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  • About Biofilm

    About Biofilm

So what exactly is biofilm?

Bio Film inside pipebi·o·film

noun: biofilm; plural noun: biofilms


  1. A complex structure adhering to surfaces that are regularly in contact with water, consisting of colonies of bacteria and usually other microorganisms such as yeasts, fungi, and protozoa that secrete a mucilaginous protective coating in which they are encased. Biofilms can form on solid or liquid surfaces as well as on soft tissue in living organisms, and are typically resistant to conventional methods of disinfection.
    The American Heritage® Science Dictionary

Biofilm in recreational water vessels are bacteria that can make you sick. There are numerous types of bacteria associated with biofilm that readily form and exist in recreational water vessels such as pools, hot tubs, jetted bathtubs, birthing tubs and other types of whirlpool apparatus. Rather than just giving you the scientific version of what biofilms are, and how they form, our job here is to show you how the Ahh-Some products can reduce and eventually eliminate them.

Biofilm in water pipesPools, hot tubs, spas and whirlpool type products have a few things in common. They all hold water and they all have plumbing and jets. They also have bathers who introduce a plethora of organic contaminates that help feed the biofilm matrix. Here is where biofilm can gain a foothold no matter what care and maintenance protocols you follow.

Biofilm forms naturally, especially in dark and warm water environments. Pools, hot tubs and jetted bathtubs use water. Water is usually circulated through a network of plumbing. The biofim can form inside piping, on all surfaces and inside the filtration system. Add all the organic stuff like lotions, soaps, exfoliated skin, sweat and a host of other stuff, and you’ve got a ripe environment for biofilm.

People think that chemicals kill all the bacteria in pools, hot tubs and whirlpools. This is not correct! Proper chemical use with a sanitizer such as chlorine or bromine can only reduce what are called “planktonic” or free-floating biofilm bacteria in water. The other 99% of the bacteria are lodged into the biofilm matrix which is a colony of bacteria that is lurking inside the plumbing, jets and filter that these sanitizers do not dislodge.

Biofilm is the number one problem for most industries treating or using water. Many diseases are harbored in them including MRSA, Legionella (Legionaire’s Disease), Pseudomonas Aeruginosas, Mycobacterium Fortuitum and E-Coli just to name a few.

Biofilms are resistant to most sanitizers.

Ahh-Some works at dislodging the biofilm matrix. Our products include components that soften the outer walls, allowing scrubbers and carrier salts to loosen and break-up these hard to get rid of bacteria. Ahh-Some is not an enzymatic cleaner. When using Ahh-Some in sanitized systems, add a shock dose of the sanitizer during treatment. As Ahh-some dislodges cells back into a plank tonic condition, the sanitizer can attack and control as it was designed.

Always use care when using the Ahh-some products in tubs or confined areas since you do not want to inhale biofilm spores or touch the sticky gunk and goo you see after it is purged. Flush this stuff down the drain and rinse the tub with fresh water and an EPA approved cleaner. Our pool formula is not a problem since pools are larger and not in a confined area. The pool filter will have to be thoroughly cleaned since it will grab biofilm after Ahh-Some does it’s job.

A biofilm is composed of living, reproducing microorganisms, such as bacteria, that exist as a colony, or community. In other words, biofilms are alive and have a complex social structure that scientists and engineers are still trying to unravel, a structure that both protects them and allows them to grow.(CBE)

Ahh-some has been thoroughly tested at the center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University using advanced CDC reactor procedures. The products were tested for efficacy and compared against several other brands of cleaners. The results are published on this website (click here). Also, visit YouTube to view a head-to-head test comparing Ahh-Some Hot Tub/Jetted Bath Plumbing & Jet Cleaner to another leading brand.

Although swimming pool and spa sanitizers are very good at killing microorganisms that are free floating in the water, it is difficult for them to get down through the slime layers of biofilm and kill all potentially harmful organisms. If only the top layer of organisms is killed, the cells underneath can continue to grow and reproduce, thereby re-forming the biofilm structure in a short time. (Johns Hopkins)

In addition, several spa filters were found to have higher Legionella counts than the water contained in the spa, suggesting that spa filters can act as protective reservoirs or niches for Legionella… (EPA Always place your spa or hot tub filter into the hot tub water while you are purging the system. This will clean the filter(s) as well. Just rinse them off after cleaning.

You may see visible evidence when using Ahh-Some in spas and tubs. It can appear as sticky black or brown specks in the foam and along the walls. Particularly during the initial purge.

It is important that the proper free residual of your sanitizer is in the water when treating with AHH-SOME. This is because some contaminants can be infectious.

Special needs in spas, hot tubs, jetted tubs and whirlpool baths

It is almost impossible to completely drain these types of water vessels. Sagging plumbing, air channels and equipment can be below water level. Even a little water in the system can provide a place for biofilm and buildup. New spas can develop biofilm from the water left in them after leak testing at the factory.

Contaminant concentrations per gallon of water are significantly higher in small vessels. With the addition of warm water the populations can multiply even further. It is common to require multiple applications to fully clean out the pipes with AHH-SOME the 1st time it is used.

You will know AHH-SOME has cleaned the pipes when the black and brown specks are no longer coming out. As long as the foam is turning brown, AHH-SOME is removing the biofilm and buildup. While it is a chemical brushing, physical removal of the buildup is also happening.

After initial purge, bi-weekly maintenance doses can help prevent new buildup from occurring. If you purchase a different product claiming to remove buildup and nothing comes out of the pipes, it may not be working.

For those looking to gain a better understanding of the biofilm problems and how it can affect you and your family we have made some links for you to utilize.

Additional Resources

Article: A Risky Soaking
Article: Emerging Health Risk
Test Results: Now There’s Proof!
Website: Montana State University – Biofilm Basics