There is a lot of confusion out there relating to chlorine and bromine use in a spa or hot tub so how is one supposed to determine whether they use a chlorine or bromine generator?
First of all, bromine and chlorine are both halogens and are very similar with some very distinct differences. Chlorine is much more reactive and able to oxidize better then bromine which is why it is recommended to maintain twice as much bromine in the water vs chlorine. This is true with most health departments in the country. Bromine is much more expensive then chlorine so initially costs will be more and having to maintain a residual level that is twice that of chlorine also leads to higher costs.
Bromine is much more stable then chlorine in hot water environments which is one of the primary reasons for its use in spas and hot tubs but that is not necessarily a good thing. In a hot water environment, it is good to have a less stable oxidizer because there is much more bacteria to destroy.
Bromine has also been favored in spas and hot tubs because it has less offensive smell then chlorine. The reason for this is due to what happens when chlorine and bromine combine with ammonia compounds and produce chloramines (combined chlorine) and bromamines (combined bromine) respectively. Both are primarily caused by a lack of fresh chlorine or bromine to compensate for contaminate load. Chloramines are very offensive to the respiratory system, eyes and skin. Bromamines are usually very difficult to detect but can contribute to skin irritation.
Bromine is much better at “denying” that there is a problem where chlorine use will give you very obvious signs that there is a problem with your water quality. Whenever you are near a swimming pool or spa that has a strong chlorine smell, it is contrary to popular belief, in need of more chlorine. If this is hard to believe then get a bottle of chlorine bleach from your laundry room, open it up and smell. There is very little odor and it is typically a fresh, clean smell. That bottle of bleach has a free chlorine level many times higher then any pool or spa.
Bromine generators can be twice the cost of chlorine generators and sodium bromide is
much more expensive then sodium chloride.
In my personal experience maintaining many public pools and spas with a much higher usage level then most backyard spas and hot tubs, I have had much more success using chlorine over bromine. The key to excellent water quality is automating the chemical process as much as possible in order to compensate for spa usage and ensure there is proper sanitation at all times. Chlorine and bromine generators are much better at this then tablet feeders or powders. There is a much more in depth explanation of water treatment for spas in my book “The Hot Tub Wizard’s Guide Chlorine and Bromine Generation For Hot Tubs”
Either type of system will give you much better results then traditional methods so for many it may come down to cost. The good news is that with the ClorChlor, ChlorMaker, MiniChlor and TechniChlor, you can use chlorine or bromine salt.
The systems mentioned above come with a 60 day satisfaction guarantee when ordered from this site so go ahead and experiment if you want. I just know from my own experience that chlorine generation is my preferred method of water treatment.