Not only are salt water hot tubs incredibly restorative and rejuvenating, they are an ideal solution for people that are sensitive to chemical products used in traditional hot tubs. Plus, they’re great for people that want to spend more time enjoying their tubs and less time maintaining them. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about these unique hot tubs!

What Hot Tub Water Treatment System Will Work Best for Me?

Before we get into salt water tubs more specifically, here are the most common ways to maintain spa water:


A chlorine formula (especially formulated for hot tubs) helps cleanse impurities from the water. Chlorine oxidizes contaminants, invading them and destroying them from the inside out. As it works, the chlorine dissipates and turns into a waste product called chloramines. These remnants are responsible for the “stinging and drying” reputation chlorine has and reduces the sanitizer’s effectiveness. Chlorine must be added on a regular basis to keep chloramines at bay.


As a popular choice for hot tubs, this chemical ionizes contaminants, forcing apart their chemical bonds. A good amount of it remains active and working, even after combining with contaminants. Bromine also produces a waste product called bromamines that are not as noxious as chloramines, but they too still reduce the effectiveness of the bromine in your hot tub, requiring regular water care maintenance.

Chlorine vs. Bromine at a Quick Glance
  • Effectiveness: Chlorine kills contaminants more quickly than bromine does. However, bromine has a lower pH than chlorine, so it can help keep your overall water chemistry more balanced, which means less adjusting and maintenance for you!
  • Stability: Chlorine dissipates more quickly than bromine, so chlorine needs to be replaced more often. Bromine kills bacteria in your spa for a longer period of time than chlorine, but it’s important to note that ultraviolet (UV) light can destroy bromine faster than chlorine, so be sure to use your hot tub cover for outdoor spas.
  • Your health: Chlorine can be harsher on the skin, hair and eyes than bromine, but bromine can be a bit more difficult to wash off. If you have sensitive skin or have respiratory issues, bromine will be a better choice than chlorine. Bromine, however, has a distinctive “aroma” that many hot tub users find distasteful.
Salt Water Sanitization

These systems automatically generate natural chlorine sanitizer from salt added to the water. This system allows you to add fewer bottled products to the water and enjoy better water quality with less maintenance, and avoids much of the harsh side effects of chemical-based water care. In addition, the water has a much softer feel, and the skin-drying characteristics of manufactured chlorine are eliminated.

Ozone System/Ozonator

What is ozone?

The ozone works to breakdown radical contaminants in your hot tub water such as soap, body lotion, and oil. The best way to make your tub is a safe place is to always shower BEFORE you get in your hot tub!

What is an ozonator for a hot tub?

An ozonator is an electrically-powered device that helps reduce the need for chlorine by generating a high concentration of ozone that thoroughly cleans spa water on contact, and this water system is known by many different names depending on the brand. An ozonator works in conjunction with the chosen hot tub sanitizer system, whether it’s salt water based, chlorine based, or a bromine based hot tub system. Ozonators work by splitting oxygen atoms that collide and create ozone.

  • The benefits of ozonators: It is an assistant disinfectant.
  • The disadvantages of ozonators: It can reduce the life of your hot tub cover and it requires additional electricity to run beyond your hot tubs energy usage, especially since most ozonator manufacturers recommend that you run your ozonator as much as 24 hours a day for best results. And, due to ozone’s very short half-life in hot water, it cannot do the job of sanitizing spa water all by itself.

Why Should I Consider a Salt Water Hot Tub? 

You’ve likely heard about the healing powers of natural hot springs, waters that draw their heat from beneath the earth’s crust and provide their own natural cleansing and soothing properties. Since a natural hot spring is likely not close by, salt water hot tubs let you create this mineral spring oasis at home.

Have you ever taken an Epsom Salt bath? If you have, you know right away how effective these baths are for relaxing the body and relieving muscle tightness. This is also the same effect with a salt water hot tub, with the addition of powerful jets for a deep massage from your upper back to the soles of your feet!

In hot salt water, the water is denser than fresh water, making you more buoyant which further helps loosen muscles. Additionally, the National Strength and Conditioning Association reports that swelling and edema can be treated with hot and salt water therapy. How? Since salt water has a higher solute concentration than body fluids, the hot salt water can help open pores and pull fluids out of the skin caused from backup in swollen areas. 

How Does Salt Water Work Compared to Chlorine and Other Systems?

Is It as Effective? Better?

Salt water is its own natural sanitizer since it is a natural inhibitor of bacteria, meaning it needs less additives in the water, such as added chlorine and bromine. Salt water is gentle on the eyes, nose and skin, especially since salt is actually a common skin-softening ingredient in skin products. And, without the skin irritation or the smell associated with chlorine, the hot water soak can be much more enjoyable!

Salt water hot tubs are also easier to maintain than chlorine- and bromine- based systems. The scientific explanation is that, in salt water hot tubs, a chemical reaction produces small amounts of natural chlorine molecules. These molecules neutralize contaminants before being recycled back into the system as sodium, rather than as chloramines (which produce a strong chlorine smell and can potentially irritate skin and eyes). With just a little salt in your spa water, the system automatically generates chlorine, so you’ll spend less time measuring and adding chemicals. To further enhance hassle-free water care maintenance, advanced spas let you monitor the sanitizing system via an intuitive control panel removing any guesswork about what’s needed.

As an environmental bonus to your minimal maintenance schedule, salt water hot tubs allow you to conserve water by reducing spa drain and refills to potentially once a year, where standard hot tubs need to be drained/refilled 3-4 times a year.

Lastly, with a saltwater hot tub, you will purchase less water-sanitizing chemicals throughout the year as compared to a standard hot tub water care system, which helps offset the up front cost of the salt water system.

Is The Salt Water Cloudier or Clearer Than Other Hot Tub Water Treatment Systems?

With fewer additives and less chemicals, the spa water stays cleaner longer with a salt water hot tub! The small amount of chlorine regularly produced by the system is enough to keep your water quality clean and clear and always ready for a relaxing soak. As mentioned earlier, you will achieve clear water with a salt water tub with much less maintenance than a chemically treated tub, not to mention you should only need to drain/refill your salt water hot tub once a year!

If your water is cloudy, and it’s been less than 12 months, it’s good to do some investigating:

  • How are the filters looking; do they need to be cleaned?
  • Have you had a high volume of bathers for consecutive months that are causing a spike in excessive oils and/or organic matter?
  • Is the tub fully up to date on water care maintenance?

If you can’t pinpoint the problem, call your hot tub retailer and troubleshoot the issue to find the solution, but as a general rule salt water tubs should be much easier to maintain clear water than chemically treated tubs!

Is a Salt Water Hot Tub System Healthier for Me and My Family?

If your family is sensitive to chemically treated tubs, then a salt water hot tub will be a better choice for your household. As mentioned before, some chemical-based water quality care systems can feel harsh to the skin, have a stronger smell, and irritate the eyes. Salt water tubs, in comparison, have such a minimal release of chlorine from a salt water system that you won’t be able to smell or otherwise detect it.

And with less chemical irritants, you’ll be able to comfortably use your tub as often as you want.

While it’s certainly a matter of preference and personal sensitivity to chemicals, salt water tubs are universally gentler for your family. And with less time maintaining your tub, you’ll have a lot more quality family time to enjoy this new hot tub!

What Is the Initial and Ongoing Cost of a Salt Water System Compared to a Chemically Treated Hot Tub?

As a general blanket statement, a salt water system will cost you more initially than a chemical water system due to its technological advancements, functionality, and improved overall spa experience. In terms of ongoing maintenance, a salt water hot tub will be easier and more cost-effective to own than a chemically treated tub.

However, the exact price of the water system is dependent on the make and model of your desired hot tub. The best way to determine the cost comparisons between a salt water system and a chemically treated system is to visit your hot tub retailer and talk it through.

How Easy Is a Salt Water Hot Tub to Maintain Compared to a Non-Salt Hot Tub?

When it comes to salt water vs. chlorine water treatment for hot tubs, salt water hot tubs win hands down! With less water care maintenance, less required products, and once-a-year draining/refilling your hot tub, a salt water tub is much easier to maintain than a traditional hot tub.

Can Someone Help Me Decide Between a Salt Water Hot Tub and a Traditional Hot Tub Water Care System? 

If you still aren’t sure what kind of hot tub is right for you, come chat with us. Here at Mainely Tubs, we can help walk you through the differences of each water quality system, explore costs against the hot tub models you are considering, and talk about ongoing maintenance.

We also suggest reading our convenient online Hot Tub Buyer’s Guide or simply download our “Ultimate Hot Tub Buyer’s Guide.“ It’s a complete printable reference guide with in-depth insights into everything you need to know about buying and owning a hot tub.

Need additional help? Give us a call, email us, or visit one of our showrooms in Scarborough or Rye. We’re always happy to help you find the hot tub that is just right for you!

About Mainely Tubs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts


Mainely Tubs is a 100% Employee Owned premier Hot Spring Spas dealer. We sell and service new hot tubsused hot tubsportable spasswim spassaunashot tub accessorieshot tub water care, and more. Our Brands Include: Hot Spring SpasCaldera SpasFreeflow SpasEndless Pools Swim SpasFinnleo SaunasCovanaLeisure Time, Fresh WaterSilk Balance, and other brands you can trust.

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