All you need to know about Whirlpool and Spa baths

WHIRLPOOLS AND AIRSPAS (Jacuzzi and Airbath):

There are two type of hydro massage bathing systems:
1. Whirlpools, more commonly known by the brand name Jacuzzi.
2. Airspas, more commonly known by the brand name Airbath.
Whirlpools are characterised by having jets on the side of the bath about half way up and a suction point (similar to a colander) in one of the bottom corners. This type of system produces hydro-massage by sucking water from the bath and pumping it out of the jets on the side under pressure. To increase the pressure of the jets most whirlpools have a control on the top of the bath which allows air to be sucked in to the jet of water.
The main difference between a whirlpool and a Jacuzzi is that the size of the jets is bigger on the Jacuzzi and the air and water mix is different. This difference produces a more powerful jet of water with the Jacuzzi (whether this amount of power is necessary with a standard domestic sized bath is a matter of opinion). 

The difficulty with all whirlpools is that they hold a small amount of water in the jets and pipe work when emptied. Depending on who fits the system this amount can vary between an egg cup full and several pints.
The second difficulty with some whirlpools is that not all baths are designed to have them fitted. This can result in the jets being sited very high up the sides of the bath, with the effect that when you lay in the bath the jets of water do not hit you but spray over the top of you and only agitate the top one inch of water. This will result in a longer bathing period required to achieve the hydro-massage effect.
Baths where the jet positions are moulded into the side allows the jets to sit lower and so intensify the massage. With this type of system it is not advisable that small children or older people are left unattended whilst in the bath.
The third difficulty with whirlpools of all types is that they do not have the ability to maintain the water temperature. The result of this is that the average length of time a bath stays warm is approximately 30 minutes. That is unless you add more hot water. Dependant on the type of whirlpool system you choose it may take between 10 minutes and 25 minutes to achieve the hydro-massage effect on the body.
Airspas are characterised by having a series of jets or holes fitted/drilled into the base of the bath. They produce air through the jets under pressure to fill the bath with bubbling water. This agitation of the water is what causes the hydro-massage effect. The difficulty of this type of system is that it has a tendency to cool the water in the bath. It is possible to with this type of system to have any level of water in the bath whilst the system is in use and so makes it ideal for children and older people. However due to the reduced pressure of the air jets over the whirlpool jets it can take longer to produce the hydro-massage effect. The Airbath system has a device called a Warm Air Injection which allows a small amount of hot water to heat the air stream as the air is pumped through the jets. The result of this is that Airbath claim that the system will
maintain the bath water temperature. This then allows a person to stay in the bath for longer and so gain the full benefit of the hydro-massage.

One difficulty experienced by all massage baths to a greater or lesser extent is that of hygiene. There is a commonly held belief that this type of system is unhygienic.
This is both true and untrue! I will explain. All massage systems require cleaning from time to time. Because of the design some systems may need to be cleaned every 3 months. All good manufacturers will supply a cleaner designed for their type of system and advice on how to use it. The main problem is that people do not follow the cleaning regime and as such problems then ensue. The system is as hygienic as the user. You would never dream of not cleaning the toilet or basin so why assume that the massage bath has the ability to clean itself.

STEAM AND SAUNAS (Turkish and Swedish):

Turkish steam sauna's and Swedish dry heat sauna's are both types of hydro-massage system. The difference is in the way they achieve the effect.
Swedish dry saunas use dry air to heat the body to high temperatures causing you to perspire heavily. They are supplied in the form of a wooden box inside of which is sited an oven upon which sit hot coals. These coals produce more heat when a small amount of water is splashed on them and the humidity increases. As people we can stand quite high temperatures of dry heat but only relatively smaller amounts of heat in high humidity. The average temperature within a Swedish sauna can be over 100 degrees.
Turkish steam saunas produce steam in large amounts to cause the hydro-massage effect and, like the Swedish type, also make you perspire heavily. This is wet heat and as such achieves the desired effect at much lower temperatures. This can be as little as 40 degrees and is seldom higher than 50 degrees. The main difference between the two systems is that the steam system appears to be less of an irritant to the breathing and as such is better in general for those suffering from respiratory conditions where a moist atmosphere is beneficial. You may have experienced this as a child if, when suffering from a cold, you were told to put your head over a bowl of steaming water and than had a towel placed over you.


The Hydro-massage effect has never been proved to be a scientific fact. This effect cannot make the blind see, the lame walk, cure aids or prevent cancer. It is claimed by many however to provide relief from the effects of many debilitating conditions.
The Hydro-massage effect is the action of the heat and or movement of the water on the body. The result of this is two fold. The first is that it causes the muscles around the arteries and heart to relax. This in turn allows the heart to pump more blood with each beat, without pumping any harder. The result of this is increased and improved circulation. Improved circulation is of benefit in many conditions. It reduces inflammation around the joint of those suffering from arthritis and rheumatism and allows for the removal of stress causing toxins from the blood stream by improving kidney function.
The second effect is that when fully relaxed the body produces its own chemical relaxants such as noradrenalin. These natural relaxants have none of the side effects of the manufactured kind and enable you to totally chill out.

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