Salt Water Hot Tub
There's no doubt that saltwater hot tubs can feel better on the skin. Saltwater hot tub manufacturers market them as healthier, low-maintenance, chemical-free alternatives to traditional chlorine spas.
The truth is that there are just as many disadvantages to owning a saltwater hot tub as there are advantages.
To help you determine whether chlorine or saltwater is right for you, we'll point out the pros and cons of each.
Continue reading to learn more.
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Salt Water Hot Tub Cost
One thing to note is that saltwater hot tubs cost more upfront than traditional chlorinated hot tubs. You'll almost only find saltwater systems in premium hot tub models, which also come with other desirable features, such as energy-efficient foam insulation, LED lighting, quality hydrotherapy jets, and more.
For your average saltwater hot tub, expect to pay around $11,000 and up.
Compare that to the price of entry-level chlorine hot tubs, which can cost as low as $3,500, and it's easy to see how much of a premium you pay for the benefits of salt water.
Salt Water Hot Tub Benefits
There are a few prominent benefits you get to take advantage of when switching from a traditional chlorine hot tub system to a saltwater hot tub system.
Consistent Chemical Levels
One of the top advantages you get with a saltwater hot tub is consistency in the chlorine and bromine levels.
Saltwater hot tub systems use continuous monitoring to keep track of chlorine and bromine levels, generating only as much sanitizer as the spa water requires.
In turn, this system prevents your hot tub from generating extreme amounts of chemicals, keeping your water from giving off that undesirable chlorine scent.
Gentle On the Body
If you've ever come out of a chlorinated hot tub with red eyes, dry hair, scaly skin, or difficulty breathing, it's most likely because your body is reacting to chloramines. Chloramines are byproducts of chlorine that have a greater presence in traditional chlorine tubs than salt water tubs.
Because saltwater tubs use chlorinators that continually create minute amounts of chlorine, they are able to retain healthier sanitizer levels and reduce the number of chloramines in the water.
As an added bonus, salt water is naturally softer on the hair, skin, and eyes than chlorinated water. If you use bromine in your hot tub, you get to take even greater advantage of the above benefits.
Those with sensitive skin can greatly benefit from natural hot tub treatments. Ask any salt water hot tub owner, and they'll tell you how happy they are to be finished with the downsides of harsh chemicals involved in non salt water systems.
Any hot tub manufacturer that markets a saltwater tub as maintenance-free should not be trusted.
Every spa, saltwater or not, requires some level of maintenance. However, because saltwater spas use continuous concentrations of sanitizer, you don't have to spend quite as much time manually adjusting the water chemistry of your hot tub.
As a result, you won't have to buy or use as many hot tub chemicals, such as chlorine and bromine.
With all of that said, routine spa maintenance, including pH balancing and water testing, is still needed even if you have a salt water spa.
Reduced Ongoing Costs
You'll pay more for a bag of chlorine or bromine than you will for a bag of salt. Plus, salt is much more handler-friendly than standard water chemicals. The beauty of saltwater is that it retains salinity over time once you implement the initial dose. The only reason it may not remain steady is if you add fresh water or your tub becomes diluted with rainwater.
In essence, you won't need to purchase salt for your hot tub as much as you would need to purchase chlorine and bromine.
Drawbacks Of Salt Water Hot Tubs
While saltwater hot tubs use fewer chemicals, have plenty of health benefits, and are more self-maintaining than traditional hot tub models, there are still a few downsides to using a hot tub salt water system that are worth considering.
Higher Initial Cost
One of the main drawbacks of purchasing a salt water hot tub is that you will pay more upfront. As we said before, most saltwater systems can only be found in premium hot tub models from some of the biggest hot tub names on the market, including Master Spas and Hot Springs.
Saltwater Can Be Hard on Your Spa
While saltwater is certainly better for your body than chlorine, it can be damaging to the shell and components of your hot tub. Salt is a very corrosive material. If you've ever looked at old beachfront homes or commercial buildings, it's easy to see how much of a negative impact salt water from the ocean can have on them.
Relevant to a hot tub, saltwater can damage stainless steel fittings, jet bearings, pump seals, and heaters. When performing regular hot tub maintenance, you may notice a buildup of calcium residue on your hot tub’s acrylic.
Taking extra care to make sure salt does not sit on the materials or components of your hot tub for too long is a crucial part of the saltwater spa maintenance process. You'll have to periodically clean and wipe your spa and the area surrounding it.
This might require buying calcium remover to prevent corrosion and maintain the integrity of your hot tub’s materials.
Saltwater Cartridge Replacement
No matter what kind of hot tub you own, you'll have to clean and replace your filter at some point. The main difference between traditional and saltwater tubs is the addition of the saltwater cartridge, which is necessary for creating a chemical reaction. Though the longevity of the cartridge will depend on the model and manufacturer, most saltwater filter cartridges need replacing about every four months.
Unfortunately, these filters aren't cheap, and the ongoing maintenance costs can add up. However, if you prioritize clean and clear water, the additional cost might be worth it.
Salt Water Hot Tub Brands
Hot Spring Spas
One of the most well-known saltwater hot tub manufacturers in the United States is Hot Spring spas.
Not only does the company have one of the best saltwater sanitation systems on the market, but it also has some of the most luxurious and comfortable spa models.
Premium Hot Spring spas make use of the patented FreshWater salt system, which keeps hot tub water clean with the use of a special titanium cartridge. Maintaining balanced salinity levels in a saltwater spa is crucial, and this specialized water care system is one of the best for doing so.
Beyond saltwater care systems, premium hot tubs from Hot Spring come with full-
body massage jets, high-tech control panels, and durable cabinetry to provide the most luxurious spa experience one could imagine.
The brand manufactures a wide range of traditional hot tubs as well. If you already own a traditional hot tub, you can purchase a hot tub salt water conversion kit to optimize your existing hot tub.
Caldera is another pioneer of the FreshWater Salt System.
You'll find a wide range of high-quality hot tubs in the Caldera lineup, most of our favorites of which are from the Utopia Series.
These models make use of touchscreen control panels for adjusting the water temperature, jets, and lighting. Their comfortable lounge seating lends itself to a hydrotherapy experience from the neck down, as your entire body can lengthen and relax, and their multi-dimensional Avante cabinetry adds a touch of modern aesthetic.
There are plenty of aspects to consider when looking for the best saltwater hot tub, which is why we want to make your purchasing process as easy as possible.
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About The Author
Bobby Gifford // Staff Writer
Bobby Gifford has over 17 years of experience with hot tubs and swimming pools. He has owned one pool and several hot tub brands over the years and has a wide scope of knowledge including buying information, maintenance and industry trends.