What the Alkalinity is Going On?

Published : January 15, 2020

A Look Into Why Managing Alkalinity is Vital When it Comes to Safe and Effective Spa Water Care

We had difficulty getting our water balanced without being cloudy. We got working right and attribute this to using SilkBalance. The water has stayed crystal clear and my skin itch has gone away. Yeah for SilkBalance!

Judy Steagall  (Prineville, Ore.)

If you’ve been in a hot tub or spa, then you know what cloudy water looks like. Keeping hot tub water as crystal clear as it appeared on the day you first filled your spa with fresh water is one of the toughest parts about spa water care.

Cloudy water can be caused by many different things from soaking in your spa with freshly laundered bathing suits full of soapy detergent, to clogged filters or low sanitizer levels. But an often overlooked, and easily preventable, common cause of cloudy water in your hot tub is when the total alkalinity has fallen out of the recommended ranges.

What is alkalinity? Well simply put, alkalinity is the measurement of dissolved alkaline substances in water. This measurement tells us the water’s ability to neutralize acid. How does acid get into our spa water? Acids get introduced into the water every time we use our hot tub. It can be found in the sweat, body oils, moisturizers, detergents, rain water (if the cover is removed), dust, every time we add sanitizers such as bromine, chlorine and whenever the hot tub salt system turns on to create chlorine.

While pH and Alkalinity are different, and are often confused, both are equally important and work in tandem with each other for proper water care and the comfort of the water when using the spa. Both can be kept in the recommended ranges very simply with a weekly addition of SilkBalance liquid or SilkBalance Gems water care.

As your spa water climbs higher out of the normal pH range (7.2 to 7.6), you get closer and closer to sitting in hot tub water that has the alkalinity equivalent to bleach! Spa water that reaches a pH of 11 is on par with ammonia and 13 is bleach. These ranges can change quickly and dramatically when the alkalinity is not set.  Keeping your total alkalinity values between 80-120 will not only help prevent cloudy water, but also keep your spa water from a dramatic change in pH. When your pH is out of range, the sanitizer or salt system is marginally effective, if at all.

pH chart

Effects of LOW Total Alkalinity Levels in Your Hot Tub:

  • Rapid changes in pH (from a drop or rise out of the recommended range)
  • Corroding of metals and spa equipment (shortening the life of your components, it should be noted that improper care of your spa water will void a manufacturer’s warranty)
  • Skin and eye irritation




Effects of HIGH Total Alkalinity Levels in Your Hot Tub:

  • Hard to change the pH (pH is locked in and won’t move no matter how much decreaser you add)
  • Scale formation (which is the number one cause of heater damage and malfunction as well as causing salt systems to fail)
  • Cloudy water
  • Poor sanitizer efficiency (and can cause the sanitizer to be destroyed before it can kill harmful bacteria)
  • Skin and eye irritation

When the total alkalinity is too high, it can cause carbonates to fall out of suspension, which results in the cloudy water we are trying to prevent. And when the alkalinity is too low, your pH fluctuates. Water that is too alkaline (high alkalinity) or too acidic (low alkalinity) can be harmful to you and your equipment.



See related importance of pH blog here:



SilkBalance is designed to stabilize your alkalinity (and pH). Once your water is chemically balanced, SilkBalance will stabilize the system and assist in keeping the water clear and silky soft. In addition to pH that falls between 7.2 and 7.6, balanced spa water values are: Alkalinity 80 to 120, Hardness 100 to 250 and Free Chlorine 3 to 5. These are standards for good, clean water.

The Alkalinity in your spa should be 80-120

One cause of high alkalinity is the use of liquid bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite) as a sanitizer. This is one reason SilkBalance recommends using chlorine, bromine or a salt system that is designed to generate chlorine by splitting the salt molecule, as your main sanitizer source and keeping up with those levels in the correct ranges at all times.

SilkBalance is a highly effective water treatment system that will buffer pH and condition the water. It is not a sanitizer. SilkBalance will help to manage the pH and alkalinity, thus avoiding sudden changes. It will also reduce the smell and uncomfortable effects of chlorine on the skin. SilkBalance also will help to maximize the efficiency of your sanitizer and make your water feel softer, smell better, look clearer, last longer and remain balanced.

It is always important to continue to check your pH and alkalinity periodically to ensure that they are in the correct ranges. For example, if you ever top off your hot tub with new fresh water you likely will need to adjust the ranges for pH or alkalinity, or if you have a hot tub party with heavy usage, your water likely will need a little attention.


If the alkalinity value is correct, you should not need to use pH up/down daily during normal spa use. SilkBalance will assist in keeping these values in range with normal use of the spa/hot tub. SilkBalance will not change the pH, total alkalinity or total hardness – nor will it change the chlorine/bromine or salt level.


High Total Alkalinity will cause difficulty in adjusting pH, and the best way to reduce Total Alkalinity is to use pH down, we suggest you use products recommended and sold by an authorized SilkBalance dealer. When it is at the correct level, it will be easier to adjust the pH. Common test strips will tell you when your Alkalinity is within range. Make sure to always have a test strip on hand and it is not expired as that can give inaccurate readings.

For a better spa experience let SilkBalance liquid and SilkBalance Gems help.

SilkBalance Gems Best Green Product For Spas and Hot Tubs

SilkBalance Gems






Susan Dolnik

Susan Dolnik
Director of Sales and Marketing

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