Aromatherapy products can be used in air-jetted tubs but not water-jetted.
Aromatherapy products can be used in air-jetted tubs but not water-jetted.

Water Jets vs. Air Jets
The buzzword in the spa tub industry is hydrotherapy or using water to maintain health or prevent disease. There are basically two ways that spa tubs do their restorative magic—through water jets and air jets. In a water-jetted whirlpool tub, an electric pump circulates water and shoots it into the tub via multiple jets. Air is commonly mixed with the jetted water, and the ratio of air to water is often adjustable. The number of jets is a feature that varies from product to product. More jets means greater horsepower, which usually results in a higher cost for the tub. Whirlpool tubs generally have between four and eight water jets, with horsepower ranging between one and two hp.

One drawback to a water-jetted spa tub is that the water re-circulates through the pipes, so aromatherapy oils, salts and similar products cannot be used because of the damaging residue they leave behind. Some manufacturers claim their water-jetted tubs will accept certain bath salts, but be certain to follow their guidelines. Water-jetted tubs need frequent cleaning because the circulating action can draw hair and other impurities into the system.

Although air-jetted tubs are less expensive but are offer less massaging effects.
Although air-jetted tubs are less expensive but are offer less massaging effects.

Air-jetted tubs—also called hot air or air massage tubs—send jets of hot air into the water through numerous air jets that line the sides and bottom of the tub. Like water-jetted tubs, air-jetted tubs can feature any number of air jets but usually have many more—as many as 120—than a water-jetted tub.

Aromatherapy products like salts and oils can be used with air-jetted tubs because the water does not circulate through the tubes. Most air-jetted tubs also feature some sort of self-cleaning operation, whereby residue and excess water are blown out of the system automatically after the system is used. Air-jetted tubs generally cost less than water-jetted whirlpools because they only need air-compressors unlike the large and more expensive pumps needed for a water-jetted tub. The massage-like effects of a water-jetted tub are more powerful than the effect with air-jetted tubs, so there is a tradeoff.

Find the Right Fit for Your Spa Tub

Before purchasing a spa tub, consider your space and features very carefully.

Available bathroom space. Take clear measurements of the space and know exactly where the tub will be placed. Don’t forget to plan for the location of the spout and drain.

Installation. Spa tubs are big so you must make sure the hallways and doorways of your home will accommodate the new tub. Consider hauling it through the bathroom window, particularly if new windows are part of the bathroom remodel.

Floor support. Most tubs are constructed of acrylic or lightweight material, but you must calculate for the weight of a filled tub. Make sure there is adequate structural support and be prepared to add additional support if needed.

Comfort. Always sit in a tub when shopping for the right one. How a particular tub fits your body and what you want out of your bathing experience is especially important.

Hot water. Filling a spa tub puts great demand on the home’s hot water heater. Many homeowners purchase a separate, smaller tank specifically for their spa tub.

Manufacturers also combine air-jet and water-jet technology in single-tub products. In these combination spa tubs, a bather can use controls to select one or both systems. Combination water-and-air jetted tubs tend to be fairly costly.

Spa Tub Extras
Chromatherapy involves using light for therapeutic purposes. Spa chromatherapy uses lighting fixtures in and around the spa tub to create mood and relaxation. Using predetermined or manually controlled sequences, chromatherapy lighting uses the full spectrum of visible light to control and manipulate one’s mood by visibly changing the color of the water. Many manufacturers offer chromatherapy as an upgrade to a water-jetted or air-jetted tub.

Some tubs include adjustable jets that can be manipulated to target certain areas or additional back and neck jets for a total-body massage experience. Remote controls are fairly standard and can supplement the built-in keypads or touchpads on most spa tubs. Such controls can provide a myriad of options, including temperature, flow rate and massage control.

A high-end spa tub might also have a flat-screen television mounted on the foot-end of the tub. When it comes to spa tubs, where money flows features follow.

Credit: Renovate Your World