Swimming Pool Chlorine and Bromine

by Pool Builders on 01-31-2009 in Articles

Pool sanitizing is one of the most important aspects of swimming pool maintenance. When pool water is not cared for and kept clean, swimmers are at risk of contracting illnesses and infections from organic waste, bacteria and other microorganisms present in the water. When pool water is properly treated and regulated, it will be clean, fresh and free from harmful contaminants, providing a healthy environment for swimmers to enjoy. In order to keep pool water clean and sanitary, the use of swimming pool chemicals is required. The two most common chemicals used for this purpose are pool chlorine and pool bromine.

Chlorine is a very widely used chemical. Discovered back in the 16th century, it is now used in many different industrial and household products. It's also the most common chemical used for swimming pool sanitizing. The reason for this is that it's very effective at killing contaminants and yet is relatively easy to use. Swimming pool chlorine reacts with the pool water to produce hydrochloric acid and hydrochlorous acid. Hydrochlorous acid is chlorine's active form and is able to penetrate the cell walls of bacteria and other potentially harmful microorganisms, killing them so they no longer pose a risk to the health of swimmers. The molecules of active chlorine continue this contaminant-killing process until they are broken down and deactivated or until they form chloramines by combining with ammonia or nitrogen compounds.

While pool chlorine is used for regular, ongoing sanitizing, it can also be used for pool shock treatments. "Shocking" or super-chlorinating a swimming pool refers to raising the chlorine levels until they are ten times the level of the chloramines in the water. This level is also known as "breakpoint chlorination" and sends a shock of killing power throughout the pool, eradicating contaminants that cause infections and water cloudiness. Chlorine shock treatments are used during pool openings and whenever extra sanitization is required during the course of the swim season. Some pool owners need pool chlorine for shock treatments every few weeks, especially when their pool is frequently used by a high number of swimmers.

As already mentioned, swimming pool chlorine is the most widely used pool sanitizer. However, pool bromine is also quite common. Swimming pool bromine is a highly effective sanitizer, which keeps water clean by killing microorganisms and by combining with and controlling debris in a similar fashion to chlorine. While both chlorine and bromine are affected by UV rays from the sun, bromine remains in the pool and can be reused, unlike chlorine molecules which get destroyed. Another difference between the two chemicals is the range of pH levels at which they are most effective. While chlorine requires the water's pH level to stay between 7.4 and 7.6, pool bromine is effective anywhere within a pH range of 7.0 to 8.0.

One of the reasons that some swimming pool owners prefer to use pool bromine rather than pool chlorine has to do with the fact that bromine does not produce a harsh odor like chlorine does. Swimming pool bromine also has no taste and is far gentler on skin and eyes than chlorine, greatly reducing the incidence of irritation. As a result of these advantages, many pool owners are more inclined to use swimming pool bromine as their sanitizer of choice even though bromine is slightly more complicated to use and can be somewhat more expensive than chlorine. Bromine also requires the use of an automatic feeder, as it dissolves much more slowly than chlorine. However, such feeders are easy to install and use.

Deciding whether to use swimming pool chlorine or bromine as your sanitizer of choice will depend upon your particular needs and preferences. If you choose to use chlorine, the type and form of that chemical that you need will also depend upon your own preferences and your method of application, as well as the size and volume of your swimming pool. These chemicals are available individually, and are also often available as part of a pool maintenance chemical kit, which also contains other useful chemicals such as algaecides and stain removers.

No matter which sanitizing chemical you choose to use, both high-quality pool chlorine and bromine options can be found relatively easily from a variety of online retailers. Best of all, it's possible to find these chemicals at affordable prices, so you can keep your swimming pool clean without hurting your wallet.

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