What Are Enzymes?
Enzymes are protein molecules that act as “biological catalyzers”, meaning that they are capable of causing or accelerating a chemical reaction without actually taking part in the transformation. This is a technical way of saying that they can affect other molecules without changing themselves.
How Do Hot Tub Enzymes Work?
Enzyme based chemicals for hot tubs are designed to target non-living organic matter (commonly body oils and lotions) present in hot tub water and break them down into smaller molecules. These smaller molecules are then easier for sanitizing chemicals (chlorine or bromine) to break down and remove.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Hot Tub Enzymes?
Your Sanitizing Chemicals Work More Effectively
Most hot tub and swim spa owners are interested in reducing the amount of chemicals that they use in their water so that they can achieve a more “natural” feeling bathing experience. There are two ways to do this:
- Keep your water balanced.
- Keep your sanitizer level as low as you safely can.
While keeping your water balanced is relatively straightforward (check out our water testing blog for more info), maintaining a low sanitizer level can be tricky. If your sanitizer is too low bacteria will begin to build up in the water, causing a whole host of water quality issues and potentially making the hot tub unsafe to use.
Enzymes help you safely maintain a lower level of sanitizer by breaking down organic matter in the hot tub water so that it can be more easily removed. The easier it is for your sanitizer to remove contaminants in the water, the less sanitizer you will actually need to remove them. This leaves a higher percentage of your sanitizer “active” in the water and means that you don’t need to add as much in order to maintain clean and clear water.
Enzymes Help To Reduce Foamy Water
Some non-living organic materials, such as body oils, can also make your hot tub water foam excessively. As hot tub water is aerated by the jets these materials react to form bubbles on the surface of the hot tub. If there is enough of these organic materials in the water, the bubbles will begin to build up on one another, causing foam.
Anti-foam chemicals temporarily remove this foam build-up by reducing the surface tension in the water to a point where bubbles can’t easily form, though this doesn’t fix the underlying problem. The only way to reliably prevent foamy water is to remove the organic materials in the water that are creating the foam in the first place. Enzyme products allow your sanitizing chemicals to more easily break down these organic materials, leaving fewer available to create foam.
Other Benefits Of Using Hot Tub Enzymes
There are a few other knock-on effects of using hot tub enzymes, including:
- Clearer water. By freeing up more of your sanitizer to do its job of removing bacteria and other organic materials from the water, enzymes will have your hot tub water looking clearer than ever before.
- Odour elimination. Hot tub water can develop a certain smell over time. This smell is usually caused from a combination of bacteria build up and “used up” sanitizer. Using enzymes will help to reduce both of these.
- Removing “water line ring”. If you look at the water line of many hot tubs you will see a slight (or sometimes not so slight) buildup of oils and lotions. Regularly adding hot tub enzymes to the water will help to remove these materials from the water before they have a chance to build up on the shell of the hot tub.
What Can’t Hot Tub Enzymes Do?
When hot tub enzymes were first introduced, they were sold as a “cure-all” type product. Customers at the time were told that all you needed to is add enzyme products to the water and the hot tub would take care of itself. This is not the case however. For starters, enzymes do not help to keep the hot tub water balanced. Unbalanced hot tub water can lead to a variety of issues from cloudy water, to irritated eyes, to a reduced lifespan for your pumps and heaters. To keep your water balanced you will still need to regularly test the water and add in balancing chemicals as needed.
Hot tub enzymes also cannot sanitize the water on their own. While enzymes are able to destroy or decompose some organic molecules, they cannot kill living organisms like bacteria. In fact, hot tub enzymes have been specifically designed to not adversely affect living organisms (like humans). In order to keep the water clean and safe to use you will still need to regularly add either bromine or chlorine.
Hot tub enzyme chemicals have become increasingly popular with hot tub and swim spa owners in recent years. While they are not the all in one solution that they were initially marketed as, enzymes can help to improve your bathing experience in a number of ways. For more information on hot tub enzymes and how they can help you improve the look and feel of your hot tub water, contact one of our water care professionals.