Alkalinity is one of the most important factors to consider when maintaining your hot tub and it’s easy to forget about this crucial component.
Alkaline levels are essential for regulating pH balance in water systems such as pools, spas, and aquariums – which means they’re pretty important for anyone using water with any regularity.
Alkalinity is the measure of carbonates and bicarbonates in your hot tub’s water, which help neutralize acids and reduce the effects of irritants/harmful pollutants to keep waters clean and clear.
Alkaline levels also affect pH balance, which is a huge part of maintaining a healthy tub. If alkalinity levels are too low, pH balance will suffer and water can become cloudy.
Is low alkalinity bad in a hot tub?
It’s important to know that there are many benefits of maintaining a proper balance in your water chemistry.
Low alkalinity levels in hot tubs can lead to corrosion, which can cause leaks and other damage. So metallic parts of your hot tub – like the filter, pipes and heating elements – can corrode faster than they should.
Another thing to consider is ‘scale formation’.
As the alkalinity levels decrease, there are fewer bicarbonates that can be used to counter acid reactions (this process is called “buffering”) and balance pH levels in the water.
So minerals like calcium carbonate tend to precipitate out of solution and form scale.
Scale is the white, chalky residue that can be found on surfaces in water systems – which can lead to cloudiness in your hot tub.
Scaling also leads to loss of heat transfer, which means your hot tub’s heater will have to work harder and possibly shorten its lifespan. It will also increase energy usage over time because you’ll have to heat the tub more.
And when you add in all the other problems caused by corrosion and poor pH balance, low alkalinity is a much bigger problem than it might seem at first glance.
How does alkalinity affect pH levels in hot tubs?
pH level is a measure of acidity or alkalinity and it indicates the level of hydrogen ions in your water.
The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral – so anything above 7 is alkaline and anything below is acidic.
pH levels vary depending on the composition of substances dissolved in your hot tub’s water
All things considered, normal pH conditions should fall between 7.2 and 7.8, so maintaining proper alkalinity levels is important for maintaining a healthy water balance and ensuring the safety of your hot tub.
How to test hot tub alkalinity?
Testing alkalinity levels in your hot tub aren’t difficult at all. There are some simple methods you can use for checking the alkalinity in your hot tub’s water.
Method 1 – Test Strips
One of the more common methods for determining alkalinity is to use test strips – but keep in mind that these will only give you an approximate figure.
All you have to do is place a single drop of your water sample on the strip and compare it with the color chart provided by the manufacturer.
In some cases, you might need to dip the test strip into the water for a few seconds to simulate real-world conditions.
The problem with test strips, however, is that results can vary depending on the accuracy of the color chart you’re using
If your strip is marketed for pools, it might not be as accurate as one meant for hot tubs. But if you don’t have any other options, test strips are a great place to start.
Method 2 – Electronic Meter
Using an electronic meter is also really easy. Not all hot tubs will come with one, though it’s worth checking if you can use one because they’re quite useful.
If your hot tub already comes with an electronic alkalinity tester, simply use the same method you would for a test strip.
But if you have to buy one, it’s pretty straightforward. Just remove some water from your tub and place it in a clear container or measuring cup
Then lower the meter into the water – being careful not to touch the bottom with it – until the sensor is completely submerged. The meter should beep or register one of several colors to indicate the alkalinity level.
You might need to agitate your water sample in order to get an accurate reading. Measurement may also vary depending on the size of your container, so if possible use something smaller than a 5-gallon bucket for accuracy’s sake.
Why is my hot tub alkalinity always low?
Alkalinity is one of the most common chemical problems that hot tub owners face.
It can be frustrating when you own a hot tub to see the alkalinity levels always low. There are many reasons why this may happen, but here are some of the most common ones:
- Rain water is the main culprit behind low alkalinity levels. If you live in an area with hard water, the calcium in it tends to dissolve when it mixes with the hot tub’s water. That causes calcium scaling and reduces alkalinity in your hot tub.
- You might also notice low alkalinity if you use a lot of soaps or detergents in your hot tub.
- If you don’t use chlorine tablets, chances are you’re using some other type of sanitizer to treat your hot tub. Unfortunately, those chemicals can reduce alkalinity levels as well.
- The water supply might also be to blame for low alkalinity – if you use chlorinated tap water or prefer liquid chlorine for sanitizing your hot tub, the chemical’s presence in the water reduces its alkalinity.
- You have a leak in a pipe or filter that needs replacing, which decreases the alkalinity in your pool because it’s being
How to raise alkalinity without raising pH in hot tub?
Hot tub owners are always looking for ways to keep their hot tubs clean and healthy. A common problem is that pH levels can get too high or alkalinity can be too low.
So if there’s not enough alkalinity in your water, you may need to take some steps to raise it without changing the overall pH level.
There are two ways:
- by using Borax, or
- increase the amount of bicarbonate of soda that you put into your water.
The first option, Borax, is an all-natural product that can help you avoid adding any harsh chemicals to your water chemistry.
All you need to do is add a tablespoon of borax for every 50 gallons of water in your hot tub. This will help raise the alkalinity without ever changing the pH level or hurting your skin or eyes in the hot tub.
The second option would be to increase the ratio of bicarbonate of soda to calcium chloride from 1:100 parts up to 1:20 parts; this will still allow for some calcium chloride needed for stability while helping alkalinity levels.
Both methods work great, but borax is a bit more environmentally friendly and can be less harsh on your skin as well.
It’s also important to remember that if you’re using borax or increasing the ratio of bicarbonate of soda to calcium chloride – after you’ve added chlorine or bromine to your hot tub – you’ll need to add more alkalinity in the form of baking soda in order to counterbalance the pH increase.