What Causes Hot Tub Foam?

Foam can often be mistaken as friendly hot tub bubbles, but in reality, it is associated with the water’s cleanliness. Have you ever looked at your foam in your hot tub and wondered what could be causing it? Hot tub foam is a common experience with all hot tub owners and can be caused by several factors. Although not a serious problem, excess foam can become an unpleasant sight

From shampoos and body oils, to detergent residue and soaps, there could be plenty of resources as to why your hot tub water looks foamy. The appearance of foam in your hot tub’s water may also be varied. Sometimes it is patches of foam here and there, and other times the water might look too milky. Read on to know what could be causing the water in your hot tub to become foamy and what you can do about it!

The Chemistry Behind Foamy Water

In order to understand what are the causes of foamy water, it is essential to know what is the science behind this foam. Foam is caused by the build-up of Total Dissolved Solids or TDS. These TDS float at the surface of the water in a hot tub along with the air bubbles created by either the blowers or the jets of the hot tub. Thus, the foam is basically TDS plus air bubbles floating on the surface of the hot tub’s water.

In short, the foam is the unwanted contaminants in the water that not dissolvable and thus come up to the surface of the water along with air bubbles. These solids can enter the water from various sources and can remain partially dissolved until the water is cleared. In a span of a week or month, the water can get saturated from the accumulated solids and as a result, the water starts to create foam on the surface. When the water reaches its true saturation point, it starts becoming milky or cloudy in appearance.

Causes of Foamy Water

Amongst the various factors that contribute towards foamy water, a chemical imbalance in the hot tub’s water is the most commonly found trigger. When chemicals in the water are disproportional, excess foam is produced. In the long run, a chemical imbalance can also lead to discoloration of the hot tub’s surface.

Another cause of foamy water is low calcium levels. When the amount of calcium in a hot tub’s water is low, the surface tension decreases thus leading to the lathering of water. Low calcium hardness can also cause damage to the different parts of the hot tub.

Foamy water can also be caused due to beauty products that are applied externally on hair, body, and face. Products like body lotions, body oils, hair serums, hair oil, makeup, etc. can contaminate the water and lead to the formation of foam. These chemicals tend to build up and accumulate in the water until it is saturated and thus lead to the production of foam in the water.

There are several other factors that contribute to the formation of foam. The body secretes sweat and sebum which can mix in the hot tub water while you are soaking. Sometimes our clothes can also contribute to foam production. Soap residue and fabric softener from clothes have a high chance of getting mixed in the hot tub’s water. Another contributor to foam is sunscreen. Even though these factors are microscopic in nature, they have the capacity to saturate the water and produce foam on the surface of the hot tub over time.

Getting Rid of Existing Foam

Once you find that the foam in your hot tub has reached a point where it has to be treated, start by assessing the quality of the water. TDS, pH levels, sanitizer levels, acidity, alkalinity are the various factors that need to be first assessed. While the best solution to get rid of foam is to empty the hot tub and fill in new water, there are also many products available in the market that can help dissolve the foam.

Clarifiers work well by clumping the foam together so that it can be filtered away. Sanitizing the water with excess chlorine, also called as a shock, is a popular method of ridding off foam. It is important to make sure to run the jets with the hot tub cover half open while performing a shock so that the excess gas can get released quickly. Anti-foam or de-foamer chemicals like BioGuard Anti-foam help in dissolving the foam.

The most commonly used remedy is to scoop out the foam from the hot tub manually. Although this is not a very practical solution, it does help in temporarily fixing the issue. If after trying all these methods you still notice a significant amount of foam in the hot tub, the best thing you could do is empty the tub and refill it, but with anti-foaming agents this time.

Preventing Foam From Reoccuring

An easy way of preventing foam from accumulating is to shower before you enter the hot tub. This will ensure that any sweat, sebum, body care products, etc. get rinsed off. Rinsing your hair is also a good way of preventing hair care products from entering the pool. Rinsing swimsuits and bathing clothes before you wear them to the hot tub is a good way of avoiding the fabric softener or detergent residues from building up in your hot tub.

If you really wish to spend ample time in the hot tub, make sure you are using a shower cap or baseball cap to avoid hair care products from entering the water. Do not invest in cheap hot tub chemicals as they don’t help in the maintenance of the quality of the water. Avoid taking drinks to the hot tub as there are high chances of them getting spilled in the water. It is also best to minimize the times of eating at the hot tub by making use of floating bars.

Drain and clean the hot tub every there to four months. This will ensure that no dirt or debris gets accumulated. It is also equally important to clean the filters thoroughly as the filter system helps in filtering out excess dirt from the water. Alternatively, you can add scumballs in the cartridge of the filter and it will suck in all the dirt and debris that could create foam in the water.

Keep a strict maintenance schedule for the hot tub. This should include changing the water, replacing the filter, checking pH level, checking calcium hardness, checking chlorine levels, assessing sanitizer levels, etc. Regularly shocking the water also helps in clearing away dirt and dust. Allow the water to breathe by removing hot tub cover occasionally.

In conclusion, prevention is always better than cure, even in the matter of foamy hot tub water. Foamy water is not only an issue about water quality, but it also indicates the build-up of bacteria. It is very easy to prevent foam from producing in the first place by simple precautions like balancing the water chemistry and using shock treatment regularly. A proper maintenance schedule will ensure a foam-free hot tub experience for longer periods of time.