Red skin

pj_may

Member
Sep 30, 2020
17
UK
Hi, I find my skin goes red when I use my SwimSpa (9,000 litres). It’s not itchy and settles after 20-30mins. There are no bumps but just a red colour to my skin. Last readings: bromine (3.0ppm), pH (7.47), TA (96ppm). Tested using poollab 1.0. I moved to bromine as I thought it might be a slight reaction to chlorine, interestingly after a full pipe clean and empty/refill, I am getting a 1.2ppm chlorine reading, is this normal for a bromine pool? Is there anything else I can test? or are there any suggestions as to what might be causing the redness? Thanks
 

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
4,433
Fletcher, OK
Welcome to TFP :)

I just looked up this Pool lab 1.0... looks interesting but are you sure it is the same reading as a normal drop test? does the pool lab say you have 7.5 ph and the drop test has the same 7.5?

Is this a heated swim spa? if so could it be the heat giving you the redness..

As for Bromide it really is also chlorine just a smaller amount as the chlorine activates bromide... and that is about all I know about it... I could never get it to work so I went salt water with a salt generator...
 

RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
921
Cabool, Mo
Bromine and chlorine will both give readings on the same test. Bromine is 2.25 times as dense as chlorine, so multiply the reading with your chlorine test kit by 2.25 to get the bromine level. Or, conversely, divide a bromine test reading by 2.25 to get the chlorine level.
 

pj_may

Member
Sep 30, 2020
17
UK
Hi, thanks for the response. I haven’t tried a drop test, apologies was a typo on the pH should have read 7.37. I have also checked with an Apera pH20 and get the same readings.

Yes it is heated, we have it at 32.0 degrees centigrade. It could possible be the heat, but I don’t find it hot, just warm. Also I get the redness when just lounging in the pool and not exercising.

I have reduced the pH to 7.2 and still get the redness.

Note I used to get the same reaction when I used Chlorine and when the pool was 31 degrees.

Photos of redness attached.
 

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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,193
Central California
No experience at all with your type of pool or your type of redness. I was told pH can cause itchy symptoms. I would double-check the pH with a drop test.

And I've read here a bit about Ahh-some spa cleaner. I'm wondering if there is something in your plumbing that does not succumb to a sanitizer (bromine or chlorine) but is something industrial causing a skin reaction. Ahh-some would be used to thoroughly clean your spas plumbing. In essence you'd be starting fresh and clean (new pipes, new water), and that would at least eliminate all but what you add. Maybe @cowboycasey could fill in the blanks of this idea...

It's basic troubleshooting, some of which you've done. You know it's not bromine vs chlorine. And you know it's not exercise. Eliminate most every thing else by replacing the water and purging your pipes with Ahh-some. Then you could eliminate heat by varying the temperature to observe the results. Like that. Going one by one though all the variables (eliminating or replacing them), to eventually isolate the culprit.
 

pj_may

Member
Sep 30, 2020
17
UK
It does resemble a heat rash, and it goes away quickly. It could be anything, though. Do you have a similar reaction in a very hot shower?
no not the same with a hot shower nor bath. Also it happens when just lounging in the SwimSpa for a relatively short period.
 

pj_may

Member
Sep 30, 2020
17
UK
No experience at all with your type of pool or your type of redness. I was told pH can cause itchy symptoms. I would double-check the pH with a drop test.

And I've read here a bit about Ahh-some spa cleaner. I'm wondering if there is something in your plumbing that does not succumb to a sanitizer (bromine or chlorine) but is something industrial causing a skin reaction. Ahh-some would be used to thoroughly clean your spas plumbing. In essence you'd be starting fresh and clean (new pipes, new water), and that would at least eliminate all but what you add. Maybe @cowboycasey could fill in the blanks of this idea...

It's basic troubleshooting, some of which you've done. You know it's not bromine vs chlorine. And you know it's not exercise. Eliminate most every thing else by replacing the water and purging your pipes with Ahh-some. Then you could eliminate heat by varying the temperature to observe the results. Like that. Going one by one though all the variables (eliminating or replacing them), to eventually isolate the culprit.
Many thanks for the detailed response. Will try trial and error and see if I can solve the problem.

thanks
 

pj_may

Member
Sep 30, 2020
17
UK
Also to add, it does seem to be worse with Bromine, could this be that the Bromine sticks to skin more than Chlorine (certainly since using Bromine my skin seems to smell after I leave the water whereas there was no smell after when using).

Finally, separately, I find there is generally a more pungent smell with Bromine than Chlorine, which is odd as most websites said Bromine smells less than Chlorine. Is this normal?

Also to add I use the highly recommended O-Care to avoid biofilm build up.

Thanks
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,193
Central California
I've never heard of O-Care, but that would definitely be one of the variables I was talking about. If you decide to purge and clean the spa, leave O-Care out of the new mix for a while and see if that helps. Have you ever used CYA in the spa? I'll leave the spa water chemistry to the experts here, but as Casey was hinting at, maybe running your spa like we all run our pools (salt water, SWG, chlorine, and CYA to buffer and protect the chlorine) might be worth a try... We don't get much in the way of complaints about red skin or smells...
 

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
4,433
Fletcher, OK
Hey there, Awe-some is what I used when changing from Bromine to chlorine as the bromine never seemed like it worked for me... My skin also started getting red and the smell was there whenever I opened up the tub... not something you want in water that your in for any amount of time..

After I changed I never had an issue again like that... Like @Dirk said above, I ran mine exactly like my pool right down to a salt water generator and everything worked great..

I just checked out the O-care and that may be the reason your getting red skin, it is one of those products saying you can use less sanitizer because of the minerals and I bet the number 2 bottle is some kind of clarifier and that is why your filter needs cleaning more.

I would get some Awe-some Ahh-Some 2oz Hot Tub Pipe Bath Cleaner Spa Biofilm Remover 3 Cleans Amazing !!!!: Amazon.co.uk: Garden & Outdoors and clean your tub, maybe even do it twice as I did after I changed... :)
 
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pj_may

Member
Sep 30, 2020
17
UK
Hi everyone, many thanks for your replies. Yeah I’m thinking it might have to be a deep clean, empty and refill.

Re the o-care I will try without it. But I’ve only (since moving to Bromine) started using it and I did use to go red beforehand.

In terms of pool maintenance I have been I think duped in to using various things in an attempt to reduce future larger problems. I was told to use a clarifier, stain and scale inhibitor and non-chlorine shock weekly. Is this right? Going forwards should I just maintain pH and chlorine levels and use the non-chlorine shock? Then should I only use a clarifier and stain and scale inhibitor if needed (ie if ever the water gets a bit murky)? We have pretty hard water so that’s why I was using the Stain and scale inhibitor weekly.

Finally when changing from Bromine back to Chlorine, do I need to empty out all of the water entirely, including any water in the pipework? How do I ensure I empty it all out entirely? Also do I need to replace the inbuilt tablet feeder (that is used for Chlorine or bromine tablets) and the filter (both easily done) or can I just deep clean these in water and filter cleaner to remove the residual bromine?

Thanks
Paul
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,193
Central California
It sounds like you've been pool-stored! (Maybe spa-stored!?). Their MO is to sell you all the chemicals they can until the resulting stew becomes unmanageable, at which point you drain your pool/spa and start over (kinda where you are at right now). Then they start in on you all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Great for their bottom line, no so great for yours. I use chlorine, salt, muriatic acid and CYA in my pool. That's it. As in, forever. I'm sure a spa has other considerations, but if you follow all the TFP protocols for a pool, you can manage all the required chemical levels without all that junk. A pool never needs to be shocked if you maintain FC properly (which is why a lot of us like the SWG). Your MO might differ: SWG for day to day FC upkeep, then a splash of liquid chlorine right after the last-man-soaking is done. Something like that.

Casey can walk you through the details of his maintenance regime, along with the deep clean. I think the use of Ahh-some means all the water has got to go, a couple times maybe... Cowboy Up!
 

RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
921
Cabool, Mo
Most pool and spa stores simply follow the recommendations of the chemical manufacturer they carry, and have little training in them. Most computer test your water and sell you whatever the chem manf computer system says you need. Chemical manufacturers recommendations are generally chemical heavy and, since they don't know what your water is at fill, include anything and everything you might possibly need or want. As I just said in another thread, any one-size-fits-all system will have you using many things you may or may not need for your situation. I personally am a chemical minimalist, and use as few and as little as I can get away with.
 

RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
921
Cabool, Mo
I was told to use a clarifier, stain and scale inhibitor and non-chlorine shock weekly. Is this right?
A spa has no need for clarifier. If your water won't clear from a shock it's time to drain and fill.
Stain and scale is generally uneeded unless you allow your ph and alk to go too high. Some water with alot of metals needs it, but most municipal water system users do not if they keep it balanced.
I am not a fan of mps (non-chlorine shock). It is guesswork how much to use and it throws off your chemical test readings when present in the water as a residual, leading to other issues. I will use it if I need a shock but don't have time to allow fc to drop before use.

do I need to empty out all of the water entirely, including any water in the pipework?
No, a little in the pipes is of no concern for bromine. But as mentioned, with Ahh-Some you will have to do a rinse as well. You may also need to use the Ahh-Some more than once to eliminate all the biofilm.

do I need to replace the inbuilt tablet feeder (that is used for Chlorine or bromine tablets)
???? Built in tablet feeder? :rolleyes: How old is this spa?
Technically, yes you need to replace the feeder, but only if you plan on destroying your spa by using tablets. Read the sticky thread on dichlor/bleach method in the chemistry section. Please.
Do you have ozone?
A SWG shocks for you, in a sense, just as ozone and uv. If you do not use any of these you will need to shock, but you can do so accurately with chlorine by raising fc to 10 times the cc. If done frequently it will not be an issue, but if you have to raise fc to 20 to burn off 2ppm of cc you will obviously not be using it for a bit, so might want to use mps instead.
 

pj_may

Member
Sep 30, 2020
17
UK
A spa has no need for clarifier. If your water won't clear from a shock it's time to drain and fill.
Stain and scale is generally uneeded unless you allow your ph and alk to go too high. Some water with alot of metals needs it, but most municipal water system users do not if they keep it balanced.
I am not a fan of mps (non-chlorine shock). It is guesswork how much to use and it throws off your chemical test readings when present in the water as a residual, leading to other issues. I will use it if I need a shock but don't have time to allow fc to drop before use.


No, a little in the pipes is of no concern for bromine. But as mentioned, with Ahh-Some you will have to do a rinse as well. You may also need to use the Ahh-Some more than once to eliminate all the biofilm.


???? Built in tablet feeder? :rolleyes: How old is this spa?
Technically, yes you need to replace the feeder, but only if you plan on destroying your spa by using tablets. Read the sticky thread on dichlor/bleach method in the chemistry section. Please.
Do you have ozone?
A SWG shocks for you, in a sense, just as ozone and uv. If you do not use any of these you will need to shock, but you can do so accurately with chlorine by raising fc to 10 times the cc. If done frequently it will not be an issue, but if you have to raise fc to 20 to burn off 2ppm of cc you will obviously not be using it for a bit, so might want to use mps instead.
Many thanks will look in to the Dichlor/Bleach Method.

SwimSpa is a new 2020 model Hydropool 19EX. All Hydropools have inbuilt tablet feeders. In terms of biofilm as it’s new I’m guessing it won’t have much if any build up.

Would you recommend an ozone/uv system? Hydropool offers one (Pure Water Hot Tub Technology From Hydropool) or are there others that you would recommend?

thanks
 

RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
921
Cabool, Mo
In terms of biofilm as it’s new I’m guessing it won’t have much if any build up.
You guess wrong, my friend. After your tub was built, it was filled (from a tank of re-used water) for testing. Then it was drained (not very thoroughly) and stuck in a warehouse or lot for who-knows-how-long before being shipped across country. Plenty of opportunity for all kinds of nasty to grow in those wet pipes. I won't bore you with descriptions of the grossness I have seen come out of new tubs fresh off the truck. Just trust me, use Ahh-Some. Repeatedly until no more crud comes out in the spa.
I swear by ozone, and am fond of uv in spas as well. I might be the only one here who likes them. I would definitely recommend them, if you understand what they actually do for you. Eliminating the need for chlorine is not it. You still need chlorine, and both ozone and uv will get rid of it from your water. They eliminate chloramines (cc) and excess chlorine as well, but both only treat a small portion of the water at a time and return that clean water back to a contaminated tub. Without chlorine they will not eliminate pathogens from the water by themslves in spite of their impressive pathogen destroying capabilities. They will allow (and cause) your chlorine to drop below 1ppm without worry in a covered spa, so there is little chlorine in the water when you use it. But you must add chlorine after use to eliminate the pathogens in the water, and the ozone/uv then eliminates the cc and fc overnight.
 
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pj_may

Member
Sep 30, 2020
17
UK
You guess wrong, my friend. After your tub was built, it was filled (from a tank of re-used water) for testing. Then it was drained (not very thoroughly) and stuck in a warehouse or lot for who-knows-how-long before being shipped across country. Plenty of opportunity for all kinds of nasty to grow in those wet pipes. I won't bore you with descriptions of the grossness I have seen come out of new tubs fresh off the truck. Just trust me, use Ahh-Some. Repeatedly until no more crud comes out in the spa.
I swear by ozone, and am fond of uv in spas as well. I might be the only one here who likes them. I would definitely recommend them, if you understand what they actually do for you. Eliminating the need for chlorine is not it. You still need chlorine, and both ozone and uv will get rid of it from your water. They eliminate chloramines (cc) and excess chlorine as well, but both only treat a small portion of the water at a time and return that clean water back to a contaminated tub. Without chlorine they will not eliminate pathogens from the water by themslves in spite of their impressive pathogen destroying capabilities. They will allow (and cause) your chlorine to drop below 1ppm without worry in a covered spa, so there is little chlorine in the water when you use it. But you must add chlorine after use to eliminate the pathogens in the water, and the ozone/uv then eliminates the cc and fc overnight.
Many thanks, I should have mentioned the dealer I purchased it from, did do a, seemingly thorough, pipe flush before installation. Not sure of the product they use though I did see it being done.

With the AhhSome, are you saying to flush it, empty, refill, flush again, empty, refill, and so on multiple times? The SwimSpa is 9,038 litres (2,378 US gallons), so don’t especially want to have to do this multiple times.

The Hydropools as I say have the option for Ozone, I’m asking the dealer if this can be easily retrofitted. Yes I have read they need to be combined with Chlorine sanitisation.

Thanks
 

pj_may

Member
Sep 30, 2020
17
UK
Final piece, we have a loan softtub while our main hot tub is on order. The soft tub simply has Chlorine and a bit of dry acid added to lower the pH (now 7.5). I decided to just sit in it (normally I go in after the SwimSpa so haven’t until this morning just isolated that tub).

Sat for 25mins and eventually got the same skin reaction as the pictures. So based on deduction I’m guessing the reaction I have is a combination of heat and bromine/chlorine. I seem to react faster with Bromine in the SwimSpa in slightly cooler water (32 degrees C) than with Chlorine in the hot tub (38 degrees C) So it can’t just be heat.

As the reaction isn’t debilitating at all, just annoying, and having seen with the hot tub that a conversion back to simple chlorine won’t guarantee a solution, the plan was to live with the Bromine SwimSpa (my 2yr old and my wife don’t get any reaction). Then will try the flush, empty and refill after the new hot tub arrives. I will try moving to the Dichlor/liquid System.

many thanks to everyone for their suggestions and help, very much appreciated.

thanks