Pool Chlorine and Bromine - Learn About Pool Chemicals

by Pool Builders on 08-04-2009 in Articles

Using a powerful and effective sanitizer to eradicate harmful contaminants from pool water is the only way to keep your swimming pool clean and healthy so you and your swimmers can enjoy carefree hours of fun and relaxation. While there are a variety of different sanitizers available on the market, the two most popular and effective pool sanitizing chemicals are pool chlorine and bromine. While both of these chemicals work in a similar fashion and allow you to maintain a healthy swimming environment, there are a number of differences between them. In order to choose the sanitizer that will be best suited to your family's needs and preferences, it's important to learn about these two pool chemicals.

Swimming pool chlorine is the most widely used chemical for commercial and residential pools. One of the major reasons behind chlorine's widespread use in swimming pools has to do with the fact that it is easy to use and yet is extremely effective at eradicating harmful contaminants from the water. Such contaminants include bacteria and other microorganisms which can potentially cause swimmers to contract dangerous illnesses and infections. When pool chlorine is added to the water, a reaction occurs which produces hydrochloric acid and hydrochlorous acid, the latter of which is chlorine's active form.

Hydrochlorous acid is the beneficial component of pool chlorine as it will attack the cell walls and destroy the internal structures of microorganisms like bacteria. This process causes the microorganisms to become oxidized and renders them harmless. At the same time, the chlorine molecules that combine with microorganisms become inactive. Swimming pool chlorine will also eventually combine with ammonia or nitrogen to form combined chlorine or chloramines. As inactive chlorine and chloramines cannot assist in sanitization, fresh chlorine needs to be added to pools on a regular basis to ensure proper cleaning and water maintenance.

As for swimming pool bromine, it may not be quite as popular and well-known as pool chlorine, but it is still frequently used for swimming pool sanitization. When added to water, swimming pool bromine forms hypobromous acid, which reacts with microorganisms in a similar fashion as hydrochlorous acid, deactivating and killing the contaminants. While these two chemicals function in a similar way, a main difference to be aware of is that the majority of bromine added to a pool will continue to be active after it has destroyed organic contaminants. The result of this is that pool bromine does not need to be added to swimming pools as frequently as chlorine and, therefore, the overall amount of pool bromine required for effective sanitization is less.

When familiarizing yourself with the many relevant characteristics of swimming pool chlorine and bromine, it's important to note that there are several other differences between these two chemicals as well. To begin with, swimming pool bromine can function effectively within a pH range of 7.0 to 8.0 while swimming pool chlorine requires that the pool water's pH level be maintained between 7.4 and 7.6 for effective performance. Also, bromine is a pre-stabilize pool chemical while chlorine is not. This means that swimming pool chlorine needs to be combined with a stabilizing chemical. This fact also means that bromine is generally more effective at warmer temperatures than chlorine is, making it a better choice for many spas and hot tubs.

Other differences between pool chlorine and bromine include cost and the rate at which the chemicals dissolve in water. With regards to price, pool bromine is typically more expensive than pool chlorine. Bromine also dissolves more slowly and therefore requires the use of a chemical feeder to dispense the chemical into the water, whereas chlorine can simply be added by hand. While the cost of the chemical and the necessity for a chemical feeder may make bromine a less attractive option to many pool owners, others are very willing to pay the extra cost for bromine because it is a much gentler chemical than chlorine, which means that it is far less likely to cause skin and eye irritation. However, it's important to note that bromine is still a chlorine-based chemical and, therefore, it is not a completely chlorine-free option for people who suffer from chlorine allergies.

Whether you should use swimming pool chlorine or bromine to sanitize your pool is a personal choice. By informing yourself about the various characteristics and pros and cons of each chemical, you will be able to make an educated decision that will ultimately provide you with the best overall results for your swimming pool and your family. Yet, no matter which sanitizing chemical you decide to use in the end, proper usage will provide you with powerful and effective cleaning that will leave your pool water crystal clear and free of troublesome and potentially dangerous contaminants.

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