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Ozone Vs. UV vs. Salt — the battle of the hot tub sanitizers and treatments
Ozone Vs. UV vs. Salt — the battle of the hot tub sanitizers and treatments
Written by Kimberly Giraldo
Updated over a week ago

Choosing a hot tub is one of the most important investments you’ll make in your wellness journey. However, when making such an important decision, you will likely have a lot of questions. For example, what is the best kind of sanitizer or treatment to keep your hot tub water clean and safe? Through your research, you may have heard of various types of hot tub sanitizers and treatments such as ozone, UV (or UV-C) and salt.

It's important to note that the right sanitizer or treatment can either help or hinder the cleanliness and longevity of your hot tub. While most modern hot tubs are designed to be mostly hassle-free, we’ll compare these three systems and let you decide which one is best for you.

What is a UV (or UV-C) Treatment?

UV refers to an ultraviolet (UV) treatment system. Rather than utilizing added chemicals to disinfect your hot tub water, UV is a process that uses the UV-C wavelength of light to treat it. A UV treatment distributes high-intensity UV-C light rays which disrupt the material or characteristics of specific organisms such as algae and bacteria that can grow in your hot tub water.

UV treatment does not kill bacteria. Rather, it alters the DNA of algae and bacteria so they cannot reproduce or grow. However, the UV bulb must be consistently producing enough UV-C light waves to make this happen. Also, contrary to popular belief, a UV treatment is not a chemical-free system. It does not oxidize hot tub water. So, like with all hot tubs, you will still need chlorine, bromine, or a non-chlorine shock product. However, UV-C treatment allows a hot tub owner to use less chlorine or bromine. While chemicals will still need to be added to maintain balanced water, many bathers that use this treatment report that their hot tub water does not have a strong chemical odor.

What is an Ozone Sanitizer?

A hot tub ozone generator or ozonator is another system that can sanitize your hot tub. Essentially this type of system injects ozone gas into the plumbing of the spa so that it can mix with your hot tub water to help break down residue from lotion, sunscreen, soaps, body oils, perfume, makeup and other contaminants. It then eliminates these impurities from the water. This type of system can be built into a hot tub’s technology, depending on the brand and model. A separate after-market system can be also added to your hot tub if compatible.

There are several “pros” of this type of sanitizer. Ozone generators are touted as being a simple and chemical-free way to keep your hot tub water clean and fresh. This type of system also claims to require less chemicals to keep your spa water sanitized and the water may not need to be changed as often. Some hot tub users even report the water feels smoother on their skin when using an ozone system.

While these are great benefits, it is important to recognize a few of the “cons” of this type of sanitizer as well. Ozone is a powerful combatant to the bacteria and other contaminants in the hot tub water—a pro. However, the result of this is that ozone sanitizers can damage your hot tub pillows and the cover’s interior if it is made from vinyl. It’s important to make sure your hot tub model will be compatible with an ozonator. To do so, check your owner’s manual or ask your local dealer before making this purchase. You will also want to keep in mind that this option will also require chlorine, bromine, or non-chlorine shock treatment as well.

What is a Saltwater Sanitizer?

Most people have heard of a saltwater swimming pool or a saltwater sanitizer system for a hot tub. Many users tout saltwater for being void of a heavy chlorine odor. Others say their skin feels softer after a soak in a saltwater hot tub. However, there is more to this type of system than meets the eye.

First of all, saltwater systems are not at all free of chlorine or chemicals. Quite simply, a saltwater system produces its own chlorine. It does so via a salt chlorine generator that converts sodium chloride through a process called electrolysis.

So while you may not have to manually add it as often, chlorine is still in use. Furthermore, chemicals will still need to be added to maintain the water’s balance. Another problem here is that hot tubs that use saltwater systems tend to not be as effective as traditional hot tubs when high calcium levels are present in the water. This may require a calcium remover to balance the water.

Though some users may be happy about their smooth, soft skin, this type of system is not so easy on your hot tub. You should know that salt deposits can build up or cause residue on the hot tub itself and its internal components. Saltwater systems can therefore significantly shorten the lifespan of your spa. Salt can be quite corrosive and damaging to the hot tub’s heaters, pump seals, stainless steel fittings, bearings in the jets and other components. While some people love saltwater systems, they can actually be very expensive and problematic over time.

Clean and clear water is an essential part of your hot tub experience and you don’t want water care to be an ongoing hassle. It’s best to speak with a professional hot tub dealer that can walk you through the best sanitizer or treatment option for the hot tub brand and model you are interested in.

Affiliations: Jacuzzi® is a registered trademark of Jacuzzi Group. All rights reserved.

Medical disclaimer: This information is not intended to prescribe a particular diagnosis or course of action. We are not medical professionals. Please contact your GP or other medical professional for advice if you have any concerns about your current health or well-being.

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