Hot Tub Safe for Bathers with Hypertension

April 10th, 2012

Here’s a short video complete with pictures to report how using a hot tub is safe for people with hypertension.  The video was produced by the National Swimming Pool Foundation, the good folks who were also instrumental in getting the MAHC process rolling.

Since heart disease, including high blood pressure, is so common, we thought it would be important to send this along.  People with heart problems should not automatically assume that immersion in hot water is bad for them.  In fact, the relaxation effect may actually be beneficial.  Here is Dr. Becker on the subject:

Soothing Spa Saves Sanity!

January 2nd, 2012

There’s a headline we would believe in (even if you cannot prove it). Every portable spa owner understands the pure pleasure you can get from a soak in that warm, jetted water.

But it is no surprise that this pleasure is more than skin deep.

The Non-Addictive Stress Remover and Sleep Inducer

We’ve done a brief online review of ‘hot tub health’, ‘stress’, ‘sleep’ and ‘mental health’. There’s almost universal agreement that a soak in the spa reduces stress in ways that is conducive to better physical and mental health. One important aspect of this is that a soak before bedtime helps you get to sleep and stay asleep.

Our general point is that the hot tub is a safe and wholesome way to help deal with common, everyday stress and its effects. If worries keep you uptight and sleepless, you should seriously consider the spa as a helpful treatment.

Stress: Unavoidable and Unpleasant

People experience stress as unpleasant, and something to be avoided or treated. But it’s also true that stress has a positive biological function – think “fight or flight”. “Stress” is a psychological response to a perceived threat or pressure from the environment that we think is beyond our ability to cope. This perception is (probably) the cause of the physical symptoms that are part of the stress syndrome: higher heart rate, increased blood flow, adrenaline rush, and preparation to ‘flee or fight’.

The traffic jam that triggered your stress reaction on the way home doesn’t just go away when you finally managed to “flee” the traffic to the safety of your own driveway. Repeated and persistent experience of stress can lead to more serious chronic in your cardiovascular system, muscle aches and pains, and mood. It is pretty obvious that bathing your body in adrenaline over and over could have bad effects.

Unfortunately, we cannot easily remove the sources of stress. Most of us need to get a ride to work; get the kids ready for school on time; cope with bills; perform assignments effectively; shovel the walk when there really isn’t time for it. These everyday stressors can add up to more serious mental, emotional and physical health problems.

The Hot Tub Can Help

According to Hot Water & Healthy Living by Jonathan Edwards and the National Swimming Pool Foundation, immersion in a hot tub can directly help the body cope with the effects of stress. Our bodies respond to immersion in hot water with a release of dopamine, a hormone that helps us relax. This healing chemistry literally helps to take the sting out of stress: it is not just your imagination.

Health in a Hot Tub

December 26th, 2011

Do you have trouble getting yourself motivated to put on the running shoes and actually get out the door?

In some ways, you might want to climb into your hot tub instead.  Many observers have commented that the physiological changes induced by immersion in hot water are quite similar to those caused by working out.  We are not claiming that sitting in the hot tub can substitute for training for that Boston Marathon you have in mind, but some of the same beneficial cardiovascular effects you get from running, swimming or biking can be achieved with a good, regular soak.

Beyond this, the hot water in the spa (and possibly the massage effect from the jets) can help to temporarily alleviate or ameliorate aches and pains in muscles and joints. Regular soaks can help to improve joint flexibility, relieve stiffness, and sooth chronic pain associated with minor muscular-skeletal trauma or chronic conditions.  Finally, the buoyancy of the water may help to relieve the discomforts associated with having to support the full weight of the body.

Physiological Changes From Using the Hot Tub

A good primer for how immersion in hot water affects your body can be found in the National Swimming Pool Foundation’s new booklet, Hot Water and Healthy Living. The NSPF booklet notes 3 ways the hot tub helps healing:

  1. Immersion increases circulation. The basic physiological change induced by hot water is to improve blood flow to the extremities, and into joints and stressed muscles.  This increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to these zones, and increases the amount of waste removed.
  2. Water immersion increases the surface pressure on the body.  This helps to reduce inflammation, a primary source of discomfort.
  3. The buoyancy of the water can relieve the discomfort associated with supporting the full weight of the body.

These therapeutic benefits are not guaranteed to heal all wounds or diseases.  Be sure to check with your physician if you have a chronic or acute medical issue to find out if immersion in a hot tub might be beneficial for you.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Remember that we mentioned that hot water immersion has some of the effects of exercise?  Sitting in a hot tub typically increases your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure.  The higher heart rate will improve the flow of blood, and the arteries will dilate to accept the higher rate of flow.  The NSPF booklet notes that this is accompanied with the heart being stretched to accommodate the higher flow of blood and the “push” of blood to the heart due to the pressure of the water. In combination, these functions help to strengthen the heart while oxygenating and cleansing tissues.

What Have You Experienced?

Energy Efficiency Standards for Spas and Hot Tubs

December 22nd, 2011

The awareness of climate change is brought home to roost in energy prices, which are climbing rapidly.  This has spawned a trend to improve the energy efficiency of all kinds of appliances and tools.  In the case of portable spas and hot tubs, the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, in coordination with ANSI, issued energy efficiency standards in 2010, titled ANSI/APSP-14 Standard for the Energy Efficiency of Self-Contained Portable Electric Spas and Hot Tubs.

The APSP says the purpose of the standards is to “influence the design and construction specifications of portable electric spas to maximize energy efficiency.”

More recently, APSP also released new standards for residential pools and inground spas, ANSI/APSP/ICC-15, which we covered in a separate blog post.

Manufacturers Are the First Affected Party

The first real impact of standards like these is to encourage manufacturers to design products that meet them.  The benefits of energy conservation will appeal to cost conscious consumers, and manufacturers will want to promote their advantages along these lines.  The pressure to adopt the standards will mount as states choose to incorporate the standards into their own codes, as Florida has done with the ANSI/APSP-14.

Consumers Benefit from Better Products

Consumers in new spa or replacement markets will benefit from these standards by getting more energy efficient systems.  DEL Ozone systems have always been environmentally sensitive in that they permit chemical use reduction and create no harmful byproducts.  Since ozone is injected when the circulation pump runs, the increased efficiency of pumps will permit owners to run them a little more, thereby increasing the disinfection power of the ozone system.

DEL Ozone has long been a “green” company, but energy efficiency is more than green:  it saves money.

Spas Are Good for You

November 29th, 2011

Really, we mean that using your spa or hot tub is good for you. There are many benefits of immersion in hot water, beyond the pure pleasure of it, that justify your using your spa.  We are going to do a short series of posts on this topic to give you some of the basic information.  This first post introduces hydrotherapy in general.  Our next ones will give more information about the physiological mechanisms of hot water therapy and about its emotional/psychological benefits.

Hydrotherapy is an Ancient Practice

Water has been used in many cultures across time as a curative or restorative agent, which we generally call ‘hydrotherapy’ (see the Wikipedia article).  Most of you will remember the Roman baths, and it seems that every state in the Union has a town called “Hot Springs” where people visited to experience the “healing waters.”  These traditional spas were abused by an assortment of quacks who made outrageous claims for them, but there is a core of truth in the value of water for therapy.

While the term “hydrotherapy” includes a host of practices, using both cold and hot water, we are focused on hot water immersion, and to some extent on the effect of jets, as a therapeutic method.

Climbing into your spa can be therapeutic primarily through its effects on your circulation system and due to the buoyancy you experience in water. For most people, the spa helps dilate blood vessels to improve flow into muscle and connective tissue, lowers blood pressure (with a higher heartbeat), and confers a sense of well-being.  These feelings of relaxation exist whether we get any actual therapy or not, and for many of us easily justify the use of the spa.

However, for some people with particular conditions, the spa might actually be a beneficial treatment.  Some forms of arthritis respond well to heat, and some of the ordinary aches and pains of life can be temporarily treated with hot water.  It is common for spa users to report that a soak before going to bed makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Check with Your Physician

Just one caveat, as always:  you should ask your own physician if using the spa might be beneficial in treating any specific condition you might have, or if hot water might be detrimental for some reason.  For example, it is usually unwise for a pregnant woman to immerse herself in water above a certain temperature, so getting her physician’s advice is wise.

You Need Clean Water

It goes without saying that you need clean water to get the benefits of hydrotherapy without the unwanted effects of contaminants.  The more you use your spa for its benefits, the more important it is to make sure it is sanitary.  Your DEL Ozone spa ozone generator is your best tool for maintaining clean, clear spa water.

With the clean water issue taken care of, enjoy that spa and its many benefits!

Ozone and Your Safety

September 16th, 2011

The point of this blog post is to provide some information about ozone with respect to health and safety, and to help people make useful distinctions between “good” ozone and “bad” ozone.

The truth is that controlled ozone systems like the ones DEL Ozone makes for portable spas or hot tubs protect human health and quality of life. Unfortunately, some people confuse those cases where excess airborne ozone can be a problem with the use of ozone under ALL conditions.  This misunderstanding can lead people to reject ozone solutions even when they are safe and effective ways to achieve disinfection objectives.

Ozone in the News

It sometimes seems that whenever ozone comes up in public discussions or news, it is treated as a threat. And this can create the perception that ozone is simply a hazardous gas that must be avoided under all circumstances.

Probably the most common way people hear about ozone on a day-to-day basis is when there is a pollution event in a metropolitan area. When this happens, the weather often includes an “ozone alert” to encourage people with respiratory disease or other vulnerabilities to stay indoors to minimize their exposure to airborne ozone. The truth is that these alerts are triggered by a combination of a high level of pollution caused by burning fossil fuels and strong sunlight.  When this happens, ozone is a byproduct of the chemical reactions that occur between combustion exhaust and the atmosphere.

This isn’t to say that ground level ozone is safe at high concentration.  Rather, the point is that an excessive concentration of ozone is a result of an uncontrolled process.  We would have to stop driving in places like LA or Denver to avoid having days with high ozone concentrations.

Ground level ozone created by unplanned, uncontrolled processes like this should not be confused with the beneficial controlled application of ozone.

The Benefits of Controlled Ozone for Spa and Hot Tub Owners

DEL Ozone’s advanced engineering and manufacturing techniques create ozone systems that provide the benefits of ozone without harmful byproducts:

  • Ozone is effective against microorganisms like cryptosporidium that chlorine cannot kill quickly enough.
  • Ozone injected into spa water with a DEL Ozone system ensures clean, safe water automatically.
  • DEL systems are designed to inject the ozone thoroughly and effectively, with no side effects on human skin or health, or spa accessories like the pillows or the cover.
  • DEL is reliable – ozonators like the MCD-50 work on and on.

Rely on DEL Ozone systems to protect your family when clean is critical.

Moving or installing a portable spa is not all heavy lifting

May 12th, 2011

Your spa should be about pleasure and/or physical therapy (even the informal kind). So you need to use it a lot!  Here’s a short list of things to take into account when you are planning your spa installation.

Location, location, location.  I can tell you from sad experience that a hot tub that is downstairs and outside will NOT be used as much as the one two steps from the bedroom door. You have too much time and money invested to let it just sit there, so think about how you want to use it, when you want to use and then where it will be easiest to use to achieve those objectives.  Some common factors:

  • Planning to skinny dip?  Best not to have the hot tub under your neighbor’s kitchen window.  A privacy fence might help.
  • Safety: We assume you have a secure cover on the hot tub, but consider also whether it is in an escape route, presents a flooding danger, exposes electrical conduit or connections, or carries too much weight for its platform.
  • Convenience:  This is the downstairs thing.  Our neighbors built their house to have the hot tub outside the bedroom, behind a sheltering fence, and they use it any time of day, any way they want. You probably can’t rebuild your house, but try to get close the ideal even if you have to build a platform for the spa.

Electrical service. Your hot tub has an electrical system built for either 110 or, more commonly these days, a 220 volt service.  Find out which one and make sure you are located close to a grounded, GFCI outlet or dedicated power source. We had to run a 220 line to our hot tub, but it was the only way to power it up. We recommend having a qualified electrician install a permanent service.

Foundation. Water is heavy, a little over 8 pounds per gallon.  So you can easily figure how much your hot tub full of water and people might be (4 people, 350 gallons of water, and the hot tub itself is easily 4000 pounds!).  Your ozonator is only a couple pounds, so it’s not that.  But for the rest of the package, you need a flat, strong foundation.  A deck should be rated to 150 pounds per square foot (at least), or use concrete, brick or packed gravel or d.g. as a bed.

Want it in-ground? You can install a hot tub in the ground, but you will need to leave ample clearance for maintenance, airflow around the whole tub, room for the cover in lifted position, and a system for drainage of irrigation or rain water (not to mention water changes, which you will be doing at least quarterly, right?).  The low profile of the in-ground tub raises other safety issues also, include the tripping hazard and need for a reinforced top/cover. Frankly I don’t think it’s worth it, but if you really want the in-ground look, think about installing an above ground deck around the hot tub to give the appearance of being in-ground without the drawbacks.

Indoor spas. Some people want a spa experience in the convenience of the home. Many of the same design issues apply, but you also need to make sure it is well-ventilated or you may eventually re-create the wonderful odor of indoor swimming pool in your very own house.  Just in case, a floor drain would be a great idea, and a real convenience for your frequent water changes.

We hope you enjoy your properly installed spa!

Consider Pump Cycles When You Pick an Ozonator

April 19th, 2011

We have talked before about getting the right sized ozonator for your spa, focusing mostly on the size of the tub. In this post, we want to highlight another part of the puzzle that can make a big difference: your pump function.

Hot Tub Volume: The Basic Requirements

Just to reiterate, the ozonator you need for your hot tub or portable spa has to be big enough to handle the water volume. DEL offers three standard replacement ozone generators which serve hot tubs in two tiers, those up to 500 gallons and those between 500 and 1000 gallons. (Ask DEL about larger tubs or wave pools: units are available.)

CDS-16: Sanitizes hot tubs up to 500 gallons. A chip-based Corona Discharge (CD) ozonator with   ozone output rated at 35 mg/hr. 110V only.

Spa Eclipse: Sanitizes hot tubs up to 500 gallons. Chip-based CD ozonator with 35 mg/hr output. Visible ozone monitor and available in dual voltage (110V/220V) model.

MCD-50: Sanitizes hot tubs up to 1000 gallons. Sealed electrode CD ozonator capable of 50 mg/hr ozone output, typically capable of 5 years life before refurbishment or replacement.

Other manufacturers may have similar models.

Circulation Pump Operation is the Wild Card

Here’s the new stuff. The ozonator is working ONLY when the circulation pump is running. That’s because the ozone is drawn into the water circulation by a vacuum created at the point of injection by the injector device. At this point, the ozone is dissolved in the water and is an effective disinfectant.

The key thing here is that the vacuum is created when the pump pushes water through the injector under pressure. No pump action, no ozone.

So it’s easy to see that the timing and duration of your pump cycles makes a difference in the amount of sanitation and disinfection your ozonator is capable of producing. In today’s energy-efficiency environment, you may have reduced your pump cycles to save money and energy, but in the process you may have reduced your sanitation to the hot tub as well. You can compensate for this by adding more chemicals, but that defeats the purpose of having a simple, effective, low-chemical sanitation regime for your hot tub.

Design Your Pump Cycle to Optimize Sanitation

Instead of reverting to chemicals, here’s a couple suggestions for getting more sanitation out of your ozonator.

Run the pump (and therefore the ozonator) at least 6 hours per day. Pumping water through the circulation system this long is the basic turnover required to get the water in contact with ozone. In addition, it will ensure that the water flows through the filtration system enough to help maintain water clarity.

On older tubs with 24/7 low-speed pumps, make sure the ozonator is connected to this circulation line and that the injector is effective with the water volume flowing through the injector. If the ozone is being dissolved into the water stream at this lower speed, the sanitation is optimal.

Of course, there’s always another way to use the pump more. Get in the hot tub often!

Ozone Interactions with Alternative Sanitizers

April 13th, 2011

Ozone is safe to use with several popular alternative sanitizers, although there are a couple exceptions. In fact, a combination of ozone as the primary sanitizer with a small amount of a suitable alternative sanitizer to keep a residual in the hot tub at all times is our recommended method for hot tub sanitation.

A Summary of Ozone – Alternative Interactions

The following chart summarizes how ozone interacts with some popular alternative sanitizers.

Comparison of Ozone versus Other Sanitizers
Sanitizer Compatible with
Harmful byproducts
with Ozone?
Chlorine Yes No Use as secondary sanitation
supplement at low level
Bromine No Yes Do not use with Ozone
Biguanides No* No Avoid biguanides
Minerals (e.g., Nature
2, Frog)
Yes No May use as secondary
sanitation with Ozone
Ionizers Yes No May use as secondary
sanitation with Ozone

Alternative Sanitizers Details

Every alternative has pros and cons.  We have looked at all of them closely, and here’s our summary of how each works as a sanitizer, especially as a secondary sanitation supplement to ozone.

Chlorine. This is the traditional foundation for most peoples’ hot tub sanitation routines.  Chlorine is a low-cost, well-known and widely available alternative that is a bactericide and a low-level oxidizer.  However, it must be maintained at the proper level (free available chlorine of about 2 ppm in hot tub water) to be effective, and it is easy for chlorine maintenance programs to get out of balance.  Using chlorine as a supplement to ozone by keeping a lower level of chlorine (about .5 to 1 ppm) in the hot tub will make the maintenance routine much simpler and more effective.

Bromine.  Bromine and ozone can interact to create bromates, a known carcinogen. WE do not recommend using bromine with ozone.

*Biguanides.  Sometimes called PHMB, biguanides like Baquacil, Baqua-Spa and Soft Swim are popular alternatives to chlorine and bromine because they do kill bacteria without the chlorine smell and feel. However, they also cause foaming continuously, fail to oxidize organic matter in the spa (people usually use hydrogen peroxide in addition), and worst of all, over time use of biguanides is known to promote biguanide-resistant organisms.  We also recommend avoiding chlorine or bromine with this product.

Note that in the past some experts suggested that ozone could be used in conjunction with biguanides. More recently, others have indicated that ozone is incompatible with biguanides.  We recommend staying away from it because there are better alternatives available.

Minerals. Products like Nature2 and Frog introduce ions of copper, silver and/or zinc into the spa water. These bactericides and algaecides are effective alternatives to chlorine, and do not produce the negative effects of high chlorine concentrations. However, unlike ozone, they do not oxidize organic matter in the pool (lotions, makeup, perspiration, urine), so they need a supplementary oxidizer.  A sufficiently strong ozone system can serve as the primary sanitizer/oxidizer with these products, allowing the use of the minerals at a low level that will certainly avoid the side effects of minerals, including the staining caused by excess mineral concentrations.

Ionizers.  These are very similar in chemistry to the mineral products, except they introduce the copper and/or silver ions by means of electrolysis. They can be used in conjunction with ozone, but there are easier and more effective alternatives that avoid the electrical power drain to achieve the same ends.

Ozone is the Superior Spa Sanitizer

The broad-spectrum impact of spa ozonation in killing dangerous microorganisms, oxidizing organic waste, and reducing the need for chemicals cannot be beat. A properly sized and installed ozone generator should be the foundation of your spa or hot tub sanitation/oxidation program.

Are You Alone in Your Hot Tub?

April 13th, 2011

We don’t mean, are you sharing your spa with a friend. We mean that there are dangerous chlorine-resistant microorganisms that can invade spa water under some circumstances. As unusual as this may be, you need to be aware of the threats, and what you can do to prevent the threat.

Tests have found that chlorine in swimming pools works so slowly against Cryptosporidium parvum, for example, that it is not considered an effective disinfectant in that case. The Center for Disease Control is actually in the process of developing guidelines called the Model Aquatic Health Code to address this kind of chlorine failure in public swimming venues.

However, we think you need to know that under some circumstances, these dangerous ‘bugs’ might infect your spa. In this post, we want to introduce you to the parasite Giardia.

Giardia lamblia – An Unwelcome Guest

Like crypto, giardia is a microscopic parasite whose spores, which live in the intestines and are passed in fecal matter, can infect humans. The resulting disease, called giardiasis, is a diarrheal illness accompanied by diarrhea, abdominal cramps, dehydration and other unpleasant symptoms. Giardia may be present in untreated or undertreated water of all kinds, from natural streams to pools or hot tubs.

Causes of Giardiasis

The proximate cause of giardiasis is when the giardia cysts are present in fecal matter polluting the water body and swallowed by a bather. We understand that this sequence is very unlikely to occur in your hot tub, but there are some unusual circumstances where it might occur. Here’s a statement from the California Department of Public Health about sources:

Persons at increased risk for giardiasis include children and staff in day care centers, international travelers, hikers, campers, swimmers, and others who drink or accidentally swallow water from contaminated sources. Persons who have unprotected anal sex are also at increased risk of contracting giardiasis.

Lots of families love to share their hot tub. If they happen to have a baby or young child in diapers, for example, they may be more at risk of giardia infections.

Ozone Kills Giardia Better than Chlorine

Even though the risk is very small, the fact is that hot tub owners can get better protection against giardia with ozone than with chlorine. Again, from the CA Department of Public Health (same page):

Anyone with giardiasis should avoid swimming pools. Giardia cysts are resistant to chlorine levels used in swimming pools and are passed in the stools of infected people for several weeks, even after they no longer have symptoms.

Keep that ozonator working properly on your hot tub.

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