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Body/muscle Chemistry And Water Balance


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As an avid skier this is a topic I find fascinating. Anyone who uses a spa to soothe sore muscles should be interested.

I recently bought a ski cabin with hot tub and used it regularly after skiing to soothe sore muscles. It worked great and sore muscles were aided by soaks of 1/2-1 hour. I tested the water regularly with the Taylor 2006 kit and kept the water balanced and the FC between 2 and 5 ppm using bleach, bumping it up to 10 ppm when I would be away for a few days. Because the water looked and felt so good I did not bother to change it out for the first three months. Even though I did not know whether the previous owner had added borates I added enough to bring the level to 50ppm (but did not test the actual level). Everything was good.

Then I decided to replace the water. The water needed very little to bring it back to the previous test values. I added borates again to 50 ppm and my pH was stable around 7.5 (after the addition of muriatic acid and a touch of baking soda). I need to add 1/3 oz. of muriatic acid about once a week to maintain the pH at 7.5. I continued to use dichlor/bleach for sanitation and the saturation index is generally 0-minus 0.1. The only difference in the water that I know of is I accidently got the CYA up to around 70-80 ppm before switching to bleach. Previously, the CYA read very low (around 15 ppm) and did not seem to go up much when I added di-chlor but I did not worry about the low CYA readings figuring maybe there was something in the water that was affecting the CYA test results. However, now the water does not seem to soothe sore muscles as well. It feels as if the water is either drawing something out of my blood/muscles or adding something in which causes them to feel tight or astringent (for lack of a better word). I have not spoken to the previous owner but the leftover chemicals included bromine tabs, di-chlor, pH up (sodium carbonate), pH down (sodium bisulphate), calcium hardness increaser, water clarifier and Alkalinity Increaser (sodium hydrogen carbonate). Granted, the muscles are sore from skiing anyway but, before I changed the water, the spa was excellent for soothing, now, after the water change, not so much.

Any ideas on why this might be?

Any discussion on water balance designed for muscle benefit?

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As an avid skier this is a topic I find fascinating. Anyone who uses a spa to soothe sore muscles should be interested.

I recently bought a ski cabin with hot tub and used it regularly after skiing to soothe sore muscles. It worked great and sore muscles were aided by soaks of 1/2-1 hour. I tested the water regularly with the Taylor 2006 kit and kept the water balanced and the FC between 2 and 5 ppm using bleach, bumping it up to 10 ppm when I would be away for a few days. Because the water looked and felt so good I did not bother to change it out for the first three months. Even though I did not know whether the previous owner had added borates I added enough to bring the level to 50ppm (but did not test the actual level). Everything was good.

Then I decided to replace the water. The water needed very little to bring it back to the previous test values. I added borates again to 50 ppm and my pH was stable around 7.5 (after the addition of muriatic acid and a touch of baking soda). I need to add 1/3 oz. of muriatic acid about once a week to maintain the pH at 7.5. I continued to use dichlor/bleach for sanitation and the saturation index is generally 0-minus 0.1. The only difference in the water that I know of is I accidently got the CYA up to around 70-80 ppm before switching to bleach. Previously, the CYA read very low (around 15 ppm) and did not seem to go up much when I added di-chlor but I did not worry about the low CYA readings figuring maybe there was something in the water that was affecting the CYA test results. However, now the water does not seem to soothe sore muscles as well. It feels as if the water is either drawing something out of my blood/muscles or adding something in which causes them to feel tight or astringent (for lack of a better word). I have not spoken to the previous owner but the leftover chemicals included bromine tabs, di-chlor, pH up (sodium carbonate), pH down (sodium bisulphate), calcium hardness increaser, water clarifier and Alkalinity Increaser (sodium hydrogen carbonate). Granted, the muscles are sore from skiing anyway but, before I changed the water, the spa was excellent for soothing, now, after the water change, not so much.

Any ideas on why this might be?

Any discussion on water balance designed for muscle benefit?

a FULL set of test results would have been helpful, both before and after refill. FWIW, the alkalinity increaser is just baking soda--sodium hydrogen carbonate is another name for sodium bicarbonate is another name for baking soda.

How did you test a CYA level of 15 when the K-2006 won't test CYA below 30 ppm accurately?

However, I really do not think that water balance would have that much of an effect with perhaps the addition of the borates, which are used in some bath salts.

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a FULL set of test results would have been helpful, both before and after refill. FWIW, the alkalinity increaser is just baking soda--sodium hydrogen carbonate is another name for sodium bicarbonate is another name for baking soda.

How did you test a CYA level of 15 when the K-2006 won't test CYA below 30 ppm accurately?

However, I really do not think that water balance would have that much of an effect with perhaps the addition of the borates, which are used in some bath salts.

Both before and after the fill the results are similar:

Temp: 103

pH: 7.5-7.6

Alk: 60-70 ppm

Ca hardness: 170-180 ppm

except for the CYA:

about 15 ppm before (estimated because black dot almost disappears when tube is full).

70-80 ppm after.

The borates have never been tested but I added enough for 50 ppm before the fill (assuming 0 borates to begin with) and I added 50 ppm after the fresh fill.

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a FULL set of test results would have been helpful, both before and after refill. FWIW, the alkalinity increaser is just baking soda--sodium hydrogen carbonate is another name for sodium bicarbonate is another name for baking soda.

How did you test a CYA level of 15 when the K-2006 won't test CYA below 30 ppm accurately?

However, I really do not think that water balance would have that much of an effect with perhaps the addition of the borates, which are used in some bath salts.

Both before and after the fill the results are similar:

Temp: 103

pH: 7.5-7.6

Alk: 60-70 ppm

Ca hardness: 170-180 ppm

except for the CYA:

about 15 ppm before (estimated because black dot almost disappears when tube is full).

70-80 ppm after.

The borates have never been tested but I added enough for 50 ppm before the fill (assuming 0 borates to begin with) and I added 50 ppm after the fresh fill.

how about FC levels? were they the same or did you compensate for the higher CYA and run higher FC levels.

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how about FC levels? were they the same or did you compensate for the higher CYA and run higher FC levels.

The FC levels vary of course (both before and after the water change). But the thing that remains consistent is the old water seemed to rehabilitate well used muscles while the new water appears to stress well used muscles.

After reading on another thread that the use of bleach causes salts to accumulate in the spa I'm thinking the higher salt level of the old water may have been the beneficial difference. I imagine minerals can migrate through body tissue due to osmosis from an area of higher concentration to lower concentration. Perhaps the new water does not have enough salt in it and so body salts are being leached from my body.

I'm thinking I need to add a little salt to the water but I have no idea how much or whether it will affect the saturation index.

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After reading on another thread that the use of bleach causes salts to accumulate in the spa I'm thinking the higher salt level of the old water may have been the beneficial difference. I imagine minerals can migrate through body tissue due to osmosis from an area of higher concentration to lower concentration. Perhaps the new water does not have enough salt in it and so body salts are being leached from my body.

I bet you are onto something with the salt. I'm not sure of the mechanism, maybe water moves into the hypertonic muscle tissue or maybe some of the ions move in or out. It might depend on what type of salt you use and what else is dissolved in the water. For example, here is an article about athletes using epsom salt for muscle soaks where it talks about the specific actions of magnesium and sulfate. If you decide to add salt I'd be interested to see what you think about the differences.

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Always learning here. Love this forum and post. I looked at prior posts dealing with salts and Chem geek has posted on this in the past. Look it up as I don't know how to link posts. Long story short, it is ok at add salt to your tub. He recommends about 3 lbs for 350 gal for about 1000 ppm. He said you could go up to 1500 pmm with no problems. For chemistry reasons epsom salts would be least desirable. He recommended pure table salt or dead sea salts. I will add the dead sea to my next refill and this salt works well with bromide. Good luck and long soaks.

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This post of mine talks about salt for a spa, plus some later posts in that same thread. I don't think I said to avoid Epsom salt, but that I wasn't as keen about it due to the high sulfates. Stainless steel corrosion is accelerated by high chloride levels, but most especially when also in the presence of higher sulfate levels. I also write more about Epsom salt in this post and this post. As you noted, I recommended using up to 1500 ppm of either regular (pure) sodium chloride salt or use of Dead Sea salt (a mixture of sodium and magnesium chlorides).
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This post of mine talks about salt for a spa, plus some later posts in that same thread. I don't think I said to avoid Epsom salt, but that I wasn't as keen about it due to the high sulfates. Stainless steel corrosion is accelerated by high chloride levels, but most especially when also in the presence of higher sulfate levels. I also write more about Epsom salt in this post and this post. As you noted, I recommended using up to 1500 ppm of either regular (pure) sodium chloride salt or use of Dead Sea salt (a mixture of sodium and magnesium chlorides).

Thanks for the clarification, I didn't mean to mis speak for you about the Epsom salts. What I got out of your post was that it could be harsh on stone or concreat. Either way i plan to use dead sea salts as they seem to fit nicely with bromine, plus it sounds cool to say to have a dead sea tub to soak In. Thank's for all your contributions chem geek.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I bet you are onto something with the salt. I'm not sure of the mechanism, maybe water moves into the hypertonic muscle tissue or maybe some of the ions move in or out. It might depend on what type of salt you use and what else is dissolved in the water. For example, here is an article about athletes using epsom salt for muscle soaks where it talks about the specific actions of magnesium and sulfate. If you decide to add salt I'd be interested to see what you think about the differences.

OK, I've added 800ppm epsom salt and I do notice an improvement in muscle rehabilatation although it does not seem to be quite as effective as when I first took possession of the property. Maybe I need some regular NaCl too (or maybe I just need to wiat for salts to build up from regular addition of bleach). I wonder if I can add 700ppm sea salt? Are the effects of different salts (epsom, sea salt, etc) additive in terms of corrosive potential? I imagine so but, not being a chemist, I don't know.

The other change I notice is it appears the chlorine demand has gone up since I added the epsom salt, particularly when I leave the spa for a few days. Previously I could shock with bleach to 12 ppm and all would be fine when I returned 4 days later. But the last time I returned to a cloudy mess that required a super-shock to clear up. I have a corona discharge ozonator that I recently replaced but it does not have a dry air supply. Will this damage the ozonator? The spa is a Sundance Bahia from 2005. It came with an ozonator and I replaced it with the same but I do not believe it came with a dry air supply. Can I add an aftermarker air drier? I've also considered adding a switch to the ozonator so I could turn it off when I leave the property for a few days. I understand ozonators consume the free chlorine.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with the salts, if the previous owner had been using bromine, there would have been sodium bromide(bromide salts which come from the dead sea) left in the water, you actually may have had a bromine spa before. You may want to look into a after market salt generator, such as the nexus which uses different salts to create chlorine. i have not experienced that particular one personally, but there are hundreds of different ones out there.

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