Why use a Hot Tub Test Strip.
Test strips are essential tools in helping you keep your hot tub clean and safe. Without them your hot tub’s beautiful clean water could easily become a dark green nightmare.
With out using a test strip, you can not get your chlorine or bromine levels correct. Chlorine and bromine are sanitizers that are responsible for keeping your spa or hot tub clean and safe. Equally as important is balancing the pH and alkalinity levels. These levels are critical to allowing the sanitizer effectively do its job.
Hot Tub Test Strips are very accurate and are an easier alternative to using liquid test kits commonly used for testing pools.
Are All Test Strips the Same?
No. There are many different types of test strips that are capable of testing different things. For example in the Hot Spring Spas Spas Saltwater System there is a standard Freshwater 5-Way Test Strip that measures Bromine, Chlorine, Alkalinity, pH, and Total Hardness and another test strip, the Salt Test Strip, that measures only the amount of salt in the water. There are also special MPS Test Strips that measure MPS (oxidizer), pH, and Alkalinity.
So What Test Strips Should I Use?
With that being said most of the test strips mentioned above are used for special cases. Because the Freshwater Chemical System is specifically designed for the Hot Spring Spas Limelight and Highlife models and because it is tied to your warranty, you should use that system. For any spas other than a Hot Spring Spa Models the Brilliance for Spas 5-Way Test Strips are accurate and are a great choice.
What Should I Look For On A Test Strip?
At a minimum your test strips should show you your sanitizer levels (bromine or chlorine) and test for pH and Alkalinity. These are the three most important measurements and must be checked on all hot tubs. For more information on pH and alkalinity click here.
Three Things every Spa or Hot Tub Owner needs on a test strip.
- Sanitizer (chlorine or bromine)
- Some test strips will show both bromine and chlorine. Only read the pad for the sanitizer you are using.
Other useful test strip measurements.
Calcium Hardness is also a useful thing to test for for all spa owners. Knowing your calcium hardness levels helps you know when its time to change your hot tub water when the levels get high.
Is there a recommended test strip for most spas?
A 5-way test strip that measures Sanitizer, pH, and Alkalinity will work for all hot tubs. Other test strips are used for specialty systems such as those mentioned above for the Hot Spring Spas Freshwater Salt System.
How To Use a Hot Tub Test Strip.
When testing, the water should be as still as possible. Turn off the pumps and jets and let the water settle as much as possible before testing the water.
To use a test strip hold it by the bottom of the strip. On the test strip will be a number of pads that are used to test various things in the spa water, beneath that is a long section of empty test strip. The empty part of the test strip is the bottom. As shown in the image below.
Testing – Step 1
Gently dip the test strip in the water about wrist deep. Hold the test strip beneath the water for a certain amount of time. The amount of time will depend upon the test strip. The amount of time is listed on the side of the bottle. In the example below of Brilliance for Spas 5-Way Test Strips the strip should be held under the water for 1 or 2 seconds. Do not swirl the test strip while in the water. Put the test strip straight in, wait the required amount of time (15 Seconds in this example), and then remove it from the water.
Testing – Step 2
Hold the test strip level with the ground with the pads facing up. In the example of the Brilliance test strips below wait 15 seconds for the excess water to drain off, then compare it to the side of the bottle. The next section covers how to read the test strip.
How to Read a Hot Tub Test Strip.
After removing the test strip from the water hold it up to the bottle and compare the colors on the test strip pads to the colors on the chart located on the back of the bottle.
Below on the left is an image of how the chart would look if flattened out. It shows an “ok” range which for each thing that it can test for. These are the gold standard ranges that you should try to achieve.
The top pad should be compared to the first item on the chart. Using the examples below the top pad relates to the total bromine level. The order of things measured will vary for each type of test strip.
On most test strips you will see pads for testing bromine and chlorine. If you are using chlorine in your spa ignore the bromine pad. If you are using bromine in your spa ignore the chlorine pad.
Ideal Ranges for Test Strip Measurments
The chart on the back of the bottle should have an “ok” range for each reading. You should try to adjust each level to be inside that range. For a reference these are the ideal levels for each of the most important measurements.
- Total Hardness: 200 – 400 ppm (Unless its a salt water spa)
- pH: 7.2 – 7.8
- Alkalinity: 80 -120 ppm
- Bromine: 2 – 4 ppm
- Chlorine: 3 – 5 ppm
Saltwater Test Strips
Saltwater Test Strips are used only in hot tubs that are designed to run a salt system. A Salt system is an alternative adding chlorine to your hot tub manually.
Salt Water Test Strips work the same as any other test strip with the exception they only test for how much salt is in the water. Dip the test strip into the water for 2 seconds, do not swirl it, and remove it from the water. Hold the test strip level for 20 seconds (do not flick the water off) and compare it to the chart on the back of the bottle.
Salt Target Range: 1500-2000 ppm
Tips for Best Results.
- Always dry your hands before removing test strips from the bottle.
- Replace and tighten the lid immediately after removing a strip to help
keep the rest fresh.
How to Store Hot Tub Test Strips.
As these test strips are used for testing water, they should be kept in a cool, dry place so they don’t become destroyed by being exposed to water prior to using them. Also make sure to leave the drying packet in the bottle to absorb excess moisture.
Do Hot Tub Test Strips Expire?
Yes, hot tub test strips do expire and should be replaced periodically. The bottle should be stamped with a date either on the bottom or the side. After that date the test strips will start to loose their accuracy and should be replaced.
Can I Use Chlorine Test Strips for Bromine?
In short No.
Chlorine and Bromine are two different elements on the periodic table and require different test strips.
Most hot tub test strips will test for both bromine and chlorine with a different pad on the test strip for chlorine and bromine. Test strip pads are calibrated to be accurate and to be able to test for certain things and should be only used for what they are intended for.
Why does my test strip show some chlorine when I add bromine to the water? Some chlorine will show on the chlorine pad of a test strip when you add bromine to a spa. This is because there is a small amount of chlorine in most hot tub bromine products.