and traditional hot tubs utilize chlorine to kill bacteria – the difference is that saltwater hot tubs create it through a chemical reaction involving salt. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of saltwater hot tubs, know that there’s a lot more to them than the manufacturers let on, things like saltwater hot tub maintenance, cost, and corrosion.
We’ve talked before about the myths of owning a saltwater hot tub, but there’s more to consider before going with that option. Here are our top 4 reasons why traditional hot tubs are superior to saltwater tubs.
Traditional hot tubs are cheaper in the long run
Saltwater hot tubs are often positioned as the cheaper option, but traditional hot tubs have many characteristics that make them cheaper in the long run.
Saltwater hot tub expenses
The chemicals used in hot tubs can be expensive, but you’d be mistaken if you believed that saltwater tubs didn’t require plenty of money to keep the water pure.
While salt is cheaper than typical hot tub chemicals like chlorine, the salt filtration system itself is so expensive that it often takes years to make up that initial investment. Additionally, the hot tub salt cell, or the chlorinator cartridge, can cost upwards of $800 and needs to be replaced every 3 years, making saltwater tubs a costly investment.
Salt is not gentle on parts and can cause the premature breakdown of your hot tub. If you care about preserving your hot tub, then you’ll want to choose a hot tub that isn’t salt-based.
Salt attacks metals, which can be a major problem for intricate parts like heaters, jet bearings, pump seals, and any other exposed metal parts. You’ll have to make sure you’re wiping these parts down regularly to avoid corrosion.
Hot tubs preserve pH balance better
Salt can mess with the pH of the water. pH balance is important to preserving your spa’s quality. If the water is too acidic, it can corrode parts of your hot tub. If it’s too basic, it can stain the tub or cause mineral scaling.
Salt can also result in higher calcium levels, which cause build-up. Owners will need to add a calcium remover to balance the water, which is ultimately adding a chemical into the mix. Another negative side effect of saltwater is the calcium residue that can coat hot tub surfaces and requires additional cleaning.
Both types of hot tubs require chemicals
As mentioned above, regardless of whether you’re considering a proclaimed “chemical-free saltwater hot tub” or a traditional, chlorine-operated hot tub, you’ll end up using chemicals in both scenarios.
When salt is mixed in with hot water in a specialized electric cell, a chemical reaction called electrolysis occurs. This reaction creates the chemical that keeps the water sanitary – chlorine. So whether you’re using chlorine upfront or are creating chlorine inside of your hot tub via salt, you’re inevitably using it one way or the other.
The smart thing to do is to choose the chemicals that are right for your spa to keep yourself and your hot tub safe.
Saltwater hot tub maintenance
A big draw of purchasing a saltwater hot tub instead of a traditional hot tub is that saltwater hot tubs don’t require as much maintenance.
This isn’t true, though. Regardless of the type of hot tub you choose, you’ll need to perform regular upkeep to ensure the water is clean. Saltwater hot tub maintenance is very similar to that of traditional hot tubs. Testing the water, balancing chemicals, and rinsing and cleaning the filters are all tasks that must be performed on both types of hot tubs.
You’ll also need to clean the salt cell every 60-90 days. You should also drain and clean out the hot tub twice a year, just like you’d do with a traditional hot tub.
Even though saltwater hot tub manufacturers claim these hot tubs are much better at staying clean on their own, and some even claim they’re self-cleaning, you should still clean the hot tub yourself to ensure the tub stays in the best possible condition and that the salt doesn’t settle on surfaces.
Finding an alternative to saltwater
If you’re still not sure whether you should buy a saltwater or traditional hot tub, there is a great alternative to the saltwater tub that might help you decide. You can equip your hot tub with an ozone generator, which is a water-purifying device that maintains the quality of your spa water. In simple terms, it works by injecting ozone into the water, resulting in fresh, clean water. These devices are extremely cost-effective at only $125 and only need to be replaced every 5 years.
Ozone devices are used in many other water purification situations, including water treatment plants, bottled water, and C-Pap machines. It’s a convenient way to sanitize your water without using chemicals.
If you’re looking to upgrade to a new spa, use our trade-in program to save $1,500 on your new hot tub. Rather than purchasing a saltwater hot tub, you can save money by investing in a quality tub from Cal Spas.
If you’re in the market for a hot tub, come see us at Cal Spas or give us a call. We’re happy to walk you through our extensive selection of quality spas.