Are you referring to the test strips that I use several times a week to check things? Or is there something else that I don't know about?
Well, my idea of a healthy spa is not one filled with chemicals that are known to inhibit thyroid function - especially with a husband with thyroid cancer and my three daughters and myself hypothyroid. So we might be thinking slightly differently about whether things like chlorine and bromine are healthy - you might think they are because they sanitize the water of potentially dangerous elements while I know they aren't because soaking in a tub with them would exacerbate pre-existing and debilitating health conditions for my family. That is why I will NOT use either in my hot tub and why I am looking into a shower filter for our shower - to remove the chlorine that our city puts into it. Clean water means nothing if it is causing problems with our endocrine systems because of the products used to keep it clean.
Fine. I don't know until I ask, though, do I (and I don't necessarily do things just because I'm told!)? I'm not going to compromise my family's health in pursuit of maintaining it - either way. I won't use chlorine/bromine because it is unhealthy (and it can inhibit thyroid function in healthy people, too) but that doesn't mean I don't want an effective sanitizer. I am trying to do things both to minimize negative health impacts as well as to economize but I won't risk our health in order to economize.
First three, absolutely - and in significant quantities as I use them extensively in cleaning our home. I have several 14 pound bags of baking soda, and boxes of washing soda and borax in addition to gallons of white vinegar on hand most of the time. Muriatic acid - well, we have it but I've never thought if it for other than what we purchased it for - etching a tub before refinishing it. I'm not sure I feel comfortable putting something like that into our spa water. Of course, I don't know quantities - if we're talking teaspoons' worth, then I'm sure the dilution rate makes it much safer! Why is vinegar not acceptable other than being weak? Would you have to add so much that it creates other problems? How would you use the muriatic acid to reduce pH?
After posting my question I did more searching online to see if I could answer my own questions. I found several sites that say a 27-30% H202 is effective. I don't even know where I'd find it but after reading the precautions one person has to take with it, I decided it wasn't for my family - my children (all grown - 17-20 years old) are more careless with things than I raised them to be and although I'm the only one who takes care of the hot tub, I don't want to introduce something that seems rather dangerous if not handled properly.
While water-borne illness is a concern, it is not my only health concern as I already explained. The known risk to our health from chlorine/bromine (especially when soaking in it at high temperatures) is greater to me than the possible risk of other health problems, especially since I intend to be meticulous with this hot tub. Meticulous can prevent water-borne problems but not those caused by halogens if the products used contain halogens!
This is what we currently use - Soft Soak. So far, water is crystal clear and none of the other problems have occurred. They didn't occur when my mother ran the spa, either. I suppose I'll be back here asking questions if they do. Are they a health risk or more an aesthetic problem?
Well, ideally, I'd like to hear that I can maintain my hot tub with products I already have at home but ultimately I want to know what works and what doesn't work. I've replaced most household chemicals with equally effective but less toxic alternatives (that usually require more elbow grease) and was hoping to do the same with the hot tub.
Well, considering my politics, I would speculate it's because they've decided they know best for everybody despite the fact that one size rarely fits all and for them chlorine is best - all other potential health problems it causes aside. They expect everybody to just accept whatever they say as the gospel truth. Unfortunately, they don't know me! Homeschooling through high school, homemaking, home-business, anti-vaccination, pro-home-birth, pro-personal responsibility, anti-government involvement in our food supply...I'm not the person they would like as a model citizen. Question everything and resist conformity! That doesn't mean I want to be foolish, though. Just means I like to make informed decisions and to take responsibility for my own actions instead of passing blame to somebody else!
So, now that everybody knows I'm ornery and a pain, let's see if I understand things...
Apparently for my personal hot tub situation, there is nothing I can do alternatively to maintain my hot tub. I have high pH and you say there is no alternative that can be used to decrease it - unless I can deal with muriatic acid and can figure out how to use it safely. Alkalinity is also high so products to raise it are unneeded. No alternative sanitizers...what about shock? You mention hydrogen peroxide as part of the system I'm currently using. Where does it come into play in my system? None of the bottles have ingredients identified. What strength is it in the packaged products?
What about waterline control or products to clean the waterline? Can I at least use vinegar to effectively clean the waterline, which I understand is probably building up because of the high pH? I would ask about baking soda for it but that would contribute to my pH problem. I've read about an enzyme based waterline product - are they effective? Oh - the only time the water has been cloudy is when I clean the waterline. That makes sense to me but the cloudiness disappears pretty quickly. I clean it then begin the weekly maintenance. I figure the sanitizer and other products along with filtering are taking care of the cloudiness. Am I wrong?
More questions about routine maintenance that are not answered in the literature that came with the hot tub...
Filter - how do I clean it? The literature says to rinse under a hose. That doesn't seem adequate to me - is it? Is there something I should soak it in - and how often? How often should a filter be replaced? If not based on time, how do I know when to replace it?
Draining and refilling - different things I've read say to change water anywhere from every six months to every four weeks. I'd love to go as long as I can but what is really a reasonable schedule? How do you know when the water needs to be changed? Is it based on use? Location? Weather? Combo of a variety of circumstances?
I've also read about adding something to the water prior to draining in order to clean the lines. Is this necessary? Important? The literature that came with the hot tub doesn't mention it but it seems logical to me IF the products are effective.