A perfect example of biofilm is from our teeth. When you brush your teeth in the morning, you feel a lot fresher. But by evening, if you use your hand to swipe your gum, that slippery feeling you get is a biofilm.
They have a very low pH of less than 1.0 parts per million, although they have a very thin layer that contains microorganisms that stay on the surface of food, body parts, and equipment regularly in contact with water, like pipes.
Biofilm is one of the biggest causes of chronic illness that can be removed naturally. All the bad bacteria, substances, heavy metals, and toxins get trapped underneath a couple inch layer of slime.
They grow in the intestines or guts of humans and can lead to discomfort. They can also be found on the surfaces of wounds. Biofilms are not totally harmful to humans; it is the bacteria trapped in them that can cause harm.
They grow perfectly on a moist surface and are produced by bacteria, which also protects them and makes them have a slimy feel. They are very difficult to remove because they prove to be resistant to most antibiotics and disinfectants.
Can biofilm in hot tub make you sick?
Biofilms are basically microcolonies that form bacteria, yeast, or even a combination of both, and can live in various parts of the body, such as the nose, guts, teeth, and skin wounds.
When you swim in a hot tub that has biofilm, you are at high risk for vaginal yeast infection, Lyme, pneumonia, chronic fatigue symptoms, inner ear infections, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and multiple sclerosis.
As a matter of fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, more than 65 to 80% of all microbial infections are now caused by biofilm producing bacteria.
This material is moved freely in the blood system until it’s able to come into contact with a solid surface. It is this ability to feel something solid that converts mobile bacteria to a stationary form that essentially finds a place to come and produce the bacterial biofilm shield.
How do you know if you have biofilm?
Do you have thousands of little tarnished colored particles floating in the tub? Those little particles floating on top that look like dandruff are called biofilm. If you put a net in the water and try to keep it for 2 minutes, you will see the little particles on the net.
It gives signs of chlorine demand due to excess sanitizer consumption, cloudy or green colored water, algae growth, stains and scales on the spa, especially when it is in mass.
Biofilms are very much chemical resistant and need moisture or surface to grow, which makes the spa a very good environment to grow about 99 percent of bacteria.
How do you clean a biofilm in a hot tub?
Biofilms are primarily any group of bacteria, toxins, pathogens, or other microorganisms that adhere to any surface that is frequently in contact with moisture or water. It is a very prominent issue in hot tubs and also leads to an increase in the rate of chemical application and changes the quality of the water.
They grow in the pipes of hot tubs, covering themselves with a protective layer of slime that is usually very resistant to sanitizers.
Once you notice biofilm building up in your spa, the first and quickest way to remove it is by using a biofilm remover and draining the water completely, disconnecting the pipes, and soaking them in super chlorinated water for at least 48 hours. After using the biofilm cleaner, you can remove the visible biofilm in the tub by scrubbing.
Before swimming, check the water chemistry and source. Most bacteria come from the water source, incorrect water temperature, body oil, and other organic substances, which is why it is critical to shower before using the tub and cover it during rainy or windy seasons if it is located outside.
Will shocking a hot tub get rid of biofilm?
Shocking entails applying a high dose of disinfectant to improve and balance the chemistry of the water. Meanwhile, biofilms are slimy, stubborn packs of bacteria that are found on the surfaces of water and other moist areas.
When you have water that has biofilm, just shocking the tub will not get rid of the biofilm. It is necessary that you drain the whole water and also soak the filter, pump, and other plumbing equipment in chlorinated water. After cleaning and adding fresh water to the tub, you can test the water and add shock to balance it.
Biofilms can be very stubborn to get rid of, especially when you use the wrong chemicals or methods. They will come back some days later. In a case of high and persistent biofilm attack in the tub, the spa should be shocked only if the visible biofilms have been removed with a remover.
How do I get rid of biofilm in my hot tub without draining it?
There are bacteria in the water. One bacterium can turn into 1 billion bacteria in about 10 hours when it finds food. These bacteria eat dirt and make a slimy substance that keeps chlorine, bromine, and other antibiotics from hurting them.
Sometimes, even after treating and draining the water, it still comes back to the spa because it goes to the filter, hoses, and other equipment to grow.
One of the preferred ways to get rid of biofilm is by draining the water completely and washing the filters or other equipment. However, you should also check the hardness of your water because in water there is lime in dissolved form in chemical equilibrium with carbon in pipes.
Water flows through pipe connectors and other obstacles. This causes a lot of turbulence, which emits carbon dioxide and changes the dissolved lime to limestone. This crystallization happens very quickly.
However, if you do not drain the water completely, you are at a higher risk of going back to what you are trying to avoid. Biofilms are very stubborn and cannot easily be removed from the water, so it’s best to introduce fresh water.
Does vinegar remove biofilms?
Yes, you can use vinegar to remove biofilm from your hot tub. But it might be as effective as draining the spa and cleaning it thoroughly. White vinegar kills biofilm because it is an active disinfectant.
The challenge with this method is that you might not be able to remove all the biofilms, which will result in the development of new biofilms in no distant time. Moreover, it takes more time and, as an acid, it will lower the pH of the water.
Because of the slimy nature of biofilm and the kinds of bacteria they inhabit, they are very hard to get rid of with so many random disinfectants and cleaners.
Vinegar is one disinfectant that goes a long way towards cleaning the hot tub and the filter or other equipment. It is a very good cleaning agent and can be used as bleach for tubs, although when you use vinegar it takes about 2 weeks of soaking to be able to efficiently get rid of biofilms in the tub and filter.
When you use vinegar for biofilm removal, it is necessary that you drain the water completely because there is no other way to separate the slime from the water.
How do you prevent biofilms in a hot tub?
A biofilm is just a thin layer of bacteria that forms mainly on wet surfaces. They can also introduce the right environment for some opportunistic pathogens to grow in them.
They can be found on the skin, wounds, tongue, teeth, and other moist places apart from the body. For biofilm to grow rapidly, it takes just about 3 to 5 days, sometimes even less, depending on how it started developing.
To prevent biofilms, always check your water source for any imbalance. Check your water chemistry for things like pH, chlorine, and phosphate levels. Make sure you always cover the tub during rainfall or windy weather to avoid leaves, debris, and other microorganisms from getting into the tub, and do not just jump into the spa after a sweaty and long day.
Make sure you shower to remove body oil, sweat, and cosmetics. Most of them don’t just walk into the spa and start growing right away; they’re already hiding in spa equipment like filters, hoses, and pipes, waiting for the right time when the chemistry of the water is off to start growing.
Does chlorine prevent biofilm?
Chlorine serves as a sanitizer for the spa. It helps to fight living organisms found in the water like algae, especially when it is in the right range of 1.0 to 4.0 parts per million.
We all know that if you do not already have biofilm in the water and your chlorine level and other water chemistry is just balanced, biofilm would have no opportunity to grow in the water because the hypochlorite in the chlorine would kill off any bacteria trying to grow.
Although chlorine has its own limits, biofilm is one of the biggest limitations to chlorine effectiveness when it has already started growing. Biofilms are introduced into the water through body sweat, oil, and can even be caused when the water hardness is not neutral. It is very stubborn to get rid of, and chlorine is not one way to go.
How long can hot tub water go untreated?
As a maintenance practice, treating the water after testing and confirming that any water chemistry such as chlorine, pH or alkalinity, or calcium is balanced is very important to avoid breakdown of your hot tub and other damage.
Your water can go untreated for so many weeks after refilling and the first treatment; it just depends on how quickly the water gets imbalanced. However, if your spa has shown any sign of low or high chemistry property and you ignore it, in a period of 2 weeks you will not be able to use the spa because it will exhibit changes such as green color, wall stains, faulty filter, and so many other problems.
However, before treating the water, make sure you have tested to know what is actually wrong, because signs of low water properties can be very much alike.
How often should I replace hot tub water?
The major reason why water should be changed is to prevent biofilm buildup and clear out any bacteria already lurking around the spa.
Replacing water in the hot tub can be different. In cases where your spa is not regularly maintained, your water should be changed every 2 months, whereas when you always check the water chemistry and balance when needed, the water can be changed after 5 months.
The major factor is just to regularly test and know when your water chemistry is no longer balanced, at least twice every week, and when you have started noticing algae blooms or have left the tub open during rainfall, spring, or winter season, it also determines if the water should be replaced.