I never heard the expression, ‘chemical soup,’ until I began working in the pool and hot tub industry. I now know it’s a bad expression, a taboo thing to say, and what all pool and hot tub owners are trying to avoid; especially hot tub owners. I think it’s because hot tubs often look like a big steamy bowl of soup.
There is nothing scary about soup, but put the word ‘chemical’ in front of it and suddenly people’s eyes jump out of their heads. I have heard many many customers talk at length about this fear and how it has lead them to not using chlorine or bromine anymore and instead opting for “something safer like hydrogen peroxide.” (trust me, that is a way scarier thing to use)
This is such a delicate topic to discuss with people because it has to do with their health, and the health of their families. I completely understand this. Our industry completely understands this, and has been preaching proper water sanitization for decades.
Back to the question. Is a hot tub a chemical soup?
Here is an explanation of what a chemical is:
“Chemical substances are often called ‘pure’ to set them apart from mixtures. A common example of a chemical substance is pure water; it has the same properties and the same ratio of hydrogen to oxygen whether it is isolated from a river or made in a laboratory. Other chemical substances commonly encountered in pure form are diamond (carbon), gold, table salt (sodium chloride) and refined sugar (sucrose). However, simple or seemingly pure substances found in nature can in fact be mixtures of chemical substances. For example, tap water may contain small amounts of dissolved sodium chloride and compounds containing iron, calcium and many other chemical substances.”
Water, salt, sugar, gold, and even diamonds are all chemical in nature. A chemical soup like that wouldn’t be anything scary. In fact, I know many women would be fine with a hot tub full of gold and diamonds.
In my experience, this fear of a chemical soup all comes from the use of two chemicals.
Chlorine and Bromine.
These chemicals have been vilified as evil substances that cause cancer. When in reality, when used as the recommended dosage rate of 1-3ppm (parts per million) they not only don’t cause cancer, but instead, act as highly effectively sanitizers that clean the water of many viruses, bacteria, and pathogens that are extremely harmful to humans. Not using them is way scarier than using them.
It’s true chlorine can be harmful. But it all has to do with dosage. Chlorine gas and mustard gas are very harmful to humans, even deadly. But that is almost a pure dosage of chlorine. Many substances are harmful or deadly in high dosages, even oxygen. And yet, at the right dosage it allows us to breath and live.
No one would stop breathing because the air has some oxygen in it, and so it is true with chlorine or bromine. In fact, properly sanitized hot tub water is often cleaner than tap water.
In a future article I will explain further why I would never get in a pool or hot tub with less than 1ppm chlorine. (Hint: the reason involves a peanut)
Thanks for reading.