Your kids probably love family time in the hot tub. Talking, playing, bonding…and no tablet or phone in sight! But, did you know your spa can also help you spark your children’s interest in science? Hot tub water care is the perfect opportunity.
Every kid will have fun using test strips and determining the pH balance. The key to helping them understand science is explaining what exactly the changing color strips and pH levels mean.
When you test for pH, you’re determining how acidic or basic the water is on a scale from 0-14. Pure water is a 7 on the scale. A higher number is more basic and a lower number is more acidic. Water that is too acidic will irritate skin and eyes, and wear out swimwear and accessories faster. It can even corrode your hot tub shell and components. Water with too high of a pH can cause irritated skin and cloudy water. A good visual sign that your water is too basic (has too high of a pH) is a noticeable build-up of scale at the waterline.
The optimal pH for your spa water is 7.4-7.6. You should check the pH weekly and adjust the pH balance as needed.
Foreign Substances and Contamination
Lotion, detergent, makeup, leaves and twigs, and our skin’s natural oils are just a few examples of the contaminants that make it into our spa water. That’s why we always recommend hot tub bathers shower before entering their hot tub; their water will stay clean longer. All these substances and contaminants change the pH and balance of your water, make the water cloudy, and can even leave behind a film on the water and in the shell. As you rebalance your spa, you can show your kids what steps you’re taking to fix the problem, and what caused it.
Whether you like the smell or not, everyone is familiar with the chlorine smell of swimming pools and hot tubs. Here’s a fun science lesson for your kids: that classic chlorine smell isn’t actually the chlorine directly. When you add chlorine to the water, it works with the hydrogen and oxygen that are present to create a compound called hypochlorous acid. This compound is what goes to work against bacteria to sanitize your water. When hypochlorous acid meets bacteria in the water, compounds called chloramines are formed. While totally safe, chloramines are stinky! So, that chlorinated pool smell you love (or hate) isn’t actually chlorine at all. It’s the smell of sanitizing hypochlorous acid meeting bad bacteria in your water, aka, chloramines.
Have you ever noticed that the chlorine smell is stronger at some times than others? If you bring a lot of bacteria into your hot tub (in the form of laundry detergent, lotion, makeup, skin oils – especially in the case of extra bathers), there are more bad bacteria to kill…so more chloramines are created.
The fact is, water care is interesting! Include your kids (with your supervision) in the process and they’ll enjoy a science lesson and may not even realize it.
Got questions about caring for your water? Read more about our recommended water parameters for pH, alkalinity, chlorine, and more here, as well as find some tips about caring for your spa. And if you have any other questions, we’re here to help! Contact us.