Does a Salt Water System Make a Chemical-Free Hot Tub?


If you maintain an aquarium, koi pond, or even a bird bath at home, you know the difficulty of achieving chemical-free water care. It doesn’t take very long for untreated water to develop a tell-tale layer of film and for the container it’s sitting in to become coated with algae. Even untreated water that is constantly filtered becomes cloudy and needs to be changed often.

Preventing water contamination

To prevent contamination of water in hot tubs, owners typically add a class of chemicals called halogens that include chlorine, bromine, and iodine. When mixed with water, halogens form weak acids that are very effective at killing bacteria and fighting viruses. They work as oxidisers that burn away organic compounds. However, these acids can also irritate the eyes and skin, which is why many people long for a chemical-free hot tub water care system.

A truly chemical-free hot tub?

While chlorine and bromine systems are the industry standards, a chemical-free hot tub depends on alternative treatments and creativity from the owner, at the very least. Even then, sanitisers must be introduced before you can safely immerse yourself in the spa water. So, a truly chemical-free hot tub is not altogether possible.

It is possible, however, to get closer to a chemical-free spa environment with a system innovative enough to generate its own cleaning power. Breakthrough salt water hot tub systems are able to bring together crystal clear spa water with fewer chemicals.

Why ‘Natural’ additives don’t fully sanitise

If you search online for “chemical free hot tubs” you may be surprised to find spa products as result—bottled additives that are sold as “natural” water care alternatives. These additives are enzymes, proteins that serve as catalysts for a chemical reaction. Calling them “chemical-free” hot tub treatments is a bit of a misnomer because, in reality, they fall under a specialised class of chemicals—albeit, ones that occur naturally.

In hot tubs, enzymes work by breaking apart the oils that are introduced into the water when bathers sweat or as suntan lotions wash off. Enzymes make it easier for the filters to remove the oils and helps to keep the water clear. However, they do not significantly reduce the levels of bacteria and other microbes present.

Although enzyme treatments can have a positive effect on water clarity and feel, they are not sanitisers. At best, enzymes act as supplements to water care, helping to keep hot tub water free from organic compounds. While non-halogen water additives can’t combat microbes, you can find built-in water care systems that require almost no chemical additives and still significantly reduce bacteria numbers for a clean, stress-free soak.

How a salt water Hot Tub reduces chemical use

If you’re looking into chemical-free hot tubs then you’re likely to be worried about the effects of chlorine and maybe – to a lesser extent – bromine. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to get rid of water-sanitising chemicals completely and still have a spa you can enjoy without some concerns.

Using your hot tub without any sanitisers at all is unsafe, and adding them only when you’re ready to use your spa is inconvenient. Plus, you can easily add too little or too much. Reducing chemical sanitisers instead of removing them completely is the safer choice. Today’s more innovative salt water systems do just that, they reduce chlorine levels while keeping your hot tub safe and sanitary.

FreshWater Salt System, the best salt water system for home spas, gentle on your skin, eyes and hair

The FreshWater™ Salt System* from Hot Spring® is a factory-integrated, cartridge-based system that generates chlorine from salts. The chlorine is introduced into spa water at a steady rate over time, instead of all at once in a large amount. The chlorine effectively sanitises your spa but is at a low enough level to be gentle on your skin, eyes, and hair.

The Freshwater™ Salt System** is among the best salt water system for home spas. It’s a low-maintenance and easy-to-use system because it works in-line with your spa’s controls. Replacing the cartridge is simple and done directly from the spa’s bar top. Also, because of the low, but effective, level of chlorine the system produces, spa water can last up to a year, helping to conserve water and save money. When combined with FreshWater® AG+ Silver, the system provides the ultimate in clean, silky, sanitary spa water.

Reliable, easy-to-maintain hot tubs

Hot Spring is dedicated to providing reliable, easy-to-maintain hot tubs for our customers. To learn more about Hot Spring spas and the many benefits of the new FreshWater™ Salt System get in touch with your local showroom or contact us here.

*The FreshWater™ Salt System cannot be used on Hot Spring® hot tubs manufactured prior to 2019.

**Factors such as bather load and water chemistry can impact water life. When the spa is properly maintained, a 3-pack of cartridges with the FreshWater Salt System will keep water clean and fresh for a full year. 

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