Hot Tubs & Spas

How To Understand Water Balance In Your Hot Tub

Using your hot tub responsibly involves a series of hot tub maintenance routines to ensure the safety and freshness of the water. Although you may only need to change your water once every 3 or 4 months, the water should be regularly tested for the correct chemical balance to provide sufficient sanitation and preserve the life of your hot tub.

Here’s an infographic from Canadian Home Leisure that illustrates the types of treatments used to balance hot tub water. Canadian Home Leisure specializes in Beachcomber hot tubs Whitby and has been in business for almost 30 years.

An Infographic on how to balance hot tub water in a Beachcomber spa
Image Source: Canadian Home Leisure

Test the water every 2 or 3 days

In order to know how to balance hot tub water at adequate chemical levels, you will need to test the water using litmus paper. Litmus paper changes colour when interacting with chemicals making it easy to tell the concentration of the chemicals in your hot tub.

Hold the strip in water for the stated amount of time

Dip the litmus strip into your hot tub water for the instructed amount of time. Different brands require different wait times for the strip to accurately read the pH of the water. Be sure to read the instructions of whichever brand of strips you’re using. You may need to wait as long as 30 seconds using one brand, while another may take only five seconds.

Compare against the colour chart

Litmus paper not only reacts to alkalinity but with other chemicals as well. That is why you only need one type of strip to test the different chemical levels in your hot tub. There is a chart of colours that you can refer to that will indicate each level of the chemicals in your spa.

Use an app as an alternative

Alternatively, you can also use an app that will do the estimating for you. Beachcomber hot tubs offer an app where you can take a picture of the litmus strip and it will determine the level of calcium, bromine, alkalinity, pH and total dissolved solids.

The app will also tell you how much product to add to your hot tub in order to achieve the desired range for safe and enjoyable hot tubbing.

Chlorine and Bromine

These two chemicals are needed to control the bacteria and algae that can develop in your hot tub. A simple test will indicate whether you need to add more of either product or a neutralizer to bring the levels down. The recommended range for these chemicals is 3-5 ppm (parts per million).

Indications that your water contains low levels are if your water is cloudy, green or smelly. You may notice a scum build up in our tub as well, which would indicate algae.

Why you may not need either chemical

Keep in mind that if you have a device to regulate the bacteria and algae, you may not be required to maintain either of the chemical levels in your water. Ozonators and UV filtration systems are designed to kill bacteria and algae without the use of chemicals.

This is definitely an alternative to consider before buying your hot tub. If you prefer the thought of bathing in your hot tub chemical-free, this would be the option for you.

Calcium Hardness

Keeping the level of calcium up in your hot tub preserves everything the water touches. If water has a low level of calcium, it looks for calcium where it can find it.

Water with low calcium will corrode your hot tub. It will break down the equipment and hot tub shell as a response to replacing the lack of calcium.

If the water feels slimy, it’s an indication of a lack of calcium. The ideal range is 150-200 ppm. You can use Beachcombers product Protect to raise the level of calcium in your hot tub. If the calcium level is too high, simply add more fresh water.

Total Alkalinity

Maintaining the total alkalinity of the water in your hot tub is extremely important. The alkalinity of the water needs to be stabilized in order to maintain the pH. The pH of the water will naturally follow the alkalinity so without a stable level it will be impossible to maintain the pH in the water of your tub.

The ideal range of alkalinity is 100-120ppm. To raise the level you can use Beachcomber Resist. To lower the level use Relent.

Balance Your pH

The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. The lowest end of the scale (0) is the most corrosive making 14 the most basic.

The ideal range is from 7.2-7.8 ppm. You can use pH Plus to raise the pH and pH minus to reduce the level.

in stock
8 new from $12.84
as of August 11, 2020 3:41 am
Free shipping
in stock
6 new from $13.00
as of August 11, 2020 3:41 am
Free shipping
in stock
2 new from $15.53
as of August 11, 2020 3:41 am
in stock
2 new from $17.98
as of August 11, 2020 3:41 am
Free shipping
in stock
8 new from $23.00
as of August 11, 2020 3:41 am
Free shipping



Total Dissolved Solids

The total amount of solids that are dissolved in your spa water will change the colour and the smell. Total dissolved solids include the lotions, hair products, organic material, leaves, dirt and debris that enter the hot tub.

When the water hits a level over 1500 ppm it’s time to drain and refill the water.

The total dissolved solids in your hot tub will vary with the frequency of use and location of your hot tub. If your hot tub is exposed to a lot of falling debris or you have a lot of guests that don’t shower before use, you may have a high amount of dissolved solids ppm.


As a guide, it is recommended to replace the water in your hot tub 3 or 4 times per year. This would make the total dissolved solids in your tub a rare issue that would need to be tested.

Bottom Line:  Test and Treat Your Water to Maintain Balance

Test your water regularly to monitor the chemical balance. For the most enjoyable spa experience, your water should be crystal clear, clean and safe for use. By monitoring these five areas of water balance you can host a lifetime of memories in a clean and sanitized hot tub.