enzymes in spas

The quick answer is that enzymes are an important additive to spa water to help keep it clean, clear, and fresh and safer by allowing sanitizers to work easier and faster.

Enzymes are biological catalyzers, capable of causing (or accelerating) a chemical reaction without altering the change itself.  They are proteins that, when paired with other chemicals, such as sanitizers, can keep the spa clean. 

Enzymes are protein molecules making specific chemical reactions proceed and not being destroyed, in the process. Many enzyme products can work in conjunction with sanitizers. As enzymes carry a positive charge, they bind to oil, organic particles, and unwanted byproducts in your spa and hot tub, and dissolve them away to be filtered out of the water.

Enzymes can destroy or decompose organic molecules, but they do not adversely affect living organisms. To do otherwise, would expose bathers to irritation and sensitivity reactions. Enzymes are not sanitizers or disinfectants. They don’t kill bacteria, mold, fungus, yeast, single-celled microorganisms or anything living in your spa water, pipes or filter. If well-chosen, they don’t seem to affect or irritate the bathers and help improve the spa experience.

Why use enzyme treatments in a hot tub?

The primary use is to keep the water safe and clean. Since most of the contaminants in spas originate from our own bodies. They fill up the water with grease and oils and form scum rings along the waterline of your spa. These buildups can often clog up your hot tub filters.

What do enzymes do in a spa?

Enzymes act aggressively upon non-living organic matter, decomposing contaminants into small molecules. The smaller molecules are more easily destroyed by chlorine or bromine. Organic wastes include a wide range of things, such as: sweat, body oils, saliva, mucous, dead skin, cosmetic residues, sunscreens, perfumes, hair, feces, urine, leaves and wind-blown debris. Some of these contaminants are readily destroyed, by normal levels of chlorine, while others may be slow to react or most likely deplete the chlorine or bromine efficacy levels.

In effect, the enzymes are making the task of sanitizing more effective. More of the chlorine or bromine is available to sanitize and protect against the microorganisms that cannot be killed by just an enzyme. By helping to degrade organic wastes, of all types, less chlorine or bromine is required to maintain a satisfactory sanitizing level. Enzymes cannot eliminate the need for chlorine or bromine, but they can contribute towards a reduced chemical presence. 

Chlorine and bromine act as oxidizing agents, as well as sanitizers. Organic wastes encountering enzymes will undergo decomposition leaving more and more chlorine or bromine  available, both to eliminate organics and sanitize.

Urine and other nitrogenous organic wastes deplete the free chlorine level very rapidly and increase the presence of combined chlorine or chloramines, which are odorous, irritating and ineffective as spa sanitizers. That unpleasant odor, sometimes associated with chlorine, is due to chloramines and not simply chlorine. The presence of enzymes reduces nitrogen, present in the urine, chloramine formation is reduced and the chlorine consumption is reduced. The more enzymes available  to decompose the nitrogenous organic wastes, the less the need to super-chlorinate. However, occasional shock treatments are recommended to help prevent the development of sanitizer-resistant microorganisms. 

Body oils and sunscreens tend to be water repellent while chlorine and bromine are water soluble. Body oils repel water resulting in less contact between wastes and the sanitizers. As the body oils are degraded by enzymes into smaller molecules, chlorine and bromine work better to eliminate them. Some enzymes have special surfactants or wetting agents to speed the action of the enzymes upon the organic wastes. 

Body oils form “soaps”, resulting from the reaction of the body oils and the natural alkalinity of the spa water. The bubbling water causes these “soaps” to start foaming. The foam is likely to have less sanitizer and support higher levels of microbial growth than the standing water. To assure proper sanitization, the water must be defoamed

on a regular basis. The enzyme product should contain a non-foaming agent to prevents the water from foaming and causing rings. The enzyme should keep more of the chlorine and bromine available for daily, routine sanitation.

Foam in a spa is not a good thing and should not be confused with a bubble bath. The product we recommend is C-SPA non-foaming spa enzymes.

Enzymes help preserve the chlorine or bromine, for actual sanitizing, so that less chemicals have to be added. The chemical savings are real, but the greater benefits are more efficient sanitation and a better hot water experience.

Organic waste products will be eliminated more efficiently, more chlorine or bromine will be kept available for actual sanitation work. Less chlorine or bromine will be required to maintain any given level, the odours associated with combined chlorine formation will be reduced and super-chlorination treatments will be required less often. Enzymes are cost-effective. They save on sanitizers and malodor. Most are proprietary formulations and there has to be brand to brand differences.

What are some other benefits of using enzymes for my pool?

Some critical benefits of enzyme use in your spa water include managing the chemical smells caused by traditional sanitizers. It also destroys irritants in the water that can cause eye or skin irritation. The water itself can also feel smoother on your skin, as enzymes break down minerals and prevents them from collecting along the waterline.