The Basics of Hot Tub Water Care

by Brian DeBrosse

What do I test my hot tub water for?

Hot tub water care is incredibly important. There are four main areas that you need to keep an eye on to keep your water clean and fresh:

  • Your pH level
  • Your Total Alkalinity level
  • Your chlorine (or bromine) level
  • Your Calcium Hardness level

Keeping a handle on these four areas will give you the best chance at keeping your water clean and safe to use year-round.


Your pH level is often considered one of the most important area of hot tub water care. pH is how we measure how acidic or basic your hot tub water is. A pH level that is too high or too low can damage your hot tub equipment, irritate your skin and eyes, cause cloudy or murky water, and keep your sanitizer (chlorine) from working effectively

The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14. The acceptable range for pH in a hot tub is somewhere between 7.2 and 7.8.

Total Alkalinity

Total Alkalinity is a measurement of the concentration of all the alkaline substances dissolved in your hot tub's water (primarily carbonates, bicarbonates and hydroxides). These alkaline substances act as a buffer for pH in your water by neutralizing acids. To put it simply, total alkalinity is the measurement of how well anchored your pH level will be. This is a key component of hot tub water care. If your alkalinity level is too low, you will notice your pH level changes too rapidly and will be hard to keep balanced. If your alkalinity level is too high, your pH level will be incredibly difficult to adjust. Extremely high or low alkalinity can also cause damage to your equipment, cause scale build up, and skin/eye irritation.

Total Alkalinity is measured in parts per million (ppm). The acceptable range for this level is between 80ppm and 120ppm.

Chlorine Level

Your chlorine level (often referred to as your free chlorine level) is a measurement of how much chlorine you have available in your water to kill bacteria. Chlorine and other sanitizers are used to effectively disinfect your water and keep it fresh. If your chlorine level is too low, you run the risk of bacteria growing in your water. If your chlorine level is too high, you run the risk of damaging your equipment, irritating your skin and eyes, fading your swimsuits and pillows, and lowering your pH below desired levels.

Free chlorine is measured in parts per million (ppm). The acceptable range for this level is between 1.5ppm and 3ppm.

Calcium Hardness

Often referred to as total hardness, your calcium hardness level is a measurement of minerals in your water, including calcium and magnesium. It is important that your water have a proper hardness level, as water without enough calcium will corrode or eat away at your hot tub equipment as it draws minerals from said equipment to balance out the calcium deficit. If your calcium hardness is too high, you will notice a buildup of scale around the edges of your tub and your water may become cloudy.

Calcium hardness is measured in parts per million (ppm). The acceptable range for this level is between 100ppm and 250ppm.

Can I make water care even easier?

Yes! Jacuzzi® Hot Tubs come standard with their patented CLEARRAYActive Oxygen™ system, which combines an ozonator and an ultraviolet light to neutralize waterborne pathogens and reduce the amount of chlorine you use. Most Jacuzzi® Hot Tubs can also utilize either the Frog® @ease® system or the Jacuzzi® PROCLEAR™ Mineral Sanitizer, which are systems that disperse sanitizing minerals into your hot tub water, making it easier than ever to keep your water clean and fresh. If your hot tub can't utilize the @ease® system or the PROCLEAR™ sanitizer, we have generic mineral cartridges that can be used, as well.