Hot Tubs and Spas purging and cleaning Tub maintenance

Spa Purge shoot-out: Spa Marvel vs Aqua Clarity

Greetings Hot Tub enthusiasts.  This post is about another purge product shoot-out, this time between a familiar product from Spa Marvel, known as Spa Marvel Cleanser,  and a relatively new product called “Aqua Clarity”,  from a the makers of Ahh-some and Hot Tub Serum Total Maintenance.  This company, Unique Solutions, has apparently taken note of my work over the years as they sent me a package of this new product to put through the paces.  Good timing, as I was just getting ready to test the Spa Marvel Cleanser against Ahh-some, so for this experiment I’ll test against Aqua Clarity instead.

Aqua Clarity is definately a non-traditional product, in that it is both a regular maintenance product AND a purge product, depending on the dosage used.  This is an industry first.   I’ll have more to say about this product later on — for now lets cover some background and housekeeping details for the present experiment:

  • For this test I will follow my usual protocol:  I will give the advantage to the “product under test”,  by testing it first — I’ll dose my old (but still hot) water with the Spa Marvel Cleanser. and then drain and re-fill with cold water to purge again with Aqua Clarity. By the way, when I say “cold water” I mean it:  My tap water is 55 degrees  right now!
  • My spa has been well maintaned, so there are no problems to solve.  What ever bio-goo is released by either of the two purge products tested will have to come from unseen material attached to pipes and equipment.
  • This particular test is unique because I have been using Spa Marvel’s enzyme product over the last four months.  That means Spa Marvel’s claims for a reduction in biofilm — via reduction in their food supply– is on the line.
  • I don’t mention this specifically in this post, but whenever I purge I always remove my filters per label directions;  If the product works, significant amounts of goo could be released, which would clog them, potentially starving the pumps of water and harming them.

Let the games begin.

Spa Marvel Cleanser

Just to avoid mis-understanding, this post is about the cleanser product from Spa Marvel, not the enzyme-based “water treament and conditioner” product, which I covered in this post

Spa Marvel Cleanser is a white crystaline powder, very similar  a similar appearce to Borax — because it really does contain Borax! It also contains two other ingredients listed on the bottle:

So, right out of the gate we know this stuff is basically a small amount of laundry detergent in a $30 container.  It’s likely to go after skin oils, dirt, scum and grime, but it won’t do much for biofilms (See “Hot Tub Home” in the left nav of this site for foundational materials describing biofilm).  However, just in case there is a secret ingredient not not mentioned on the bottle,  I’ll treat this product as if it will.   Here’s the actual performance claim, printed on the bottle:

“Spa Marvel Cleanser is a fast acting proprietary cleanser that penetrates deep imside your spa’s plumbing and equipment , removing organic, mineral, and chemical contaminants.”

Ok then: So it goes after carbon-based stuff.  So does Tide.

Due to its detergent-like appearance, I decided to dissolve the Spa Marvel Cleanser product in a 5-gallon bucket of water just to make sure it would all dissolve (in my previous work, another Borax-based purge product, Silk Balance “Clean Start”, didn’t dissolve all the way and I feared for the safety of my pumps!).  It dissolved pretty well, just like ordinary laundry detgergent does,  so I dumped the contents into my old, heated spa water (per label directions) and grabbed my camera as I always do

Only nothing happened.  Wait:  Not so fast — you have to wait 24 hours!  so much for “fast acting”.

The photograph below shows the result after more than 25 hours of waiting, per label directions:  One hour of “all jets on” scrubbing followed by 24 hours of soaking.  I even did another 15 minutes of “all jets on” scrubbing just for good measure. After all of this,  I saw essentially nothing along the waterline where I normally see biofilm deposits during a purge.  However, I did get a very faint oil-based deposit just above the water line, which is visible in the below phototgraph.  I wiped this up with a micro-fiber cloth.

 

Spa Marvel Cleanser didn’t do much,  beyond depositing a tiny bit of oils along the waterline.

 

The next place to check for bio-goo is the filter compartment, and here you can see a little more material. It’s purly grease and oil, however – if there was any biofilm in my pipes I’m pretty sure its still there at this point.

 

Spa Marvel left this in my filter compartment.  Its not biofilm but it is grease/oil/grime deposits.

 

With this result, one might be tempted to suggest that the enzymes had done their job, leaving no real biofilms (or their food supply) behind, but I’ll leave that question for Aqua Clarity to answer, later.  Meanwhile, the Spa Marvel Cleanser left more deposits on my Spa’s external control panel than anywhere else, as shown in the photograph below:

 

This white residue is what Spa Marvel Cleanser left behind.  It wipped off easily, but the intial appearance (after running my circ pump all night) was not that pleasing!

 

Enter Stage Left:  Aqua Clarity

For the next test, rather than dosing the same water with Aqua Clarity (and noting any additional release)  I drained my spa first, rinsed and wiped everything down, and filled it with cold water.  This put Aqua Clarity at a disadvantage (due to the cold water) and removed any influence from tired 0ld water already treated with Spa Marvel Cleanser.

Aqua Clarity arrives as a 6 fl. oz.  bottle of concentrate, which you mix with water to produce one gallon of usable product.  For a 400-gallon hot tub, this lasts an entire year — including two purges — at a cost of approximately $90/year.  That is quite reasonable, especially compared to Spa Marvel which costs about three times that much for a year’s worth of their products.

The Aqua Clarity strategy is brilliant, captured by the product notes themselves shipped in each package:  Customers shouldn’t  have to pay for the packaging and shipping costs of water (actually a couragous thing for the manufacturer of Hot Tub Serum Total Maintenance to say)!   So, they deliver the concentrate to your door and and ask you to mix it yourself.  Instant peace of mind: Just add water.

Below is a phototgraph of the 6-oz bottle Aqua Clarity concentrate (right hand side), with its informational pamphlet (center).  In the back is an ordinary bottle of Clorox bleach that is empty — right after taking this photo I used it for mixing.  Unfortunately, this blog site imposes some size restrictions which reduces photo image quality, so the below may appear a bit fuzzy.

 

 

Aqua Clarity – I used an old Clorox jug

 

The mixing part was trivial — per label directions I filled up the jug part way with water, then added the Aqua Clarity concentrate, then filled the rest of the way with water.  The only surprise I encounted was that a Clorox jug isn’t exactly a 128-ounce gallon — its only 121 ouces, at least when purchased from Costco.  However, I found that I could fit another four ounces in there, for a total of 125 ounces of liquid,  instead of 128. The result is three ounces short of a full gallon, which results in a 2% higher concentration of Aqua Clarity,  compared to the use of a full 128-ouce gallon jug.  No biggie:  thats within the margin of error for any kitchen measuring cup anyway, and nothing to worry about.

How can this product serve as both a regular maintenance and as a purge product?  With its Ahh-some heritage, I’d suggest that the manufacturer has probably leveraged the well-known  bio-busting properties of Ahh-some — the part that attacks the outer fat layer of biofilm molecules and makes them “let go” of the pipes and vessel walls.   However, based on my experimental results (below) I’d also suggest they have dialed back the foaming/surfactant properties of Ahh-come while retaining the water clarifying properties of Hot Tub SerumTotal Maintenance.  That way, in small doses (added weekly) you get little “mini purges” and great water clarifying properties without the creating foam.  For large doses (when purging) you get a good scrubbing and bio-gunk release. Clever.  So how does it work?

I added the prescribed amount of the final mixture for my purge — 15 ounces for a 500-gallon spa — and grabbed my camera.  Unlike the Spa Marvel Cleanser product,  I had a result this time in about 15 minutes:  A small amount of material formed on my vessel wall just above the water line.   Here’s the photo, slightly enhanced to make the biofilm more visible:

 

After 15 minutes, Aqua Clarity had produced a  better result than Spa Marvel Cleanser had in 25 hours:  a small amount of greenish-blue colored biofilm.

 

It turned out I was in a pretty big hurry for this experiment, so the correct label (Supplied by Aqua Clarify) didn’t make it into all of my photographs.  Before applying the label, however, I marked my Clorox jug with a “Sharpie” pen. The below photograph shows the Aqua Clarity result at about the 30-minute mark:  Greenish blue material deposited on surfaces, matching what I had seen many times before with Ahh-some purges.  This stuff definately punches above its weight:    30 minutes with Aqua Clarity heavily outperformed a 25 hour treatment with Spa Marvel Cleanser.

 

 

After about 30 minutes, the Aqua Clarity purge produced easily 100 times (or more) the amount of material that 25 hours of Spa Marvel Cleanser had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a view of my filter compartment, at about the 40 minute mark.  This is what Spa Marvel enzymes and Spa Marvel Cleanser had left behind.

 

 

 

 

Here’s the final result:  “aqua clarity” has certainly occured, although this site’s restrictions on photo resolution doesn’t do it justice.  The real test for water clarity will occur over the next 2-3 months as the spa is used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a close-up photograph of the Aqua Clarity label on my Clorox jug

 

 

What do these results mean?  First and foremost: For Spas that are well-maintained,  it means that Spa Marvel Cleanser is an expensive placebo — it just doesn’t do anything useful, and is certainly not worth $30.  I’ll repeat that this conclusion applies to well-maintaned spas, however — almost  any product (even straight Borax or laundry detergent)  will produce an impressive result if the spa is not maintained properly. As for the performance of Aqua Clarity as a purge product:  This stuff works just like Ahh-some does, in that I get the same type of result in the same amount of time.  A little less foam, I would say, than Ahh-some.

I cannot conclude this experiement without commenting on the usefulness of Spa Marvel enzymes.  Their operating principle is that the enzymes work on the food supply for biofilms, offering indirectly control over them.   Did the Spa Marvel Enzymes reduce the amount of biofilm accumulation in my spa?  Its possible, and this marketing technique does work when you are selling emotions and experiences as opposed to facts.  I’m a nuts and bolts engineer type, however, and when the safety of my family is at stake I don’t buy into emotions I buy into facts.  More particularily, I don’t care about making bad guys go on a diet — I care about getting rid of them!   The Bottom line for me is this:   In the purge strength appropriate for my spa, Aqua Clarity removed substantial amounts of material AFTER  the other two Spa Marvel products had done their work.

 

Conclusions:

  • The claim that Spa Marvel (the enzyme) prevents biofilm growth by reducing their food supply is plausible, but this experiment revealed that both the food supply (grease and oils)  and biofilms themselves (the green material) were still present in my enzyme-treated spa. The biofilms in my spa may have had less to eat I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter — they were still there.
  • Spa Marvel Cleanser itself is worthless as a purge product, unless of course you don’t care about biofilms and you have a poorly maintained spa. Whether the result would be substantially better than orginary laundry detergent is another question — all of the ingredients mentioned on the Spa Marvel Cleanser  bottle are also used in laundry detergent.
  • Aqua Clarity is profoundly effective, and wins the purge contest in every performance category:  It gets the bad guys that Spa Marvel won’t even touch, and it does so in 30 minutes as opposed to 24 hours.

Next Steps

I will be using Aqua Clarity as aweekly maintenance product to see what it brings to the table.  For additional context, I am familiar with the Hot Tub Serum Total Maintenance product, and suspect that Aqua Clarity  will yield similar if not identical benefits.  Of particular interest to me is sanitizer decay rate and leaving the spa un-attended for long periods of time.

happy tubbing

-Doug

24 thoughts on “Spa Purge shoot-out: Spa Marvel vs Aqua Clarity

  1. RVDoug……Love your articles. Read the previous one about spa marvel too. Thanks for sharing and your scientific approach to spa care!

  2. Thanks for sucking up an entire weekend reading your articles, haha. Seriously, I appreciate the effort you’ve taken to make your test results accessible. I did a purge with Ahh-Some and while it produced results, I was pleasantly surprised with the condition of my tub and water, and now have peace of mind.

    After (re-) reading this article, I wish I had just bought Aqua Clarity instead since it seems to be Ahh-Some + Hot Tub Serum combined. I have at least 2 more purges worth of Ahh-some, so I’m on the fence about whether to add Aqua Clarity or Serum. Clarity is definitely cheaper.

    It’s been a while since you wrote this article; any updated thoughts? Thanks Doug!

    1. Hey Curt thanks for stopping by. it has been while since I’ve had some blogging time thats for sure! my latest findings are that I’ve been using Aqua Clarity with GREAT result, and I’ll be putting together some sanitizer decay results to show that. the more I use this stuff the more I’m convinced that having this product on board is a fantastic supplement to regular sanitizer like bromine or chlorine.

  3. Hi Doug,
    First off want to thank you for sharing all your experiments and results and your open attitude towards learning new things. I read your minimalist spa maintenance approach with great interest as well as your review of various cleaners and enzymes. I’m looking forward to trying some of these myself.

    One thing I struggle with is obtaining consistent measurements of chemical levels in the spa. Being color blind the test strips really don’t work for me and I tried a optical scanner device that read the strips but I find I can measure 3 times in a row and get significantly different results. I have a PH meter that I use for home brewing but that only addresses one aspect. Do you have any advice on a better approach?

    Also, I’m curious how your use of Aqua Clarity has changed your maintenance routine?

    Thanks again for all your great info

    1. Hey Jeff – yes I can say that aqua clarity has changed my routine, and thats only because clean tubs use less chlorine because there are fewer bad guys to kill. what I recommend is straight up aqua clarity to keep the biofilms at bay and then std water balancing chemicalsl, dry acid to lower pH and baking soda to raise it. chlorine or bromine for the sanitizer. Don’t belive the hype of all these mirracle enzymes they don’t work. but the “quat” ingredients in aqua clarity really do work.

  4. Hey Doug, many months later – just took a look and see you replied – thanks! Just adding my findings here. I’ve been using Aqua Clarity for about 4 months, and aside from no foaming and clear water, the main thing I notice is that I get the same kind of nasty biofilm on the sides of the tub that I get after an Ahh-some purge (albeit on a much smaller scale). This tells me that I’m always purging and “my pipes are clean”… at least that’s my assumption. It’s unsightly and a little gross, as well as a bit of a hassle to clean, but I suppose it’s a much better alternative than having it sit in the pipes.

    1. Hi Curt yes my experience matches yours! I agree with you — you get little mini-purges every time you use Aqua Clarity becuause the main indredient is simliar (a “quat”), only on a much smaller scale. this is evident by the fact that AC used used for the purge itself. The other thing this means is that, rather than a one-time purge you are continually killing biofilms. the question is where do those bad guys come from? in one of my introductory posts I describe how those guys are smart and they come back with a vengence when threatened. this is the value of AC imho — you continually attack those guys, instead of waiting for old water to purge. I’m down to the point where the AC releases very little if any biofilms — and these I just wipe off the vessel walls. btw have you ever purged more than once? with ahsome I mean, like I describe in one of my other posts here?

      1. I have yet to double purge… and now that I’m using AC all the time, probably even less likely. Curious though. Unsurprisingly, I’ve noticed that if I use skin lotion in the morning, the “vessel walls”, as you put it, get build up (I admit it, I don’t usually shower before getting in). A testament to its effectiveness.

  5. Hi Doug,
    Glad to have met you (found your blog ;o). I really enjoy not only your content, but how you present your experiences in a personable way. As a newbie at 70, I am enjoying my current obsession with learning all things hot tub and related. The first phase of this, er, ‘passion’ I’ll cal it (my wife feels the former term is more accurate! ;o), was the hot tub shopping mode: used/new, new price/quality level, etc. It was a familiar journey from “I want to find a great used hot tub for $4–5K”, ending at “OK, I’ve decided to stretch to invest the big bucks, to me, of +/- $17k w/ tax.” As I await delivery within the next week of my Bullfrog A6L (6’8″x7’4), phase two has been scrambling on minutia about the site prep. Phase three brings me to the universe of, or should I say the University of Hot Tub Chemistry! LOL

    I am all on board with purging my new Bullfrog tub (2 1/2-month-old, Mfg’d Oct. 2023) with the packet of AHH!some purge I have on hand. My Question… In your purge tests/experiments, I’m curious if you have done what might be considered a baseline test. At your routine drain, refill, purge processes, you usually do purge #1 with (product X being tested), then purge #2 with AHH!some, to see if/what additional gunk gets revealed. The baseline test would be doing purge #1 with AHH!some, then purge #2 AGAIN with AHH!some, to see if/what additional gunk gets revealed?

    II ask because reading your tests, I remembered how the Kirby vacuum salesman would vacuum my carpet with MY vacuum, then go over the same area with the Kirby. Then he’d pull out the little 5″ round disk filter in his sales demo Kirby and show me the dirt my vacuum missed! I passed on he $500+ Kirby, but later it occurred to me to see what MY old Eureka vacuum would pick up on a second pass over a given area. Well, well, well, My vacuum picked up as more dirt on a second pass, JUST LIKE THE KIRBY DID! I resigned my self that it is acceptable for me to remove the first pass of dirt, dog hair etc. because there would be no such thing as vacuuming it ALL out.

    Hopefully, spa plumbing does not retain bad guy biofilm as well as carpeting retains dirt! That being said, since the pumping is smooth, unlike carpeting, theoretically, you might expect to get 99% of the bad guys out of a spa. The experiment I would propose would be this. Use the best purge product you know, AHH!some in this case. Run ‘X’ number of purges* until the purge looks like it removed NO residues of anything. If in this experiment, of purge #1 & #2 being done with AHH!some, If purge #2 removed NO additional residues of anything, your assumptions that “AHH!some got more as purge #2 after product ‘X’, would be valid.

    I ask certainly not to discredit AHH!some or your experiments, but to learn if even after TWO purges of the best purge there is, there still is ‘some’ degree of biofilm remaining. If there was, then personally, I would adopt your strategy of one AHH!some purge at every drain refill. What ever the result of the multiple AHH!some purges, it is a good data point to determine, IMHO. ;o)

    We are also campers, albeit in a restored 1999 Starcraft tent trailer. I look forward to reading your RV blog when I have completed the first semester of Hot Tub University here and the other forums.

    Thank you for the gift you give to the hot tub and RV communities!
    Dave

    1. Hey Dave good to correspond! well, yes I have considered what you have described, although my experiments have already proven that the inferior products release nothing after two attempts, before ahh-some bats cleanup. but– by now you have probably found my posts where — if there is a biofilm problem – – more than one ahh-some purge is required (I have even over-dosed with ahh-some and controled the foam with some “foam down” like product. it works btw :-).

      anyway — none of the other products I have tested will release anything on the 2nd try. ahh-some does — if you have a biofilm problem. I have personally coached folks through as many as TEN purges to correct for a bad infestation of biofilms. thats the thing — if there is a problem you have to bite the bullet and keep purging until you release nothing more. and the test is — drum roll — Jets on, dosed with ahh-some, filters INSTALLED, and releasing no new material. Yes, the instructions say to remove the filters and that is essential when there is biofilms to clog them up (and starve your pumps), so I ONLY do this when the spa is alread clean (releasing no new material), and THEN I add the filters to the vessel (on a piece of PVC pipe to keep them from blocking your skimmer).

      Now then, before AC came into the picture, yes I absolutely recommened purging with ahh-some at EVERY drain — just take the filters out, dose the old, heated water with ahh-some, and purge away before draining. w/o AC use on a regular basis I released biofilms EVERY time, no mattter how careful I was with chlorine and water balancing. So the lesson to me is that, especially a few years ago, no one, including the forum experts, believed me that biofilms behaved as they do. but the science is there! and the experts were all recommending 100ppm decontaminiation procedures, all the while ignoring the science of biofilms when they could just dose with ahh-some and take care of the problem.

      now that we have AC, we can do mini-purges every week. I think this is a spot on essential component. when you say “Hopefully, spa plumbing does not retain bad guy biofilm as well as carpeting retains dirt!”, my response is “it certainly does!”. I now know that no matter how clean you start out with (even two purges for the new spa), they KEEP comming back. and here again, the science shows is and nobody believed it — bilfilms are smart little buggers that adapt and come back with vengence if you don’t get them all. Anyway — don’t be surprised if, when you add AC on a weekly basis, that you get a small ring of biofilm release around the vessel wall. completely normal. just wipe it up with a micro-fiber cloth and keep soaking. the AC is killing bad guys for you. I only wish I had invented this stuff myself lol

      Let me comment on your observation:

      “I am all on board with purging my new Bullfrog tub (2 1/2-month-old, Mfg’d Oct. 2023) with the packet of AHH!some purge I have on hand. My Question… In your purge tests/experiments, I’m curious if you have done what might be considered a baseline test. At your routine drain, refill, purge processes, you usually do purge #1 with (product X being tested), then purge #2 with AHH!some, to see if/what additional gunk gets revealed. The baseline test would be doing purge #1 with AHH!some, then purge #2 AGAIN with AHH!some, to see if/what additional gunk gets revealed?I am all on board with purging my new Bullfrog tub (2 1/2-month-old, Mfg’d Oct. 2023) with the packet of AHH!some purge I have on hand. My Question… In your purge tests/experiments, I’m curious if you have done what might be considered a baseline test. At your routine drain, refill, purge processes, you usually do purge #1 with (product X being tested), then purge #2 with AHH!some, to see if/what additional gunk gets revealed. The baseline test would be doing purge #1 with AHH!some, then purge #2 AGAIN with AHH!some, to see if/what additional gunk gets revealed?”

      Yes I agree that would be an interesting step, to be sure! I’ll only point out that in the vast majority of situations, I purged twice with the inferior product (finding no new material) before purging with ahh-some. Its true, however, that I have also purged twice with ahh-some (even after the inferior product gave up), so its clear to me that (a) this gunk is tough to elimminate and (b) ahh-some is the only product I know of that can get it. it may not be long before a me-too product comes along made of similar ingredients, so we can watch for that perhaps.

      Anyway — happy purging! with AC, you can eliminate the ahh-some purge because AC does the purge itself — just follow the label directions and dose with the purge-quantity of AC. the product is formulated so that one purchase will last a full year (400 gal spa), with weekly doses and one high-dosage purge. So with the new spa you could use the ahh-some packet that you have for purge #1, and then (with the additional AC purchase) do your second purge with AC. with my 500 gallon spa, I can’t make AC last a year so I have just taken to purging with ahh-some and then dosing weekly with AC.

  6. Oh, I forgot to ask as I await my tub’s arrival, would you use Aqua Clarity or the single packet of AHH!some (powder I assume)? I already received the $10 packet from Amazon. If Aqua Clarity, I’m unclear on the sizes and concentrations available and for a first timer to start off with. Given my question of “would a second” AHH!some purge be a good idea, my guess is not in my case where the spa was transported from Utah to CA in October (not much if any hot weather), then sat on a showroom floor (dry, never filled at the store), until this week. Should I go ahead and buy a second packet to have on hand and decide yes/no on a purge #2 by what I see on purge #1? Never having a bather in it, and only the wet leak test at the bullfrog factory, I’d hope the AHH!some purge #1 would come out with little if any scum or residue, but who knows.

    1. well — if I had it to do all over again, I would buy the jar of ahhsome and purge twice before using it. yea I agree that in your case (transport during the winter) is much more in your favor, since I purchased mine in the summer of 2013. But don’t count out the fact that biofilms will form during storage at room temperature — check out my post where I did all the religious purges I could before putting my spa in storage…. unfortunately I couldn’t even convince Watkins’ manufacturing (Hot Springs) to see the light, as they refused to purge at the factory. anyway — it is my assumption that purging with AC (in their recommended dose) is equivalent to purging with ahh-somel, as far as the biofilm-busting properties are concerned. my whole experience has shown, time and time again, that ahh-some is the king of purge, so thats where I lean.

      I would purge the new spa twice with ahh-some. the 2nd is probably not necessary but you don’t know that until you try it and get no new release (see my posts here on obtaining a squeaky clean spa, with filters INSTALLED, dosed with ahh-some). thats your goal. the cleaner she is to start with, the fewer issues you will have going forward.

      1. one of these times I’ll try to purge with AC and then see if ahh-some release anything new. I just don’t think it will, however, because the formulas are so similar. From the looks of things, AC might contain more water clarifiers and ahh-some more surfactants, but experimentally I have not determined if one is superior to the other, in a purge. I have just ASSUMED (due to to foaming surfactants) that straight up ahh-some would do a slightly better job. Just from my arm chair, however, my sense is that multiple purges to deal with an old (or brand new) spa I would lean on ahh-some. then switch to AC.

        1. Doug,
          Big thanks for your responses.
          I was able to buy Aqua Clarity 6 oz for $5 less than Amazon from the Ahh!some website, they did not charge sales tax -and- had a link to buy via Amazon Prime (I did that). The Ahh!some site would not let me buy the 2oz jar of Ahh!some and neither would Amazon (said: can’t ship to your location) but Amazon let me buy another .5 oz packet of Ahh!some, weird. I guess 2oz is Hazmat, but .5oz is not. LOL

          Anyway, I guess my plan will be to:
          1) Fill tub to minimum fill line(?)*, not using a hose end filter Pre-Filter. Then do Ahh!some purge #1 with filter removed. Is running purge w/ jets and air longer than 30 mins of any added value? How long do you run jets w/ Ahh!some?
          2) Fill tub a second time to minimum fill line(?)* using one of the two brands of
          Pre-Filters for ‘Heavy Metals’ I bought:
          PoolPure https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086MHL2JN/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1
          or Glacier Fresh https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081N7NY12/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1
          3) Install spa’s filter, add Ahh!some .5oz packet and run purge #2.

          I will take pictures after purge #1 and #2 and post here as well as the other forums I follow because, this is the kind of thing “I as a newbie would be very curious about for a new, even low risk short winter period delivery spa seeing what ONE purge releases and if a second purge releases still more!” :o)

          The specs from Bullfrog’s website and brochure say the A6L model has a minimum fill level line (311 gals) and a maximum fill amount of 420 gallons, but I don’t know if there is a visible line of described level for max fill??
          ** I am curious if there is any downside to running my two purges at the minimum fill level to save 110 gallons of water per purge? I don’t know if it matters, but Bullfrog boasts significantly less plumbing, with one main line supplying each JetPak. Maybe less PVC surface area for biofilm to make a home on? Same question for future purges, any benefit from draining say 100 gallons before adding say a .5 oz Ahh!some packet, or 6oz from the One gallon premixed Aqua Clarity (6oz added 122oz water in bleach jug)?

          Thanks again, Doug for sharing your knowledge with us here on your blog.
          Happy New Year.
          Dave

          1. re: “Is running purge w/ jets and air longer than 30 mins of any added value? How long do you run jets w/ Ahh!some?”

            Great Question: after numerous experiments I say the answer is “no”. 30 min is the magic number, with all jets going great guns. depending on your calcium levels you might generate a fair amount of foam, but thats just the surfactants working. The only exception I make to the 30 min rule is the very last check, with filters installed, jets running, and the water dosed with ahh-some. I just let it run, wiping small amounts of residue as many times as it takes, until I get no more release. then you have a squeeky clean spa!

            The only other tip I would add is that if purge #1 yields a very small release, you may not have to do purge #2. thats your call of course. if all you get is a small amount of material on the vessel walls, and you wipe it up and get nothing new after running the jets another 30 min, then to me this would be evidence that the new spa had vanishingly small amounts of biofilm growing, as a result of wet testing and subsequent storage at room temperature. in this case, I would then put the new filters in and do the “squeaky clean” thing right up front, with no need for purge #2.

            couple of other tips
            * always add shock amounts of chlorine when you purge. if the purge releases anything you’ll want to kill it 🙂

            * keep a 5 gallon bucket of spa water, dosed with ahh-some, and use it to rinse out your rags that you wipe the walls with.

            * be sure to wipe up the filter area. that place can collect some serious goo.

            * when you drain, be sure to open up whatever equipment drains might be available, and be prepared drain twice or otherwise clear out the ahh-some sufactants. I learned this the hard way — my spa does not drain 100%, as there is water trapped somewhere. the result is that you have a small amount of ahh-some dosed water that you cant completely get rid of. the result is turbid water. So I have to drain, then “half” fill and drain again. you’ll have to just experiment to determine if that applies to you or not.

            re: minimum fill: as long as all the jets run ok with minimum fill, then yea I’d say save the water. the goal is to run ahh-some dosed water through everything, so if you can do that with miniumum fill go for it. I have to fill mine to cover the highest jets, so that they don’t spray water into the neighbors yard lol

            re: “any benefit from draining say 100 gallons before adding say a .5 oz Ahh!some packet, or 6oz from the One gallon premixed Aqua Clarity (6oz added 122oz water in bleach jug)?” I don’t think it matters here either, but if the water line is lower than usual when you purge then just make sure that ahh-some dosed water reaches the majority of the vessel walls. hose them down while you drain, so taht any residue doesn’t dry onto the walls. I think the main goal is to run ahh-some through all the pipes and equipment.

  7. “The only other tip I would add is that if purge #1 yields a very small release, you may not have to do purge #2. thats your call of course. if all you get is a small amount of material on the vessel walls, and you wipe it up and get nothing new after running the jets another 30 min, then to me this would be evidence that the new spa had vanishingly small amounts of biofilm growing, as a result of wet testing and subsequent storage at room temperature. in this case, I would then put the new filters in and do the “squeaky clean” thing right up front, with no need for purge #2.”
    Thank you for mentioning to watch for this possibility of a relatively small release of biofilm, meaning not a large amount of scum adhering to the shell above the water line during the jet’s water/air strong agitation in say the first 15 mins. of the 30 min. purge run #1. Would foam not be biofilm, but dirt, oils, lotions, skin excretions, etc in a tub that had had bodies in it (which mine from the factory has not)? I just looked up ‘Surfactants’, “Surfactants are sticky molecules..” A quick read says surfactants may be present in drinking water as linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS). So I may see foam just from my tap water? And maybe some foam from whatever may be in the plumbing from the factory? Am I correct that I probably would not see a lot of foam, since major foam is more from residual detergents from bodies and swim wear? My takeaway is to wipe the sludge that appears on the shell as it appears w/ microfiber towels during the 30-min Purge #1. As you say, if I’m lucky and if it seems slime stops accumulating on the shell perimeter at say the 20-minute mark, I may be at the “squeaky clean” phase and could install the filter for the last 10 minutes. Curious me would likely pull the filter at the 25-min mark “to see” if or what had accumulated in those 5 minutes, quickly hose it off, reinstall and see what the ‘Last 5 minutes gathered! ;o)

    “couple of other tips
    * always add shock amounts of chlorine when you purge. if the purge releases anything you’ll want to kill it 🙂” Does this mean that after the 30-min Purge jets run, A) add (X ounces of my plain bottled Bleach) to the Ahh!some water BEFORE draining and recirculate for ‘X’ more minutes? -OR- B) Drain Ahh!some purge water (refilling partially, draining again to dilute/ drain out any Ahh!some water left in plumbing). THEN do the “Ready For Use Fill”? I’m planning to do this “Ready For Use Fill” with a Pre-Filter to remove Metals. I’d like your opinion on this experiment:

    When ready to fill for use, in an attempt to lower my hose water’s TA (370) and CH (190), I’m going to see if my dinky 12″ x 2″ Omnipure K5654 Water Softener filter I use to limit scale in the office coffee equipment I use in my office coffee business. I’ll test the CH after the 1/4″ in/ out filter has run for 30 mins., then at 3 hours, and 6 hours to see if the resin beads are still providing the same or significant CH reduction to continue that experiment. The spec sheet says this softener filter has “a Capacity of 700 Grains of Hardness”. I don’t know what that means for its ability to soften 210 gallons with a constant flow for ≈ 7 hours. The 0.5 GPM flow rate will theoretically yield 210 gallons, half of the tubs 420 gallon volume, in ≈ 7 hours. I only have one of the ‘all softener’ filters, but I have several of Omnipure’s combination 14″ x 2.5″ Carbon/ Softener filters, E5786, which I could swap in if the 1st softener filter’s softening peters out before half a tub’s fill (≈210 gallons). Ha, I’ll learn how accurate, or not my P3 international ‘Save-A-Drop’ hose end water meter is. ;o)

    I will use your 5-gal bucket of Ahh!some (taken out of tub early in the 30-min purge run.) tip for rinsing the shell wiping cloths (and my filter after its first 5 mins. of ‘squeaky clean’ time. ;o). Bullfrog has their filter in an enclosed box (called Simplicity Filter), so I’ll pull that and wipe it a few times in the 30-min purge run.

    “I have to fill mine to cover the highest jets, so that they don’t spray water into the neighbors yard lol” Good to know, like I was thinking that as long as the water level covers the jets enough so they don’t spray all over, that’s as high as the water needs to be. You may not be familiar with the Bullfrog JetPak system. I’ll have to see what happens if I just remove one, two or maybe all the JetPaks. Maybe I can take them out, maybe I can’t. 1) I’ll see if I can get any info from Bullfrog forum people (not too likely). 2) When I first fill the tub for purge #1, I will lift out a JetPak, see what drains out in it’s upright position, then tilt it all ways to see if anymore water comes out. If the JetPaks ALL seem to drain completely in their installed orientation, would it be safe to assume they had no water in them during their 2-3 months of storage, hence no risk of biofilm? -Or- is just being exposed to the “air” from lower plumbing where biofilm may have been growing enough to say the safe course is just Ahh!some flush the JetPaks along with the rest of the tub?

    “just make sure that ahh-some dosed water reaches the majority of the vessel walls.” Can Biofilm reside not just inside the plumbing, but on the shell (and maybe even above the “people out” waterline level? Or, you rinse the shell all the way to the top of the shell to be sure to remove Biofilm released and spread by the bubbling jets purge process?

    “hose them down while you drain, so that any residue doesn’t dry onto the walls.” Definitely!!
    “I think the main goal is to run ahh-some through all the pipes and equipment.” This may speak to my “yes or no, remove JetPaks” Q above. Probably, leave them in to be sure. Plus, w/o them, maybe I’d have four ‘Old Faithful geysers’ shooting into the sky (towards my neighbors. ;o) IDK.
    Thank you,
    Dave

    1. Oh– I mean when you dose with ahhsome (or purge quantities of AC) ALSO dose with shock quantity of chlorine. Kill whatever gets released as in dead bad guys on the vessel walls

      When you dose with ahhsome you’ll have (minimally) ahhsome dosed water on the surfaces (!) At most, the ahhsome dosed water has bad guys in it . So youll want to hose her down.

  8. Comparing AhhSome with Total cleanse. The total cleanse has a EPA approval. Does that mean it is different chemically than AhhSome? I used aqua clarity but found biofilm under my headrests. That bothered me but maybe it shouldn’t have. I’m also using AquaFinesse. Is that dumb or redundant?

    1. Ahhsome and total cleanse are identical except for the color is my assessment. AC is a mini purge so you WANT it to release biofilm. Keep using it and over time the biofilms will no longer be there to release

  9. Hello Doug – Happy to have found your blog, although I just spent two hours on a beautiful spring day inside, reading up on spa maintenance on your blog.
    I’m particularly interested in biofilm and AC; until now I’ve been relying on non-chlorine shock to clarify, and my first purge for our new 310 gallon spa will be in another month or so (it’s a new tub since November). My shallow gravity-feed spring allows me to fill it up with very soft, beautiful water @about 30 gallons every 90 minutes (gotta let the spring refill); it’s a long process, so probably not multiple repeat purges – once every 6 months sounds right for us. Anyhow – when you do your AC mini purges, is that instead of shock? Or do you use shock too? Thanks. David

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