Chemicals for Inflatable Hot Tubs: All You Need To Know

Published on

December 1, 2023

When it comes to chemicals for inflatable hot tub use, there are a few key points that every hot tub owner needs to be aware of. The main aspect is ensuring you use the correct chemicals in the correct amounts. Using too much or too little can cause damage to your hot tub and may even be dangerous.

But what are the right chemicals? Are they the same ones you'd use for regular hot tubs? Will sanitizing products damage your inflatable hot tub?

This article answers all these questions and goes through everything you need to know to bathe safely. We'll cover the different types of chemicals available and everything you need to know about them. So whether you're a hot tub professional or a rookie hot tub owner, this blog post has got you covered.

Types of Chemicals Used in Inflatable Hot Tubs

All inflatable hot tubs require the following chemicals to keep the water safe:

  1. Sanitizers
  2. PH balancers
  3. Alkalinity balancers
  4. Shock treatments
  5. Clarifiers and removers

In this blog, we will go over all of these products one by one.

1. Sanitizers

hot tub sanitizers

Inflatable hot tubs require sanitizers to keep their water contaminant-free. This is especially important in a shared water environment like a hot tub. The most common types of sanitizers used in inflatable hot tubs include chlorine, bromine, and mineral-based products. Another way to keep the water clean is to use a saltwater hot tub system.

Hot tubs can be filled with organic contaminants, like skin cells and aggressive bacteria. These contaminants can be dangerous if they are not kept in check. Skin cells and other organic materials can also clog the hot tub's filters, making it difficult for the water to circulate properly.

Here is a list of the most dangerous contaminants found in inflatable spas:

inflatable hot tub contaminants

1.1. Chlorine Sanitizer

A chlorine sanitizer works by introducing chlorine particles into the water. Chlorine is a powerful disinfectant. When added to the spa water, it combines with other substances to form chloramine, which is also effective in killing microorganisms.

The amount of chlorine needed to sanitize the water is measured in parts per million (ppm). The chlorine levels should be maintained between 1-3 ppm in the hot tub water for effective sanitation and to maintain the water quality. These levels refer to the amount of free chlorine present in the water.

Free chlorine is the amount of chlorine in a sanitizing solution available to kill or inactivate microorganisms.

It's important to test the chlorine levels regularly, and adjust as necessary, to ensure that the hot tub water is safe to use. If the chlorine levels are too low, you need to add more chlorine. If the levels are too high, the water should be partially drained and refilled to bring the levels down to the appropriate range. It is important to note that the optimal chlorine level may vary depending on three factors:

  • The number of people using the hot tub
  • The temperature of the water
  • The pH level of the water

If this is hard to manage, refer to the manufacturer's instructions or consult a professional. They can determine the appropriate chlorine levels for your specific hot tub.

There are several types of chlorine sanitizers that are commonly used in inflatable hot tubs:

  1. Chlorine granules or tablets: These are the most common type of chlorine sanitizers used in hot tubs. They are easy to use and can be added directly to the hot tub water. You can place chlorine granules in a floater or skimmer basket and let them dissolve slowly over time.
  2. Stabilized chlorine: This type of chlorine has a stabilizer added to it, which helps to protect it from being broken down by the sun's UV rays. This makes it last longer in the hot tub water and reduces the need for frequent additions.

1.2. Bromine Sanitizer

Bromine sanitizers work by releasing active bromine ions into the water. These ions can then react with microorganisms and other impurities. This results in an oxidation process that prevents them from growing.

Bromine is often used as an alternative to chlorine, as it is more stable in hot water and can provide longer-lasting residual protection.

Bromine sanitizers come in two forms:

  1. Bromine tablets and bromine granules, which you can place in a floating dispenser or in a bromine feeder and dissolve over time.
  2. Liquid bromine, which you can add directly to the water.

In both forms, the bromine ions will react with other chemicals in the water to form bromamines which are also effective sanitizers.

The recommended bromine levels for inflatable hot tubs vary depending on the source. A range of 3 - 5 ppm is a safe and effective level for bromine sanitizer.

1.3. Mineral Sanitizer

A mineral sanitizer uses a combination of minerals and other natural compounds to sanitize inflatable hot tubs. This system uses natural minerals (silver or copper) to inhibit the growth of microorganisms and other impurities in the water. Some mineral sanitizers also use other natural compounds, such as citric acid, to balance the pH level of the water.

Mineral sanitizers are an alternative to traditional chemical sanitizers. They are gentler on the skin and eyes.

The mineral sanitizer system usually consists of a mineral cartridge placed in the hot tub. This system works by releasing a low level of ions that inhibit the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms in the water. As a result, you don't need to use as much chlorine or bromine.

Mineral sanitizers:

  1. Are not as effective as traditional chemical sanitizers in killing bacteria.
  2. Are often used along with chlorine or bromine.
  3. May require more frequent testing and maintenance.
  4. May not be suitable for all hot tubs.

Related Reading: Hot Tub Chemicals for Dummies: An Easy Guide to Balanced Waters

2. PH Balancers

hot tub ph balancers

PH balancers are used to maintain the pH level of the water between 7.2 and 7.8. This ensures that the water does not have too much acid or alkaline and helps to prevent skin irritation and damage to the hot tub itself. For proper safety, inflatable hot tub water needs to be slightly alkaline.

What Is Hot Tub Water PH?

Hot tub water pH refers to the measure of the acidity or basicity of the water in a hot tub. The pH level is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH level lower than 7 is considered acidic, and a pH level higher than 7 is considered basic.

You can use test strips or a digital tester to ensure that your inflatable hot tub's chemical levels are balanced.

2.1. PH Increaser

A pH increaser is a chemical used to raise the pH level in an inflatable hot tub. It works by neutralizing the acidic compounds that lower the pH level, thereby increasing the pH level of the water.

Inflatable hot tub pH increasers usually contain sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide. These chemicals raise the pH level by introducing basic compounds into the water.

2.2. PH Decreaser

A pH decreaser for inflatable hot tubs is a chemical treatment that helps to reduce the "high pH" of the water. This high pH can lead to problems like cloudy water, scaling, and even corrosion.

When added to spa water, pH decreasers react with carbon dioxide and other ions, forming a weak acid. This reduces the pH of the water.

Inflatable hot tub pH decreasers usually contain sodium bisulfate or muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid). These chemicals lower the pH level of the water by introducing acidic compounds.

Sodium bisulfate is a dry, granular chemical that dissolves quickly in water and is less corrosive than muriatic acid.

Muriatic acid is a liquid chemical that is more effective at lowering pH levels but requires more care during handling and dosing.

3. Alkalinity Balancers

hot tub alkalinity balancers

Total alkalinity (TA) is a measure of the total amount of alkaline substances in water, which includes:

  • Bicarbonates
  • Hydroxides
  • Other dissolved salts

TA measures water's buffering capacity (ability to resist changes in pH levels).

The ideal alkalinity level in a hot tub is between 80 and 120 ppm. Alkalinity balancers can either increase or decrease the alkalinity level.

When the alkalinity level is too low, add an alkalinity increaser to the water. This is usually sodium bicarbonate, a base that raises the alkalinity levels.

When the alkalinity level is too high, add an alkalinity decreaser. The most common are sodium bisulfate and muriatic acid. These acidic compounds lower the water's alkalinity.

4. Shock Treatments

 hot tub shock treatments

Shock treatments are more powerful than sanitizers. They are designed for high bacterial growth in the spa water. Shock treatments help break down organic materials like lotion, oils, and sweat that can become trapped in the water.

There are several types of shock treatments available for inflatable hot tubs:

Chlorine Shock

Clorine shock is a powerful oxidizer that helps sanitize your hot tub by killing bacteria and algae that can build up in the water over time. Use chlorine shocks periodically to ensure proper sanitation levels within your inflatable hot tub.

Bromine Shock

This type of shock treatment is similar to chlorine, but it is a more gentle oxidizer. Bromine shocks are often used as an alternative to traditional chlorine treatments. They do not produce any harsh chemicals or fumes.

Spa Shock

Spa shocks:

  • Remove contaminants and other non-living organic materials from your hot tub.
  • Help balance the pH levels in the water.
  • Help reduce foaminess when the jets are turned on.

Non-Chlorine Shock

Non-chlorine shock treatments effectively remove contaminants from inflatable hot tubs. They don't affect the overall chemical balance of the water.

Non-chlorine shocks are great for regular maintenance and deep cleaning your hot tub. They are the ideal choice to help to keep your inflatable hot tub clean without using harsh chemicals.

5. Other Types of Specialized Hot Tub Chemicals

specialized hot tub chemicals

There are various specialized hot tub chemicals for inflatable hot tub maintenance. These products range from special soaps explicitly designed for inflatable hot tubs to:

Safety Precautions

Here is a list of safety precautions we recommend for using inflatable hot tub chemicals:

  1. Always add chemicals to the hot tub water while it is running to ensure proper mixing and distribution.
  2. Avoid adding chemicals to the hot tub water when it is too hot. Hot water can cause the chemicals to evaporate or become too concentrated. This leads to skin irritation or damage to the hot tub equipment.
  3. Do not use body oils or lotions in the hot tub before adding chemicals, as these can affect the chemical balance of the water.
  4. Wear gloves and protective eyewear when handling chemicals to avoid skin or eye irritation.
  5. Avoid breathing in fumes from the chemicals and avoid prolonged exposure to the chemicals.
  6. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for adding chemicals to the hot tub water, and be sure to use the correct amount.
  7. Be aware of sensitive skin. It's important to avoid overuse of chemicals and to test the water before getting in to prevent skin irritation.

Inflatable Hot Tub Maintenance: Common Problems and Solutions

Here is a list of the most common inflatable hot tub problems and solutions:

1. Cloudy Water

Cloudy water is often caused by:

  • High pH levels
  • High total alkalinity
  • Lack of sanitizer in the water.

The solution is to test the water and adjust the pH and total alkalinity levels. Also, shock the water with a non-chlorine shock treatment and add the appropriate amount of sanitizer.

2. Algae Growth

Algae growth in inflatable hot tubs can be a common problem due to the warm and stagnant water your hot tub holds. High pH levels and low chlorine levels create an ideal environment for algae to thrive. Regularly test the water and maintain proper water chemistry.

Algae growth can cause cloudy water and can also be unsightly and unhygienic. To prevent and address algae growth, it's important to:

  • Keep the pH levels between 7.2 and 7.8 and chlorine levels between 3 and 5 ppm.
  • Regularly shock the water and clean the filters.
  • Regularly run the hot tub on high for at least 2 hours to circulate the water.
  • Brush the walls and floor to prevent and remove algae growth.

3. Scaling

Scaling is caused by high levels of calcium and other minerals in the water. The solution is to use a descaling product to remove the buildup and to lower the pH and total alkalinity levels to prevent further scaling.


Using the right chemicals for inflatable hot tubs is essential for maintaining water quality. It protects the equipment and ensures a safe and enjoyable experience.

Maintaining the pH and alkalinity levels, using sanitizers, and shocking the water are all important steps in keeping the water clean and clear. If you notice a chlorine smell, it may be a sign that the chlorine levels in the water are too high. Adjust it accordingly.

Here at O-Care, we provide mineral products that make it easy for you to keep chemical use at a minimum. Feel free to contact us for more information on how to make your experience more enjoyable.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use regular swimming pool chemicals in my inflatable hot tub?

We do not recommend using regular swimming pool chemicals in an inflatable hot tub. The chemical balance and usage guidelines may differ. It's important to use chemicals specifically designed for hot tubs to ensure proper balance and safety.

2. How often do I need to add chemicals to my inflatable hot tub?

We recommend testing the chemical levels of your inflatable hot tub at least once a week and adjust as needed. It's also important to add chemicals after heavy use or if you notice any changes in the water quality.

3. How often should I change the water in my inflatable hot tub?

We recommend changing the water in your inflatable hot tub every 3-4 months or sooner, depending on the usage and the number of bathers. Regular testing and maintaining the chemical balance can help extend the time between water changes. It is also important to drain and perform a hot tub clean at least once a month. Consult the user manual or a professional for more specific guidelines.