What Chemicals Are Needed for a Hot Tub

As excellent and relaxing as inflatable hot tubs can be, they do also require a little work for their maintenance to keep them clean and ensure they stay hygienically safe to use, as well as aiding the longevity of your hot tub. This involves the use of spa chemicals, which can be a little intimidating if you are new to jacuzzis and spas.

So you’ve gone out and purchased a good portable and cheap inflatable hot tub, but now you’re asking yourself what chemicals do I need for my hot tub?

Although there will be information given in the handbook and instructions from the manufacturer for your system, in the following article we hope to inform you of all you need to know and put any worries or anxieties to rest by advising you on the best hot tub chemicals to use.

Best Chemicals to Use for Inflatable Spas

We will look at the different types of chemicals for the jacuzzi that you need and how you should use them. we hope this spa chemicals guide reassures you and enables you to enjoy yours to the full and with peace of mind.

So whether you have a brand new Intex inflatable hot tub or have had yours sometime, we have you covered. Please note, these chemicals do not replace the need for a proper hot tub vacuum for removing larger, visible dirt and debris and you will need to drain your unit 2 maybe 3 times a year, depending on often you use it, to change the water and give it that little extra maintenance.

Before using any chemicals you will need to go out and purchase a test kit or test strips if one or other has not been supplied with your unit. Don’t worry spa chemistry is not hard just test 2 or 3 times a week and adjust as required, after time you will get to know the spa water chemistry of your unit over time.

1. Leisure Time Spa Up

So you have taken a water sample and done a test only to find your pH balance is dropping too low. This bottle of Leisure Time Spa Up pH balancer will fix the problem for you.

It is a pH increaser and basically raises the pH level and total alkalinity levels of the jacuzzi water which in turn increases the effectiveness of your sanitizer. It is important to maintain the pH ranges between 7.2 – 7.8 as a low pH reading can cause equipment corrosion or even the forming of scale.

You will only need small amounts, so it does go a long way, 1 ounce for when the pH is between 6.8 – 7.2 and 2 ounces for when it is less than 6.8. Ideally, you will test before it drops too low as this means the acidity in the water will be quite high.

What We Liked

  • Compatible with all sanitizers
  • Only a small amount needed

What We Disliked

  • Only serves one purpose

2. Hot Tub Things Oxidizing Spa Shock

This popular American brand has over 30 years of experience in the industry and not only in spa chemical agents, but they also supply equipment such as a spa cover and lift along with other hot tub products you might use in your systems, from heaters down to a filter, in other words, they know what they are doing.

This Oxidizing Spa Shock is a great versatile product that is suitable for preventing organic buildup that causes cloudy water in all kinds of water including jacuzzis, swim spas, and swimming pools. This product will restore the clarity and sparkle in the water making it look refreshing and enticing, unlike a cloudy spa.

All you need to do is, once a week sprinkle in 2 ounces for every 300 gallons of water, evenly spreading it around the spa with the pump running for at least 30 minutes after adding. This oxidizing shock formula is meant as an addition to your regular chemicals which it helps to reach the right levels faster.

What We Liked

  • Multifunctional
  • Suitable for all sanitizers
  • More affordable

What We Disliked

  • Poor shipping

3. Baqua Spa 3-Pack Introductory Maintenance Pack

Get everything that you need with a single order by getting this Baqua set.

It includes a waterline control that helps prevent deposits from building up on the spa shell, an oxidizer that breaks down any oils, organic matter and other contaminants that may make the water go cloudy it also helps the other hot tubs chemicals to work much more efficiently.

Lastly is the sanitizer which is what it says a sanitizer, but this also has stain and scale control. That takes you through all 3 necessary steps of keeping your spa clean. This product does not contain bromine or chlorine so if you have sensitive skin this is a less irritating alternative. Follow the instructions and use these chemicals once a week without ever having to add harsher chemicals.

What We Liked

  • Chemicals used are kinder to skin
  • Complete maintenance kit

What We Disliked

  • Not suitable for toughest organic buildup

4. Hot Tub Serum Total Maintenance

Do you prefer to buy a larger supply to avoid having lots of small empty plastic bottles?

Then set yourself up for 24 weeks of beautifully clear and soft spa water with this jumbo bottle which cleans, clarifies and softens the water for a more relaxed soaking experience in the hot tub environment. This also reduces the amount of sanitizer needed, which is a good thing.

Use this for weekly maintenance after you have tested the hot tub water sample and added any chemicals required and you will get the best effect. A single 2-liter bottle lasts for 4-6 months, depending on spa size and prevents organic buildup while also keeping the pipes squeaky clean.

What We Liked

  • Long-lasting bottle
  • Suitable for all kinds of water
  • Advanced scientific formula

What We Disliked

  • Does not replace other chemicals

5. Spa Choice Sanitizing Chlorine Granules

If you would prefer to stay with the traditional, then this would be a good option to get the required dose for your spa. These granules are designed to quickly and completely dissolve and contain 56% available chlorine that will provide a steady source of the sanitizer.

It is one of the standard ingredients used for cleaning and sanitizing spas and swimming pools. It kills any bacteria, prevents algae from growing and destroys any contaminants, leaving you with a hot tub environment that is not only safe but that is clear and sparkling.

This product comes in a big 5-pound bucket which lasts for a long time considering each teaspoon provides 1.4 ppm (Parts Per Million) for 500 gallons of water.

What We Liked

  • Granules dissolve quickly
  • Very affordable
  • Long-lasting effect

What We Disliked

  • Difficult to measure exact proportions

6. Leisure Time Bromine Tabs

Many people prefer to use bromine which is odorless but still effective. These bromine tablets will sanitize your jacuzzi and keep it clean, clear and free of odor. They slowly dissolve with minimal dust and will fit in all floaters.

Being quite a large size so should be enough for several months, but you have the choice of different size packs if you like to be stocked up and ready, while savin on mailing costs.

What We Liked

  • Odorless sanitizer
  • Available as large pack and combination packs

What We Disliked

  • Tabs might crumble inside the pack which makes it less effective

7. Spa Choice Brominating Tabs

If you are looking for a more affordable alternative to the Leisure Time bromine tabs then consider getting this 5-pound bucket sold by Spa Choice. But, just because the price tag is smaller does not mean it is lesser in quality – this formula has 98% of the active ingredient.

The packaging is also an advantage as the lid gives you easy access while still being a child-safe design to prevent the young ones from accessing it unsupervised.

What We Liked

  • Value pack
  • Slow-dissolving, perfect for warmer water temperatures
  • Stable bromine levels

What We Disliked

  • Child-safe lock takes some getting used to for the easy opening

8. In The Swim Brominating Tablets

Get the best of the two most trusted chemicals for keeping spas clean with this combination spa cleaning tablet produced by In The Swim. It contains 61% available bromine and 27% available chlorine, delivering a double punch to any bacteria and algae.

The great thing about this combination is that it has all the effects but because of the low dosage does not have a sharp odor. It is suitable for filling any bromine floater or feeder.

What We Liked

  • No strong odor
  • Slow-dissolving for a longer-lasting effect

What We Disliked

  • Cannot be stored in cold temperatures

9. SpaGuard Enhanced Shock

Shock is a spa cleaner that combines several functions in one. This multipurpose shock, not only shocks but clarifies, and acts as a pH buffer. Restoring the sparkle to the water and removing any unpleasant odors. The best feature this has is that when used you could be back in the tub as soon as 15 minutes later.

Basically, this extra strong shock by SpaGuard is an oxidizer, water clarifier, flocculent and pH buffer in one.

It is a simple step in your maintenance routine because it does not require any pre-mixing and dissolves quickly. The enhanced chemicals are quick in action, providing you with clear and clean water. Spa chemistry made easy, you could actually say that this is a hot tub chemicals kit in a bottle.

What We Liked

  • All-in-one spa cleaning chemicals
  • Quick action with quick results
  • Available in multipacks for easy stock at home

What We Disliked

  • Not suitable in combination with other sanitizers, but then you shouldn’t need them

10. SpaGuard Spa Water Clarifier

Sometimes, the water can get a little cloudy from oils, organic build-up, and other contaminants. Bring it back to a sparkling clarity using this SpaGuard clarifier without affecting the pH balance of the water.

How it works is that the small particles in the water are pulled together into larger particles. These larger particles are much easier for the filter system to trap leaving you with crystal clear water.


  • Doesn’t affect water pH levels
  • Aids the filtration system

What We Disliked

  • Must be combined with other hot tub chemicals

For a quick recap of your article, Here are our top 3 picks off the best hot tub chemicals you just might need.

Chemical Buying Guide

When investing in a new hot hub, there are some things to know about hot tub chemicals. Even water that looks crystal clear and sparkling clean still needs to be sanitized, because there are many invisible bacterias that are probably present.

So, from the very first time you use your inflatable spa, you need to make sure you have chemicals for hot tubs spas and jacuzzis, all are the same just different ways of calling them, at the ready to add.

Once the water has warmed up and is bubbling nicely, that’s when it’s time to add the spa chemicals. From that moment onwards, you need to check the water regularly, for the sole reason of making sure the hot tub chemistry is correct for safe use.

What is Sanitizer?

A sanitizer is by far, the most important chemicals that you will need to purchase and use with your inflatable spa. This spa chemical is to help ensure the water is always hygienically safe and clean, so it is important that your sanitizer levels are checked regularly.

It works by attacking and then destroying any algae and other harmful bacteria that might be present and building up in the water. Hot water is the ideal breeding place for many kinds of germs, so it’s crucial that you use a sanitizer to get rid of them. Chlorine and bromine are the most used sanitizer chemical.

We would also recommend using a hot tub thermometer to ensure your water is the correct temperature before using it.

Different Types of Sanitizer

There are two main types of sanitizers to choose from, and it really depends on personal preference as to which is best. The two chemicals you can choose from include:

  • Bromine
  • Chlorine
Using a Chlorine Sanitizer

Using a Chlorine Sanitizer

This is by far the most popular sanitizing chemical for inflatable spas. This is because it is very effective at eradicating bacteria and is much cheaper than bromine and other alternatives. One characteristic of it though, that many people do not like is the fact that it has an odor.

You’ll remember the smell from when you went to a public swimming pool. Although it will not be quite as bad as it is in a swimming pool, because your spa is a lot smaller than a public swimming pool and is personal use.

It is also worth noting that the odor is actually a positive thing. The smell means that the chlorine is dying and it only dies when it is attacking and destroying the bacteria in the water. So, the odor is a sign it is doing its job properly.

There are two types available, tablets and granules.

Learn how to avoid chlorine rash here.

Chlorine Tablets

These tablets are generally used in a plastic chemical floater, which floats in your hot tub water, which will normally be included when you buy the unit. Although you should refer to the owner’s instructional DVD or manual to determine how many tablets you should use, it is generally between two to six. Although that will depend on the size of your model.

Place into the floater and then drop it into the water when it’s hot. As the tablets dissolve slowly, it will be released gradually and start to work its way through the water. Importantly, this means you need to wait a minimum of two hours before getting into the tub.

As time goes on, you should check the levels in the water regularly and add additional tablets when necessary. They tend to last around three to five days on average, which means you will need to use quite a lot over time. That’s why it’s best investing in a larger container from the get-go.

Hot Tun Chlorine Granules

The granulated form can either be used by simply adding the correct amount directly into the tub and letting the heat dissolve them and the air jets swirl them around, or, you could put the appropriate measure of granules into a small container, then add some of the hot tub water from your tub and stir until dissolved before adding the combined mixture to your spa.

This is probably the best way as it ensures the granules are fully active and ready to do their work. As with tablets, you still need to wait until you have a safe reading of 2 to 3 ppm (parts per million) level.

Chlorine Pros and Cons

  • Inexpensive
  • Acts fast
  • Easy to control and use
  • Aggressive killer of bacteria
  • Chemical odor
  • Needs to be shocked to reactivate
  • Can irritate sensitive skin
  • pH needs to be checked regularly

Using a Bromine Sanitizer

Bromine is second in popularity only to Chlorine and is equally effective with the distinct advantage that it’s completely odorless.  The big downside about bromine though is that it is more expensive and furthermore, it doesn’t tend to last quite as long.

Similarly, to Chlorine, you can use bromine in granule or tablet form. The procedure is also exactly the same. However, the biggest difference you need to keep in mind between the two is that bromine works slower than chlorine.

This means you need to wait a little longer before you can get into the water. Generally, it is around four to eight hours but it depends on the amount you use and the size of your tub. Many people prefer to just add bromine at night and leave it to work on the water overnight before using the tub.

Not sure how to add chemicals to your spa? Don’t worry there are lots of videos online to help you do this.

Bromine Pros and Cons

  • No chemical odor
  • Aggressive killer of algae
  • A great choice for people with sensitive skin
  • Expensive
  • Needs to be replaced more frequently
  • Works slower
  • Breaks down when exposed to sunlight

Frequently Asked Questions

You should now have enough information to ensure that your inflatable tub is hygienic and safe to use. But to help you make a more informed choice, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about the chemicals and how to use them.

What chemicals do I need for a hot tub?

The main chemicals that you need for a hot tub are Chlorine or Bromine for sanitizing. A pH decreaser or increaser to keep the pH balance correct. A calcium chloride to control the calcium hardness. Spa alkalinity increaser and lastly an Oxidizer to keep the water crystal clear.

By using a test kit you can test and adjust the water balance to the following pH balance of 7.2-7.8, total alkalinity 60-100 ppm, calcium hardness 200 ppm minimum, (PPM is Parts Per Million). Don’t let these figures worry you it is quite easy to achieve with a test kit that shows all the levels that your spa water has and if you need to add any tub chemistry to the hot tub water.

What is the best chemical to use in a hot tub?

Chlorine is considered to be the best chemical to use in a hot tub and will be from a reputable company, avoid the really cheap options as you very often find that not only do you have to use more but they don’t always work as well.

Chlorine is a sanitizer and will help keep your tub clear and clean, but there are various spa chemicals that you will need to use and they all do different things for the water chemistry.

How much are chemicals for a hot tub?

How much the chemicals cost for your hot tub does, really does depend on how many people use it and how often. But we feel that you should be budgeting between 150 – 250 dollars a year and if it’s any less you can treat yourself.

How soon can you use hot tub after adding chemicals?

You will be able to use your hot tub after adding chemicals when the chlorine levels are at a safe 2 to 3f ppm (parts per million) level, this could take anywhere up to 24 hours. If you use a non-chlorine sanitizer then the waiting time could be as little as 10 minutes.


If you do any research on the chemicals hot tub and spas use it is easy to get very confused and bogged down in all the different elements, such as copper agent, bromamines, sodium bromide, salinity, and minerals, you get where we are going with this….we could mention more.

However, with test kits or test strips, you will not need to know everything about spa chemicals. For hot tub maintenance and hot tub water balance, a test kit includes all the materials and solutions needed to check your water just follow the instructions. It is recommended that you do this 2 – 3 times a week if you are using your unit a lot.