What You Should Know About Hot Tub Temperature Control
Oct 24, 2001 (Updated Oct 13, 2008)
Popular Products in GardenThe Bottom Line Having your own hot tub is just another great part of life!
Review on Setting the Temperature on Your Hot Tub (October 24, 2001)
Almost nothing beats a nice soak in a hot tub, after a long, strenuous day of hard work! The hot water soothes pains away, loosens up cramped muscles, and the billions of bubbles tickles your skin. The water vapor rises to your nose and breathing in the steam loosens up congestion. When you leave the hot tub, you feel relaxed and drowsy - ready for a good night's sleep. It is a wonderful experience each and every time! Being a long-term hot tub owner, several concerns have arisen concerning the health, safety and benefits of maintaining the water temperature. I researched this subject and I'd like to present to you my findings.
To keep your good health, there are certain things you should know about maintaining the proper water temperature in your hot tub. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends never allowing the temperature of the water in your hot tub to exceed 104ºF. Water temperatures over 110ºF have caused a number of deaths, according to their findings. They site that high water temperatures can cause drowsiness to occur that may lead to unconsciousness and drowning. The hot water will raise your body temperature, and thus your blood pressure, that may lead to heat stroke and death. They advise against pregnant women (since excessive water temperatures have a high potential for causing fetal damage during the early months of pregnancy) and young children (since their bodies do not get used to temperature changes as easily as adults do) using hot tubs before consulting a physician. Individuals suffering from obesity or having a medical history of heart disease, low or high blood pressure, circulatory system problems, or diabetes should also consult a physician before using a hot tub.
Aside from these comments, many hot tub manufacturers recommend never drinking alcoholic beverages before, during, and/or after soaking in a hot tub. Alcohol expands your blood vessels and increases your body temperature. So does your hot tub! The combined effect may raise your body temperature too much, leading to a stroke or heart attack. It may also cause dizziness, nausea, and/or lightheadedness leading to unconsciousness and potential drowning or a slipping accident. This argument holds true for certain medications/narcotics that raise blood pressure of body temperature.
To get really technical about increased body temperature dangers prolonged immersion in hot water that is warmer than normal body temperature can lead to Hyperthermia. This dangerous condition occurs when your internal body temperature increases above what is considered the normal body temperature of 98.6ºF. Hyperthermia may result in many of the symptoms listed above. This may result in an individual's inability to leave the hot tub or desire to leave the hot tub, if needed. For this reason, it is recommended that soakers take breaks during soaking and leave the hot tub after 15 minutes, to allow your body to cool down.
Different people have different tolerances towards water temperature. My wife, for instance, finds the water is not hot enough if it is set below 100ºF (even at this temperature she will complain!). I prefer the water to be cooler opposed to hotter - 104ºF is too hot for me. Also, the outdoor air temperature will be a factor to consider when determining the right water temperature. In general, I find 102ºF to be accommodating to most soakers, and it is the best overall temperature.
There are other things to consider in maintaining a specific water temperature level. An air (bubble) blower will cool down the water temperature. As soon as you remove the insulated cover, the water temperature will begin to drop at a slow, gradual pace. Adding cold water will also cool the temperature down. Also, adding more people in the hot tub will decrease the temperature slightly. Of course, turning the thermostat dial to a different temperature setting will also adjust the temperature, but it may take time for this change to take effect, as the volume of water is rather large.
I've heard rumors concerning health risks about sitting in the hot water that I should dispel, while on the topic. A visitor refused to use the hot tub fearing that the hot water might make him infertile. (I've also heard the woman version of this rumor). According to doctors at the Mayo clinic, this is not so. The hot water can temporarily interfere with normal reproduction, but it will not have any long-term side effects. So, soak away!
There is just one other health risk that is related to hot water risks that I would like to point out: Hot water tends to harbor a large amount of water-bourn bacteria. This is why it is so important to maintain a clean hot tub and add anti-bacteria agents to the water, such as Bromine. Although most bacteria that can be found in a hot tub are not fatal, it can lead to nasty skin rashes. Never soak in a hot tub that has a strong chlorine smell or has foam or scum floating on the surface. Water should be changed periodically.
Now for the fun part! Let me tell you now about the good stuff. A discussion about setting the temperature in a hot tub would not be complete without telling you the many benefits of soaking in a hot tub. The benefits far outweigh the causes for concern.
Soaking in a hot tub brings you many health benefits. One of the biggest benefits is that soaking in hot water will dilate your blood vessels. This will aid in your blood circulation and lower your blood pressure. This is the main reason people feel so relieved after soaking after a hard day's work! Buoyancy is yet another plus to soaking in a hot tub. The bubbles will help lift your limbs, relieving the weight, which reduces the workload for your heart by up to 20 percent. The hot water raises your body temperature, causing you to perspire, and rid your body of toxins via your pores. The hot water and increased pressure from the water jets also helps grow white blood cells and antibodies, that might travel to ailing body parts that require aid allowing healing to occur.
Studies in the New England Journal of Medicine have shown many medical benefits of soaking in a hot tub. One study taken in Colorado has shown that people suffering from type 2 diabetes have significantly brought their blood sugar down by regularly soaking in a hot tub for 15 to 30 minutes each day. Doctors who conducted the study speculated benefits of hot tub therapy could be due to increased blood flow to skeletal muscles.
Another study showed that soaking in a hot tub simulates exercising! The idea is that the hot water raises your body temperature increasing your blood flow in much the same way as exercising. Soaking in a hot tub prior to exercising is a great way to warm up and condition muscles for work. The National Sleep Foundation has shown that a short soak prior to going to bed can ease the transition into a deeper, more restful sleep. This is also accomplished by altering your body's temperature. Other studies in various medical journals have shown benefits of soaking in hot water of lowering back pain, relieving stress, reducing body pain, relieving fatigue, lowering body weight, and aiding digestion.
Overall, sitting in a hot tub at what is considered a safe temperature is very beneficial to your body. If you have concerns about whether soaking in hot water is good for, I suggest you talk to your doctor. There is plenty of additional information available about health benefits and cautionary information on the internet. Aside from the health benefits of soaking in a hot tub, my favorite reason to soak is to just have fun! Thanks for reading my review and have a nice day!
Edited 01/07: I made a typo in a couple of places here as pointed out by a couple of readers (thanks). I changed the reference to Hypothermia to Hyperthermia. Information provided within this article came from several sources provided to me by my doctor, health bulletins, and by the hot tub manufacturer!