How to Maintain Clean Water for Arctic Spa Hot Tubs

How to Maintain Clean Water for Arctic Spa Hot Tubs

Owning an Arctic Spa hot tub is an incredible luxury that allows you to relax and unwind in the comfort of your own backyard oasis. However, keeping your hot tub water clean, clear and safe requires regular maintenance and care. Neglecting proper hot tub chemistry can lead to cloudy, unsanitary water, equipment damage, and even health issues. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to maintain sparkling clean water in your Arctic Spa hot tub.

The Best Hot Tub Water Testing Kit

Before you attempt to clean your Arctic Spa hot tub water, it is crucial you have the correct water testing kit in hand.

Please avoid using test strips when testing PH, Chlorine and Alkalinity levels. Test strips are almost always innacurate.

We highly reccomend that you purchase this Taylor K-1004 Pool & Spa Test Kit off Amazon. (this is not an affiliate link)

This kit allows you to test your PH, Chlorine and Alkalinity levels with extremely accurate results. You’ll want to have this on hand before following this guide.

Also, at the very end of this guide, I put together a list of products that I use to maintain my Arcitc Spa hot tub. Your hot tub products DO NOT have to be Arctic Spa branded to have or maintain clean water. Be sure to check them out!

Testing and Adjusting Water Chemistry

Balanced water chemistry is the foundation of a clean and well-maintained hot tub. Testing your water regularly and making necessary adjustments is crucial.

Here are the key parameters to monitor:

pH Levels

Proper pH is vital for bather comfort, sanitizer effectiveness, and preventing equipment damage. The ideal pH range for a hot tub is between 7.2 and 7.8 on a scale of 0 to 14.

Low pH (below 7.2) can lead to:

  • Eye and skin irritation
  • Corrosion of metal equipment and surfaces
  • Ineffective sanitizers

High pH (above 7.8) can cause:

  • Cloudy water
  • Scale buildup on surfaces and equipment
  • Ineffective sanitizers

To raise low pH, use a pH increaser containing sodium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate. To lower high pH, use a pH decreaser containing sodium bisulfate. These are also simply known as “PH Up” or “PH Down” chemicals when search for them on Amazon or elsewhere.

Test pH levels 2-3 times per week and adjust as needed to maintain the ideal range.

Sanitizer Levels (chlorine)

Hot tub sanitizer levels refer to the concentration of chemicals used to keep the water clean, disinfected, and safe for use. These chemicals eliminate harmful bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.

Why It’s Important To Maintain Sanitizer Levels

  • Health Protection: Proper sanitizer levels prevent the growth of bacteria and algae, protecting users from infections and skin irritations.
  • Water Clarity: Maintaining sanitizer levels helps keep the water crystal clear, avoiding cloudiness or discoloration.
  • Odor Prevention: Balanced sanitizer levels prevent the development of unpleasant odors, ensuring the water smells fresh.
  • Equipment Longevity: Correct sanitizer concentrations protect hot tub components from corrosion and wear, prolonging their lifespan.
  • Cost Efficiency: By preventing algae and bacteria outbreaks, proper sanitizer maintenance reduces the need for expensive repairs or extensive cleaning.

How to Maintain Your Sanitizer Systems

Salt Water Sanitizer Systems

Many hot tub owners opt for salt water sanitization systems that automatically generate chlorine from salt. This low-maintenance method can extend time between drain and refills.

  • Regularly Check Salt Levels: Ensure the salt concentration is within the manufacturer’s recommended range to effectively generate chlorine and maintain sanitizer levels. Salt levels typically range from 2,500 to 3,500 ppm. It’s important to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific mode
  • Monitor and Balance pH Levels: Keep the pH levels balanced (typically between 7.2 and 7.8) to ensure the sanitization process is effective and to prevent damage to the hot tub components.
  • Clean the Cell: Periodically inspect and clean the electrolytic cell of any calcium buildup or debris to ensure efficient chlorine generation and to prolong the cell’s lifespan.
  • Shock the Water: Occasionally shock the hot tub water to break down organic contaminants and chloramines, which can reduce the effectiveness of the saltwater sanitizing system.
  • Regular Maintenance Checks: Perform regular maintenance checks on the entire system, including pumps, filters, and the saltwater generator, to ensure everything is in good working order and to prevent any issues that could affect water quality.

Even with a salt system, you’ll need to test chlorine levels 2-3 times per week using a standard chlorine test kit. Maintain 1-3 ppm free chlorine, just like a standard chlorine hot tub.

You’ll also need to periodically shock a salt water hot tub and follow all other water chemistry guidance.

Non Salt Water Systems

Non-salt water sanitizer systems for hot tubs use chemicals like chlorine or bromine directly, without relying on saltwater electrolysis, to maintain clean and safe water conditions.

For chlorine hot tubs:

  • Maintain a free chlorine level of 1-3 parts per million (ppm)
  • Use a chlorine test kit or test strips to check levels 2-3 times per week
  • Adjust using a chlorine sanitizer/shock product or sodium dichlor granules

For bromine hot tubs:

  • Maintain a bromine level of 3-5 ppm
  • Use a bromine test kit/strips to check levels 2-3 times per week
  • Adjust using a bromine sanitizer/shock or sodium bromide granules

Alkalinity Levels

Alkalinity is the hot tub water’s ability to resist pH changes. Maintaining proper alkalinity (80-120 ppm) helps stabilize pH levels.

Low alkalinity leads to:

  • pH bounce/fluctuations
  • Corrosive water

High alkalinity results in:

  • Scale buildup
  • Cloudy water

Using your Taylor water testing kit that we metnioned at the beginning of this guide, please test your Alkalinity level. To raise low alkalinity, add an alkalinity increaser containing sodium bicarbonate. For high alkalinity, use pH decreaser to help lower levels. Test alkalinity weekly.

Shocking Your Arctic Spa Hot Tub

Even with sanitized water, hot tubs accumulate contaminants like perspiration, body oils, lotions, and other organics over time. Shocking helps oxidize these built-up contaminants and refresh sanitizer levels.

Types of Shock

  • For chlorine systems, use a chlorine-based shock containing sodium dichlor, calcium hypochlorite, or lithium hypochlorite.
  • For bromine systems, choose a non-chlorine oxidizing shock formulated specifically for bromine hot tubs.

Chlorine Shock vs Non-Chlorine Shock for Hot Tubs

Chlorine Shock:

  • Involves adding a high dose of chlorine (typically 10-20 ppm) to the hot tub water.
  • The goal is to oxidize and destroy organic contaminants like body oils, lotions, and bacteria that can build up quickly in a hot tub.
  • It helps to remove combined chlorine (chloramines) that can cause eye and skin irritation, as well as strong chlorine odors.
  • Chlorine shocking is recommended weekly or bi-weekly for hot tubs due to the high temperatures and bather load.
  • After shocking, the hot tub needs to be circulated and the chlorine levels allowed to drop back to 3-5 ppm before use.

Non-Chlorine Shock:

  • Uses alternative oxidizers like potassium monopersulfate or hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine.
  • These can help remove contaminants and combined chlorine from the hot tub water without raising chlorine levels.
  • Non-chlorine shock is often preferred by hot tub owners sensitive to chlorine or looking to minimize chlorine exposure.
  • It can be used more frequently than chlorine shock, as it doesn’t significantly raise chlorine levels.
  • May not be as effective as chlorine shock for heavy biofilm buildup or high bather loads.

For hot tubs, chlorine shocking is still widely recommended for periodic deep cleaning and oxidation. However, non-chlorine shock provides a chlorine-free option for more frequent oxidation between chlorine shocks, especially for those with chlorine sensitivities

When to Shock

  • Once per week
  • After periods of heavy bather loads
  • If water appears hazy or has odor
  • After adding fresh water

How to Shock

  1. Remove the hot tub cover and allow jets to run for 5-10 minutes before shocking to oxidize contaminants.
  2. Measure the appropriate shock dosage based on your hot tub volume. Start with the lowest recommended amount.
  3. Broadcast or pour the shock evenly around the hot tub perimeter while jets are running.
  4. Allow jets to run for 20-30 minutes to fully circulate and activate the shock treatment.
  5. Leave the cover off and do not use the hot tub for the prescribed treatment time, usually 12-24 hours.
  6. Test sanitizer levels and adjust if needed once the shock treatment is complete.

How to Prevent and Remove Foam

Foam in your hot tub can be caused by a variety of factors, most commonly caused by the presence of body oils, lotions, detergents, and other organic materials brought into the water by users. These substances can reduce the water’s surface tension, leading to the formation of persistent foam. Additionally, an imbalance in water chemistry, such as high pH or low sanitizer levels, can exacerbate foaming. To prevent and eliminate foam from your hot tub, consider the following steps:

  • Bathe Nude: Bathing without swimwear can significantly reduce the introduction of detergents and fabric softeners, common culprits in foam formation, into the hot tub water.
  • Shower Before Use: If your privacy, guests or comfort levels prevent bathing nude, please shower with soap and water (and encourage any others to do the same) before entering the hot tub to remove oils, lotions, and cosmetics that contribute to foam formation.
  • Maintain Water Chemistry: Regularly test and adjust your hot tub’s pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels to maintain proper water balance, reducing the likelihood of foam development.
  • Use Anti-Foam Agents: If foam appears, you can use a commercial anti-foam agent designed for hot tubs. These products can quickly reduce foam but should be used sparingly as they do not address the underlying cause.
  • Clean or Replace Filters: Dirty filters can harbor the contaminants that cause foaming. Clean your hot tub’s filters regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and replace them as needed.
  • Drain and Refill the Hot Tub: If foam persists despite taking the above steps, it may be necessary to drain and refill your hot tub. This can remove the accumulated contaminants that contribute to foam formation.

Maintaining Your Hot Tub Filters

Hot tub filters are essential for keeping your water clean by removing dirt, oils, and other particulates. However, filters can quickly become clogged, reducing their efficiency. Proper filter care is key.

Rinsing Filters

Rinse your filters with a high-pressure hose or use a specialized filter degreaser every week to remove surface debris and oils.

Deep Cleaning Filters

  • Once a month, soak your filters in a hot tub filter cleaning solution for at least 12 hours. This breaks down deeper contaminants. Some cleaning solutions may require overnight soaking.
  • Use a separate filter soak bucket or the hot tub itself with the proper soak solution amount. Avoid splashing the cleaning chemicals, as they can damage surfaces.
  • After soaking, give the filters a final high-pressure rinse before reinstalling.

When to Replace Filters

  • Replace your hot tub filters every 2-4 months on average, or sooner if they become damaged or excessively worn.
  • Over time, filters become brittle and torn, allowing contaminants to pass through. Regular replacement ensures your filters can properly clean and extend the life of your hot tub.

Important Notice for Arctic Spa Custom Series Hot Tubs

These model hot tubs do not allow users to manually rinse their own filters (which is completely ridiculous) as they use proprietary filters that force you to buy only their expensive filters. Do not worry as we provide a solution to this problem!

If you own a custom series hot tub, we highly recommend purchasing our spa filter adapter kit. This kit allows you to use generic filters that enable you to manually rinse and clean your hot tub filters whenever they get dirty. This results in you having much cleaner hot tub water over the stock pro filters and as an added benefit it will save you hundreds on future filter costs every year. To learn more about our Spa Filter Adapter Kit, please click here.

You will need this adapter kit if you want to rinse out and manually maintain your own hot tub filters.

Draining and Refilling Your Arctic Spa Hot Tub

No matter how well you maintain water chemistry, hot tub water will eventually need replacement. Drain and refill your tub every 3-4 months, or as needed if:

  • Water appears cloudy or has odors, even with shocking
  • Water chemistry is extremely difficult to maintain
  • After any known cases of recreationally contracted illnesses
  • High bather load over a short period of time

To drain your hot tub, attach a hose to the exterior drain spigot and safely route it to an appropriate drain area per environmental regulations.

When refilling, use a pre-filter to remove contaminants from the fresh source water. Consider using an oxidizing pre-filter like Arctic Pure for cleaner fill water.

After refilling, establish a total alkalinity level of 80-120 ppm first, then balance pH, and finally add the appropriate sanitizer start-up dosage.

Additional Hot Tub Care Tips

  • Regularly clean the hot tub shell, waterline, cover, and surrounding areas with a hot tub surface cleaner to prevent buildup.
  • Use a cover remover regularly to break down cover condensation and prevent mold/mildew.
  • Test and adjust calcium hardness levels to 175-250 ppm to protect equipment.
  • Add a metal control product monthly to prevent stains and scaling.
  • Use a hot tub defoamer product as needed to dissipate excess foam.
  • Completely drain and refill if the hot tub has been sitting unused for over a month.

By following these comprehensive hot tub maintenance steps, you’ll enjoy sparkling clean, sanitary water for years to come in your Arctic Spa hot tub!

Suggested Hot Tub Maintenance Products w/ Amazon Links

These are not affiliate links. These are just products I use that work great.

  • Water Test Kit – the best kit for testing PH, Chlorine and Alkalinity levels
  • Salt Water Test Strips – a great kit to test salt level PPMs (for salt water hot tubs)
  • Hot Tub Spa Salt – works great with Arctic Spa salt chlorinating systems
  • PH Decreaser 20lbs – your ph needs to be balanced for chlorine to be effective. Also useful to balance alkalinity.
  • PH Increaser 18lbs – your ph needs to be balanced for chlorine to be effective. Also useful to balance alkalinity.
  • Chlorine Shock – I recommend shocking your hot tub once a week with this – it works wonders
  • Non-Chlorine Shock – alternative shock method that has no chlorine
  • Hot Tub Defoamer – a bandaid fix solution to foamy hot tub water
  • Filter Deep Cleaner – if you really want to pro-long your filter life, you can deep soak them over night with this cleaner


  1. Hey I really appreciate you making this. It’s helped me out a lot. I’m not sure if I’m having troubles with biofilm or soaps and lotions etc. I read some where that I can shock and have a high chlorine for 48 hours to try and get rid of biofilm, but I’m not sure if it’s working. This is a salt spa by Arctic, it’s a McKinley with onzen. I had troubles getting chlorine for a bit and finally got my levels up, but I’m afraid that it was too late or this biofilm is left over from when I flushed. I used fresh start to flush and I put new filters in after I cleaned it with vinegar. My water is crystal clear with a ph around 7.4. My alkalinity has dropped to 40 in the last week, and my hardness has dropped to a 90. I currently have my chlorine around a 7 to get rid of what I think is biofilm. To be honest though this just looks like soap, most of the time it’s white foamy bubbles. Today I noticed that when I scooped them out they had a yellow tint to them but that was just one time. I have shocked with arctic pure refresh 2 times and it seems to be getting a little better. If you would like I can send you pictures and maybe you can verify for me. I really don’t want to have to flush again, our water is expensive so if you have any information on how I can fix this that would be amazing.

    Thank you

    • Hey Rick, sorry for the late reply. The main culprit for foam and yellow surface scum is bathing with swimwear (detergent on clothing) or lotions on the skin. As explained in my article, if possible shower before each use or better yet bathing nude is the best solution if you have the privacy to do so.

      Your levels seem fine to me. The most important things really are pH and Chlorine, and weekly shocking. Before adding chlorine, always make sure your pH levels are correct, or sanitzer wont be effective.

      In regards to the salt water system. I own the summit XL. It is salt based aslo. I’ve found that the mechanism that converts the salt into chlorine just isnt quite qood enough on its own, so weekly i’ll add a few tablespoons of chlorine granules. The exact amount I add really depends on the PPM of chlorine shown on my taylor test kit. You can check out this guide also:

      If its been more than 6 months, or if the tub is heavily used, you need to drain and refill your hot tub water with fresh water and of course add salt new again. Also clean your salt cells or replace the unit if needed. This is a mandatory step for maintaining clean water.

      And sure, send me some pics:


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