The majority of hot tub owners in the UK use chlorine to keep the water in their tubs clean and healthy. However, you can also use bromine tablets for hot tub cleanliness.
So, what’s the difference? Is one better than the other? Should certain tubs or people choose one or the other?
Let’s take a brief dive into the difference between chlorine and bromine hot tub tablets.
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Are Bromine Tablets Good For Hot Tubs?
Bromine is an alternative hot tub sanitiser compared with the more popular chlorine. It works very well as a sanitising agent (this means killing the bacteria that naturally builds up in an ideal breeding environment like the constantly warm waters of a hot tub).
While chlorine is usually argued to be a more effective sanitiser, bromine has a number of benefits and differences that might be beneficial or detrimental depending on your circumstances:
1) Bromine Regenerates
When chlorine is used to sanitise hot tub water, it breaks down into what are called chloramines. These continue to do some sanitising work, but they also give off a strong odour. This odour is usually associated with having too much chlorine in the tub, though it can actually mean the opposite.
Too many chloramines present in your hot tub water can make it appear cloudy or milky – even when your pH, alkalinity, and chlorine levels look like they’re good. The solution is to use an oxidising agent (sometimes called a “non-chlorine shock” treatment).
Non-chlorine shock will break down the chloramines and return your hot tub water to a clean and healthy-looking state.
However, when non-chlorine shock (the same chemical is used for both chlorine and bromine, so it could equally well be called non-bromine shock) is used with bromine, the bromides that bromine breaks down into after the sanitisation process is complete regenerate.
That is to say, the bromides turn into new bromine! This means that regular non-chlorine shock dosing will serve to keep your bromine levels up even if you don’t add any more bromine.
2) Bromine Is Softer But “Stickier”
Bromine can be a good alternative hot tub sanitiser for people who have sensitive skin. This is because it is a gentler chemical than chlorine and doesn’t cause as much irritation.
On the downside, bromine takes longer to dissolve than chlorine. It can also stick to clothing you wear in the tub (chiefly – of course – swimwear, but we’re not judging).
This means that while bromine is good for sensitive skin, you will want to take extra care to shower and rinse your swimwear after you’ve been in a hot tub where bromine is the sanitiser of choice.
How To Use Hot Tub Bromine Tablets
- Aim for bromine levels between 3 and 5 parts per million
- Ideal pH level is between 7.2 and 7.6
- Add bromine every 2-3 days depending on tub usage levels
- Remember that a “bromine reserve” (not letting the level drop too far) is desirable
- Non-chlorine shock dosing is equally important for helping bromine remain an effective sanitiser – aim to dose around once per week
How Often Do You Put Bromine Tablets In A Hot Tub?
As a rough rule of thumb, every two to three days is a suggested guideline for how often you should put bromine tablets in your hot tub.
The most important thing is to measure those levels. Hot tub test strips are very affordable. These strips give you clear read-outs for all the important water chemical levels. Most importantly, chlorine and bromine levels (make sure you choose strips that cover bromine), pH level, and alkalinity.
One extra advantage of bromine is that it keeps working at high temperatures better than chlorine does. This usually means you won’t need to add quite so much quite so often. This is good. Because one slight disadvantage of bromine is that it tends to be more expensive than chlorine.
Do You Need To Shock A Hot Tub If You Use Bromine?
Yes. No matter whether you use chlorine or bromine to sanitise your hot tub water, you still need to regularly “shock” (add a sizeable quantity of sanitiser following packaging instructions) your tub to keep the levels in that 3 to 5 parts per million target range (or 1.5 to 3 parts per million for chlorine).
You will tend to find that bromine is slightly easier to use to keep in that target zone than chlorine. This is because bromine has a lower pH level.
Despite this, regular testing of your bromine levels is vital. Because too much of any sanitising agent in your hot tub is going to have some negative effects.
What Happens If You Put Too Much Bromine In A Hot Tub?
Having too much bromine in your hot tub is bad news. Don’t let this happen. Arguably, it’s not as bad as the same quantity of chlorine would be. Yet you’re still likely to experience:
- Skin and eye irritation
- Respiratory discomfort
- Brittle hair
- Damage to your tub
- Slow build-up under your hot tub cover
But with proper care and regular testing, using bromine tablets for hot tub cleanliness can be just as effective as chlorine. It provides some added benefits that chlorine doesn’t while also having some drawbacks.
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