How-To Guides | Sanitizer Comparison Guide

Your choice of sanitizers is one of the most important decisions you will make as a spa owner. Our comparison guide will help you make the right choice.

We recommend spa purifier systems which meet stringent standards for effectiveness in hot tubs. The spa purifiers in the chart below are the best we have found. One of them is perfect for you.

Hot Tub Sanitizer Comparison

(other systems for hot tubs are also reviewed below)

Bromine Tablets

  • Type: Halide
  • Test Available: Yes
  • Maintenance Level: High
  • Effectiveness: Excellent
  • Cost: $$
  • Ease of use: Good

Nature2

  • Type: Silver Catalyst
  • Test Available: No
  • Maintenance Level: Low
  • Effectiveness: Good
  • Cost: $$
  • Ease of use: Good

Spa Frog

  • Type: Mineral
  • Test Available: No
  • Maintenance Level: Low
  • Effectiveness: Good
  • Cost: $$
  • Ease of use: Good

Saltron Mini

  • Type: Salt System
  • Test Available: Yes
  • Maintenance Level: Low
  • Effectiveness: Excellent
  • Cost: $$$
  • Ease of use: Moderate

Other Systems --the good, the mediocre, and the ridiculous (facts about them below).


Bromine Tablets

Bromine is a member of the chemical family of halogens, which also includes chlorine. This family of products kills microbes including bacteria by attacking their cell walls through oxidation. They destroy the enzymes and structures inside these cells, which then renders them harmless.

Bromine and chlorine are the most widely used sanitizers for hot tubs and swimming pools.

Bromine tablets are loaded into a handy Floating Bromine Feeder for mixing with the water.

Advantages

Our Bromine Tabs are EPA registered, an excellent sanitizer, and are relatively inexpensive to use. It is easy to monitor the bromine level using Bromine 4-in-1 Test Strips to assure proper sanitation.

With our floating feeder, bromine can be used in virtually any spa. Bromine is superior to chlorine in that once free chlorine is combined with waste, it has no further sanitizing capability. Bromine can be reactivated with OxySpa non-chlorine shock.

Disadvantages

Although most people prefer its milder odor to that of chlorine, bromine is not odor-free. Some people may have a sensitivity to bromine and on some individuals, it tends to dry the skin.

Bromine degrades upon exposure to sunlight. Direct contact may cause discoloration of jewelry. Requires frequent testing and adjustments.

Notes: For initial effectiveness, Granular Bromine should be added at startup to assure an immediate bromine bank or reserve.

Requires regular shocking with OxySpa. Comparable in cost to other systems. Read and follow all product label directions and cautions.


Nature2 Cartridge

The Nature 2 spa purifier unit fits inside your hot tub's filter cartridge. It contains a silver catalyst inside of a plastic cartridge. As water flows through the cartridge, positively charged ions kill negatively charged cells of microbes.

Advantages

Nature2 is very good mineral purifier with a reasonable cost to use. It is odorless, will not dry or irritate skin, cause eye redness, or fade bathing suits. Nature2 is safe to people and pets. Unlike bromine or chlorine, Nature 2 will not degrade spa cover vinyl or floating thermal blankets.

Disadvantages

There no practical way to test for silver ions in the water. Will not work with all spa filters. (Minimum required filter length is approx. 7". Minimum filter hole diameter is 1-1/4"). If your filter is too small to accommodate the Nature2 unit, you cannot use this system.

Note: Requires regular shocking with OxySpa. Chitosan Natural Clarifier is the recommended clarifier. Nature 2 is not compatible with bromine.

If  you're converting from bromine, be sure to drain and clean your spa prior to use of Nature2. Requires circulating of your spa water at least 4 hours per day. Lasts 4 months.

Upon startup, and when water quality problems arise, water should be shocked with Dichlor Granular Chlorine. Read and follow all product label directions and cautions.


Spa Frog

The Frog Filter Mate in-filter mineral stick is a great product. Like Nature 2, Filter Mate utilizes a mineral sanitizer that cleans hot tub water from within the filter. While you'll need to use bromine or chlorine as the main sanitizer, you'll only need half the usual amount.

Some spas come factory-equipped with this same concept in an in-line, in-spa design. For these spas, we offer Spa Frog In-Line Refill Cartridge Kits. These same cartridges are used in the Frog Serene Floating System for spas without the provision for in-line systems.

If you're looking for an all in one floating mineral/chlorine solution, look no further than Frog @Ease Floating System. This system consists of a mineral pod and a SmartChlor™ pod that snap together to deliver crystal clear spa water at very low chlorine levels.


Saltron Mini

These saltwater-based systems generate chlorine by passing a mild electric current through salt water, between two plates. Salt (sodium chloride), which is added to the spa water, is the source of the chlorine for the process.

While salt systems are popular in pools, until now, we didn't suggest them in spas for several reasons. The equipment was previously very expensive, and required modification to the spa's plumbing which would void your warranty. Now, an effective, eco-friendly salt system designed for hot tubs is here!

The only reliable, practical, easy to install, and affordable plug-in salt system for spas is available exclusively from SpaDepot.com: Saltron Mini chlorine generator.


Other Systems

(What you need to know before trying them)


Chlorine

We do not recommend packaged chlorine as a primary spa sanitizer. It's fine for shock once in a while, but if you use it as a sanitizer, use Dichlor granules.

Another option is the chlorine from the Saltron Mini chlorine generator. Since packaged dichlor does not come in tablet form, you can't use a floating tablet dispenser. That means more frequent dosing and testing when using that form.

NOTE: Trichlor and CalHypo tablets are approved for pool use only. Household bleach is not suitable or approved for use as a spa sanitizer.


Ozonators

Ozonators are great devices for improving water quality, but they should only be used as a secondary sanitizer.

Ozone works with your primary sanitizer by oxidizing beauty products and bodily fluids in the spa water. 


Biguanides

There are several brands of Biguanides on the market (chemical name: polyhexamethylene biguanide or PHMB) such as BAQUACIL® and SoftSwim®. We don't offer them since they are more expensive and don't work with many spa chemicals. Their use may require other proprietary companion products such as special filters cleaners, etc.

Biguanides may erode certain plastics such as polycarbonates. Many users report problems with algae slime that are difficult to eradicate.


Electric Spa Ionizers

These units produce metal ions by passing an electric current through spa water between two electrodes. As the water passes over them, ions are displaced from the electrode plates and circulated. They are installed by cutting and splicing into your spa's plumbing system.

We do not recommend electric ionizers for spas for several reasons. They have a substantial initial equipment cost and usually require modification to the spa's plumbing, which may void your warranty.

These systems can be prone to maintenance problems. They also require periodic replacement of the electrodes as they are depleted. The ion levels can also be problematic to monitor for proper sanitizer level.

Since these systems run on electricity, this cost should also be factored when evaluating them.

Some promoters of these ionizers tout them as "chemical free" systems. This is a falsehood, since by definition, metal ions in water are chemicals. They just use the spa as a mini chemical factory.

Ionizers make ions with electricity, instead of pouring them from a bottle. A chemical shock must still be added to oxidize organic matter and dead cells.


Hydrogen Peroxide

We do not recommend hydrogen peroxide for use in home spas for a number of reasons.

Unlike the 3% drugstore variety, commercial-grade peroxide strong enough to be effective in pools or hot tubs ranges from 25% to 35% concentration. It can be dangerous to store, transport, and handle.

It does an ok job of killing bacteria at 30-40 PPM, but you've got to watch it very closely. At very high levels, it can burn lungs and eyes. It can also cost more to use than other systems.


Magnets

This far-fetched product is barely worth noting. Bolt-on magnets that claim reduced chemical use and less odor by "magnetizing" the hot tub water.

Magnetic spa water treatment is junk science, akin to snake oil. There is no valid empirical data to support these claims. Avoid these dubious devices, they are a worthless waste of money.


Rainforest Blue

We've heard reports of problems with staining, and performance issues, especially with well water or water with significant calcium content.

NOTE: Rainforest Blue is no longer legal for sale in most states.
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