How Does Hot Tub Serum Compare?

This month I thought I would spend a bit of time comparing Serum to other products in the market. There are quite a few but none really do what Serum does, primarily because they do not kill the many pathogens that may be present in your hot tub. None of the others are EPA Registered either.

Essentially all the other products are water treatment products, but “treatment” is a rather vague word. It generally means it makes your spa water feel soft. If that is your goal, there are much less expensive ways to “make your water feel softer” and I might note that all salt-system spas have water that feels soft. It’s a side effect of the salt.

Let me also note that “Soft Water” is not the same as “water that feels soft”. Soft Water means most of the calcium has been removed but you don’t actually want Soft Water in a spa. Soft Water is mildly corrosive. Calcium in the range of 150 – 250 ppm is helpful to prevent damage to the metal elements of your spa.

One other thing – some water treatment products are enzymes. They will help break down biologic waste in your spa water. However, let me point out that this is what the three oxidizers (chlorine or bromine, ozone, and shock) in your spa also do.

That said, here is a summary with more information and hyperlinks below.

What is it? Approx. Annual Cost EPA Registered? SDS* Online?
Serum Total Maintenance Benzalkonium Chloride $360 Yes Yes
AquaFinesse Disodium Carbonate $600 No Yes
Silk Balance Sodium Carbonate $465 No Yes
Spa Marvel Enzymes $225 No No
Mineraluxe Disodium Carbonate $720 No No
SoftSkinSpa ??? $360 No No

*Safety Data Sheet

1. What is it?
– All Serum products are based on a chemical known as Benzalkonium Chloride or ADBAC. ADBAC is a sanitizer also found in products such as Bactine®, Lysol®, and hand sanitizers, though the concentration is much lower since these are not diluted in 300 – 500 gallons of spa water.
2. What does it claim to do?
– Total Maintenance will (1) Prevent biofilm in your spa, (2) Ensure spa water remains clear & safe by killing bacteria and other pathogens when primary sanitizer levels are too low, (3) Stabilize spa water pH, and (4) Prevent black mold from forming on the underside of spa covers.
3. What does it cost in a 400-gallon hot tub?
– Approx. $360 a year.
4. EPA Registration # 84409-2: Available here
5. Safety Data Sheet: Available here

1. What is it?
– Disodium Carbonate
2. What does it claim to do?
– “The AquaFinesse pioneering water treatment formula was produced to loosen the biofilm and prevent its re-growth.”
3. What does it cost in a 400-gallon hot tub?
– Approx. $600 a year
4. EPA Registration: No
5. Safety Data Sheet: Available here

1. What is it?
– Sodium Carbonate
2. What does it claim to do?
– “Softening the water for a more enjoyable bathing experience”
– “Conditioning the water, no matter what sanitizer you use (salt, chlorine, bromine, etc.)”
3. What does it cost in a 400-gallon hot tub?
– $465 a year.
4. EPA Registration: No
5. Safety Data Sheet: Available here

1. What is it?
– Enzymes
2. What does it claim to do?
– “the enzymes in Spa Marvel Hot Tub Treatment & Conditioner help to remove the food (organic matter) necessary for bacteria to live”
3. What does it cost in a 400-gallon hot tub?
– $225 a year
4. EPA Registration:   No
5. Safety Data Sheet:  Not Available

1. What is it?
– Disodium Carbonate
2. What does it claim to do?
= “Mineraluxe is able to work its way into existing scale and biofilm formations, lifting them from surfaces where they are then filtered out”
3. What does it cost in a 400-gallon hot tub?
– $720 a year
4. EPA Registration:  No
5. Safety Data Sheet:  Not Available

1. What is it?
– Without a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), it’s hard to say.
2. What does it claim to do?
– “SoftSkinSpa™ gives the feeling of Softness, Protection & Balance to your hot tub water.”
3. What does it cost in a 400-gallon hot tub?
– Approx. $360 a year
4. EPA Registration: No
5. Safety Data Sheet: Not Available

Thanks for reading,
Tony Turbo

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