The Complete Guide To Salt Water Hot Tubs

a deck with a hot tub


Saltwater systems are found on many high-end hot tubs and are widely regarded as the pinnacle of water care systems due to their ease of use and low maintenance. With just a little salt added to your spa's water, the system will automatically generate chlorine when needed to keep your spa water clean and clear for up to a full year until you have to drain and refill.

Some of the benefits of Saltwater systems include:

  • More natural-feeling water with no itchy, dry skin or eyes
  • Fewer chemicals added and no harsh odors
  • Simple water care means more time enjoying your spa
  • Conserve water by reducing spa drain and refills to once a year*

Saltwater System Maintenance

Maintenance varies between brands, but let's use the ultra-popular Freshwater Salt System for our example. This system is found on Highlife and Limelight models. Although the system regulates chlorine on its own, environmental factors mean the system needs adjustment around every 10 days. A handy control panel prompts you to dip a test strip in the tub and adjust the salt system accordingly.

Other than simple routine adjustment, the system runs off of disposable cartridges that last 4 months. So with three cartridges and routinely adjusting your system, you can avoid having to drain and refill your water for up to a year!

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What About Other Water Care Systems?

Traditional Water Care

Traditional water care means the spa owner manually adds Chlorine or Bromine to the spa once a week and before each use. You should only purchase chemicals from an authorized hot tub dealer to make sure you get the highest quality products to assure your spa and water stay healthy. The amount of maintenance required by the spa owner depends on how frequently they use the hot tub. With regular hot tub use, the spa water should be checked with a test strip each time the hot tub is used.

Ozone Systems

Ozone with MPS and Silver Ions is slightly more expensive than traditional water care. It is still a fairly manual process but requires a little less interaction from the spa owner than manually adding chlorine or bromine. Spa owners enjoy this system because it only requires a very small amount of chlorine and chemicals.
Ozone systems were once considered the best water care option for hot tubs, and has since become the industry standard for hot tub water care in most middle tier hot tubs. Ozone water care systems use powerful oxidizers - ozone and MPS - with silver ions to decrease the need for chlorine. Once the Ozone unit is installed, it continually releases tiny ozone bubbles into the spa water. The silver ion cartridge then automatically releases silver ions into the water that inhibit the growth of bacteria. The spa owner then has to manually add MPS to the spa with each use, and a small amount of chlorine once a week. The silver ion cartridge should be replaced every three months, and the ozone unit will need to be replaced every 4-5 years.

Salt Water FAQ

Where should I focus my attention when I start designing a sauna?

Of course, the "heart" of the sauna is the heater. The intelligent selection of a heater model and its corresponding heater control options will significantly impact your overall sauna experience. Sauna temperature ranges and high-quality sauna heater stones are also important variables to consider when beginning to design your sauna.

What about sauna size?
Your sauna should be insulated to a minimum of “R12” on the walls and “R16” on the ceiling. Additionally, your sauna needs an equally effective heater to maximize size according to UL, CSA or ETL guidelines. Locate your local Finnleo dealer for sizing charts.
What is the optimal inside height for saunas?
The minimum permitted ceiling height of any given sauna is 77 inches. Most often, however, an average sauna ceiling height is 84 inches. Don’t forget to check the minimum sauna height in the heater brochure or installation instructions for your particular application. A maximum safe ceiling height, however, is 96 inches.
How should benches be arranged?
Maximizing bench space and minimizing wasted floor space adds to the efficiency of your sauna and maximizes the number people who can enjoy your sauna simultaneously. Typically. a sauna plan should include space for both a lower bench and an upper bench. An upper bench area can be used as the main calculation in terms of how many users you’d like to accommodate. Factor in about 2’ of bench space per individual sauna bather.
What woods are appropriate for the benches and the walls?
Usually, the seating boards are built from either Abachi or Cedar woods. Walls are most often covered with Nordic White Spruce, Hemlock, or Cedar wood types.
What is an ideal sauna door solution?
An all glass door has become the standard, given its stylish and durable characteristics. The glass is resistant to high heat levels as well as wet and dry steam fluctuations.
Where should my heater be located?
Ideal positions include along the front or side wall (to maximize your main wall and additional side wall bench placement and sizing options). Newer sauna heaters, such as the Tonttu series, allow for unique bench designs – and even designs that allow benches to wrap conveniently around the heater. Your local Finnleo dealer will be more than happy to sketch out potential heater and bench layout options with you and will provide professional two or three dimensional CAD drawings.
How should saunas be ventilated properly?
It is important to note that colder air mass will always try to move downwards. Room temperature air in the sauna sinks down to the floor level unless it can be circulated properly with the air mass inside the sauna. To achieve the “natural draw effect” and to pull fresh air through the sauna room, it is imperative to position your in-vent directly under the heater so that the heat of the rocks, accompanied with Finnleo’s open air heater design, can properly pull new air into the sauna room. Place the exhaust vent opposite your heater in-vent (as closely as possible) to your maximize air exchange and to optimize the level of the out-vent (which is most often positioned 2 feet above the floor). The goal is to avoid heat loss, while still keeping it high enough to achieve adequate air exchange. If mechanical venting is desired, please contact our technical staff or your local dealer for more information relating to venting your sauna properly.
Some important notes about Finnleo's Vulkanite Heater Stones
Good heater stones for an electrical heater must exhibit the following characteristics:
  • They must be able to withstand high temperatures and significant heat fluctuations.
  • They cannot create dust or discharge any odors.
  • They must sufficiently deliver the heat, grab water and prevent the dripping of water. In other words, an uneven surface is preferable as opposed to an even one.
  • Stones must be large enough so that the air can circulate well between the stones and so that the elements to operate efficiently.
  • Heater stones must hold heat well. Once the room reaches temperature, a rock that holds the heat well will use less energy to stay hot, yet produce wonderful steam.
  • All sauna heater stones should be recommended and tested by the heater manufacturer. The Finnleo Vulkanite stones are fully tested heater stones that contain no harmful VOC's

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