FOAM in your spa? What’s causing it?
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
There are several different types of foam or bubbles that can appear in your spa, it is important to correctly identify them in order to correct the issue if correction is needed. In the following article we will discuss types of foam and bubbles, what causes them, how to prevent them and correct them if they appear.
The most common type of foam comes from soaps and shampoos. This foam can be residue that is leached off your body and hair and it makes its way into the water. These white foamy bubbles that can last for a while even after the jets are turned off. An antifoam product would hide this problem but frequent shocking can eventually break this foam down.
We may also experience foaming in our spa when we reach very high pH levels. From my experience this is seen when pH starts to reach ranges over 8.2. It is important to ensure that our pH levels are kept within proper ranges.
For those of you using the Mineraluxe system you may be familiar with the champagne looking bubbles that appear when we turn on our jets but quickly disappear once we turn off the jets. These bubbles are caused by the mineraluxes imparted in the water from the Mineraluxe cubes. These act as micro massage bubbles and there is nothing to worry about. Mineraluxe reduces the surface tension of the water therefore causing more bubbles. Many clients actually enjoy this increase in bubbles, claiming it makes the water feel much softer on the skin as water comes out of the jets. If you find that it’s excessive then you can opt to apply your Mineraluxe cube once every two weeks rather than every week. The Mineraluxe cubes are designed for a spa of 2 000 liters with 2-3 bathers, 2-4 times a week. Often when we bathe less often and have a smaller sized tub we are in a sense, overdosing our spa with Mineraluxe. This is not dangerous, but using the proper amounts will save you money and products.
Our next type of bubbles or foam, depending on which term you prefer, is bubbles caused by enzyme based plumbing cleaners or filter cleaners. Enzyme cleaners, whether for plumbing, filters or other generally will cause lots of bubbles, these bubbles are not dangerous for you or your spa but can be annoying if you didn’t plan on having a bubble bath. When you use these types of enzyme plumbing cleaners, be sure to adequately rinse and drain your spa. I recommend after draining, refilling the spa through the skimmer to about 2 feet deep, to push more cleaner out of your plumbing and pumps, and then drain again. This will reduce residue left in your system and help prevent the bubble bath effect.
If you have brown foam, or a thick foam that looks like you could make yourself a foam beard, this is more problematic. This can contain other contaminants, waste and alkali material. This is a good time to simply drain and refill the hot tub. Organic Biofilm is that icky slimy sometimes white or pink looking stuff. Biofilm is a protective layer that covers your bacteria, protecting it from bacteria killing products. Biofilm can harbor harmful types of bacteria that can lead to skin infections and more if not eliminated from your spa. If you develop biofilm in your spa it is important to not only increase and maintain a proper level of sanitizer between 3 and 5 ppm but to use specialized products to purge and clean your spa's plumbing that can destroy and eliminate biofilm and the bacteria that is protecting it. Aside from increasing and maintaining sanitizer and purging the system, adequate and scheduled filter cleaning is also highly recommended.
Our last type of bubbles are those little islands scattered throughout the spa, which most spa users don’t tend to notice since we will not see them when jets are on, but when water is very still. These are caused by phosphates. And you don’t want phosphates in your spa! Why? Phosphates can use up sanitizers. Find yourself adding more chlorine or bromine than usual? Water not staying clear despite having added sanitizer, balanced water and cleaned your filter? You likely have phosphates in your water. But where do phosphates come from? Many places, to name a few, laundry detergents used to wash swimsuits, creams and lotions, shampoo in your hair, deodorant…. And bodily fluids. Yes you heard right, bodily fluids. How do we prevent phosphates? Avoid washing swimsuits in laundry with detergent and other clothes, washing them in hot water separately is ideal. Avoid using creams and lotions before entering the spa, we recommend a quick shower rinse before hopping into the spa. Don’t soak your hair in the spa, tie it up! And lastly ensure your children are getting out frequently to relieve themselves where they should and not in the spa. If we have phosphates how can we get rid of them? There are products available to remove phosphates from our water such as Phos Cleanse by Dazzle. If you aren't sure if you have phosphates in your water, we don’t always see the formation of the islands of bubbles. You can have your water analyzed professionally where testing for phosphates is available. Note that not all stores will test for phosphates. I believe it is important to note that we may not notice these small clusters of bubbles in our spa and that high amounts of phosphates could lead us to the brown tinted thick foam mentioned above since phosphates will greatly reduce our sanitizer levels and therefore allow for the increase in organic materials and contaminants in our spa.
I hope I have helped you better understand foam/ bubbles, what causes them and how to prevent and treat them! If you need more information come and visit me in store, it’ll be my pleasure to help you out.