What Should A Hot Tub Test Strip Show?

What should a hot tub test strip show

To have a pleasant experience in a hot tub soaking, it is important to have clean water as well. By clean water, it doesn’t only mean visibly clean & fresh water, but the scientifically measured, standard presence of different ingredients within it. These ingredients are somewhat chemicals and if not in neutral level then they can cause the hot tub users with mild to severe health issues. That’s why we need to text hot tube water regularly. Now you may be wondering, how do I know if these ingredients are at standard level or not?

To resolve our confusion, a hot tub test strip works as a second-to-none option. As each of us is not a chemist, a hot tub strip simplifies the measurement of pH level, alkalinity, chlorine level, total hardness, and other metrics to provide easily understandable results. Our point of discussion of this article is to let you understand more briefly, what should a hot tub test strip show. Along with that, you will find understand what is a hot tub test strip, their types, what criteria’s they use to test the hot tub water, and lastly, how to use a hot tub test strip.

Key Takeaways

  • A hot tub test strip measures different water elements by opposite chemical reaction formulas.
  • An alkalinity test measures the water’s ability to neutralize acids or resist changes that cause acidity.
  • Match the test results with the standard reference carefully to identify the issue properly.
  • Take a retest after corrective actions to ensure the problem has been dealt with.

What Is A Hot Tub Test Strip?

What is a hot tub test strip
What is a hot tub test strip

A hot tub test strip is a one-time use-only kit that provides instant measurement of water ingredients. Their testing criteria include pH level, total alkalinity of the water, presence of salt-chlorine-phosphate, and its overall hardness. Without a test strip, you have to do all of these separately in a lab, using a professional setup and professionals. It will take a lot of time, cost you money, and isn’t viable as it’s just hot tub water.

A hot tub test strip works by the opposite chemical reaction formula. The strip has particular colored swab pads that react against the presence of specific ingredients and their level. They are designed in a way to change their color intensity to indicate the presence of a particular tested material.

5 Types of Hot Tub Test Strips

Types of hot tub test strips
Types of hot tub test strips

Apart from hydrogen and oxygen, water can contain various chemicals due to a bunch of reasons. The skin byproducts, care products chemicals, water purifying chemicals, and geolocation abnormality can influence the water’s ingredient’s presence. A test strip can cover almost all such tests. Such as:

  • pH Testing Strips: A pH test strip determines the acid content of substances by measuring the pH, or concentration of hydrogen ions.
  • Total Alkalinity Test Strips: An alkalinity test strip measures the water’s ability to neutralize acids or resist changes that cause acidity.
  • Water Hardness Test Strips: A water hardness test indicates the hardness of the water by measuring the level of calcium carbonate in the water.
  • Chlorine Test Strips: A chlorine test strip indicates the leftover amount of chlorine that was externally applied to clean the water. Sometimes hot tub water turns yellow after adding chlorine. We can calculate chlorine density with these kinds of strips.
  • Salt Test Strips: Hot tub water may contain mild to high amounts of salts such as Sodium Chloride. A salt test strip measures that.
  • Phosphate Test Strips: A phosphate is a necessary take to prevent algae from growing. A phosphate test stripe indicates the phosphate level by changing the examined watercolor.

These test strips either come in single criteria test form or may combine several of them in a single test strip. That way you don’t need to run around buying many different test strips to only test one thing at a time!

What Should A Hot Tub Test Strip Show?

A hot tub test strip should show pH level, chlorine or bromine levels, total alkalinity, total hardness, acid level, total dissolved solids (TDS), and metals (iron and copper) concentration. These parameters indicate the water’s safety and balance for a comfortable and enjoyable hot tub experience.

pH Level

pH is the most monitored criterion of any water, let alone hot tub water.  pH (potential of hydrogen) indicates the chemical condition of the water and it needs to be stable in certain readings. A standard test taken by a hot tub test strip should get a read between 7.2 to 7.8 The testing pad will imitate medium orange to higher medium orange. Any lower than that means the water is forming acids and needs to be dealt with ASAP.


Chlorine is the most popular sanitizer to kill germs, bacteria, and other harmful microorganisms from water. They occur oxidization in the process and resist UV rays for not break down easily. A standard chlorine test using a hot tub test strip should read a result between 1.5-3 PPM. The color indicator will be mid-pink to higher medium pink.  If any low of that, your hot tub water will be considered chlorine-free. Any higher will indicate too much chemical and pH level.

Total Bromine

Bromine also works as a water sanitizer in water. It is more suitable to use in hot water tub because they are more pH friendly and keeps chemical balanced. The standard hot tub test strip testing; you should get a reading between 3-5 ppm. The color pads should imitate light to medium light pink color after testing.  This indicates the normal presence of bromine in your hot tub water and needs no treatment to correct that.


Alkalinity ensures the water’s natural ability to neutralize harmful acids or resist the changes that can cause acids to grow. It helps to maintain the pH consistency. A standard hot tub test strip should have an alkalinity reading of between 60-120 ppm. The color pad will imitate something from pastel olive green to aqua green color. Any lighter color or lower reading means hot tub water has lower acid-resisting capacity and lower pH.

Salt Hardness

Water hardness is caused by the carbonate ingredients such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese mixed with the water. A standard hot tub test strip should have a water hardness reading between 25- 150 ppm. The color pad will imitate something like teal to light navy blue. These readings can be subject to constant change due to the water supply and the hot tub build materials. If the wall of the tub is acrylic finished, then the readings should likely be less.

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How to Use A Hot Tub Test Strip?

How to use a hot tub test strip
How to use a hot tub test strip

To get an authentic result, it is very important to use the hot tub test strip properly. Here are step-by-step processes that you can follow to conduct tests on your hot tub water:

  • Step 1: Before conducting the test, circulate your hot tub water for 1-2 minutes. It will mix all the scattered bacteria, biofilms, and all other chemical residues to provide you with a more correct reading.
  • Step 2: Bring out a test strip from the container. Make sure not to touch the padded side. Touching the pads can cause defects, resulting in false readings.
  • Step 3: Dip the test strip into the tub water fully. You can also use a glass tube to collect the sample water first and conduct the test on that.
  • Step 4: Remove the strip from the water and hold it for at least 15 seconds. This will drop excess water from the test strip and, the chemical reaction will also happen at the same time.
  • Step 5: Now place the strip over the standard color reference chart printed on the bottle and compare it with the closest one thoroughly.
  • Step 6: There might be similar colored references for different criteria tests. Carefully complete the test to identify the correct reading for the correct criteria if you are using an all-in-one strip.
  • Step 7: For best results, you can retest the same water again after a few minutes. After identifying the issue and applying the solution, retest to compare the improvement.


1. Are Bromine and Chlorine the same?

Bromine and Chlorine are water sanitizers that have similar applications. But the Chlorine is suitable for pool use because of its UV-resisting capacity. Whereas bromine breaks down easily under UV rays.

2. How often do you check the pH in a hot tub?

In normal use, test your hot tub’s water pH twice a week. For further verification of your test results, take your tub water sample to a professional dealer for testing.

3. How long does the hot tub test strip last?

In ideal condition, hot tub test strips have 24-36 months of shelf storage life. Look for the expiration date at the bottom of the packaging. But once they are open for use, their capability gets wasted very quickly.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, hot tub test strips are your ‘on-the-go’ solution to identify a hot tub water problem. It is also an important part of your hot tub water management doings. A hot tub strip allows you to take preventative measures to keep your tub water chemically stable for a good soak. It also helps you to be sure about water problems, that you may have been suspecting for a while. These strips have chemical-coated pads that react with particular chemical atoms already in the water and give a colorful reading. The legitimacy of these readings depends heavily on implementing the testing methods correctly. So check your hot tub water in regular intervals with a hot tub test strip properly.

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I am Donald M. Beyer and I am backyard enthusiasts. I am a homeowner who has been doing DIY projects in and out of my house for many years. From simple backyard lunches to making an old-school pizza oven in my own backyard, I have a lot of experience in turning my backyard into my and my family’s personal playground.

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