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Article on Bromine and Ozone.

"Promoting ethics in the spa industry."

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Spa Care Tips

published on the web by
Havenmade  Inc.
Updated Aug 2008

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Bromine and Ozone

This is a letter written in response to questions sent in by one of our readers:
"I am running ozone and was wondering how effective you think it is? Some spa manufacturers say it is a hoax."
"I am using brominating disinfectant tablets in a floating dispenser along with ozone. Do you think this is the most effective sanitizing method?"

Any one today who thinks ozone is a hoax, is not using it properly.

In my class I teach bromine and ozone as one method for spa care, because it is very effective, and least expensive.

Ozone is a gas created from oxygen. Out in the upper atmosphere it is
created by the high levels of UV intensity of sunlight.

Normally oxygen is a diatomic structure, with two atoms. When ultraviolet light strikes oxygen, it breaks apart, and then the atoms come back together with an extra atom, called O3. It is sort of a "super" oxygen which is now a blue gas and does effect the color of the sky.

It is an effective sanitizer, because all sanitizers "oxygenate" bacteria to kill it. Ozone gas is used in hospital air ducts, and water treatment plants, as well as water supplies.

In order for it to work the best in a spa. 1. It has to have a dedicated ozone jet in the bottom of the spa. 2. Jets in the spa have to be pointed at the ozone cluster of bubbles. 3. The ozonator bulb must be in good shape. (or CD chamber) 4. The ozone must be rated to the volume of water in the spa. (2003 revision; The ozone in a spa needs to be much stronger than in a swimming pool, because of the amount of body waste, bacteria, and orgainic compounds per gallon of water.)5. Run the low speed pump for at least 8 hours per day. 6. Use a thermal blanket to stop the ozone from escaping so fast and from oxidizing the cover and head rests.  You  can get a bit more effective ozone with most all the ozone methods, except the SC ozone, by placing a blanket in direct contact with the water.

(2003 update;  my reasearch has shown the most effective way to use ozone is the SC ozone system in which the tiny ozone bubble are slowly moved throught a contact chamber pipe of 20 feet at 2 feet per second.  This will absorb most of the ozone and really makes for the most powerful effective ozone treatment there is. The thermal blanket is not needed to help the ozone, because the ozone is already used and absorbed before to ozonated water it is let back into the spa. )

Ozone is not as effective with tiny circ pumps at below 18 GPM. In my opinion small circ pumps verge on consumer fraud. All those tiny pumps do is recirculate the same water over and over directly in front of the filter area. If you watch the action of a tiny 3 to 7 GPM pump, the water is not agitated.  This leaves almost stagnant "dead spots" without circulation and water movement in areas of the spa that are farther from the ozone outlet.  It takes too long for the ozone to reach all of the water molecules.

All the customers I have talked to, who own those types of spas, have trouble with dirt in the spa, and they use way too much in chemicals trying to clean up the water. Ozone is like bromine, it is circulation dependent. If it doesn't get to the little "bugs" it can't kill them. Small circ pumps fail at doing that. That is why the "dog dish" company only recommends chlorine and lots of it. They also have a "10 minute" button to run the jets on high after people get out. Why run the therapy jets on high in an empty spa? Who are we giving therapy to? It is the only time the spa gets any action through the filters, forcing debris to move. If you own a "dog dish" or other low flow pump spa, you must run the jets to get clean water!

(We have a retro fit kit that you can install on your Hot Spring spa to increase the filtering and improve the performance of the ozone. You can't put this on your spa while it is under warranty.  And the kit voids the bogus UL listing of those spas.  READ)

Bromine is more circulation dependant. Chlorine works like a "shotgun", the reason why all bromine tabs have chlorine mixed in them is to activate the bromine. Bromine is more stable in hot, highly agitated, water. It is much more effective at higher or low pH. Bromine is about 96% effective at a pH of 7.5.  Chloring is about 66% effective at 7.5 pH.  Using chlorine alone is more expensive than bromine tablets, because the Chlorine is less effective and it dissipates so fast. (One of the main reasons we recommend it with ionizers.)

Long before non-chlorine shock, people would shock with chlorine in their spas. It still is a good way to shock. Get the chlorine levels to about 8 to 10 PPM and if "fries" all the bugs and organic matter in the water. After about an 24 hours the levels drop to below 3 PPM. You want to shock at a pH of 7.2 for most effectiveness. However, I prefer and recommend the non-chlorine shock with potassium peroxymonosulfate combined with dichlor at a ratio of 1 tablespoon MPS shock to 1 teaspoon of Dichlor.  This way you will have a sharp rise in the oxidizer which burns out the garbage from the water.  Then it rapidly falls to below 3 PPM in less than one or two hours. 

It is good to burn out all the orgainic contaminents once a week and remove any residual "dead and smelly" bromamines.  It reactivates the bromine.

Bromine lowers pH and ozone raise your pH very slightly. Chlorine (dichlor) lowers pH very slightly. The products called "granulated Bromine" are about 50/50 chlorine and bromine, and are almost neutral in pH.  MPS shock has the effect of lowering pH, but it is one of the best ways to burn out organic contaminents without raising the resudual sanitizer levels too high.  When you  use MPS (non-chlorine shock), you use the Total Alkalininty to help hold up the pH against the acids of both the bromine and the shock.  That is why a bromine or chlorine spa needs to have a higher total alkalininty than an ionized spa, with much less acids being introduced into the water.

Bromine tabs in a floating feeder, is the most economical way to use bromine. The feeder must be placed away from the filter, and not in direct flow of the jets, otherwise the bromine dissolves too fast. By keeping the feeder away from the filter, the bromine doesn't build up in front of the filter and harm the equipment.  If your spas has a bromine feeded in the filter door, this is the worst design there is.  The bromine goes up and then dies as the tablets dissolve way too fast.

The levels can get as high as 30 to 40 PPM directly in front of the filter, and then go straight into the equipment, helping it to corrode. I have always disliked the weir door feeder or feeders inside the filter housing for that reason. My Sun;;;ce customers complain that the tablets dissolve too fast, and they can't maintain a steady level of bromine. It just goes up and down. Coleman finally stopped making spas with a filter bromine feeder for the same reason.  In the store where I worked we were told by Coleman to open the filter and throw the filter feeders in the trash.

You want to keep a residual amount of bromine in the water at all times, with chlorine, this is nearly impossible. It bounces all over the place in hot , highly agitated and areated water. You can keep a good residual of bromine with a floating feeder kept away from too much water flow.  It can be supplimented with granular bromine (about 50/50 bromine/chlorine.  The chlorine, in the mix, activates the soduim bromide.)  Pure bromine tablets require regular applications of either granular chlorine (dichlor) or non-chlorine, potassiumperoximonsulfate, shock to activate the bromine (convert sodium bromide into bromine)

If you have the Taylor test kit, the booklet tells how to calculate the number of days between drain and refill. What happens in spa water is similar to taking sugar and adding it to a jar of water. If you keep adding sugar, eventually the sugar stops dissolving and remains solid in the bottom of the jar.  It recommends that you divide the volume of water by 3 to get the number of daily bathers.  To me this is a little short on time with ions or other methods that do not introduce high levels of solids to the water.  With ionized (and the Eco One)  spas you can go much longer between drain and fill.

In a spa, the water starts to have a "slow response" to the powders we add. For instance, you might look up in the table and it says to ad two tablespoons of pH down. After you add the pH down, the pH doesn't change as much as it "should". If the water doesn't respond it needs to be changed. In an average spa the time between changes is from three to six months.  ( This is also the reason for using the "acid demand" test to determine how much pH down to put in.  As the water naturally ages it takes on more pH change resistance and the ONLY way to tell exactly how much product to put in is the "demand" tests, "base demand" or "acid demand".)

There are other methods besides bromine which we will cover in other issues of Spa Care Tips.

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