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Spa & Hot tub Care, Tips, InformationCustomer E-mailed Questions & Answers
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Spa Water Care Question - Soft Soak   For more detailed Soft Soak Information click here

From: "james kilgore"

Sent: Monday, September 08, 2003 10:11 PM
Subject: Greasy waterline

I own a PDC Spa and use the Soft Soak System.  I always seem to get what seems to be a greasy and almost sticky build up above the waterline in my tub.  I test the water weekly and clean or replace the filter at the same time.  Any ideas on what to do to eliminate this?
Jim Kilgore

Answer: Good morning Jim!
What you've described happens every so often. Here's a couple of things to do or to check:
1.  Make sure you are using the Soft Soak Waterline Control as directed.
2.  Keep the sanitizer closer to the 30 ppm level.  Higher levels will sometimes leave a line.
3.  Be sure to shower before using the spa.  We find that customers who use a spa without showering first "bring in" with them more body oils, lotions, etc. that add to the scum line (this is a recommended action no matter what the sanitizer is; chlorine, bromine, biguanide).
4. If you have an ozonator, turn it off or disconnect it.  Sometimes the ozone will break down the biguanide (SoftSoak or BaquaSpa) sanitizer faster..
5. Use a "Goo-Getter" or "Scum Bug" or other such product to absorb excess greases & oils that get into the spa.
6. If the water is getting "old", i.e.: water last changed 2-1/2 to 3 months ago, you're about due.
7. Some customers report success using SpaGuard Natural Spa Enzyme on a weekly basis

Spa Water Care Question - General Water Chemistry     For more General Spa Care Chemistry Help Click here

----- Original Message -----
From: nita
Sent: Sunday, September 28, 2003 9:54 PM
Subject: spa issues

Hi there, thank you for the information on SpaGuard products. I only have our spa since this summer . 420 gallon and I am using bromine tablets and spa late shock once a week.  Nevertheless, I just can't stabilize the alkalinity which just drops from 110 to 40 within a week and
yet my ph is always to high and increases even more when I try to increase the alkalinity!!!!  I am totally annoyed to say the least. My water is totally blurry. I'm throwing stuff in there practically every day.  Now it's only a week old and already a disaster.  Would spa sentry really help??  What I don't understand about sentry though, isn't there supposed to be a minimum calcium level of at least 150? Won't there be excessive foaming if we reduce this completely??

Thank you in advance for your reply.
Nita from Montreal Canada

To: "Nita"
Subject: Re: spa issues
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2003 11:22:16 -0400

Answer: Good morning Nita!

Thank you for your question.  Here's a couple of things to keep in mind:
   1. If you test the pH right after the jets have been on, you will get a false HIGH pH.  Allow the water to "rest" for at least 3 to 4 hours.
   2. Bromine tends to raise the pH.  In fact, if the bromine level is HIGH, you will get an inaccurately HIGH pH reading (bromine combines with pH reagent causing an indigo, almost purple color).
   3. Keep your bromine in the 3.0 ppm range.  Don't overdo it.
   4. Make sure the system runs 4 to 6 hours daily.
   5. In regards to Spa Sentry, we completely discount or eliminate Calcium Hardness as part of the water balance equation.  Spa Sentry uses other buffers to compensate for the Calcium Hardness.
   6. Before adding Spa Sentry, get the pH correct first.  Once Spa Sentry is added, your pH is LOCKED there; low, high or OK.
I hope that helps!  Enjoy the spa!

Thank you so much for your reply.  I really never realized that the jets caused a false ph reading.  That was extremely good to know!! Nevertheless, my understanding was that bromine would lower the ph. That is what I read in other sources and now you tell me the opposite.  Obviously, in my case it is
definitely not being lowered.  Also, another little question.  Will spa sentry also help control my alkalinity from dropping all the time??  I won't get excess foam? I really appreciate your reply.  I am impressed that you even bothered answering me since I am so far from your store in the
first place.  Thanks again.


From: "Customer Service" <>
To: "Nita W"
Subject: Re: spa issues
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2003 10:12:38 -0400
Answer: YES,  Spa Sentry will indeed balance out the Total Alk. as well.  Excess foaming is normally not a concern when the spa is balanced using Spa Sentry. Foaming is normally a good sign that (a) the water is getting old & will need to be changed or (b) soapy additives have been inadvertently added or (c) people are not showering prior to using the spa thereby adding "stuff" into the water.

By the way, bromine itself will lower the pH, however excess levels (over 4.0 ppm) will react with the pH test reagent causing a false high reading. I hope that clarifies my answer.  Enjoy the spa!
Ron Parrs

Thanks again. Your help was much appreciated.  Have a great day!!!

Spa Water Care Question - pH balancing

----- Original Message -----
From: "YourEmailId"
To: <>
Sent: Friday, September 26, 2003 8:08 PM
Subject: Cedar hot tub care

My cedar hot tub's pH is barely 7.2, but the total alkalinity is 180ppm.  How do I bring the pH up without bring the TA too high?

Also, I bought a copper ion electrolysis unit to increase the copper ions, and thus can use less chlorine. But I lost the test kit flat-bottomed test tube.  Do you sell them?


Answer: Adding pH increaser will NOT dramatically bring up the total alkalinity, so don't be too concerned about that.

As far as the test kit goes, I don't know which one you have.  You may just want to get a whole kit from the folks you bought it from.  Sorry I can't help you more than that.

Have a great weekend!


Subject: rash            Spa Water Care Question - "Itchy" Water   For more information on Skin Rashes in Hot tubs & Spas click here
We are going crazy with this itchy rash every time we use our spa.  We have already drained and started form scratch.  After use I shock it and we get lots of foam with brown build-up in the foam.  I use foam down, scum gone, spa clear and nothing seems to work.  Bromine level looks fine on the strip and PH but alkalinity looks low.  I hate to have  to drain again.  Do I super shock or what?  My legs are covered with pimples and rash...what do we do?  Lisa

What you are describing is one of 2 issues: A. a bonafide skin rash due to a pseudomonas outbreak or B. a skin sensitivity to an unbalanced spa.
If it's a pseudomonas outbreak, I would definitely drain, thoroughly clean the spa, spa pillows, spa filter(s), then refill the spa. Even clean the cover(s).  Prior to draining, consider adding a good dose of Chlorine to the water to kill excess bacteria in the tub, plumbing lines, air lines.  Keep it highly chlorinated for a solid hour before draining.  You've got to kill all of it; not most.  When cleaning the spa filter, be sure to CHEMICALLY clean it; don't just rinse it off.  We liken it to clothing;  you don't rinse dirty clothes, you launder them with detergent to get them clean, right?  I bring this up because of the brown scum you mention on the foam.
After draining, cleaning & refilling, begin sanitizing.  Make sure that the water is properly balanced.  If the pH & total alkalinity are not balanced, the sanitizer will not do its job effectively.
As far as a skin sensitivity, we know of & have several customers whose skin is just very sensitive to unbalanced water or certain spa sanitizing chemicals.  Keep the water balanced.  Consider avoiding certain oxidizers that contain monopersulfates (similar to hair treating chemicals that exhibit the same outbreaks). 
Other questions that I would ask you would be:  How old is the spa? (If it's been longer than 1 year for a THOROUGH cleaning, it needs it).  How old is filter cartridge? (If older than 1 year, buy a new one).  How often do you normally change the water? (every 2 to 3 months is necessary maybe more often if the bather level is high).  How many people use the spa at any time AND are they showering FIRST?  Clean people helps to eliminate certain of the "stuff" that can get into a spa.
I hope this helps you.  If you would like to talk with us, please phone us at 203-377-0100, M - Sat 10 am - 5 pm EST.

Spa Water Care Question - Soft Soak

Subject: Help; Can't get PH lowered

Just started up new hot tub approximately three weeks ago; Began using the "new" SoftSoak product, but cannot get the PH lowered; stays between 8.0 and 8.4; after a good dose of pH  decreaser, then the Alkalinity decreases.

It's a nightmare for me.  What can you tell me about the other products with buffers, and pH perfect, etc.  Should I be using one of them?  My only worry is what is compatible with the SoftSoak products? 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  Any help will be greatly welcomed.

Answer: Good morning!

Thank you for your question.  MOST high pH "problems" in any spa or hot tub is usually a "false" high.  In other words, if you test the water within 2 hours of the high-speed pumps and/or blowers being on, you'll find a high pH that's caused by carbon dioxide being released by the bubbles & therefore driving the pH UP.

The nice thing about the Soft Soak system is that it is for all intents & purposes, pH neutral..  The other nice thing about Soft Soak is that it works well in a wider pH range (7.2 to 7.8) versus chlorine or bromine (7.4 to 7.6) Don't drive yourself crazy.  Let it settle out for a few hours without circulation then check it.  Adjust from that point.

I hope that helps!  Let me know if we can be of further assistance.  Enjoy the day!

Subject: Spa or Hot tub care question

I am trying to use a nature2 cartridge in my spa but am having trouble getting the water balanced and not cloudy.  Is there something you have to do to activate the nature2?  Any help?  Thanks, Suzy


Hi Suzy!
Let's see how we can help you. 
First, the N2 cartridge is activated over a period of a couple of days using Spa Shock or Enhanced Shock (our preference is the Enhanced because it contains a little bit of chlorine to help back up the system). 
Second, as far as the water balance is concerned, make sure you test when the water has been CALM for several hours.  Testing right after the jets have been active will result in a false HIGH pH reading.  Adjust the Total Alkalinity first, then tweek the pH.  To make life simpler, use Spa Sentry to lock in the pH & TA for about 2 months.
For more Start Up info check this link at our website:
I hope that helps.  Please contact us again in the future if you need assistance!
Ron Parrs


You have already told me more than these people!  My shock is NuClor.  I'll try your suggestions.  Thanks so much.

Spa Water Care Question - Soft Soak

Subject: SpaGuard Soft Soak

I converted to this system almost 1 1/2 years ago and love it.  Good water feel, good water chemistry, easy maintenance, no tub ring, ...  No complaints at all!

My local dealer was out of Shock and suggested I use SoftSwim C.  Both are Hydrogen Peroxide based but "C" is 27.5% H Peroxide and SoftSoak Shock is about 7% so, theoretically I should use less.  I've gone through my first gallon of "C" and am totally pleased with the results.  Since I can get a gallon of "C" for less than 2 quarts of SoftSoak shock, I am pleased with that as well.  I didn't realize the concentration differences until recently so I have been using the same amount (5 oz per week in my 500 gallon tub) so I still have good water and save $.  What is wrong with this?  Is SpaGuard playing business games or is there some ingredient in SoftSoak shock that is missing in "C" that is hurting me or my spa?  I'm going to reduce my "C" usage (maybe in half) since I'm adding more H Peroxide than is "needed".  Anything wrong with this other than the impact to my dealer?

Are there any other SwimSoft products that I can substitute for the SoftSoak waterline control or stain & scale?



Good morning Norman!
I'm glad that you like using the Soft Soak system & are happy with the results. 
Now here's the "however".  You are mis-using the product as to EPA registration, regulation and guidelines.  Although "C" will "work" in a hot water environment, that was not the specific prescribed use for the product.  In the beginning, way back about 12 years or so, Baqua Shock was originally packaged with the same 27.5% solution.  Unfortunately, consumer complaints of odor & irritation abounded.  Within months the product, & in fact the product line, was repackaged & relabeled.  There was also some spa manufacturer concern about the original system on certain plastics used in the construction of hot tub jets, light lenses, plumbing fittings, etc.
Here's the real problem, let's say you have guests over using your spa.  One of those guests gets a skin rash or has a bad reaction to the chemical.  He/she needs to be hospitalized due to the severity of the condition.  That one time friend now sues you (you knowingly used a pool product in a spa application, thereby not following the explicit label instructions), the dealer for selling the pool product knowing full well it was going to be used in a spa, contrary to label directions, and so on.  The impact to your dealer is that he could get his butt sued & loose his business for wanting to "save someone some money".
As far as the other Soft Swim / Soft Soak products go, there is no Soft Swim Waterline Control and the Sanitizer is a reformulation of the original pool product made to accommodate hot water usage, following EPA guidelines.  Short answer, no. 
Sorry I'm not going to save you money today!  Your safety is a lot more important to me.  Thank you for taking the time to write & ask.
Ron Parrs

Follow up

Thanks for the detailed & historical response.  I guess I'll use what I'm supposed to use.
The dealer's in the town I moved from (in Georgia) and since I'll be visiting there soon, I'll ask her to assess your reply and get the facts straight before they get in trouble.
Thanks again,

Spa Water Care Question - Soft Soak

.. Also, we�ve been using Baqua and we seem to get a �tarry�  deposit around the sides of the tub even when the water has just been replaced and the tub is cleaned and refilled.  Any ideas on how to remedy this?

Ron Keary


...The deposit you refer to is probably caused by the Sanitizer level being a little high (over 40 ppm).  Our recommendation is to maintain the Sanitizer at no more than 30 ppm.  You can further help the situation by using SpaGuard Natural Enzyme; that will help to "consume" some of the excess deposits due to the polymeric agglomerating action of the biguanide product (the sanitizer).  Further information may be found here.

I hope that helps to answer your questions.  Remember that is BaquaSpa completely interchangeable to Soft Soak products for ease of conversion.
We look forward to doing business with you in the future!
the Sales Team

Spa Water Care Question - Soft Soak

----- Original Message ----- Comments:

I converted to your soft soak two months ago as I was having a terrible problem with a skin rash.  We previously used bromine and soft soak has been terrific.  It's about eliminated my problem.

The system is quite easy to use and we perform the weekly routine.  The only thing we've noticed is that it forms a random type of film on the top of the water.  Also, if the jets and blowers are on it does foam up quickly.  From the checks, everything seems to be in balance.  Any suggestions on how to eliminate this white looking film and the foaming?



Good evening Jack!
Thanks for taking the time to write.  I'm glad that Soft Soak is working to your expectations.
Let's see how we're going to help you out.  First off, foaming: normally caused by 2 issues.
1. High sanitizer level.  Keep the sanitizer level at NO MORE THAN 30 ppm.  You don't get any better sanitizing action with a higher level.  When tested at 30 ppm, that's great; even after 2 weeks.  If there's normal usage into the third week before have to top up, that's OK, let it go.
2. Calcium Hardness is LOW.  Adjust to 200 ppm.
"Uncontrolled" foaming shouldn't begin until it's almost time to change the water, about 3 to 4 months.
"Scum" build-up: again HIGHer Sanitizer level.  Maintain at no more than 30 ppm. Remember that the active ingredient in the sanitizer also acts as a "water clarifier" & will "go after" stuff.  You may want to consider using SpaGuard Natural Enzyme.  The Enzyme will "eat" scum & help keep the waterline (be sure to use the Waterline Control) and the filter cleaner.
That should do it.  Any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact us again.

Spa Water Care Question - Soft Soak & Water Balance (calcium hardness)

My calcium on our hot tub is showing in the high range. What do I need to add to bring this down. Also we have had eye burning after being in the tub. Is this normal? Thanks

Response:  The easiest way to lower calcium hardness is to add fresh water.  Add 1 to 2 inches of fresh & that will drop it right down.  As far as the eye burning goes, check the pH.  High or low that can be irritating to many people.  Just for the heck of it, make sure your Soft Soak Sanitizer level is closer to 30 ppm rather than 50 ppm.  Sometimes higher sanitizer levels will cause some irritation as well.

I hope that helps.  Happy New Year!

Follow Up:  Great, Thanks for the tips. I will place another order for more chemicals. It has been working great. No more dry skin here.

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