How To Convert Your Hot Tub To Salt Water (In 8 Easy Steps)

Some people prefer a salt water hot tub to a traditional one for several reasons.

But before you decide this is the thing for you, it’s important to know exactly what a salt water hot tub is.

First of all, a salt water hot tub is NOT a hot tub filled with ocean water or water with enough added salt to make it taste and smell like the Pacific.

It’s also important to note that not all hot tubs are suitable for converting to a salt water system. (You’ll need to check with your hot tub manufacturer to find out).

Now that we have that out of the way…

What Is A Salt Water Hot Tub?

A salt water hot tub is indeed a hot tub with added salt, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

Salt water systems for both pools and hot tubs run off of a salt cell chlorinator, which means that instead of adding straight chlorine to your hot tub, this chlorinator is continually generating its own chlorine from its own salt cells.

Pretty cool, huh?

Benefits Of A Salt Water Hot Tub

So, what’s the difference?

That’s what you were thinking, right?

I mean, if your water is still technically chlorinated with a salt system, then what are the benefits of converting it?

  • Gentle on the skin. Salt water is much gentler on the skin than chlorinated water. Salt softens the water, making it less irritating on the skin and eyes. It can also offer some great exfoliating properties even after you’ve soaked in it.
  • Practically odorless. The chlorine generated by a salt system is practically odorless and doesn’t produce the harmful chloramines a traditional chlorine tub can produce.
  • Cost. Salt is cheap, and you will save hundreds on chemicals!
  • Eco-Friendly. A salt water pool reduces or completely eliminates the need for chlorine, so you won’t be adding any harmful chemicals back into the environment. It’s a more natural way to sanitize.
  • Convenience. A salt water hot tub is the closest you will get to a maintenance-free, worry-free spa. Salt water generators are made to self-regulate, releasing the proper amount of sanitizer at all times. All you need to do is add salt when the system’s indicator lights up.

Downsides Of A Salt Water Hot Tub

You know me…I like to give you both sides to help you decide.

  • Expense. While you may not have to buy as many other chemicals, salt water systems are pretty costly. Both the system and the cells are usually more expensive than traditional systems and filters.
  • You Still May Need To Shock. Even though these systems are much more self-maintaining than traditional systems, you still need to keep an eye on your sanitization levels. It’s still a good idea to shock your hot tub occasionally.

Converting Your Hot Tub In 8 Easy Steps

If you’ve consulted your manufacturer and know your hot tub can indeed withstand a salt system, and if you’ve decided this is the way you want to go, you’ll just need to follow the next few steps to get it going.

Don’t worry…you can do it!

Step #1: Purchase A Salt Water System

There are lots to choose from, but basically, all salt water systems do the same thing.

Just make sure you choose one that is appropriate for hot tubs.

Step #2: Drain Your Hot Tub

It’s best to start fresh with a new system, so go ahead and drain your hot tub completely and refill it with fresh water.

This is also a good time to give it a good cleaning, so flush out the lines and clean the tub thoroughly with a good hot tub cleaner or a vinegar and water solution.

Step #3: Check The Chemistry

The main level of your hot tub chemistry you need to be concerned with here is the sanitizer level: make sure the levels are between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm.

Step #4: Install Your System

You’ll need a GFCI outlet for your salt water system; if you don’t already have one, this is usually a job for a professional electrician.

Once you’ve located the outlet, you can mount the power supply to the wall of the hot tub and connect the salt cell to it.

Step #5: Secure The Cell Holder

Your chlorinator kit probably came with materials to fasten your cell holder in place, but if it didn’t, you can use electrical tape or whatever the manufacturer recommends.

Step #6: Put The Cell In The Water

Different systems have different methods of salt cell placement: some will dangle over the edge of the tub, some will float, and some will be immersed about a foot under the water.

This is where you will have to read your directions and make sure you are doing it correctly for your particular unit.

Step #7: Plug It In

You’re almost there!

Just plug your new salt cell generator into the GFCI outlet.

Step #8: Add Salt

Next, you’ll need to check the salt levels after you’ve powered up your salt chlorinator.

Your water will already probably have trace amounts of salt naturally, but you will need to add quite a bit to get it up to the levels it needs to be to prime your new generator. 

The amount of salt you will need to add depends mostly on the system you purchased.

Check your owner’s manual to find out. The most common amount called for is around 2,500 ppm. 

And by the way, salt for pools has the same chemical makeup as table salt, but it’s usually cut a little larger and comes in bigger bags. 

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, converting your hot tub to salt water really a pretty simple process.

The most time-consuming part is probably just figuring out which system you want to buy.

After that, it’s pretty much plug and go. 

Enjoy your new system and be sure to let us know what you think!

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