Hot Tub Enzyme FAQ
Author: Alan Schuster
I am a graduate of the City University of New York, with a B.S. Degree in Chemistry. My experience in the Swimming Pool and Spa Industry goes back over forty years.
During this period, I have helped tens of thousands of consumers and dealers solve pool and spa water chemistry and water quality problems.
Spa Enzyme products -what exactly are they?
Enzymes are proteins, that help facilitate the breakdown of organic compounds. As relates to a spa, this would include body oils, sweat, urine, and cosmetic residues.
Do they actually work?
Yes, within reasonable expectations. Their presence helps break down organic molecules, into small pieces, that are more easily decomposed by chlorine or bromine. It is not instantaneous and the amount of organic contamination will affect how quickly progress can be made.
Are there any potential problems?
Possibly, some individual might be sensitive to a particular type of enzyme. Nothing in trade magazines suggests there is any widespread problem, nor do I recall receiving and letters, to that effect.
Are they all the same or are there different types?
They are not all the same. Some products probably contain more than one and may contain addition ingredients, such as surfactants. Each source of the raw material might contain different mixtures of enzyme. Concentration is another variable.
Are they safe?
Nothing I have read suggests that they are not safe. However, enzymes are not sanitizers. There are products sold as being able to maintain spa water, without the use of traditional sanitizers.
Such products are not registered by Ag Canada or the US EPA. I recall one saying it will be like swimming in a lake. I like sanitizers that I can measure or have a sound basis, such as chlorine.
Otherwise, I can inclined to view it as “voodoo chemistry.”
How do they interact with chlorine and other spa water treatment products?
If an enzyme breaks down body oils into smaller pieces, it becomes easier for chlorine to decompose the resulting compounds. They are used with chlorine and bromine.
Other spa chemicals should not be affected or involved. If the enzyme product contains a surfactant, high calcium hardness might affect the surfactant’s ability to function optimally. Surfactants are wetting agents and allow for better contact, between the enzyme and the organic wastes. Surfactants tend to foam, so their inclusion must be evaluated.
Some are extremely expensive and some are very cheap, whats the difference?
The formulas are proprietary, so it is hard to quantify. Concentration and choice of ingredients can vary. Some brands simply can command a higher price.