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Cooler weather offers opportunity for hot water fun

By Marcelle Dibrell

The swimming pool is closed and the swim season has passed. What better way to enjoy the cold weather than by soaking in a warm hot tub?

For water lovers, there is little that is more enticing than the contrast of that balmy heat on an otherwise chilly evening. 

But if the hot tub isn’t clean, even the greatest of hydrophiles will be reluctant to enter.

A turgid bubbling bath with a gray layer of dead skin floating on a thick layer of foam? No thanks!

Despite the relatively small volume of water, the fact is, it takes a lot of work to keep a spa in crystal clear condition. Those same turbulent jets that massage the stress out of our shoulders also sloughs off dead skin cells at an astonishing rate. That intensely hot water that we all find so relaxing releases actual pints of perspiration off of bathers in minutes.

And in addition to sweat, humans are host to millions of bacteria. The human skin hosts about 1012 bacteria, all of which can enter the small confines of the spa.

Taylor Technologies reports that, with the help of hot water and jet action, about a billion bacteria are shed when an adult human enters a spa.

The combined elevated contaminant levels in such a small volume of water can cause only two people to completely deplete a sanitizer level of 1-ppm chlorine in 15 minutes. 

The fact is, hot tubs are not miniature pools and cannot be maintained as such.

The idea that less water equals less maintenance could not be further from the truth.

Because in addition to increased bather load, the heat also increases the rates of many chemical reactions. Sanitizers work faster, and so consequently get used up faster.

But despite these facts, it is possible to maintain a hot, clean and calming spa, and keep bathers returning day after day for more. It is all part of what keeps the Service Industry in business. In this special issue of Service Industry News, we will examine some of the finer points of hot water chemistry.

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