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Rash with salt water bromine generator.


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I would like to continue this tread with a similar problem. I have a spa with an in clear salt system that converts to bromine.

When we bought the spa six months ago, we were in it 24/7 and had no problems. After about 3 months my wife developed a rash that was very itchy. I however had none. Changed the water, all the levels were right, same problem. She took a month break and tried again, then it was better, but came again shortly after with regular bathing. Changed the water again, and tested without salt one time. No problems. Added salt and got the right bromine levels, same rash came back again. Now i was considering changing to clorine because even last week i started to get irritation aswell. I have ordered a product called spa marvel which apparently reduces the level of clorine / bromine needed. My first question is has anyone else experience from spa marvel and how it works? I am concerned if i change from salt to clorine that i will damage the inclear system but cant find any information on it. Does anyone have the inclear system and also has problems with bromine rashes? Should i use some kind of shock treatment to clean the system again? I have no experience of shock treatments so if someone can explain what this actually does i would be grateful too!

ūüôā

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The salt you are using is sodium sodium bromide, which generates hypobromous acid (bromine sanitizer). Chlorine based salt systems use sodium chloride to generate hypochlorous acid (chlorine sanitizer). These are the same santiziers that form in the water from other sources of bromine or chlorine such as bromine tabs or dichlor granules . The In.Clear system can only be used with sodium bromide.

Second, how are you testing your water?

8 hours ago, Wonkhester said:

all the levels were right

This tells us nothing, We need the actual test result numbers to get some idea what is going on. Please post a full set of test results NOT done with test strips. They are useless for balancing water.

Third, Please list all products you are using in the water (shocks and their composition, water balanacers, etc.

While bromine can be a sensitizer for some individuals it is not common and it usually does not appear after several months. If it does turn out to be a bromine sensitivity then switching to chlorine and not using your Salt Water Bromine generator will solve the problem since chlorine is not a known sensitizer, but you will have to dose the chlorine manually. There are other things that can cause an itchy rash and the most common is called "hot tub rash" or "hot tub Folliculitis" caused by the germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa. caused by improperly santized water. This is why we need actual test numbers. Here is more information:

https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/rwi/rashes.html

Another common source of a rash from hot tub water is the use of MPS (Potassium Monopersulfate) as a shock. Persulfates are known sensitizers and dermal irritants. By using bleach or dichlor as a shock after a fresh fill will solve the problem and chlorine will convert to hypobromous acid in the presence of sodium bromide. This is how both 2 step and 3 step manual bromination work.

8 hours ago, Wonkhester said:

spa marvel

This is an enzyme product Enzymes are not santizers and will not allow you to run lower sanitzer levels. Here is a quote from their instructions from their website:

"Add sanitizer as per your professional spa retailer’s guide­lines."

Where enzymes might be useful is in removing biofilm during a purge procedure. However, from what I have seen posted in this forum, the most effective and popular purge product is Ahh-some.

So, please post a full set of test results and a list of all products added to the water and we can take it from there. Also, I am going to split your post into its own thread so it will have a better chance of being seen.

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Hello again, thanks for the detailed reply! I have limited knowledge on spas so every little bit of info helps! My spa salesman here told me that i should fill the spa, fix the lime stabilizer, ph, alkaline levels first. Then fill the brom salt and and wait. Nothing else needed. Am i missing a process?

Here are all the values i have....

PH 7,2 Alkaline 100, Brom 2,2 Total hardness 150. temp 37,5

I have a device called Blue connect which keeps track of the values. That has two other values that i am not really sure what they relate to!  ORP 722mv Conductivity 2361uS.

I have an electronic tester that works with strips too, just as a back up to the blue connect. The inclear system has its own meter built in and this is smack bang in the middle of the green bar.

It has even UV cleaning system as standard too. The salesmen told me i bought a fully automatic system. Don't know if that is true but sounded good!

When i spoke to spa marvel, they told me that their product made the readings higher for brom/clorine, therefore lower levels of salt/brom were needed to maintain the correct mix. Guess that was just bs then.

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3 hours ago, Wonkhester said:

Brom 2,2

Do you mean 2.2 ppm? IF so that is too low . Bromine should test between 4 and 6. My guess is that you have pseudomonas because of under sanitized water and that is causing hot tub itch. Was this level determined by your strip reader or by your ORP sensor? If it's from the ORP sensor it might not be correct.

Alkalinity is a bit high for a tub with a salt generator but your pH is low. Harness is perfect. Did you just add acid? How fast does pH rise. IF you need to add acid to lower pH often try dropping the alkalinity to about 60 ppm.

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/52522-some-truths-about-ph-and-ta/

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/28846-lowering-total-alkalinity-howto/

 

3 hours ago, Wonkhester said:

ORP 722mv Conductivity 2361uS

ORP stands for oxidation reduction potential and it is a measure of the sanitizing power of the water, Conductivity is a measure of the ionic species dissolved in the water. In your case it would be mostly sodium ions and bromide ions because of your bromine salt system. ORP is usually used in commercial installations to control sanitizer additions to compensate for different bather loads. The electrodes do need to be replaced and properly stored or the readings are useless. Personally I don't think they belong in a home system since it does take some training to understand and interpret the readings.

However, at a pH of 7.2 an ORP reading of 722 roughly translates into a bromine level < 1 ppm indicating that your water is severely under sanitized. However, ORP is a constantly changing value throughout the day while a ppm value is a constant more or less so the correlation is loose at best. A chemical test for bromine level is your best bet, IMHO.

 

Bottom line, from what you have posted it seems that your bromine levels are low and that is allowing 'nasties' to grow in your water and they are the most likely cause of your rash and itching. Best bet is to get the rash diagnosed by your doctor or dermatologist to determine if it is psuedomonas folliculitis or a chemical sensitivity.

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According to my ORP reader everything between 650 - 750 is good. The brom reading was from a stick and aquatest digital reader. The levels according to these are between 2 - 4 ppm.... that is incorrect ?

I filled the spa with a little fresh water and now the alkaline level is 80.

What should i aim for with PH?

I have an appointment booked for next week to get a check up. However in the meantime is i have nasties in the water and want to wipe them out quick and easy, whats the best method?? What can i use that is not going to damage the salt bominator or the oxegynator?

 

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Another thing i am curious about is that when i change the water and use the tub with fresh water, everything seems good, but after a few baths i notice that there are more and more micro bubbles when the pumps are running. This maybe is normal, i dont know. It does clear up after a minute or so when the cycle finishes, but i dont think it was like this when i bought it. Can the small bubbles be a symptom of something?

 

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35 minutes ago, Wonkhester said:

micro bubbles when the pumps are running

This is either your ozone generator or the salt generator and it's normal for the salt generator to produce hydrogen bubbles. It might or might not be normal for the ozone generator depending on it's type (UV or Cororna Discharge) and how it's plumbed.

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43 minutes ago, Wonkhester said:

650 - 750 is good

depends on the pH and ORP can change throughout the day I'm not a fan of ORP in home installations.

44 minutes ago, Wonkhester said:

2 - 4 ppm

4-6 ppm for bromine is a good range and the low bromine readings you have could allow pseudomonas to grow.

46 minutes ago, Wonkhester said:

now the alkaline level is 80.

What should i aim for with PH?

Bromine is active in a wide pH range of about 7.2 to 8.0. With the extra aeration from your ozone and SWG your pH will be constantly rising. IF you keep your pH toward the upper end (7.6 to 7.8) and the alkalinity lower (50 to 70 ppm) you will minimize this and get better pH stability.

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I have increased the brom concentration now which is running at 5,8. Strangely the ph jumped up to 8. I added a little ph - and after like 3 hours it was up to 8 again.... should i keep adding ph - till it goes in to the right range and stays there or is there something else that i should look at?

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Increasing your bromine output increased the aeration. Lower your alkalinity as I suggested before. This is how you lower alkalinity:

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/28846-lowering-total-alkalinity-howto/

I had already posted this link for you last Wednesday along with another one that explains about pH rise in hot tubs and pools.

 

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Ok, thanks again. I guess the most important question is, now that i have a better set of figures, how can i get rid of any nasties in the water now without damaging any part of the system? Do i just leave it to the brominator to kill bacteria or do i have to shock the water or something? Never done this before as i dont know what effect it would  have on the brominator or oxygenator. Can you recommend a process that can safely kill any possible bacteria that may have been generated already? 

:-)

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Shocking in a bromine system, whether manual or with a swg converts raises the bromine level high enough to destroy any problems in the water, usually 10 ppm or higher bromine.  Your generator has a 'boost mode" which is basically a shock setting, same as most chlorine based SWGs,  which will raise your bromine levels. If there is a problem with the water the manual for in.clear states that the boost mode can be repeated and that if there is a continued problem to purge the spa with one of the many spa purge products to get rid of biofilm.

FWIW, in a manual 2 step or 3 step bromine system chlorine is the most common oxidizer used to convert bromide into hypobromous acids with MPS being the second most common and, in fact, bromine tabs are mostly chlorine with enough bromine to maintain the bromide bank. Also, there are SWGs on the market that can be used either as chlorine or bromine systems and when they are used as bromine systems they are still used with sodium chloride and generate chlorine but the difference is that with every fill enough sodium bromine is added to create the same bromine reserve as in a manual 2 step or 3 step bromine system. This is a huge cost savings, particularly for a bromine swimming pool or swim spa because the cost of sodium bromide is much higher than the cost of sodium chloride. There are some design differences between the electrodes used in a sodium bromide based SW bromine system and a sodium chloride based SW bromine system (a chlorine system with a bromide bank so bromine sanitizer is produced instead of chlorine sanitizer). Sodium Bromide based systems often use carbon electrodes while sodium chloride based systems often use titanium/iridium electrodes although some of the low end systems also use carbon electrodes. Whether adding chlorine as an oxidizer to your system would have detrimental effects of the cell or whether it is a technique for the manufacturer to get you to buy more (expensive sodium bromine) I do not know but either is possible.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, thanks again.

I had a check up at the skin doctor and they didnt think it was a bacteria problem.... however we had a group of friends over this weekend and then without checking the levels, i got in and bathed yesterday..... i now know that the brom levels had dropped significantly between saturday and sunday, as low as 1,8.... now i am covered in a rash! I guess that was a rookie error and a costly one to my body! Now to boost brom over 10!

ūüôā

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One last question ...... I have boosted the brom to over 10ppm now. Is there some sort of test i can do to see if there is any bacteria left or is it just a case of keeping it at that level for a specific period, or maybe it has an immediate effect? Don't want to make the same mistake again!

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just let the bromine drop to normal levels. If the problem persists and it was my tub then I would shock again but raise the bromine to 15 to 20 ppm and keep it there for 24 hours.Then let the bromine levels drop with tub uncovered and don't get in until the bromine is below 10 ppm.

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Wonkhester:  Waterbear has made numerous postings for you to follow.  Just do what the man says and you will see vast improvement.  Regarding the hot tub rash, I am somewhat informed what causes this in many cases and would instruct you again to do what Waterbear says to do.  Besides following his chemical recommendations it is extremely important that you Purge your hot tub with a high-quality purge product.  The recommended purge product is the AhhSome as it will remove the bacteria that is most likely causing your rash.  That bacteria is Pseudomonas Aeruginosa.  The Ahh-Some product has been tested at America's #1 Biofilm Testing University, Montana State University, and is successful in removing this biofilm.  Actually, when compared to an enzymatic purge product the ahhSome was rated as being more effective at removing the "PA" biofilm by over 5,000%.  This data is on the internet.  You mention a product in one of your postings called Spa Marvel.  This may be a worthwhile product but I recently found information on this enzyme that was put to the test by an "OCD" hot tub owner.   I will attach the link here for you to read since you previously brought this product up in your recent post.  What this forum tries to do is help you.  I have been more active with my postings of late because I see so much mis-information and speak to hundreds upon hundreds of hot tub owners who are frustrated because they hear so many methods and recommendations.  This forum and its participants really have your interest at heart.  So Wonkhester, follow what Waterbear has told you.  His wisdom on the subject of water maintenance is enlightening.  Here is the article I ran across on the Spa Marvel.  

https://rvdoug.com/blog/spa-marvel-review-part-1-the-enzymes/

 

 

 

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Hi again. Thanks for the link. I have been in contact again with spa marvel and they said that i shouldn't combine spa marvel with a salt brominator system! I have been following all the advice given by waterbear and have acheived a perfect water balance when measured. The only issue is that bacteria is invisible and when my rash has gone i would like to know 100% that i have removed the problem before i bathe again. As the water has been "Shocked" to 12ppm with bromine i was hoping this is sufficient, but i have no way to measure the effectiveness of my treatment.

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Wonkhester:  Glad that your water seems to be in balance as of right now.

It is unfortunate that you were not told of the incompatibility of the Spa Marvel and a Salt Brominator System.  You seem to be quite concerned regarding bacterial growth in your water.  My advice to you is to Purge your piping and jet system with a Non Enzymatic product on a regular basis, always maintain adequate sanitizer levels and follow the advice offered by Waterbear regarding your water balance levels. When it comes to eradicating Pseudomonas Aeruginosa (PA) bacteria from hot tub plumbing, you need a effective cleaner.  Three words you need to understand and follow.

Purge, Test and Maintain.

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