Epsom salts on wooden spoon

If you’ve read our article on the pros and cons of salt water hot tubs, then you already know about the amazing benefits they offer.

From fewer harsh chemicals to reduced maintenance and lower long-term costs, there’s a reason why so many hot tub owners are fans of salt water sanitation systems.

Ahead, we’ll explain how you can convert to a salt water hot tub and say goodbye to your chlorine- or bromine-based sanitizer in three easy steps:

  1. Choose your salt water sanitizer.
  2. Drain, clean and refill your hot tub.
  3. Install your salt water sanitizer.

What Is a Salt Water Hot Tub?

Before you invest in a salt water hot tub, it’s crucial to understand what they are and how they work.

In simple terms, salt water sanitizers use a combination of salt and electricity to kill bacteria.

This happens when an electric current splits salt molecules into sodium and chlorine. The chlorine then goes to work killing bacteria before being converted back into salt.

Because the chlorine is converted back into salt, you’ll be spared from any unpleasant chlorine smell or skin irritation.

Plus, the amount of chlorine generated by salt water sanitizers is much smaller than the amount you’d use with a traditional chlorine-based sanitizer.

Salt water sanitizers go by a few different names, including:

  • Salt chlorinators.
  • Chlorine generators.
  • Bromine generators (if you choose to use bromine rather than chlorine).

The key component of any salt water sanitation system is a salt cell, which may also be referred to as a chlorine cell. That salt cell is what’s responsible for splitting the salt molecules into sodium and chlorine with the help of an electrical current.

If you’re worried about having hot tub water that’s excessively salty, consider that salt water hot tubs have a recommended salinity of 2,500 parts per million (ppm). By comparison, ocean water has a salinity of about 35,000 ppm.

So, the amount of salt in a salt water hot tub will be virtually undetectable.

Why Should I Switch to Salt Water?

As we outlined in our previous blog post on the topic, salt water hot tubs come with a variety of desirable benefits. These include:

  • Fewer chemicals: Salt water hot tubs use much fewer chemicals than those with standard sanitation systems.
  • Less irritation: Because they generate only a tiny amount of chlorine, salt water sanitizers are generally non-irritating to the eyes and skin. Plus, salt water feels silky soft to the touch.
  • Increased buoyancy: Salt increases the density of water, which makes it easier to float. Even with just a small amount of salt in your hot tub, you’ll enjoy better buoyancy for even better relaxation.
  • Reduced overall maintenance: While there is no such thing as a maintenance-free hot tub, salt water hot tubs require far less maintenance than those with chlorine- or bromine-based sanitizers.
  • Lower long-term costs: The type of salt used in salt water hot tubs is significantly less expensive than similar amounts of chlorine or bromine. Over time, this offsets the higher up-front cost of a salt water sanitation system.

How to Make the Switch

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: in this section, we’ll show you how to convert to a salt water hot tub in just three easy steps (yes, really).

1. Choose Your Salt Water Sanitizer

There are several different options available when shopping for a salt water sanitation system. For example, some salt chlorinators are “drop-in,” meaning that they only need to be submerged in the hot tub water to work.

On the other hand, some salt chlorinators are “inline,” meaning that they’re installed by attaching them directly to your hot tub’s plumbing. These types of salt chlorinators require more work to install, and you’ll likely need to hire a professional to help.

Another consideration is price. Some salt chlorinators only cost a couple hundred dollars, while others have a price tag of about $1,000. It all depends on the type of chlorinator you choose, as well as the number of features you’re looking for.

2. Drain, Clean and Refill Your Hot Tub

If you’ve owned your hot tub for more than a few months, you should already be familiar with this process.

Start by performing a line flush to clear out the plumbing. Then, drain your hot tub completely, making sure to dispose of your water responsibly (never drain your water into a creek, river or other body of water).

Next, give your hot tub a thorough cleaning. This includes wiping down all surfaces with a gentle, hot tub-friendly cleaner. Remember to give it a good rinse after, and be sure to clean your filter (click here to learn how). Or, you can simply replace it.

Finally, add pool salt to your newly refilled hot tub. Keep a close eye on the salt levels to ensure that you reach an ideal salinity. Also test the water chemistry and adjust according to the recommendations of your salt chlorinator’s manufacturer.

<h3>3. Install Your Salt Water Sanitizer</h3>


At this point, the only thing left to do is install your chosen salt chlorinator. If you’ve purchased a drop-in model, this step will only take a few minutes.


If you’ve gone with an inline model, though, you’ll need to install your salt chlorinator in your hot tub’s plumbing system. We generally recommend that you hire a professional to do this.


Now, all you need to do is get your salt chlorinator up and running as per the manufacturer’s instructions.


Once you’ve completed all three steps, break out the fluffy towels and a swimsuit: it’s time to enjoy a luxurious soak.