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Olive odor from water?


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I just refilled my tub a week ago and I am having a strange odor that is appearing now that I've never experienced before. When I open the lid and turn on the jets, I sense a strange olive-like/corn-like offensive smell that slowly dissipates but is definitely coming from the water as the jets bubble it out. There's also almost an acidic tinge as well. Now, you may be thinking "put some sanitizer in there, quick!", but I have been maintaining total bromine between 1–6 since startup. My main concerns are that I am either dissolving plastic from the cover or tub somehow or that I'm creating nasty disinfection byproducts. The only change I've made is immediately starting up on a bromide bank with dichlor instead of using bromine tabs.

Some details: 1999 Sundance optima. TA = 80, CH = 250, pH = 7.6, borates = 40 ppm B, +30 ppm NaBr. I have a JED ozonator running about 6–8 h/d depending on heater demand (there's some blistering on the cover where the circulator jet bubbles, but never any odor in the past besides the smell of "clean"). I purged it with ahhhsome prior to drain with a thorough rinse. I'm using dichlor dosed as needed and will switch to bleach soon.

Any ideas?

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  • 1 month later...

I think I  had the same issue a few months ago. We had a weird smell that reminded me of canned hearts of palm. When you said olive or corn, it sounds like the same issue. I ended up purging with Hot Tub Serum Total Cleanse (I think the same company makes Ahh-some). Then I superchlorinated,drained and refilled. I also replaced the filter and switched back to chlorine from bromine and all has been well ever since. 

This happened after it rained pretty hard here in Southern California. We had recently had wildfires and it was the first rain in many months. We have a steep roof and the water ran off and got into the hot tub even with the cover on. Within a few days we noticed the weird smell when the jets were on. When I did the purge, the 'gunk' deposited on the sides was a yellowish color. 

The Hot Tub Serum Total Cleanse instructions say to run the jets for 20 minutes then drain and refill. I kept running the jets and cleaning the residue off the sides until the water stayed clean which took a few hours. 

Hope this helps.

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On 2/6/2021 at 11:56 AM, turbulentwaters said:

I'm using dichlor dosed as needed and will switch to bleach soon.

not needed with bromine. Stabilizer has no effect on bromine. You can use dichlor, you can use bleach, you can use lithium hypochlorite, you can used cal hypo, you can use MPS. They will all oxidize the bromide bank into hypobromous acid (your bromine sanitizer).

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  • 5 weeks later...

That "olive" odor I described could also be thought of as canned hearts of palm, for sure. I didn't say earlier, but this happened twice. I had just done an Ahhsome purge and refill, followed by a math mistake that led to ~25 ppm bromine at startup. Five of us just all plunged in to reduce the bromine quickly and then used it a few days in a row. Bromine was still a bit high though at 10 ppm. The "odor" appeared a couple days later which led me to believe that I had some sort of disinfectant byproduct issue (maybe even some burned off plastic monomers from spa or cover even) and I drained/refilled a second time. Same odor came back a few days later again even with in-range bromine.

I started analyzing it piecewise, and I realized there were some other subtle changes compared to last water batch: 1) water source, 2) brand of CaCl2. Water is from a different season and the creek where muni water is sourced is running low due to droughts. I switched to some no-name bulk bag of CaCl2 dried chips for swimming pools. Strange though that the odor wasn't there immediately upon fill and dosing startup chem. Maybe a [bacterial] impurity in the CaCl2, similar to the roof runoff gunk @Shanti observed? Odor did eventually go away after a couple weeks though. I'm due for another water change soon so I'll see what happens then.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Still no real determination of the cause, but I did notice this odor again starting a few days after my refill three weeks ago. I did start up using dichlor again but just for a couple days and as I ramped up doses after bathing, I noticed that odor come back. I changed over to bleach and the smell has pretty much gone away.

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