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What is the Difference Between a Hot Tub and Jacuzzi®?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 16, 2024
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In strict and most common usage, there is no real difference between a hot tub and Jacuzzi®. Both are used to describe tubs of hot water which use jets of forced air to produce currents and bubbles, either for therapeutic or strictly pleasurable purposes. Jacuzzi® is a brand name, and so strictly speaking, it describes only those hot tubs and spas manufactured by the Jacuzzi company.

The Jacuzzi brothers immigrated to California from Italy in the early half of the 20th century, and according to the company's website were prolific inventors. Starting with aviation inventions, the Jacuzzi brothers moved into hydraulics, making great strides with the agricultural pump. In 1956 they invented a hydrotherapy pump for personal use. This pump, the J-300, was then sold to hospitals and schools.

In 1968, Roy Jacuzzi created the first whirlpool spa, which he called the Roman. The Roman was based on the hydrotherapeutic pumps of Roy's parents and grandparents, integrating them seamlessly into a standalone unit. Roy brought his invention around the country, capitalizing on a national obsession with cleanliness. It became an overnight success — to such a point that within a few short decades, the brand name had become virtually synonymous with the invention itself.

In colloquial use, a hot tub is often seen as distinguished from a Jacuzzi® or spa by its lack of jets. In this sense, any hot bath or basin of water could be correctly referred to as a hot tub. More often, however, it is used specifically when discussing such things as wooden barrel hot tubs, often with wood-burning stoves or other alternative forms of heating.

This distinction does not hold up in industry discussions, and from the perspective of a strict definition, it is best to treat hot tub and Jacuzzi® as mutually interchangeable words. Product literature, for example, refers often to "Jacuzzi hot tubs," giving the general product (hot tub) and the brand name. If the definition of hot tub specifically refers to those tubs without jets, then the term "Jacuzzi hot tub" becomes an oxymoron. It might be said instead that the term "hot tub" can refer to any tub that contains hot water, while a Jacuzzi® or spa refers to those hot tubs with jets.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By christym — On Jul 01, 2010

@lamaestra - I totally agree with you! They are wonderful! Jets or not, they feel great to me. We are thinking about having one installed on our back deck. We are in the process of checking some prices. I didn't really know the difference in them until I read this post.

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 01, 2010

A hot tub is basically a small pool filled with circulating, heated water. Hot tubs are made of wood. The words "hot tub" and "spa" are interchangeable. Long ago, a hot tub was referred to as a wooden barrel that only accommodated two bathers. Later, liners and jets were added. They were eventually referred to as "spas". There are many different benefits of a hot tub. Many use them to just sit back and unwind or relax. They also offer therapeutic benefits. People suffering from arthritis often use hot tubs because of the constant jets that circulate the heated water. This motion relaxes the muscles and allows for better movement.

Jacuzzi is a brand name, created by Rachele Jacuzzi. Technically speaking, Jacuzzi only describes hot tubs or spas made by the Jacuzzi Company. Jacuzzi is a leading spa manufacturer.

By lamaestra — On Apr 22, 2008

With or without jets, hot tubs/Jacuzzis sure are wonderful! I wish I had one at my house!

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