Understanding Your FreshWater® Salt System

When you need a time-out from the stresses of day-to-day life, the warm water of your Caldera spa provides an oasis of calm and well-being in your own backyard. In minutes, a relaxing soak can help you feel renewed, restored and reconnected with your loved ones.

At Caldera Spas, we want to help you get the most out of your daily hot tub ritual with the freshest, clearest, most natural feeling water possible. Our revolutionary FreshWater Salt System provides better water with less worry, so you can spend less time on maintenance and more time enjoying your hot tub.

We answer the most common FreshWater Salt System questions below.

The Basics

How does the FreshWater Salt System work?

The FreshWater Salt System sanitizes your spa water with fewer chemicals than traditional water care. This breakthrough technology utilizes a disposable titanium cartridge to generate chlorine from salt. With fewer additives, your water can stay fresh for up to a full year* without the need to drain and refill your spa.

How do I add the FreshWater Salt System to my Caldera spa?

All 2019 and newer Caldera® Utopia® Series and Paradise® Series spas are FreshWater Salt System ready – no additional or unsightly plumbing materials are required. Just order the dealer installed start-up kit to begin using the system.

Getting Started

I suspect that my water at home has a lot of calcium/metals. Will that be a problem?

Before you fill your tub, bring a sample of your fill water to your local dealer for testing. Your dealer will make sure the water you use to fill your hot tub is free of metals, phosphates and/or calcium. If high levels of these exist, they will recommend products to help. Starting with balanced water is important, so don’t skip this step!

How do I set up my FreshWater Salt System?

Following these steps to set up your Freshwater Salt System correctly is the most important thing you can do to ensure the long-term success of your system.

You’ll find a more detailed version of these steps outlined in our Salt System Startup guide, or watch this video to see the steps in action.

Play Video


Ensure that titanium cartridge is installed (with plug removed)


Add FreshWater Mineral Spa Sanitizer (sold separately) to inhibit bacteria growth


Turn spa on and set temperature to at least 95°f to 104°f (35°C to 40°C)


Turn off Salt System (Output Level 0)


Run jets to purge lines and prime pumps (adjust diverters)


With jets running add salt to reach target 1750 ppm
Tip: Start with half recommended amount, test after 5 minutes, then add up to recommended amount


Test and balance water as required


With jets running add chlorine to achieve 5 ppm – wait 5 minutes
Tip: Test and add additional chlorine (if needed) to achieve 5 ppm


Use Vanishing Act if required and remove per instructions (Day 1 or 2)


When Chlorine is at 5 ppm and the water has reached desired temperature… Spa is ready to use!

Maintaining your FreshWater Salt System

How do you replace the Salt System Cartridge?

Detailed instructions on how to replace a Salt System Cartridge can be found in the FreshWater Salt System owner’s manual. The control panel on your spa will also provide step by step prompts, even telling you when to turn the spa pump off and on during the process.

  • Press the “Replace Cartridge” button on the control panel, or press the cartridge icon within the Water Care section, and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Remove the housing cap
  • Press the button on top of the cartridge and remove the cartridge from the housing
  • Insert the new cartridge by pressing the button on top of the cartridge and push it into housing
  • Secure the housing cap
  • Follow instructions on control panel to complete the installation

After my spa is up and running, how often will salt need to be added?

The FreshWater Salt System will continually generate chlorine from the salt added to the water at start-up. Add more salt when you drain and refill the hot tub, or after topping off the water from a significant splash out.

How do I test and balance the spa water?

Test your water before each use to ensure it is properly balanced, using the FreshWater 5-Way Test Strips that are included in your start-up kit. Then, using your control panel, adjust the output level up or down to maintain the target chlorine level. Test and treat spa water for phosphates on a monthly basis using a colorimetric test kits/strip (especially when there are problems with maintaining chlorine levels, or if the spa water changes color). If phosphate levels exceed 300, your dealer can recommend a phosphate removal product.

How often will I need to drain and refill the spa with the FreshWater Salt System?

Many factors impact the life of hot tub 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 up to a full year*.

Your perfect hot tub haven starts with clear, fresh, natural feeling water.

What is the benefit of the FreshWater Salt System vs. traditional water care?

Apart from simpler maintenance and a more complete wellness experience, saltwater hot tubs offer other benefits as well. Because they don’t have to be refilled as often, they help conserve water, making them more eco-friendly. With fewer added chemicals, your spa water feels and smells more natural – reducing harsh odors and irritation to skin, hair and eyes.

How does the FreshWater Salt System give me “better water”?

The FreshWater Salt System generates just enough chlorine to maintain 3ppm based on the output levels set by the spa owner. That means fewer chemicals end up in the spa water which helps the water last longer. Plus, the water feels softer, smoother, and more natural than water sanitized using a traditional system.

What is the difference between bottled chlorine and chlorine generated by the FreshWater Salt System?

Like bottled chlorine, the chlorine generated by the FreshWater Salt System is sodium hypochlorite. However, bottled (dry) chlorine contains stabilizers like cyanuric acid which can accumulate over time - causing irritation to skin and eyes. With the FreshWater Salt System there are no stabilizing acids added to the water – so the water is softer and more natural feeling.

Our owners love their natural feeling spa water:

“With the Salt Water system, it is always ready to use…and it is so nice to my skin.”
Martinique® owner review

“We bought our third Caldera Utopia Niagara Spa in October 2019 and chose to try the FreshWater Salt sanitation system. We love how the water feels…”
Niagara® owner review

“This is one of the best decisions we ever made. The FreshWater Salt System is easy to maintain and feels much better than a regular chlorinated spa.”
Cantabria® owner review

If you’re a Caldera spa owner, these tips will help you get the most out of your FreshWater Salt System. If you’re ready to purchase a new hot tub, consider a Utopia or Paradise Series spa equipped with the FreshWater Salt System. Your local dealer can answer your questions, and take you on a model tour — in the showroom, or virtually.

*Factors such as bather load and water chemistry can impact water life. When the spa is properly maintained, a 3-pack of cartridges with the FreshWater® Salt System will keep water clean and fresh for a full year. Product availability depends on your region. Please check wout your local dealer.