The hot tub experience is about taking some time to focus on yourself. It’s about reducing stress and bringing an element of ‘zen’ in your life- even if it is for only 20 minutes! Aromatherapy fits perfectly with this narrative, and in this article, I will discuss the do’s and don’t of hot tub aromatherapy and briefly explore some of the claims made by some of the products on the market!!
I have not had great success with adding aroma products to my hot tub. Any smell did not last for very long, and I had to use a lot of the product which can harm the water quality. I know, most hot tub specific products claim, it will not affect the water chemistry, but later in this article, I will explain why that is not the whole picture.
Using essential oils not designed for your hot tub is dangerous!
Only use products that are specifically created for hot tub or spa use. I have seen and read so many articles saying that a few drops of essential oils are safe for hot tub use, which could not be further from the truth. Adding scented oils and contaminates to a hot tub will affect the ability of the filter to remove macroscopic contamination and it will also have a detrimental effect on the sanitation chemical you are using. If you are using a mineral sanitiser like spa-frog, it will reduce this product’s effectiveness as well. I know I sound like I am ranting but using bogus hot tub essential oils or products puts you and your family’s safety at risk – Don’t do it!!
Health benefits of hot tub aromatherapy
Advocates of aromatherapy believe in its healing powers, and I do not want to upset any aromatherapists who read this article. With my medical background, I struggle to find concrete evidence to support aromatherapy as a treatment for clinical conditions. I do however agree that there may be benefits of aromatherapy as a complementary therapy, and not as a substitute for a doctor approved treatment plan.
For more information on the health benefits of aromatherapy, you can always check out the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.
Some hot tub aromatherapy products make some outrageous health claims!
Just because the claims are wild, does not mean that we shouldn’t use them; we just need to understand that they are unlikely to reduce your cellulite, reduce the build-up of toxins or help with respiratory ailments! If they could do these things, then everybody would be using them daily, and all my colleagues at the hospital would be out of a job!
I think they get away with these claims as they use language that is vague enough, that it would stand-up in a court of law. There is one company, and I am not going to call them out here (although I want to) who advertise their product next to a doctors stethoscope to try and add medical legitimacy for their product – this really should not be allowed…
Spa crystals or granules
These can be added directly into the hot tub, and they dissolve very quickly. I have found that they add minimal scent, and I wasn’t sure if this was because I was in the hot tub and got used to the smell, so I did a little experiment. I added the granules to my hot tub and left it for 10 min with the lid up. Unfortunately, when I came back, the scent had gone. To get a strong smell I had to add a lot of the aroma crystals, and I do not like doing this.
Adding aromatherapy granules adds to the total dissolved solids (TDS).
Total dissolved solids are anything that dissolves in the hot tub water that is not removed by the filters. Understanding the effect of total dissolved solids is vital because once they reach a threshold, the sanitiser chemical you use becomes less effective. This build-up is the reason we perform a water change every three months as part of our hot tub maintenance.
In other articles, I have told you that after a hot tub party, I always perform a full or partial water change because I know that the increased use by so many people will have added copious amounts of dissolvable solids that will need removing.
So, adding half the container of aromatherapy granules will increase the total dissolvable solids and will, therefore, require us to change the water more frequently to keep the water quality safe.
Hot tub aroma liquids and elixirs
I have had more success using hot tub liquids and elixirs. The aroma lasted longer, and I could smell them on my skin afterwards, albeit a very subtle smell. My theory is, the product stays nearer the surface of the hot tub, so when the jets make aerosols, the scent is gently lifted towards your nose.
A couple of the products I tested said they were useful for covering up the smell of the hot tub – a pungent hot tub is a sign something is very wrong, so I would not recommend using the scents to do this!!
Using aromatherapy products to cover-up a bad smelling hot tub is a stupid idea!
A well-maintained hot tub should not give off an unpleasant odour. If it smells stagnant or like dirty socks, then the water is not balanced, and you should not use it. A poor smelling hot tub is an indication that the chemical sanitation levels are not maintained and therefore harmful bacteria may be growing in the hot tub and the hot tub pipes. Gross!
Depending on the sanitation chemicals used, you may be able to smell them (or their byproducts), but this smell should not be significant. If there is a strong ‘public swimming pool smell’ then the hot tub may have a high concentration of contaminants that are making the chlorine work overtime! Not a problem directly but maintaining a constant safe level of sanitiser will be difficult which may allow bacteria to grow.
Built-in spa aromatherapy
Some hot tubs come with built-in aromatherapy. My hot tubs have never had this, but essentially this feature scents the air before it is pumped through the jets. This system is a smart solution because you are not adding additional dissolvable solids into the hot tub. If anyone has experience of using this feature, please let us all know in the comments below.
Which fragranced aromatherapy products are best for hot tub use?
There are many brands of scents and aromatherapy products on the market. Their claims and price vary considerably, but they all add a smell to your hot tub. There has not been one product that has stood out, and it is impossible to tell which product adds more dissolvable solids.
I would, therefore, recommend you use one of the two market leaders in hot tub fragrance aromatherapy.
inSPAration offer a vast range of scents to suit everyone’s taste, from cucumber-melon to more traditional scents like lavender and eucalyptus. I particularly like the ‘candy jar aromatherapy fragrance assortment.’ It contains 50 individual pillows, so you can choose whatever scent takes your fancy at that moment.
Another top-rated company is Spazazz. Their range of scents is on another level. My favourite ‘flavour’ is called seduction. The crystals are fiery red, so I was expecting a sweet strawberry smell, but the aroma is more sandalwood and quite complex.
How often can you use aromatherapy products in your hot tub?
You can use aromatherapy in your hot tub as often as you wish but remember that it will be adding to your total dissolved solids. So, if you use the scents every day, then you will need to think about changing the water monthly as opposed to every three months.
Can I test my total dissolved solid level?
Yes, you can, but this will not give you the whole picture as some of the TDS will be from the sanitiser and other hot tub chemicals. The best use of your time will be to concentrate on the pH and sanitiser levels of the water. When you are struggling to keep these consistent even after shocking the hot tub, it’s time to change the water.
Alternatives to putting fragrance in the water?
You can always try scented candles or incense burners, but if there is any breeze, then these will not produce the results you are looking to get. Many diffusers need electrical power, and this could be dangerous near your hot tub, and diffusers also have the same problem if the wind is not directing the smell toward you.
Homemade solution – are you kidding?
I have found a great website that shows you how to make a simple outdoor essential oil diffuser. It is cheap to make, and the concept is excellent. What’s more, you will be using real essential oils which are more likely to provide a genuine aromatherapy experience. When the weather improves I am going to make one, and I might even post a picture on Instagram! Let me know if this worked for you in the comments. For details on how to make this visit diffuseressentials.com
I hope this has helped. As always, if you have any questions feel free to reach out!!
Have a great hot tub day