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An ozonator, also known as an ozone generator, creates ozone gas to help sanitize your hot tub.

Ozone is created when oxygen molecules (1) are split by a high-energy electrical discharge (2) resulting in two individual oxygen atoms (3). Those individual oxygen atoms unite with remaining oxygen molecules to produce a three-atom molecule of ozone gas (4). The weak bond holding ozone’s third oxygen atom causes the molecule to be extremely unstable and thus, a very effective oxidizer.

An oxidation reaction occurs upon any collision between an ozone molecule and an organic molecule or substance, such as bacteria, viruses, fungus and algae, where the oxygen atom held by the weak bond splits off (5) and only oxygen is left behind (6). So, ozone is actually a gas manufactured by this method, created inside a chamber, housed in various styles of containers.

There are two types of ozonators used in hot tubs. One style produces ozone using an ultraviolet light. Oxygen passes by the ultraviolet light, which immediately separates those atoms we talked about previously. The second style produces ozone by something called Corona Discharge, or CD. This is actually a chamber inside the container that creates little electrical charges to split the atoms. Corona Discharge is the most recent form of ozone gas production. The cell inside the chamber has a longer operating life (about five years) than the ultraviolet style, which has an operating life of about one year.

With the use of an ozone system, the spa takes care of itself when you’re away on vacation so you don’t need someone to check in on your spa. Many systems work 24 hours a day, so your water always stays clear.

What should you look for when you’re out shopping? Spas that have an automatic default on them, so that when you turn the jets on the ozonator automatically goes off. Because the ozone gas is a powerful oxidizer, it cuts your chemical use down quite a bit.

Ozonators have become so popular that many hot tub manufacturers add them as a standard feature. And even if you already have a hot tub, there are several after-market models available and plenty of service technicians who can install them.