Enzyme-based chemicals offer many unique benefits to hot tub, pool and swim spa owners. There is also a lot of misinformation about them on the internet, however. Today, we will explore what enzymes are, how they can improve your water quality, and dispel a couple of myths about them.

What Are Enzymes?

Enzymes are protein molecules that sometimes referred to as “biological catalyzers”. This means that they are capable of causing or accelerating a chemical reaction without actually taking part in the process. In more straightforward terms, enzyme based chemicals can affect other molecules without changing themselves. By not changing themselves, enzymes are able to continue working over a long period of time, as opposed to more “one-time use” chemicals like shock that do their job and quickly dissipate.

How Do Enzymes Work In Hot Tubs & Pools?

Enzyme based chemicals for hot tubs, pools and swim spas are designed to target non-living organic matter (commonly body oils and lotions) present in water and break them down into smaller molecules. These smaller molecules are then easier for sanitizing chemicals (chlorine or bromine) to break down and remove.

What Benefits Do Enzymes Provide To Hot Tub & Pool Owners?

Your Sanitizing Chemicals Work More Effectively

Most people are interested in reducing the amount of chemicals that they use in their hot tub or pool so that they can achieve a more “natural” feel to their water. There are two ways to do this:

  • Keep your water balanced.
  • Keep your sanitizer level as low as you safely can.

While keeping your water balanced is relatively straightforward (check out our water testing blog for more info), maintaining a consistently low sanitizer level can be tricky, especially in pools. If your sanitizer level becomes too low, bacteria will begin to build up in the water. Bacteria buildup can cause a whole host of water quality issues while also potentially making the water unsafe to be in.

Pools are especially susceptible to changes in sanitizer usage as they are more directly exposed to the Sun and changes in temperature. The warmer and more sunny it is, the more sanitizer is used up and the more bacteria are able to grow. This becomes a problem when trying to maintain a lower level of sanitizer as one hot, sunny day can erase your entire sanitizer residual.

Enzymes help you safely maintain a lower level of sanitizer by breaking down organic matter in your pool or hot tub water so that it can be more easily removed. The easier it is for your sanitizer to remove contaminants in the water, the less sanitizer you will actually need to remove them. This leaves a higher percentage of your sanitizer “active” in the water and means that you don’t need to add as much in order to maintain clean and clear water.

Enzymes Help To Prevent Foamy Water In Hot Tubs & Swim Spas

Some non-living organic materials, such as body oils, can also make your hot tub or swim spa water foam excessively. As air is added to the water these materials form bubbles on the surface of the hot tub. If there is enough organic materials in the water, the bubbles will build up on one another, causing foam.

Anti-foam chemicals temporarily remove this foam build-up by reducing the surface tension in the water to a point where bubbles can’t easily form. They don’t fix the underlying problem, however. The only way to reliably prevent foamy water in hot tubs and swim spas is to remove the organic materials in the water that are creating the foam in the first place. Enzyme products allow your sanitizing chemicals to more easily break down these organic materials, leaving fewer available to create foam.

Other Benefits Of Using Enzymes In Your Pool, Swim Spa Or Hot Tub

There are a few other knock-on effects of using enzyme based chemicals. These benefits include:

  • Clearer water. By freeing up more of your sanitizer to do its job of removing bacteria and other organic materials from the water, enzymes will have your water looking clearer than ever before.
  • Odour elimination. Hot tub and swim spa water can develop a certain smell over time. This smell is usually caused from a combination of bacteria build up and “used up” sanitizer. Using enzymes will help to reduce both of these.
  • Removing “water line ring”. If you look at the water line of some hot tubs and swim spas you will see a slight (or sometimes not so slight) buildup of oils and lotions. Regularly adding enzymes to your water will help to remove these materials from the water before they have a chance to build up on the shell of the hot tub or swim spa.

Note: Non-living organic materials will also commonly cause an oily buildup to form around the waterline on pool liners. Enzymes will help to prevent these rings from forming, though if you have one already you will first need to scrub it off using a vinyl liner cleaner.

What Can’t Hot Tub Enzymes Do?

When enzyme based chemicals were first introduced, they were (and sometimes still are) sold as a “cure-all” type product. Customers were told that all you needed to is add enzyme products to the water and everything would take care of itself. This is not the case however. For starters, enzymes do not help to keep the water balanced. Unbalanced water can lead to a variety of issues; from cloudy water, to irritated eyes, to a reduced lifespan for your pumps and heaters. To keep your water balanced you do need to still regularly test the water and add balancing chemicals to it as needed.

Enzymes also cannot sanitize the water on their own. While enzymes are able to destroy or decompose some organic molecules, they cannot kill living organisms like bacteria. In fact, enzyme based chemicals have been specifically designed to not adversely affect living organisms (like humans). In order to keep the water clean and safe to use you will still need to regularly add either bromine or chlorine to your pool, hot tub or swim spa.

Wrapping Up

Enzyme based chemicals have become increasingly popular with pool, hot tub and swim spa owners in recent years. While they are not the all in one solution that they were initially marketed as, enzymes can help to improve your bathing experience in a number of ways. For more information on enzymes and how they can help you improve the look and feel of your water, contact one of our water care professionals.

Orleans Hot Tubs & Pools

We specialize in the sale of Hydropool hot tubs & swim spas for Central/East Ottawa, specifically Orléans and parts of Eastern Ontario. We carry a variety of water care products and specialize in water testing.


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860 Taylor Creek Drive
Orleans, ON
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