Salt Water Hot Tub Pros and Cons

Here’s our salt water hot tub pros and cons including what it is, benefits, how to maintain salt water, and how it compares to a chlorine hot tub.
Patio with hot tubSalt water hot tubs are rising in popularity due to their many benefits, such as ease of maintenance, gentleness on skin, and extra buoyancy.

There are also a few drawbacks you should consider before purchasing one.Before we go through the advantages and disadvantages we’re going to break down exactly how a salt water hot tub functions.

What Is A Salt Water Hot Tub?

Outdoor hot tub jacuzziSalt water hot tubs are filled with filtered, sanitized water. A heating system keeps the water at a comfortable temperature, while a salt-fueled chlorine generator performs the sanitization function. 

When water of an appropriate salinity is passed through certain precious metals and stimulated by a low level of electricity, the result is a chemical reaction that produces chlorine.

The chlorine then breaks down the molecular structure of pathogens, ensuring the water in your salt water hot tub is safe for soaking and floating. 

Some hot tubs are specially designed for use with salt water. These models have an inline salt chlorine generator which is located inside the housing of the hot tub.

A traditional chlorine-based hot tub can also be converted to a salt water hot tub through the use of a drop-in salt chlorine generator, which hangs on the side of the tub. 

Some salt water hot tubs release chlorine automatically on a set schedule, while others use sensors to detect the chlorine levels and respond accordingly.  

Salt Water Hot Tub Pros

Backyard with jacuzzi hot tubSalt water hot tubs have a number of advantages that make them a smart choice. 

Smells Better Than Chlorine Hot Tubs – The benefit that most people notice first is the lack of an offensive odor. Besides being smell-free, salt water hot tubs are also much less likely to induce irritation in your eyes, on your skin, or in your airway. 

Increased Buoyancy – Inside the hot tub, the saline water provides a pleasant effect of slightly increased buoyancy.

Natural Skin Exfoliant – Salt water is also a gentle exfoliant with multiple beneficial minerals that restore hydration in the skin and hair.  

Lower Maintenance – Salt water hot tubs are significantly easier to maintain than other kinds of hot tubs. One reason for this is the constant supply and distribution of chlorine thanks to salt water passing through the salt chlorine generator.

Do Not Need to Be Drained As Frequently As Chlorine Hot Tubs – They do not need to be drained every few months like chlorine models –once a year is adequate. While you do need to perform maintenance to keep the salinity, alkalinity, and pH in balance, you only need to test the chlorine levels once every ten days. 

Salt Water Hot Tub Cons

Before purchasing a salt water hot tub, it is important to evaluate any potential drawbacks that might affect your use or enjoyment of the hot tub. Compared to other solutions, salt water hot tubs have very few drawbacks, but there are a few things you should consider.

May Cause Skin Dryness For Those With Skin Sensitivity – While salt water hot tubs contain much less chlorine than traditional hot tubs, people with acute sensitivities may still notice a slight skin dryness. 

Extra Buoyancy May Be Disliked – If you prefer to sit in your hot tub rather than float in it, a salt water hot tub might not be for you. However, because of the comparatively low salt content of a salt water hot tub (they are much less salty than sea water, for instance), this is not a major concern for most users.

Slightly More Expensive to Build – More relevant to many people is the cost of a salt water hot tub.  Salt water hot tubs are generally at least $1,500 more expensive than a comparable traditional chlorine model. However, the reduced maintenance obligation and chlorine expense offset this expense somewhat in the long term. 

Are Salt Water Hot Tubs Safe?

Boiling hot tub

Salt water hot tubs are just as safe as any other kind of hot tub. The chlorine produced by a salt chlorine generator effectively destroys bacteria and viruses that may be present in your water, creating a safe and sanitary environment. 

Not only that, the lower level of chloramines released into the water makes salt water hot tubs much less likely to cause irritant dermatitis. People with sensitive skin who are not able to tolerate traditionally chlorinated hot tubs can often find relief and enjoyment in salt water hot tubs instead. 

Are Salt Water Hot Tubs Good For Your Skin?

Yes, salt water hot tubs are good for your skin. A natural exfoliant, salt water helps renew the surface of your skin by sloughing off dead skin cells. Exposing your scalp to salt water may even decrease the amount of dandruff you experience.

Salt water contains magnesium, which is naturally antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Some eczema sufferers find salt water hot tubs to be extremely effective at reducing or relieving their symptoms. 

How To Maintain A Salt Water Hot Tub

Backyard with hot tubOnce per year, it is necessary to drain the salt water hot tub. After turning the power off at the circuit breaker, attach one end of a hose to the drainage spigot, and place the other end next to a drain. Open the valve and allow the water to run out.

Some models have more than one drainage spigot, this procedure should be repeated until your saltwater hot tub is completely empty. 

Using soft rags to avoid scratching your spa shell, wipe the entire surface with an appropriate cleaner. Appropriate cleaners vary based on the model of your tub, and can include diluted bleach, diluted white vinegar, or commercially available spa shell cleaner. 

Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid accidentally damaging your salt water hot tub. Leaving the hose attached and the ball valve on the drainage spigot open, rinse off the interior. 

When the spa has been drained, cleaned, and rinsed, it is ready to be refilled. Close the drainage spigot and remove the hose. Place one end of the hose in the fill pipe and connect the other end of the hose to a source of fresh water. 

Water purity and clarity in saltwater hot tubs are maintained through the use of salt-filled cartridges that insert into an inline salt chlorine generator, housed within the body of the spa. Changing the cartridge takes just a few moments, and only needs to be performed three or four times per year.

Once a month, you should clean the filters of your saltwater hot tub to make sure it continues to operate as designed. Remove the filter and clean it as specified in the instruction manual. This may involve soaking the filter in a special solution. Rinse and return the filter. 

Three times per month, you will need to test the chlorine content of the water using a convenient test strip. 

Salt Water vs Chlorine Hot Tub

House deck with jacuzzi tub wooden decking griller outdoor dining setTechnically, a salt water hot tub is a type of chlorine hot tub, since the salt water is used to produce a consistently-released source of chlorine. However, when most people think of chlorine hot tubs, they mean models that need chlorine added directly to the water on a regular basis. 

Salt water and chlorine hot tubs are both able to purify, filter, and sanitize water. Both types of hot tubs must be adjusted for pH and alkalinity. 

With a traditional chlorine hot tub, chlorine must be added manually, and levels can vary wildly from day to day. This often causes frustration as owners seek to keep chlorination in the recommended range. 

When chlorination is too high, traditional chlorine hot tubs often irritate the skin. When chlorination is too low, it does not adequately sanitize the water. Salt water hot tubs and release chlorine only when necessary, informed by a timer or salinity sensors. As a result, the level of chlorination stays significantly more stable. 

Traditional chlorine hot tubs also require higher levels of chlorine than salt water hot tubs. The chloramines released by the amount of chlorine required for a traditional chlorine hot tub are associated with unpleasant odors, irritation to the eyes and breathing passages, and skin irritation. Salt water hot tubs are unlikely to cause these negative side effects because they contain much less chlorine. 

Salt water hot tubs only need to be drained, cleaned, and refilled once per year. Compare this requirement to that of traditional chlorine hot tubs, which must be drained, cleaned, and refilled three to four times over the same period. with this difference it is easy to see why so many people prefer salt water hot tubs to traditional chlorine hot tubs. 

Are Salt Water Hot Tubs Better?

Patio with hot tubSalt water hot tubs are better if you have limited time and energy to maintain your hot tub. Because salt water chlorine generators operate based on timers or sensors, salt water hot tubs require much less active maintenance of chlorination levels. 

Salt water hot tubs are also better for individuals with sensitive skin, eyes, or noses, as the reduced level of released chloramines results in less odor and irritation. In fact, a soak in a salt water hot tub may help relieve irritation and leave skin and hair feeling soft and refreshed. 

The increased buoyancy of salivated water also makes salt water hot tubs a better choice for individuals who enjoy floating in their water. 

Visit our hot tub sizes guide for more related content.

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Written by Matthew Sherborne

Matthew has been writing about interior design since 2015 when he founded He owns a design firm and enjoys working alongside interior designers and architects to share new and exciting design trends, picture galleries, and room layouts with his readers.

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