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FreshWater Salt System


FreshWater® Salt System


Available on all Hot Spring Highlife® and Limelight® Collection spas and Caldera Utopia® and Paradise® Collection spas, this easy-to-use saltwater system eliminates the worry of keeping spa water clean, clear, and sanitized for a full year.* With just a little salt in your spa water, the system generates chlorine automatically so you’ll spend less time measuring and adding chemicals. This unique system makes spa ownership easier than ever by removing the guesswork and hassle of water care maintenance.

• More natural-feeling water with no itchy, dry skin or eyes

• Fewer chemicals added and no harsh odors

• Simple water care means more time enjoying your spa

• Conserve water by reducing spa drain and refills to once a year*


One of the primary concerns about owning a spa is water care. Watch this video to learn how the FreshWater Salt System lets you spend more time relaxing in your hot tub and almost no time maintaining it.

The exclusive FreshWater Salt System is an option for all Hot Spring Highlife® and Limelight® Collection spas and Caldera Utopia® and Paradise® Collection spa models. Available only in the U.S.

How does it work?

Is it maintenance-free?

What is the start-up process?

How do I care for my water after start-up?

Owner's Manual & Troubleshooting



Unique, patent-pending technology makes the FreshWater Salt System the best saltwater system for hot tubs. The titanium cartridge creates chlorine from salt to sanitize the spa water. Use the control panel to set the output level needed to clean the water based on your usage needs.

The control panel prompts you to check the water with a test strip every 10 days and adjust the system if needed. It also indicates when the system needs attention and instructs you on what steps to take. It’s that easy. The disposable cartridge never needs any maintenance and lasts for four months. With only three cartridge changes, the water stays fresh for a full year, giving you the best spa water possible.

With fewer additives and less chemicals, the spa water stays cleaner longer. Spa water lasts 12 months before it needs a drain and refill. The FreshWater Salt System saves on maintenance time, conserves water, and saves money - making your hot tub a joy to own rather than a hassle.

The disposable and maintenance-free titanium cartridge, hidden away in the spa, is easy to replace in just a few seconds, without tools. And one 3-pack of FreshWater Salt System titanium cartridges gives you a year’s worth of water care.*

*Many factors affect the life of spa water, such as bather load and water chemistry. When these factors are accounted for and the spa is properly maintained, the FreshWater Salt System will keep water clean and clear for a full year.



Many people ask us if this is a "maintenance-free" water care system. The answer is, emphatically, No! While the FreshWater Salt System makes caring for your water and maintaining your spa incredibly simple and worry-free, there are still steps you need to take to ensure clean and clear water. While we strive to make the process as easy as we can and are happy to answer any questions you may have, you are ultimately responsible for maintaining proper sanitary water conditions. We ask that you carefully review both your Spa Owner's Manual and the FreshWater Owner's Manual. It's important that you follow the steps below at start-up, test and balance your water regularly, clean your filters monthly, and replace your cartridges and water as needed.

Even though other manufacturers and dealers propagate fears about saltwater systems corroding your equipment, there is nothing to worry about so long as you keep your water balanced and do not overfill your water with salt. Dealers who do not sell saltwater systems often don't understand how they work (and they're obviously not going to promote something they don't sell) - Hot Spring and Caldera have invested years of research into integrating the FreshWater Salt System into their spa models, and it's important to remember that these spas are designed for use with the salt system.




This is the amount of time the FreshWater Salt System needs to clean your water before a measurable amount of chlorine is generated. During this time, you will not get a chlorine reading on your test strip.

Keep in mind that there are trace amounts of water left in the plumbing of the hot tub from factory testing. This, combined with increased usage during the first few days or weeks of ownership, leads to your salt system working overtime to sanitize the water and establish a natural residual.

You may need to manually dose the water with Chlorinating Concentrate for the first 4-5 days to maintain target FCL levels.



• Fill spa with cold water by placing hose in gray filter standpipe. After 10 minutes of running water, install the EcoOne hose filter or pre-filter and complete the filling process. Fill to approximately half-inch below pillows and be sure to flush carbon from filter before placing into your spa.

• Once the spa is full, power on and add 2 oz of Stain and Scale per 100 gallons of water and run jets for 10 minutes.

• Test for phosphates and add 1-2 teaspoons per 100 gallons of Natural Chemistry Phos Free to treat as needed. Run jets for 10 minutes and close cover to let heat. Everything Billiards will test and treat for phosphates during delivery of your new spa. We can test your water in-store for subsequent refills - simply bring us a water sample!



• Remove filters, saturate the surface with SpaGuard Filter Cleaner, allow to sit for 15-20 minutes, then hose off with a high-pressure hose or Water Wand. Ensure ALL soap is removed before placing the filters back to avoid foaming.

• Install the Mineral Spa Sanitizer in the gray filter standpipe, then replace filter.

• Install Titanium Cartridge in the housing near the control panel on top of spa.

• Using a 5-way test strip, test Total Alkalinity and pH levels. Balance water using chemicals provided to the following levels:
          TA: 40-120 ppm / pH: 7.2-7.8

• Add 75% of the suggested FreshWater Spa Salt amount per package directions based on your spa volume and run jets for 10 minutes. *You can always add more salt as needed, but you cannot take it out without draining!

• Add 1 tsp of Chlorinating Concentrate per 100 gallons of water and run jets for 10 minutes. After running the jets for 10-15 minutes, use a 5-way test strip to ensure FCL is ~ 5 ppm. It’s ok to add more chlorine at this point if levels seem low.

• Set FreshWater Salt System output to level 10, unless advised otherwise by delivery team - this should be monitored over the next few days.

• Your hot tub is safe to use once Free Chlorine, Total Alkalinity, and pH measure in the “OK” range on your test strip.



• Using a 5-way test strip, test Total Alkalinity, pH, and Calcium Hardness levels. Balance water to the following levels:
          FCL: 3-5ppm / TA: 40-120 ppm / pH: 7.2-7.8

          *You should test FCL levels every day over the first week and add chlorine as needed.

• If needed, use the provided Vanishing Act Calcium Remover as directed: Rinse pillow thoroughly with clear water, drop pillow over heater vent in floor of spa, flip over after 12 hours, and discard after 24 hours. The pillow acts as a magnet for calcium - try not to disturb it while in spa.

• Test salt level with salt test strips provided, following the directions on the bottle - dip test strip in spa (about 6 inches), remove strip without shaking off excess water, hold level for 20 seconds, then match the strip to the reading on the back of the bottle. If salt is lower than 1700 ppm, add 1/2 - 1 cup of salt, mix with jets, and retest as needed to reach the “OK” range.

• Start relaxing in your new hot tub!

• After the first week or so, once you're maintaining the target chlorine reading, reduce the output level according to your use - most systems run between 5-7 for regular use in order to maintain an FCL level between 3 and 5 ppm. If you frequently have friends over to use the spa or have a large family, we recommend setting your output level between 8 and 10.



Excuse us for repeating this, but it's important! The FreshWater Salt System cleans the water before producing a chlorine residual.

Keep in mind that there are trace amounts of water left in the plumbing of the hot tub from factory testing. This, combined with increased usage during the first few days or weeks of ownership, leads to your salt system working overtime to sanitize the water and establish a natural residual.

You may need to manually dose the water with Chlorinating Concentrate for the first 4-5 days to maintain target FCL levels. While it's normal to not see a Free Chlorine reading on the test strip while the water is being sanitized, it is important to test the water more frequently and add sanitizer during this process.



• Using a 5-way test strip, test Alkalinity, pH, and Hardness levels every 10 days (as instructed by control panel). Balance water to the following levels:
          TBR: IGNORE / FCL: 3-5 ppm / TA: 40-120 ppm / pH: 7.2-7.8 / Hardness: > 50 ppm
          *Due to the nature of spa water and running water through the jets and plumbing, you will likely need to add Alk Inc / pH Decreaser.

*Every 10 days, the FreshWater Salt System reminds you to test your water and confirm your output level - the logo light on the spa will blink and a message will appear on the screen until this is confirmed.



• Clean your filters every 30 days with SpaGuard Filter Cleaner - remove filters, saturate surface with cleaner, allow to sit for 15-20 minutes, then hose off with a high-pressure hose or Water Wand. Ensure ALL soap is removed before placing the filters back to avoid foaming.

*To avoid issues with foam, try to keep all detergents, lotions, oils, soaps, makeup, perfume, and hair products out of the water!



• Replace both cartridges in your spa - the Mineral Spa Sanitizer and the FreshWater Salt Cartridge:

     • It’s IMPORTANT to discard the used mineral cartridge after 4 months, whether you replace it or not. It loses its efficacy and will cause cloudy water.

     • It’s IMPORTANT to follow the on-screen instructions on your spa when replacing the salt cartridge - this will shut down the 24-hour circulation pump prior to opening the housing chamber for the cartridge and prevent leaks.

• Add scant amounts of salt as needed throughout the year - you will need to do this occasionally as water evaporates or splashes out of the tub and you have to top off. Again, please add salt sparingly! It's very easy to add more, but if you put in too much salt, you'll be required to drain some water out and refill to dilute.






This shows you if the system is performing optimally and reflects a number of elements that can impact performance, including the salt level, cartridge status (clean / dirty), and water temperature. The status updates automatically every 30 minutes. You can manually update the system status by activating the status test using your control panel.

• Green: System is optimal.

• Yellow: System is OK, but salt level, filters, and water temperature should be monitored (page 7 of Owner's Manual).

• Red LOW: System needs your attention and is NOT generating chlorine. The cartridge could be expired, or the salt level may be low (page 7 of Owner's Manual).

• Red HIGH: System needs your attention and NOT generating chlorine - the salt level is high (page 7-8 of Owner's Manual).



High metal content can cause staining and discolored water. It is important to remove metals before starting up the Salt System. Ensure that the salt system is turned off with no cartridge installed, and do not add chlorine for 24 hours while the Stain and Scale is working.

NOTE: Do not use the spa until metal treatment is complete and chlorine is added.



Cloudy water can be the result of a number of issues.

• High pH: Use a 5-way test strip to check pH level and add pH Decreaser as needed.

• Low chlorine: Use a 5-way test strip to check chlorine levels - if low, manually add chlorine as needed to shock the spa to 5 ppm.

• Dirty filter: Check filter(s) and clean as needed (see above).



This system cleans spa water differently than manually added chlorine. Since the water is cleaned before the chlorine residual is established, only a small chlorine residual is needed. If there appears to be no chlorine in the water:

• Check output level: If you are using the spa frequently of the Summer Timer on, your use level may require that you increase the output level to a higher number.

• Shock the water: Boost system or manually add chlorine to clean the water and develop a chlorine residual.

• Increase salt level: Keep the salt level near the high end of the OK range (2,000 ppm) to ensure maximum chlorine generation.

• Consult your dealer about changing the internal system output level.

It's IMPORTANT to shock the water with chlorine at start-up and over the first week or so after filling.



The system will continue to produce chlorine according to the selected output level, regardless of whether you use your spa or not. If you begin to use your hot tub less frequently, it will be necessary to lower the output level. If the chlorine level is too high:

• Check output level: You may need to decrease the output level to a lower number.

• Reduce chlorine: Add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide with the jets running. Check level after 10 minutes and repeat as needed.

• Consult your dealer about changing the internal system output level.



• Heavy Use: Initiate the Boost cycle a few hours prior to heavy use. Periodically test and add chlorine as needed.

• Metal Treatment: Excessive use of phosphate anti-scalant will promote high phosphate levels, which can cause scale and weaken chlorine output.

• Phosphates: High levels of phosphates may cause reduced sanitized output. We can help you test if you bring us a sample of water.

• Salt Level: Salt is not used up during the sanitizer production, but rather recycled. You will only need to add salt sparingly as you top off the water. Maintaining high salt and chlorine levels above the recommended range can contribute to corrosion of spa equipment.

• Salt Build-Up: Periodically hose off your spa, steps, and deck or concrete to prevent salt build-up that can occur from splash-out.

• Summer Timer: The Summer Timer mode will decrease the chlorine generation time of the system. If activated, the output level will most likely need to be increased to compensate.

• Ozone: Ozone is not recommended with the FreshWater Salt System - they are not compatible.

• IMPORTANT: When replacing the cartridge, make sure to follow the instructions on the control panel in order to turn the pumps off.




Our Hot Spring and Caldera spas are engineered with precision, built with top-of-the-line components manufactured by Watkins, and designed to delight the eye and soothe the muscles, ultimately providing you with the best hot tub ownership experience possible. Shop Hot Spring, Caldera, and Fantasy models now or Contact Us to start your journey!