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How Does Hot Tub Clarifier Work?

Because no one wants to bathe in bacteria, body oils, algae, and sweat, it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions we receive at Master Spa Parts is “How does hot tub clarifier work?” In short, the answer is that polymers found within hot tub clarifier create a chemical bond between these tiny particles. This bond makes the particles larger and easier for your filter to latch onto so they don’t pass back into your hot tub’s water.

Cloudy hot tub water not only makes your hot tub uninviting, but signals that an underlying issue is present. This can be caused by a buildup of bacteria, algae, or metallic particles, but it is likely a mix of all these combined. In some instances, the fix is easy: balance the sanitizers and clean (or change) the hot tub filter. Yet, even with a decent filter, small dirt and dust particles can pass through the finely woven pleats.

Hang on and read about what hot tub clarifier can do for your hot tub and under what circumstances it should be used.

What Clarifier Will Do for Your Hot Tub

Before we get into how to properly apply a clarifying product to your tub’s water, we should probably answer the question of what you should expect from a hot tub clarifier. Hot tub clarifiers are designed to do three things: clear up cloudy water, increase the performance of your filter, and keep the pH balance intact. One of our favorite clarifiers fulfills all three of these goals: the SpaBoss Spa Clear. This product has everything you could ever ask for in a hot tub clarifier; it will make those particles glob together, drastically reduce the cloudiness of your hot tub water, and will not affect your hot tub’s pH when used as directed.

What Causes Hot Tub Water to Become Cloudy?

Hot tubs can become cloudy because of bacteria, algae blooms, and even particles of metal from filling your water from a well or municipal water source. Let’s narrow down how each of these gets into your hot tub and how these can affect the cloudiness of the water.

  • Bacteria

    In contrast to swimming pools, most hot tubs only hold 350 to 450 gallons of water, which amounts to a large bathtub that is drained less frequently. To make matters worse, the water is kept at a temperature that is perfect for bacterial growth: 100°F (37°C).

    When you don’t have enough sanitizers in your hot tub, bacteria are free to settle down and start a family. Not only is bacteria living the good life in your hot tub when the chemicals aren’t balanced, but they are reproducing rapidly. Some forms of bacteria can even be dangerous; the Legionella bacteria spreads easily in untreated hot tub water and cause Legionnaires Disease. While that’s on the extreme side, rashes and respiratory infections from under-treated hot tub water are not uncommon. The primary source of bacteria in hot tubs is — you guessed it — people. So, the best time to add chemicals to your hot tub is right after it’s been used by a group of people.

  • Algae Blooms

    Algae blooms (or “algal blooms”) can show up in virtually any freshwater environment — even your hot tub. If you remember your high school biology, you may remember that all it takes is to have one algae sporophyte, which will turn into trillions within a week or two depending on the conditions. Algae often forms in water with high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. Therefore, you should consider using a metal-removing pre-filter.

  • Bad Chemistry

    No matter which way you approach it, bad chemistry is something you never want to find in a hot tub. “But, my pH is completely balanced!” you say. We’re sorry to say that most microbes (like humans) love water that has a neutral pH and is warm with a neutral pH. In terms of bacterial growth, an un-sanitized hot tub works much in the same way as a Petri dish. That is why it is so important to stay on top of maintaining your hot tub’s chemistry.

  • Metal Particles

    While metal particles in your water don’t noticeably affect your dishwasher or other home appliances, these microscopic bits of metal can alter your water chemistry and limit the performance of your hot tub. By adding a pre-filter to your garden hose when you fill, you can remove dissolved heavy metals by upwards of 98%, whether you’re drawing water from a well or municipal source. One pre-filter we recommend is the Blue Water Spa Pre-Filter. This filter will also remove many other volatile organic compounds and other bits of contamination that can throw off your hot tub’s chemistry.

Hot Tub Clarifier is Not a Long-Term Solution

While hot tub clarifier works well in a pinch, it is not a long-term solution. If you find that your hot tub water is chronically cloudy then you should look at changing the filter, balancing the chemicals, checking sanitizer levels, or using a pre-filter to remove bits of metal and other contaminants the next time you fill up. Cloudy water is hard on your system and will increase the wear of your heater, pump, and plumbing. So, use clarifier as a short-term solution, but also plan to tackle the underlying issue (or issues). Doing so will extend the life of your hot tub's components and make for many seasons of fun and relaxation.