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Soft Soak, Baqua Spa & Biguanides

Question:
We have been using the SpaGuard Soft Soak system for a short period of time. The problem that we are having is that our spa has been plagued with this stick film (tar like) that appears shortly after we start the spa. I have been trying to solve this problem. It is so bad that I have drained the spa, scrubbed it out flushed and restarted only to have the same all over again.
 
Can you tell me way we are having this happen? And if so how can we stop it from happening again?

Response:
The gooey substance that you refer to can indeed happen. We have found that it occurs because of the following:

1. Soft Soak Spa Conditioner is not used at start up.
2.  Too much Sanitizer is being used.  Maintain the Sanitizer level at no higher than 30 ppm & top up only to 30 ppm.
3.  In connection with the statement above, do you have the correct gallonage of the spa in mind?  You could be inadvertently adding too much sanitizer.

Once you get those things under control, you shouldn't have any further problems. 

Question:
We live on a small lake and are considering putting in a hot tub.  But we’re concerned about draining hot tub water because it will ultimately end up in the lake.  We can’t drain into a sewer because we’re on a septic system.  We’re hoping that by using a non-chlorine, non-bromine product line like Soft Soak that we might avoid any environmental damage, but aren’t sure about this.  Can you help us with any info along these lines?

Response:
Soft Soak would be a good choice.  Follow our recommendations by keeping the sanitizer level low.  If you have added concerns, you could add several inches of fresh water before draining the tub & changing the water, this will dilute down the chemicals.

 

Question:
I have recently joined a rehab pool/spa that uses the biguanide. 

I just found out that there may be a chance I'm pregnant.  Have there been any studies about this with pregnant women?  I don't want to take any chances with this baby.

Response:
Biguanides have been used in swimming pools since the early 1980's.  In the early 1990's, Baqua Spa was brought out for spas.  SpaGuard Soft Soak followed a couple of years later.  It's a good, stable sanitizer especially in hot water environments.

Biguanides originally were developed in the late 1940's & early 1950's as the main active root ingredient in surgical scrubs such as hibistat & hibiclens.  Biguanides are very good algistats and sanitizers; however they do need a good oxidizer when used in pool & spa situations - and therefore use hydrogen peroxide as the oxidizer of choice.  Biguanides are "gentle" on hair & skin.  Like any spa or pool sanitizer they are not meant to be ingested.

Back to your pregnancy & the therapy pool.  The concern is & always has been the temperature of the water.  Prolonged soaking in hot water (especially over 97 degrees) raises blood pressure as well as YOUR core temperature.  Even non-pregnant people need to be aware of long they soak (usually not more than 20 minutes at a time with "cool-off" periods in between).  Double check with your doctor & get his advice  

 

Question:
How do increase the pH of my spa water? Is there a soft soak product that could do this for me?

Response:

To adjust the pH of the water in spas using Soft Soak, use SpaGuard pH increaser or decreaser.
The SpaGuard balancing chemicals are all compatible with Soft Soak which is also a SpaGuard product.

 

Question:
I started using soft soak chemicals about 5 months ago after nine years of bromine. I use an ozonator. I like your system/products much better-- no smell or itchy skin. However, for the last 3 months I see a gummy, waxy, brown ring around the water line. It is very sticky and will clog a brush when I clean it off. The brush can not be cleaned off with normal household cleaners. I am the only one to use the hot tub and it gets about 3 uses per week. I try to test the tub and add product about 3 times per month. Do you think I am getting a reaction from the residue of the old
chemicals I used as my repair technician who carries your line of products said my old filter etc would not work with your system?

Response:

Sorry to take s long to get back to you. A couple of things:

When was the spa last drained?  You could be almost ready for a water change.

Keep the sanitizer level at NO HIGHER than 30 ppm.  High levels of sanitizer (over 45 ppm) will be broken down by the ozonator & can result in a heavier waterline.  ONLY add when the level goes down to about 20 ppm.  Based on your usage, you probably don't need to add sanitizer more than once per month.  Shock & Stain Control should be added about every 10 days.

Using SpaGuard Natural Enzyme will help control the waterline builds up.  I doubt that the old chemicals would have a reaction this late in the game.  You would have noticed a reaction almost immediately.

Be sure to clean the filter with the Soft Soak Filter Cleaner about every 2 - 3 months

 

Question:
1st question: Do I need to wait to put my weekly SoftSoak products in (meaning put one product in at a time and wait 30 minutes before placing the next one) or can they all be poured in at one time?

2nd question: Periodically, we'll get a brown goopy substance around the waterline of the tub. Is that film from body lotion? Is it anything I should worry about?

Response:
1. Add the Shock & Stain/Scale, and then wait about 30 minutes before adding the Sanitizer. Only add enough Sanitizer to bring the level back up to 30 ppm. Bringing the Sanitizer up to 50 ppm will add to the stuff on the waterline.

2. The gummy stuff is a combination of lotions, excess Sanitizer & dirt. Be sure to shower prior to using the spa. Our customers have found that using SpaGuard Natural Enzyme helps further control the waterline AND helps keep the filter cleaner too.

When you drain & refill the spa, use Spa System Flush before draining.  It will help clear the lines.

 

Question:
We recently purchased a spa and are using the Baqua Spa products.  The 6 man, 91 x 91 Spa is in a 30 x 40 enclosed space.   We and others in the room are experiencing respiratory distress during the bathing experience.  Repeated test of the water shows that the levels are in the operable range.

Response:

Thank you for your question.  I would recommend 2 things.

1.  Make sure you have good ventilation.  Very important.  Even if you were to switch to a bromine or chlorine system, you may not eliminate the problem.  The room or enclosure need to be well ventilated.
2.  As with any biguanide system (Baqua Spa, Soft Soak, Leisure Time Free), maintaining the sanitizer level at the 30 ppm will result in good sanitizing abilities & in many cases, less fuming.

One last item to consider when you shock the spa & have the cover off is to be sure to open the window & doors allowing the oxidizing "stuff" to thoroughly gas off.

 

Question:
I have been using the Soft Soak chemicals in my hot tub ever since I filled it up probably about 6 months ago.  I am almost out of the Waterline Control & noticed you are replacing this with the Soft Soak Spa conditioner.  Due to the cold weather I really don’t want to drain my spa to add the new conditioner but I do want to keep the substance off of the waterline.  Can this conditioner be added to my water in the spa now without draining it may be monthly or when I see the substance around the rim?

Response:
After checking with SpaGuard, the new Spa Conditioner is meant to be used on a fresh fill.  Also, since your water is "old", it should be drained anyway. 

 

Question:
We have been using Baqua spa for many years.  For the past year we have been fighting white water mold.  We have super-chlorinated, drained, rinsed the spa and then started over with the biguanide program a couple of times.  I see that you now carry Soft Swim Assist, which claims to kill white water mold in pools.  Could I use this product in my Artic Spa hot tub?

Response:
Soft Swim Assist does kill White Water Mold (WWM) but is registered for pool use only.  I don't know what possible damage it could do to the spa plumbing & equipment.

Right off I would recommend doing a drain & refill.  Shock with Chlorine & maintain a chlorine level of 5.0 ppm for 3 days.  To prevent recurrences, use Spa System Flush or Swirl Away EVERY time you drain & refill.  This will help keep the lines clear of biofilm build up which leads to WWM.  There is also coming a new granular product to compete with Spa System Flush & Swirl Away that is producing slightly better results that will be available in March 2007.

Please keep in mind that White Water Mold is not strictly a biguanide problem.  We are seeing it regularly in chlorine & bromine.  WWM grows in the lines & filter system and can & is usually introduced through the tap water.

To answer your last question:  the two products are essentially the same.  BioLab, the maker of the SpaGuard Soft Soak products has been MUCH MORE aggressive in our education & actual treating of WWM, pink slime, etc.  There are some slight formulation differences, for example, the Baqua Spa product has the metal chelant built in to one its products whereas Soft Soak chooses to keep it as a stand alone product (SS Stain Control).

Question:

I use the Baqua chemicals and I now have a very strong chemical smell when I take the cover off. Any suggestions?

Response:

Strong chemical odor with Baqua Spa or any biguanide in a spa is usually caused by the sanitizer level being too high.  Although the good range is 30 - 50 ppm, we've found that a level of no more than 30 usually does the trick.  Actually, you have no more bacteria control at 50 than you do at 30.  We recommend that our customers wait until the sanitizer level drops BELOW 30 then top up only to 30.

Another trick (do this with ANY care system) is to make sure that you remove the cover & let it breath for a couple of minutes before getting into the spa. 

Here are a couple of more things to consider:
1. If the spa is 18 months old or older, make sure that you use Spa System Flush whenever you change the water.  The Flush will aid in cleaning out the biofilm that builds up in the piping over time. This happens or can occur in any spa system.
2.  Use a Natural Enzyme in the water on a regular basis or as part of your bi-weekly routine.  The Enzyme will "eat up" greases & oils that add to the bio-film build-up.  It will also help keep the filter cleaner as well.
3.  Be sure to chemically clean the filter on a regular basis.  Use the Baqua Spa filter cleaner or Soft Soak Filter Cleaner.  Theses products are specially formulated to break up the precipitate from the Sanitizer.

Question:

I have had a tiger river spa since July.  We have emptied, cleaned and refilled it every two months. I use soft soak products. My ph tends to be high. about 8.4 I use the ph decreaser.  My problem is when we run the jets it makes a person cough.  The cough goes away when you leave the spa or when the jets are not on.  Is there anything that can be added to the spa or should we switch to a different product.  Also, is there only one ph decreaser or are there other brands out there.  Any advice would be appreciated.

Response:

The coughing problem can usually be caused by a combination of a couple of factors.

1. High pH.  I know that it can sometimes be difficult, but do the best you can.  You may want to let the Total Alkalinity go down to about 100 ppm, rather than 125; that may help.  Remember to test the water only after the spa has NOT been operating for at least a couple of hours.  Bubbling/high speed jets can spike the carbon dioxide level up & drive the pH up with it.  pH over 8.0 can sometimes cause that "bad air" or sensitivity to it.

2. High sanitizer level.  Keep the Soft Soak sanitizer level at about 30 ppm.  Sometimes our customers have complained of similar situations when their sanitizer level is over 45 ppm.  Dropping it to 30 has done the trick.  Only add the sanitizer when the Sanitizer has dropped BELOW 30, then top up to ONLY 30.

3.  The combination of high pH & high Sanitizer will most definitely cause the coughing problem.  "Heavy" doses of chemicals (even chlorine or bromine) will be aerosolized when the jets and / or bubbles are ON.  As you breathe the vapors, they cause a reaction (coughing).

As far as pH decreaser is concerned, stay with using the SpaGuard brand.  When you get down to it, SpaGuard has the best quality of product (purity) & the cost is competitive.

Follow Up Question:

Thanks for your quick reply. How do I get the total alkalinity to go down to 100 ppm?  On my test strip it is very hard to tell what the alkalinity is because it looks more like a blue color on the strip rather than the green it shows on the bottle. What is the chemical that will bring down the alkalinity?  Thanks for all your help.

Follow Up Response:

SpaGuard pH Decreaser will lower the pH & the Total Alkalinity.  Use about a capful or 2 at a time, then retest in about 2 hours.

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