Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The BBB Method For My Hot Tub

I never meant to be a hot tub owner. It just came with the house we bought. Luckily the tub was relatively new and in great condition. I hoped to keep it in great condition, so knowing nothing about hot tubs, I went to a local hot tub dealership and asked about what sort of chemicals I'd need. $50 later, I walked out to my car with bromine and a bunch of other stuff.

And the costs kept adding up... After a year, I'd figured that I spent about $400 dollars on chemicals and filters (keeping the hot tub running all year, even in the winter)...not including the power bill (which, by the way, is about 8 bucks a month in the summer and 12-15 in the winter).

After that first year I learned a few things too. I learned that I didn't like using the hot tub in the winter. WAY too COLD outside for me. I learned that it was a great swimming pool for the kids in the summer. I learned that I hesitated to use the hot tub because I didn't want to have to put more chemicals in it... because that meant I'd soon be having to buy more!

So my quest for a cheaper options was born. I stumbled across the option last year of using Bleach, Baking Soda and Borax (BBB) to maintain hot tub/spa/or swimming pool chemistry. At the time, our hot tub was winterized, but I resolved to give it a try once spring returned. And it's spring! And I tried it! And it works!

Here's what I did: I filled up the tub like usual. I have a 350 gal Jacuzzi J345... so it takes about an hour to fill. Once I got it full, decided to go ahead and put in some Bleach (perfume free). I didn't know how much to put in since I hadn't found any information that detailed online. So, I just put in 3 cups. That was plenty. Next time I refill, I'll start with two cups. I ran the jets awhile and waited for the tub to heat up. I then checked the PH. This is the important part: Get the PH adjusted before adding Borax since it's a buffer that will help the PH from creeping up when you try to adjust alkalinity. Our water's PH is typically high, so I had to add a few tablespoons (3) of PH decreaser (which I had on hand since I have such a plethora of chemicals!). If the PH were too low, I could have added baking soda at about a tablespoon at a time to get it where I needed it. Once the PH was adjusted, I added a couple tablespoons of Borax. I let the jets run a cycle and then went ahead and adjusted the alkalinity using baking soda, adding it at a tablespoon at a time until it was perfect.

It's been a month now of maintaining my hot tub with Bleach, baking soda, and borax. I'm soooo happy with it. Why? Mostly price. I'm not a chemical snob so I don't care that I'm using chlorine in instead of bromine. Every couple of days (or after each use) I have to add about 2 tablespoons of Bleach to keep the choline at the right level. That's it, chemical-wise. The PH and alkalinity have stayed steady. I'm a much happier hot tub owner now.


  1. what is your daily/weekly routine for maintaining the hot tub?

  2. I don't have a hot tub anymore since I've moved, but my routine is in the last paragraph of this post. Of course, every six months I normally changed the water.

  3. Simple Question: Can the BBB method be used with bromine dispenser tabs.??

    I switched to bromine tabs, and then discovered your BBB method which I find incredibly easy and economical (ok, CHEAP..!!)

    I recently read somewhere not to mix bromine and Chlorine.?? I also notice that even tho I keep Bromine tabs in my floating dispenser, I also have to add quite a bit of bleach almost every time I use the tub.. maybe a couple of cups..??

    Otherwise, its an AWESOME method... Thanks for sharing it..!!

    Jim up in Canada

    1. You are right! This is cheap and it works. There is really no need to use bromine tablets. In fact, that is throwing of the PH too much since you are putting bleach in it too.
      If I were you, I would forgo the Bromine tablets. Typically with hot tubs, one can choose to sanitize with either chlorine or bromine. So, with you using bromine tabs AND bleach (chlorine) it's messing too much with the PH too much. You shouldn't have to use that much bleach each time you use the hot tub.

    2. I have a question for you - I also have 400.00 worth of chemicals and now use 1/2 cup of bleach each time we use the tub (it is a 190 gallon plug and play) we do test it with the strips - but we can never tell if it is ok by them - I do get rashes from the tub (it is crystal clear) I am thinking that I need to add something else - as far as the baking soda goes - would adding that make it less acidic? could that be why I am getting a rash? and do you really need the borax? how much baking soda would you add to stabalize it?

    3. It is hard for me to answer your question since I don't know what chemicals you already have used in your hot tub. If you are getting rashes, I would drain the tub and start with new water. Decide what method you are going to use: you can't use bromine and the BBB at the same time. It will be hard to keep everything balanced. Also, if you use BBB, you have to have chlorine test strips, not Bromine ones. They are different. I can't really tell you how much of each chemical to use because I only have my own hot tub for experience. But, I can guess that 1/2 cup of bleach each time you use your hot tub sounds like a lot to me, since I only needed to put in 2 Tablespoons after each use and my hot tub was 350 gallons.


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