Alternative options for Frog SmartChlor cartridges

Amg3232

Member
Nov 7, 2020
5
Connecticut
Last fall I purchased a Bullfrog X7 spa which came with the Frog ease SmartChlor cartridge system. I’m not convinced that this is the best system to use and thinking of changing Any suggestions? I’m a spa novice so I’d appreciate if your answers are “dummied” down :) Where do I start? I just drained, cleaned, and filled my spa yesterday and haven’t added anything in it yet (brought it to 100°). Thanks In advance for the advice!
 

derekm

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2007
64
Eastern Canada
I keep my spa in shape in seconds for pennies. I buy HTH 6-way test strips and generic plain bleach from Walmart. I test Free Chlorine levels with a strip before entering the spa &, if low, I add a pre-determined amount of bleach (use the calculator from the Pool Math section or trial and error to figure out that amount) using a small measuring cup, to bring it back into the spa range as indicated on the strips' bottle, if needed. Test strips are fast, cheap, and sufficiently accurate for my needs.
I have a small bottle of PH Up (I refill it with Arm and Hammer Washing Soda) and another of Alkalinity Increaser (which I refill with generic baking soda) in case I need to top up the values (I rarely do, as the bleach seems relatively PH neutral) to the approved range. I don't worry about calcium or any of the other values, and I don't add stabilizer.
If the chemicals get out of whack I just drain and refill.
 

jseyfert3

Silver Supporter
Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 20, 2017
1,343
Southern WI
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
The general recommendation from TFP is to get a high quality test kit (Taylor K2006 or the TF100 from TFTestkits), add ~30 ppm CYA to buffer chlorine harshness, then use liquid chlorine (unscented regular bleach with no "splashless" additives). Most people struggle with a pH that's too high, but this depends on your fill water TA (total alkalinity), so you'll likely need some acid, either muriatic acid from any hardware store or pH minus or similar from a pool store. It often requires a little bit of water balancing at the start. Here's a basic guide on hot tub care, and here's a sticky that outlines the details of initial water balancing in great detail.

Manual chlorine additions usually require adding chlorine after each use and every day or two when not using it. If you want even less hands-on, you can get a SWCG (saltwater chlorine generator) such as the Saltron Mini that will maintain the FC level. Depending on your usage habits, this may take care of all chlorine additions, which is typically the case with light usage, or you may have to add chlorine immediately after soaking still but then it will maintain it between uses, which is the case with heavy usage. The latter is what I do, our usage is typically 1-4 people soaking for hours at a time, which adds a lot of waste so the manual chlorine after soaking is necessary to break down all that waste.

Any questions on this just ask.

I have a small bottle of PH Up (I refill it with Arm and Hammer Washing Soda) and another of Alkalinity Increaser (which I refill with generic baking soda) in case I need to top up the values (I rarely do, as the bleach seems relatively PH neutral) to the approved range. I don't worry about calcium or any of the other values, and I don't add stabilizer.
FYI with a hot tub there's usually no need to use washing soda. Hot tubs have tons of aeration available so simply increasing the TA some with baking soda and turning on the bubbles will raise the pH.
 

Amg3232

Member
Nov 7, 2020
5
Connecticut
Thanks for the information. Really appreciate it and I’m going to stop using Frog ease and start with dichlor and then liquid bleach. if my levels are low how will I know how much bleach to add? Also the test kits look really involved. Are there any test strips you’d recommend as a good alternative?
 

CrystalRiver

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2020
379
Massachusetts
The kits aren't bad at all. No, not as simple as dipping a strip, but the strips aren't accurate at all, so aren't worth the time spent on them. Instructions for the kit (at least the Taylor, I don't have the TF) are right in the box and go step by step. The two most frequently-performed tests, free chlorine (FC) and pH, I don't even read the instructions for because I have them memorized. The others, I look at the card because it's right there and I want to make sure I get it right.

To know how much to add, use Pool Math. I use the phone app, but some people prefer the web version. Either way, you set up your pool once (gallons, surface type) and then just enter your test results. It suggests target ranges, which you can override, and then it tells you how much of what chemical to add.