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Miscellaneous Pool Chemicals

Borates and Special chemicals for specific needs.
 
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Some Lesser Known Pool Chemical Treatment Products.

 

Scroll down to browse through some archived SWIMMING POOL questions and answers.  Please click the Pool Topics Link, on top of every page, to access a complete listing of Pool Problem subjects, an alphabetized Website Table of Contents, Pool Equipment Information, About Alan Biographic Material and a Pool Glossary. Use the other links to access additional subject information. More information about some new and unique products, for pools and spas, can be found by visiting The Website Store. You'll never know what you'll find and that's always fun. Be better prepared and avoid costly problems!

 
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How to use some of the less common pool chemicals? As the swimming pool industry has matured, specialty chemical products have evolved. There are specific products - for specific problems! Various products to make pool maintenance easier or more effective and choosing the right product for the task can help assure a better prospect of success, save time and money.  Borates have come into widespread pool use, as a means of helping to control algae growth.  It is not a stand-alone cure for algae, but it does reduce the carbon dioxide content, which, in turn, helps retard algae growth.  Borates do not replace conventional pool sanitizers, but can help reduce their overall usage.  If problems arise, refer to the Pool Problems Page, as a source of problem-solving information, broken down into various categories.  Scroll down the page and click on the linked keywords, catch phrases or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product. 

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▼     Helpful, Problem-Solving Information, in a question and answer format.     ▼

Chelated Copper or Sodium Borate Advantages or Disadvantages?

Alan, my husband spent a good bit of money yesterday to convert our pool from a chelated Copper (copper citrate) system to a Borax system. I need to know the advantages and disadvantages of each system. Also, which do you recommend?? Thank you,

Paula J., Brandon, MS, 4/6/2017

Neither product is a stand alone system, for maintaining swimming pool and are usually used to compliment another sanitizer or oxidizer.  Regardless of how they might assist, in the sanitizing role, they provide no oxidizing benefit and must be used with an oxidizer such as, chlorine, bromine, hydrogen peroxide, potassium monopersulfate or ozone.  They can be used with a single oxidizer or with a combination of products.  While they can help reduce the amount of oxidizer required, they cannot eliminate it.  Chelated copper products are generally recognized as algaecides and can help reduce the amount of oxidizer, chlorine for example, required.  Sodium borate, as used inModel SR salt chlorine generator, for all types of pools. swimming pools, helps deplete the amount of dissolved carbon dioxide and, in the course of doing so, denies algae an abundant and ready source of this vital plant nutrient.  What you have are two examples of products, that can help you use less chlorine, which is the most popular pool oxidizer and sanitizer.  Some individuals gloss over the need for chlorine, as a sales ploy.  In my opinion, these products are of greatest benefit, when used with a traditional sanitizer/oxidizer.  Their presence will allow you use less chlorine or bromine, to maintain any given PPM level.  Having made this transition, you have no other option, but to maintain an adequate sanitizer/oxidizer level and that translates into using chlorine or bromine.  I am sure that your intent was to use no chlorine, but that is an elusive goal.  Better that you try to maintain the pool using chlorine or bromine and settle for being able to reduce the amount of product required.  For this reason, I find that salt chlorine generators are complete sanitizers.  They perform both the sanitizing and oxidizing function and eliminate the negative aspects of chlorinated pools.  You will have more control and consistency, using a salt chlorine generator, along with these supplemental products.  They just need some help.  I hope that this information is helpful.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 4/6/2017


Borate Levels?

I am using test strips to test the borate level in my 24k gal pool and it is difficult for me to get an accurate color reading from the strips. I think my borate level is somewhere in the 60-80 level. My pH is about 7.1 and my TA is about 110 which I think is within reason. The borate seems to be on the high side and my question is can I have a high borate level without having the pH and TA levels also being high? Also, what problems would the high borate level cause? Thanks for any and all help/comments.
 
Harry L., 7/10/2016


Borates help lower the amount of dissolved carbon dioxide, depriving algae of a vital nutrient. The suggested level is 30-50
New!!!  One_Dip Insta_test Strips for pools and spas PPM. Borates do not prevent the pH and or TA from being higher or lower than normal. Insta-Test Borate Test strips are available to test the borates level. Your final pH will depend on the nature of the water and the type and quantities of pool chemicals being added: chlorine having the most pronounced effect. Higher borate levels can present some toxicity issues, especially with pets that drinking from the pool. A recommended range is used, so that a reasonable amount of chemicals can be suggested, as being required to help achieve the desired benefit of using less chlorine. Your best assurance of good water quality is proper maintenance and frequent water testing. If you want to avoid the color-matching and guesswork, I suggest an all-digital ColorQ Water Analyzer. There's a model for every type of pool or sanitizing method. I hope that this information is helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/11/2016


Safe Borate Level?

Someone suggested that I use borax in my pool to help as an algaecide and said it would also decrease the chlorine usage. Is this a safe chemical? If it is safe how much should I put in the water? How much is safe? Is this a commonly practiced procedure? I live in a western suburb of the Phoenix area and my pool capacity is 12000 gallons. Thanks.

John B., Arizona, 3/12/2016


Borates will decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the pool water, helping to slow down any potential algae growth. The recommended level is 30-50 PPM. Levels higher than 80 PPM could to be close to causing the onset of toxic symptoms, in pets and people that ingest too much water. It is used in a variety of pool chemicals, full strength or as an additive. The commercial product contains a lot of water. The pool grade usually contains less water. If using the commercial product, you can add 8 pounds, to bring you to about 30 PPM. Borates can be measured with LaMotte Insta-Test Borate strips, between 0 to 80 PPM. I hope that this information is helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/13/2016


How Borates Work?

I've had a hard time finding objective info on a chemical used to fight algae: 100% sodium tetraborate pentahydrate. People selling it say it works great, but I've not been able to find any customer feedback on the web. Does this stuff work on algae and bacteria, and would you recommend it for a pool that recently had a stubborn pink bacteria and black algae bloom simultaneously?

Brad H., 6/18/2008


Sodium borate is not an algaecide. Its use is based on something known in analytical chemistry: that borate solutions do not absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. Someone made the connection and got a patent, some 20+ years ago. It has expired and others are marketing it. It is a product what will help you use less chlorine, by retarding algae growth. Less available carbon dioxide deprives algae of a vital building block of life. But, it is not an algaecide. You still need chlorine to kill and destroy algae and bacteria. In your case, lots of it. Lower the pH to 7.2, as that will make the chlorine more effective. Test the stabilizer and get it under 100 PPM. Have the water tested for phosphates and nitrates, as these can be playing a role. Pink Algae is actually a bacterial problem and chlorine may not be as effective as bromine. Switching could solve the problem, but costs will rise. Adding a 60% polymer algaecide could help, as well. I hope that this will help solve the problem.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/19/2008
 

Where To Start?

I recently purchased a home in Woodland, CA with a inground pool. The vinyl liner was replaced by the previous owner in 1999. My concern is cleaning and water chemistry but I am totally overwhelmed by the number of products on the market. Can you narrow down the list of essentials I should keep on hand for proper maintenance of a vinyl lined pool. Thank you.

Colleem T., Woodland, CA., 4/25/2013


The question is reasonable with a big BUT! The chemicals that a pool will require are based upon the water chemistry and the
ColorQ digital water analyzer. sanitizer being used. These are unknowns in your case. Assuming that you are using chlorine, I would suggest a salt Chlorine generator. It will provide convenience and will be less likely to cause a liner problem. You will need chemicals to lower the pH. You may or may not need to adjust the total alkalinity, chlorine stabilizer or calcium hardness: it depends upon how the water tests. Adding algaecide is a good idea. Your water may or may not contain metals that will need to be treated. Which brings us back to the first sentence. The best way to determine the chemical needs is a water analysis. Most pool professionals offer a complimentary analysis. That's where you should start. You will have to perform a free chlorine and pH test on a frequent or daily basis. While, I find test strips convenient, however, nothing is better than a ColorQ Digital Water Analyzer. Become better informed and you'll have fewer problems. You can fill in a lot of the blanks by browsing through the various topics of this website. I hope that I have been helpful. Enjoy the pool.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/25/2013

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Helping The Solar Heater?

Can you use a liquid solar product with a solar pool heater? It is a chemical filled ball that is placed in the skimmer, slowly releasing its contents. Does it clog the tubes?

Yolande K., Tampa, FL, 3/13/2012


The major reason that pool water cools off is due to evaporation. There are products that help to reduce evaporation by forming a mono-molecular layer on top of the pool surface. This ultra-thin film is biodegradable, so as not to cause buildup problems. This film will help retain the heat during the overnight period and help reduce the overnight drop in temperature. Is it worth the expense? I hope that this information helps to keep you in warm water.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/13/2012


How Long To Wait?

Hello. How are you doing? We just recently purchased a 15ft x 4ft above ground pool. It has been nice, but now we are having to add pH, soda ash and chlorine chemicals, etc.  I don't like chemicals, but I know they need to be added to keep it safe.  I did not find anything on the pH bottle about when it is safe to swim, after using the chemicals. I have a 4 year child and I like to be safe about the chemicals. If you get a chance, please let me know more about chemicals and pool safety. Thanks so much!
 
K. H., 6/11/2011


How long to wait? This question really does not have one answer! You don't want people jumping into a "cloud" of chemicals. Follow the label directions and add each chemical to dissolve in turn. Never directly combine different
The Circulator boosts pool circulaion. chemicals. Make sure that the filter is operating while chemicals are being added. Liquid chemicals can disperse more quickly, than some granular chemicals. Some chemicals are more hazardous that others. In the final analysis, it is a matter of allowing a reasonably amount of time for the chemicals do be diluted by dispersion. Depending upon the amount of chemical, type of chemical and strength of the circulation, an elapsed time of 15 minutes to one hour might be reasonable. It is always best to be able to re-test the water after some chemical additions, in order to make sure that proper pool water chemistry is being maintained. Let the label instructions and common sense be your guide. Better circulation helps to assure quicker dispersion of the chemicals and eliminates the dead zones that promote algae growth. The Circulator is an easy-to-install circulation booster, that will make the water come alive and provide savings in electricity and chemicals.  There is a page for Pool Chemical Safety, available on the website. Be safe and enjoy.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/12/2011


Clean Up Time?

What is the best way to neutralize the chemicals used in pool servicing that have been spilled in the backs of trucks? What are the neutralizing chemicals or compounds you would use?

Matt., 10/9/2012


Trying to neutralize a possible mixture of chemicals is probably too risky. You are better off using copious amounts of water to dilute and flush out all of the chemicals. The water will reduce the risk of chemical reactions. Chemical spills should always to handled in accordance with the instructions provided on the packaging.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/9/2012


Enzyme Use?

Although I have never used such a product, I am curious about enzymes. How are they used in swimming pools? Are there advantages, limitations and disadvantages? My pool is a vinyl inground, 16 by 32 and I use a stabilized chlorine in an automatic chlorinator. I am not having any particular problems.

Fayetteville, NC, 8/24/2009


Enzymes can help digest or biodegrade oily residues, bather wastes, cosmetic residues and organic byproducts.  The removal of these undesired materials can help improve water clarity, reduce any tendency towards foaming, improve the appearance of the water line area and help eliminate oily films that can interfere with sanitizing or filtration. Those are the advantages. There are no disadvantages or limitations that come to mind, inasmuch as enzymes are used in all types of pools, residential and commercial. Just follow the directions on the label. I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/24/2009


Urine Detection?

I've been told that there is a tablet that can detect urine in pool water. What can you tell me about it? Thanks a lot.

Jo G., Merrick, NY, 8/2/2010


The joke's on you! I can tell you that no such product exists. Once upon a time there was a product like that, but it was intended as a joke! It was not intended to be anything else! Urine in a swimming pool is no joke: it can quickly deplete the chlorine level, especially in smaller pools, and will lead to the formation of odorous chloramines. If there is urine in the pool, the odorous combined chlorine level will rise and the free chlorine level will bottom out. Large amounts of shock will probably be required to restore the proper chlorine levels. Toilet training is better! I hope that I have debunked the myth and let's have no peepee in the pool. Enjoy the pool.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/2/2010


Lots Of Questions?

Hi, I find your web site most interesting. Thanks. My husband and I have a small pool business--retail as well as service. I have a few questions for which I have been unable to find the answers--maybe you can help. Regarding "mustard algae"--is it possible some of this is either dirt or dead algae circulating through the sand filter and back to the pool? It seems as if most people who think they have the mustard algae also have a sand filter. This is coupled with the fact that many pool dealers in our area think "bigger is better" when they sell a pump and motor. I spoke with a woman today who has an effective 2.2 HP (1.5 HP with a 1.47 SF) on a 24" sand filter! Others will say they were sold a 1.5 HP pump and motor for only a few dollars more than a 1 HP. Hasn't anyone checked out the flow rate charts? So much for may soap box, but I was wondering if that could be causing ineffective filtration rather than an actual algae problem? Also, I have had limited experience with the sodium bromine products. I carried a product containing sodium bromide which seemed to work well, but another (containing ammonium sulfate) I have tried more recently creates a major chlorine demand requiring cases and cases of sodium hypochlorite to achieve a residual free chlorine. I do use the sodium bromide salts with a non-chlorine activator in our spa with good results. I have limited knowledge of this phosphate problem, but we have maintained clear, clean, safe pools for years without treating for it. Maybe it's because more people are having their lawns treated that phosphates have become a problem. At what point should phosphates be treated, and do you know of a good, reliable test kit we as a dealer can use? I appreciate any light you can shed on these topics. Keep up the good work.

Carol K., Cincinnati, OH, 8/25/2013


Dead algae can go right through some sand filters. Many people make the mistake of backwashing too often. It should be done when the pressure readings indicate a need. Almost all of the people writing about cloudy water have sand filters. An oversized pump can be part of the problem, but usually it is poor water chemistry and maintenance practices. There are things that you do that can help improve the situatio
POOL REFRESH eliminates phosphates and heavy metals.n, in other than a chemical sense. Replace the sand with a zeolite sand filter media replacement: it is far better, than sand, at removing dead algae and fine particles. Adding a Robotic Pool Cleaner, with its built-in micro-filter will help remove dead algae and improve the circulation across the pool floor, making algae growth less likely. Sodium bromide products do seem to work well in problem situations. The other type of product, being based on ammonium sulfate will boost the chloramine content and will require massive shock treatments to restore proper conditions. Regarding the phosphate levels: I believe that you mean 500 PPB (B for billion) and not 500 PPM (M for Million). In order to be effective, the phosphate level must be reduced to near zero. 500 PPM is a very high level. If the phosphate level is reduced, there is less tendency for algae growth, but keeping it low is another matter. If a pool has a recurring algae problem, the use of POOL REFRESH phosphate eliminator can make sense. Nitrates is another possible cause of recurring algae problems. For the majority of pools, clear water that is algae-free can be achieved with modest phosphates present, provided that the pool water chemistry, filtration and cleanliness are properly maintained. There are phosphate and nitrate test kits suitable for your needs. I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/26/2013


Keeping The Water Warm?

I heard that there is a product that you can add to the water that will help keep the temperature from dropping at night. It that true.

Brenda, R., Michigan, 6/25/2009


Strange, but true. The product works by forming a mono-molecular layer on the pool surface and is used, at night, after the filter is turned off. Does it work? In theory, if you reduce evaporation, you will reduce heat loss.  A better and reasonably inexpensive method of warming the pool water is the use of a solar pool heater. There are solar pool heating kits that are easy to install and reasonable in cost. To get the most efficiency out of a heater in an area, such as yours, a solar blanket can be used, in conjunction with any type of heater, to reduce night time heat loss. These are plastic sheets (sized to completely cover the water) filled with air bubbles, that are used as a cover on the pool surface. Solar blankets are not safety covers! Put it on after the pool is finished for the day and take it off when you are about to resume swimming. If left on during sunny periods, it will cause the pool temperature to rise significantly. Reels are available to remove and store the solar blanket, until it is used again. Safety pool covers are available that are either manual or automatic and can help reduce heating costs or help keep unheated pool warmer. Enjoy the summer.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/25/2009


Vinegar and Baking Soda?

I have been told that white vinegar and baking soda are alternatives to pH balance. If this is so are they as good as the commercial chemicals? Which one is used for raising and lowering?

Jim H., Minnesota, 6/13/2008


Although people have written about vinegar before, I have no idea how the notion got started. Vinegar is not a good means of lowering the pH of the pool and it is certainly not cost effective. While, I doubt that the bathers will smell like a pickle, there is really no point in such usage. Baking soda is used to control the total alkalinity of the pool water. It should be used on an as needed basis, in order to adjust the total alkalinity upwards into the 80-120 PPM range. One and one-half pounds will raise the TA of 10,000 gallons by approximately 10 PPM. I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/13/2008


Exercise Physical Therapy Pool?

IS THERE ANY REASON A BURN PATIENT SHOULD NOT USE AN EXERCISE POOL THAT WE USE BROMINE IN?

Physical Therapy, 3/13/2010


I really am not qualified to answer this question. It should be directed to a medical doctor. I am sure that the main concern is that the water be properly sanitized, so that infection possibilities are at a minimum. I know of no reason why bromine would be objectionable, but it is the medical opinion that matters most! Sorry that I couldn't be of more help.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/13/2010


Potassium Permanganate?

Can you tell me some of the possible uses of potassium permanganate in a swimming pool? Also, is there a history of using this product in the pool/spa industry? Thanks.

Scott M., 2/1/2007


I have never heard of its use in the swimming pool industry and probably for good reasons. It would introduce manganese compounds and that would bring the risk of severe staining and discoloration problems. While it is a powerful oxidizer, the use of chlorine or monopersulfate makes more sense in treating a swimming pool. I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/2/2007

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