An Introduction to Pool Disinfectants  

by Pool Builders on 02-16-2012 in Articles

To ensure the water in your swimming pool is clean and safe to swim in, you need to use disinfectant chemicals like bromine, chlorine or iodine. While maintenance can be relatively easy, you should first learn a little about each chemical so you know which ones to use and how much of them to use.

Before going to your local pool supply store to purchase chemicals, you first need to find out how many gallons of water your pool holds. The total gallonage of your pool determines how much sanitizer you need to purchase. First you can check any documents you received when the pool was put it, or if you have the box an above ground pool came in it will also tell you how many gallons it holds. If you don't have any of this information you can figure it out from the pools dimensions. For a regular rectangular pool, multiply the length by the width by the depth and then multiply your total answer by 7.5.

Custom shaped pools use a different multiplier. In this case it might be helpful to look online for a similar shaped pool and use the figures or gallonage they list. For circular pools you can multiply the diameter by the depth and then multiply that by 5.9. For oval shaped pools simply multiply the depth by the length and multiply that figure by 5.9.

Also before going to the pool supply store you will also need to test the water in your pool to see what the pH is. The pH level can determine which type of chemical you need in order to balance out the pH to a healthy, swimmable level. The pH is considered at a stable level if it is between 7.2 to 7.6, but the ideal level is 7.5 pH. Jot down the current pH of your pool and write down any appearances you see in the water such a cloudly, green tint, algae build up etc. You will want to share these items with the salesperson at the pool supply store to be sure you're getting the chemical that is used to fix the problem you might be having with your pool water.

Iodine is one of the pool disinfectants listed above, and while it works great for disinfecting pools it is not the most commonly used product for this purpose. This is because it can be quite harmful to skin and eyes an can cause discoloration of the pool water or any pool equipment it comes in contact with. If you decide to use iodine, it is a good idea to hire a professional to administer it. It should also be chosen as a last resort when no other sanitizing chemicals have worked.

Bromine is a much more widely used product for pool sanitization. It generally comes in a powdery form or sometimes in a stick. Once placed in the water bromine emits a strong acid called hypobromous acid. One draw back of using bromine is that the pH level can affect how effective the bromine is on the water. A high pH level will make the bromine much less effective so it is important to check the pH often when using bromine as a sanitizer. Chlorine is a much more common means of sanitizing because it works the same no matter what the pH level might be. The drawback of using chlorine is that it can be irritating to the skin and eyes of swimmers. When used in the right increments and allowing enough time after a shock, chlorine still proves to be very effective and is the most cost effective pool sanitizer.

Another reason many people choose chlorine over bromine is that if the pool is in direct sunlight, chlorine will be just as effective as bromine becomes less effective. Chlorine is convenient, as it comes in forms from liquid or powder to dissolvable sticks or pellets. Many pool owners opt for the liquid form, because it just needs to be poured in and it dissolves quicker than the other types.

If you are new to pool maintenance, it is a good idea to take a few minutes to speak with the salesperson at the pool supply store. They will help you figure out which chemicals work best in your local environment for various different problems.

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