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Hot Tub Chemicals | QCA Spa Chemicals

Water Care Guide

Hot Tub chemicals by Spa Breeze water care products.

Hot tubs are wonderful – they provide you with hydro-massage, relaxation and a chance to socialize.

Taking care of your spa water is not only important for bathers’ health – it is also important to prolong the life of your spa components.

Taking care of spa water differs from taking care of pool water in 3 main ways:

  1. The bather load is higher in a spa since there are more people in less water.
  2. Spa water temperatures usually range between 90-104 degrees.
  3. The water evaporates at a quicker rate and leaves more total dissolved solids behind, including salts and dissolved minerals.

The sanitizer (bromine or chlorine) dissolves more quickly since the water is turning over at a more rapid pace with the blowers and jets. In sum, the chemical balance in spa water can change much more rapidly than pool water.

Water care does not need to be difficult. You simply need to know what is required at start-up and maintain on an ongoing weekly basis.

Your spa water should last 3 to even 5 months with proper care. Refill the water more often with heavy use. You should drain, clean and refill your spa when the water becomes too difficult to balance or too saturated with chemicals. Follow the startup/refill steps below when changing the water.

Hot Tub Chemical Basics:

  • Handle chemicals with caution. Store chemicals according to manufacturer’s label.
  • Always add chemicals to water – never water to chemicals.
  • Add each chemical separately - Don’t combine them. Wait 15 minutes before adding any additional chemicals.
  • Never mix chlorine and bromine in your spa– stick with one sanitizer.
  • Test your water at least 2x per week. Run the jets for 30 seconds before testing the water using test strips (or a test kit)
  • Always adjust pH and alkalinity first.
  • Turn the pumps on before you add necessary chemicals then let them run for at least 20 minutes afterwards with the spa cover off
  • Recheck the water 20 minutes later and correct/add additional chemicals if necessary
  • Always wait at least a full hour to use the hot tub after adding chemicals to the water.
  • Some lotions, oils, cleaning products and fragrances may react with sanitizers and cause foaming or cloudy water. This may also reduce the sanitizer’s efficiency.
  • If water is cloudy, add chemicals as needed and wait 24-48 hours for water to circulate and clear
  • Deep clean your filters every month by hosing off your filter cartridge and using a filter cleaner.
  • Filters should be changed approximately every 1.5 years – more if they become dirty, frayed or dark grey in color
  • An ozone system can aid in sanitation and reduce the need for harsh chemicals, but cannot replace them. Ozone generators create ozone that helps sanitizers keep your water clean.
  • Mineral cartridges release metallic ions/enzymes to help control bacterial growth and keep your spa water clean. They can help reduce the amount of sanitizers/chemicals but cannot replace them.


1.  Choose your sanitizer
Select a water care program based on either chlorine or bromine.  (either/or - never mix chlorine and bromine)

Buy spa test strips or a water test kit to measure the pH, alkalinity, hardness and sanitizer level so you know what your water needs.

3. Keep your water balanced: Maintain spa water pH between 7.2 – 7.8. Alkalinity should be between 60-100 ppm (parts per million). Calcium hardness should be a minimum of 200 ppm.   Adjust pH to be between 7.2-7.6 with pH Up or pH Down

4.  Shock the water with a non-chlorine shock treatment as per directions on bottle to reinvigorate suspended chlorine or bromine. Shock the spa water each week or more often after heavy use to control odors and algae.


Start UP/Refill

Follow these directions if you are filling the tub for the first time. If you are refilling the tub -use a cleaning sponge to wipe away any residues or scum lines after emptying and cleaning it. Fill the spa with a garden hose - let the water run for a couple of minutes to avoid introducing bacteria that may be inside the hose. For most spa models, remove the filter and put the hose into the filter cartridge area. Filling the spa this way will also remove any air from the plumbing lines. Make sure to fill the spa past the jet lines (except for over-water neck jets) or to center of skimmer.

Allow water temperature to reach 78-80 degrees before adding chemicals. Turn the pumps on and let them run for at least 20 minutes after adding chemicals. The cover should be completely – or at least half – off to allow the chemical gasses to escape so they do not build up under the cover.   Add your sanitizer of choice per manufacturer’s instructions, based on the amount of water your hot tub holds. Check the chemical bottle label but a general guidance is 1.5-3ppm for chlorine and 3-5ppm for bromine. Wait 15 minutes then add your shock oxidizer.

If you have issues with water quality/ heavy minerals in your area, you may want to add a bottle of First Step to prevent scaling and staining on the spa surface. If you are using a spa mineral stick/cartridge, place it inside the filter cartridge of your spa (it will generally last up to 4 months so you will probably need to change with each refill). Wait 20 minutes then test your spa water using test strips.

If the pH is high, then add a pH decreaser. If it is low, add a pH increaser. If you had to add additional chemicals to make corrections, then test water again in 20 minutes. Do not bathe until at least an hour has passed since you last added chemicals.

You should test water 3-5 times per week after the initial start up/refill. Once results are at an ideal level, you can reduce testing to 2-3x per week. Always have water test strips on hand. Test before each use to assure proper levels are maintained. To test using strips, run jets for 30 seconds then turn them off. Immerse the strip for 2 seconds to a depth of 6 inches. Remove the strip with pads up and read immediately. Treat the water as required to get the levels where they need to be.


Weekly Maintenance

Turn the spa pumps on for about 30 seconds then use test strips (or a water test kit) to test your water.   Make sure the cover is off and turn on all pumps before adding the necessary chemicals to the water.

If you are not using a chemical dispenser or do not have an automatic system, then add the necessary dosage of sanitizing granules to your hot tub every 3-5 days.

Shock the water once a week or after heavy use.

Rinse the filter off weekly and give it a deep cleaning with a filter cleaner once a month.

Replace mineral cartridges every 4 months if used.

Use Foam Away if you are experiencing excess foam – although shocking the water will generally prevent foaming. Use scum away if the water needs clarifying.

There are many routines you can adopt to ensure proper water maintenance. Keeping your hot tub water maintained will assure you and yours will be able to use the spa whenever the mood strikes. Balanced water is safer for bathers and your spa components, so it is good to establish a routine. One popular routine is the Monday-Wednesday-Friday program as shown in this video. The M-W-F Program can help simplify maintaining your hot tub water.

Please note that most Spa Breeze brand chemicals have now been replaced with the rebranded Swim and Spa chemicals line. Hot Tub Outpost also carries the Leisure Time, Frog and Spa Choice lines.



Step 1 - Monday -Run water for 30 seconds then test water with a test strip (or water test kit) which checks the pH and either the chlorine or bromine level (depending on which sanitizer you use).  Put the test strip about 6 inches deep into the water, hold for 2 seconds then remove with pads facing up. Read immediately – comparing to the chart on the bottle. Adjust pH with pH up or pH down if outside the 7.2-7.6 range.  Adjust sanitizer (bromine or chlorine) as needed. Add one dose of Protect - weekly stain and scale protection - if you have issues with mineral build-up.  Well, that's it for Monday.

Step 2 - Wednesday Test water with a test strip (as above).  Adjust pH with pH up or pH down if outside the 7.2-7.6 range.  Adjust sanitizer (bromine or chlorine) as needed. Add one dose of Sparkle Plus - water clarifier that traps particles so they can be filtered.  If your water appears cloudy or oily, you can add Scum Away. Enjoy your Wednesday!

Step 3 - Friday Test water with a test strip (or water test kit) – you are already a pro at this!  Adjust pH with pH up or pH down if outside the 7.2-7.6 range.  Adjust sanitizer (bromine or chlorine) as needed. Then add one dose of ReEnergize (or Refresh) - a shock treatment and oxidizers to clear up water and activate the sanitizer.  TGIF!

That's It!  Congratulations, you now are a master at keeping your spa water clean and safe.


Other chemicals are available for special situations such as Foam Down or Foam Away to decrease foaming or Alkalinity plus to raise alkalinity if needed. Sticking to the M-W-F program should help minimize the water going out of balance - which in turn could have health hazards or equipment failure associated with it. We also carry hot tub cover cleaners and protectors, like Cover Care and Condition. You can clean your filter using a spray or an overnight soaking product like Filter Clean or Filter Renew. We also carry spa combs/flossers you can attach to your garden hose. Cleaning the spa shell or scum lines is a breeze with a Dirty Duck or Scum Bug cleaning sponge.

Keeping your hot tub water sparkling clean does not have to be a chore, just follow the M-W-F program above and get your hot tub chemicals from the Hot Tub Outpost. Maintain proper water levels so air does not get introduced into the system and rinse off your filter every week or two to maintain clean water in between filter cleanings. If you have very hard water in your area, or lots of chemicals or impurities, then try using a pre-filter.

TIP: Reduce required amount of sanitizer with these products:
Add a frog mineral water product and reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine needed to properly sanitize your spa's water.  Other mineral sticks are available that fit into your spa filter and last up to 4 months. These include Leisure Time Mineral Purifier stick and Nature 2 sticks.

Use an ozonator to reduce chemical usage or use a bromine salt system. (this is either/or as these two systems are not compatible with each other). You will still need to shock your water once a week and test water regularly.

Happy hot tubbing!

Need a complete chemical set?  See the set below depending on if you use bromine or chlorine as the main sanitizer:




Get the Best Online Prices on all the Hot Tub Chemicals here at Hot Tub Outpost.