Balneology - Healing Hot Springs: The Tecopa Hot Spring Mineral Waters

Balneology - Healing Hot Springs: The Tecopa Hot Spring Mineral Waters

Basic Analysis of the Tecopa Hot Springs Mineral Water
Measurement in Parts Per Million ( PPM )

Calcium.......... 7.2 
Iron................ 0.094
Lead............... 4.0
Magnesium..... 9.7
Boron............. 9.2
Selenium......... 8.0
Sodium........... 725.0 
Fluoride............ 2.4
Potassium......... 22.3
Arsenic............. 0.24
Carbonates....... 45.2
Bicarbonates..... 668.0
Sulfates............. 497.5
Chlorides.......... 371.0

Other Naturally Occuring Inorganic Chemicals & Metals
Tecopa Hot Springs Water ( Inyo County Public Pool Assessment )

Element / Metal
Aluminum    0.2
Barium    2.0
Cadmium    0.005
Chromium    0.1
Copper    1.3
Manganese    0.05
Mercury    0.002
Nickel    0.1
Silver    0.1
Zinc    5.0

Water Hardness: 10.0 ( Inyo County Assessment )
Total Dissolved Solids: 2345.9 PPM ( Delight's Hot Springs Resort Analysis )
Turbitity in Turbitity Units - 1.0 ( Inyo County Assessment )
PH Level: 7.4 - 7.6 ( Delight's Hot Springs assessed and Inyo County Public Pool assessed )

For more information on the Tecopa mineral waters, see:
Mineral Analysis of the Tecopa California Hot Springs Water


What is Balneology?

Balneology is the scientific study of the therapeutic benefits of naturally occurring mineral waters. In the United States, this science is not very well known and is even less seldom practiced. However, throughout Europe and Japan, balneology and hot springs therapy is very much a part of routine medical care. Medical prescriptions are given by licensed doctors for the treatment of a wide range of conditions, and utilizing mineral waters as a part of preventative medicine is widely recognized and encouraged.

Hot springs therapy became popular in the United States in the nineteenth century and reached a pinnacle in the United States in the 1940's. During this brief hot springs era, doctors and resort owners, as well as an ever-enthusiastic general public, attributed many cures and health benefits to the use of therapeutic geothermally heated mineral waters. However, the hot springs movement did not last long enough to mature into a socio-cultural tradition which would have eventually resulted in formal research and medical acceptance. Furthermore, the FDA eventually stepped in and prohibited organizations from making unsubstantiated health claims concerning the medicinal value of natural mineral waters.

These facts notwithstanding, hot spring soaking has a deep and far-reaching tradition in North America, starting with the indigenous North American Native Tribes who considered choice hot springs to be "power spots" in nature. Native cultures universally utilized the natural waters for healing, purification ceremonies, sacred gatherings, and tribal meetings.

Although the brief hot springs movement in the United States faded, enough interest remained by way of naturalists, enthusiasts, and especially those more spiritually inclined, to keep many small resorts in operation throughout the country during the latter part of the 20th century.

What remains universally true is the ignorance associated with potential healing powers of natural mineral waters. When questioning native American healers, therapists, resort owners, and enthusiasts, vague opinions and unsubstantiated "facts" are often prevalent, some of which are contrary to established scientific fact.

The rest of this article is designed to "clear away the pervasive fog" associated healing waters, as much as possible based on scientific research and prevalent scientific theory. Most of the information included is derived from European and Japenese medical sources. Links, as they become available, will be included in more advanced topics concerning more esoteric subjects, including the hot springs effect on the human bioenergy system, flow forms, structured water, and more.

What Makes a Mineral Hot Spring a Mineral Hot Spring?

In the United States, there are no real standards to classify the properties of hot springs. However, in Europe and Japan, there are general standards that are widely accepted by balneologists.

The Hot Springs Source

There are two primary classifications of hot springs:

Filtration Hot Springs
A filtration hot spring is a geothermally heated mineral water that is initially fed by rainwater that seeps into the Earth through faults and fractures. As it travels into the Earth, it becomes subject to increased energy from natural geothermal heat and is exposed to gases and an often wide variety of minerals from rock and mineral deposits. The water absorbs the minerals via leeching, is heated by the geothermal heat source, and then returns to the Earth's surface.

Primary Hot Springs
A primary hot spring is a geothermally heated mineral water, where direct volcanic activity plays a far greater role in the process of the hot springs formation. One of the fundamental physical distinctions between a filtration spring and a primary spring is the mineral and gas content of the water, such as radon and bromide. Primary hot springs are often "powered" by magma chambers which exist miles under the Earth's surface, as well as in volcanically active regions.
What is the Classification of the Tecopa Hot Springs?
The Tecopa Hot Springs are primary hot springs.

The Hot Springs Temperature: Cool, Warm, or Hot?

Balneologists generally accept the following classification of mineral springs:

Cold Springs - temperatures below 77° F ( 25° C )
Tepid Springs - temperatures ranging from 77 - 93° F ( 25°-34° C )
Warm Springs - temperatures ranging from 93 F - 108° F ( 34° - 42° C )
Hot Springs - temperatures above 108° ( 42° C )
What is the Classification of the Tecopa Hot Springs?

The Inyo County Tecopa Hot Mineral Springs are classified as Hot Springs. While the temperature of the water fluctuates between different sources, the water temperature usually measures between 116 - 118° F. The ambient temperature of the water in the summer months, however, can be as a high as 121 - 135° F.

The temperature of the water for spas is regulated at no hotter than 104° F by the State of California. In order to experience the full therapeutic benefit of the "hot springs" classification, a single use or special use tub must be utilized.

The Hot Springs Mineral Content

The legal classification of a mineral spring varies in different parts of the world. Generally speaking:

A mineral spring contains greater than 1000 mg/l ( PPM ) of naturally dissolved solids.

What is the Classification of the Tecopa Hot Springs?
The Tecopa Hot Springs are classified as true mineral springs and have dissolved solids measuring over 2000 mg/l ( PPM ), based on the assessment conducted at Delight's Hot Springs Resort.

The Hot Springs pH Level

Waters may be classified as acidic, basic, or neutral, according to the balance of hydrogen in the water.

Acidic waters are waters that measure below 7.0 on the PH scale.
Neutral waters are waters that measure 7.0 on the PH scale.
Basic/Alkaline waters are waters that measure above 7.0 on the PH scale.

What is the Classification of the Tecopa Hot Springs?

The Tecopa Hot Springs are low sulfur, high sulfate alkaline hot springs, with a ph level between 7.4 - 7.6. The alkalinity is primarily the result of the potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium ions.

Hot Springs Therapy: Minerals

European balneologists have extensively studied the therapeutic value of mineral waters. Mineral springs with different mineral content are often recommended above others for various therapeutic uses.

In addition to the value of the trace minerals found in most hot springs, and the stimulating benefits of highly mineralized waters, balneotherapists generally agree on the following observations:


In Spain, a bicarbonate water is classified as such if the water contains more than 250 PPM of free carbon gas. However, springs that contain bicarbonate gasses ( sodium bicarbonate, calcium bicarbonate, carbon dioxide, etc. ) may also be utilized for the observed benefits commonly associated with bicarbonate hot springs.

Bathing in bicarbonate water, the balneologists believe, assists opening peripheral blood vessels and helps to improve circulation to the body's extremities.

European balneotherapists also utilize bicarbonate waters for bathing to address hypertension and mild atherosclerosis. For these conditions, tepid to warm baths are utilized ( 86 - 100° F ).

Some researchers believe that bicarbonate baths also assist cardiovascular disease and nervous system imbalances.

How do the Tecopa Hot Springs Rate?

The Tecopa Hotsprings contain 668 PPM bicarbonate content, although the bicarbonate content does not produce a "carbonated" effect such as the Chatel-Guyon in France.

Sulfur and Sulfates

Hot Springs rich in Sulfur, in France, Spain, and Japan, are used to address a wide variety of conditions, including skin infections, respiratory problems, and skin inflammations.

Hot springs rich in sulfates ( ie. sulfur compounds ) have a far reduced "sulfur" effect as compared to Sulfur-rich springs. Such waters are often prescribed internally for liver and gastrointestinal conditions, as well as for some respiratory conditions with inhalation therapy, in European spas.

How do the Tecopa Hot Springs Rate?

The Tecopa Hot springs contain no free sulfur or sulfurous gas. The Tecopa Hot springs have been measured to contain 497.5 PPM of sulfate compounds.

What do the medical balneologists have to say about the temperature of mineral water for therapy?

It is believed in some circles that warm spring soaking is more beneficial ( 99 - 101° F ) than thermal therapy. This is not necessarily supported by independent research and medical scientific analysis.

European medical doctors have conducted research into thermal therapy, and have found that:

Hydrostatic pressure in the body is increased
This results in increased blood circulation and cell oxygenation
The elimination systems of the body are thus stimulated, improving the body's capacity to detoxify
The body's metabolism is stimulated
This results in improved digestion
3 to 4 weeks of regular thermal bathing can assist in the normalization of endocrine glands and assist the automatic nervous system
Many of the stimulating benefits of hot springs water are temperature dependent. Balneologists have found that hot springs soaking temporarily relieve chronic pain directly associated with inflammation, even in cases where inflammation has not been reduced.
In Japan, at the famous Kusatsu hot spring, a 3-minute 125° F bath is utilized for an extraordinary therapeutic experience. Each visitor is pre-screened by the "bath master" to determine if such a bath would be safe and beneficial for each individual.

The founder of Delight's Hot Springs Resort kept a private and personal use therapy tub set at a consistent 116° F.

Not everyone should utilize high-temperature hot springs for therapeutic use. The state of one's metabolism and the presence of medical conditions is the determining factor when considering the safest and healthy water temperature to bath in.

Contraindications to Hot Water Natural Mineral Springs Therapy:

Conditions involving high fevers
Extreme Hypertension
Malignant tumors and cancerous conditions ( internal )
Extreme Liver, kidney, or circulation disorders
Conditions presenting the risk of hemorrhaging
Anemic Conditions
Congestive heart failure, recent stroke, or recent heart attack
Bathing under the influence of drugs or alcohol
The existence of these or other metabolic conditions does not necessarily mean that there would be no benefit derived from utilizing mineral waters. It does mean, however, that there is a risk associated that may outway any benefit to utilzing hot waters. In such situations, individuals should consult with a medical doctor before bathing, or consult with a European medical balneologist.

In any case, soaking in mineral waters should not be done at excessively high temperatures without medical clearance when any contraindicated condition exists. A tepid to warm bath ( ~ 95° F - ~ 99° ) is as safe as taking a bath at home.


The information provided on balneology is designed to provide general information about the value of hot springs and balneology. In no way does Delight's Hot Springs Resort make any medical or therapeutic claim concerning any curative properties of the Tecopa Hot Springs. Always consult a licensed medical practitioner concerning matters of health.