Swimming Pool Chlorine and Bromine - Essential Pool Chemicals

by Pool Builders on 06-23-2009 in Articles

The two most important steps that are required to keep your swimming pool safe and healthy for your swimmers are circulation and sanitization. While proper water circulation simply requires a pool filter system, sanitization requires the use of chemicals. The two most common chemicals used to achieve this purpose are pool chlorine and bromine. While these two chemicals share certain characteristics and serve similar purposes, there are also several differences between them. Depending upon your personal preferences and situation, you may favour one over the other.

The reason why it's so important to sanitize your swimming pool with pool chlorine or bromine is that these chemicals destroy bacteria and other harmful contaminants that may be present in the pool water. If not properly dealt with, these contaminants can reach dangerous levels and can potentially transmit illnesses and infections to swimmers. On the other hand, by following a regular maintenance routine and using the right chemicals, your swimming pool can be a very healthy and sanitary environment.

As already mentioned, pool chlorine and bromine are both used to kill bacteria and contaminants. However, each chemical works in its own way. When added to pool water, swimming pool chlorine breaks down into a variety of chemicals including hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ions. These chemicals deactivate and destroy microorganisms such as bacteria by attacking their cell walls and then destroying the internal enzymes and structures of the cell. This causes the cells to become oxidized, which leaves them in a harmless state. Once the chlorine molecules have combined with the microorganisms in this way, they become inactive and can no longer continue to sanitize the water. This is why pool chlorine has to be routinely added to the water.

When swimming pool bromine is added to water, it forms hypobromous acid. Hypobromous acid is the oxidizer and sanitizer which will then react with microorganisms to deactivate them. This reaction between the hypobromous acid and the contaminants results in combined bromine or bromamines. However, unlike swimming pool chlorine, much of the pool bromine will remain active even after killing the bacteria and other contaminants. Naturally, this means that less bromine is required to keep a pool sanitized as compared to chlorine.

However, the differences in their chemical reactions and the amounts of each chemical required to keep water healthy and sanitized are not the only contrasts between pool chlorine and bromine. For instance, swimming pool bromine is a pre-stabilized chemical while some swimming pool chlorine is not. Also, because bromine is pre-stabilized, it often works better in warmer temperatures than chlorine, making it a good choice for sanitizing spas and hot tubs. However, pool bromine dissolves at a much slower rate than chlorine does and, as a result, it has to be added to a swimming pool through an automatic chemical feeder.

Another difference between pool chlorine and bromine is the fact that chlorine is a harsher chemical than bromine and is more likely to cause skin and eye irritation. For this reason, bromine is often a good choice for pool owners who have sensitive skin. At the same time, however, it's important to note that bromine is a chlorine-based chemical and is therefore not a chlorine-free alternative for people who suffer from chlorine allergies. Pool bromine also produces less of an odour than chlorine does, which can be an advantage for people who find the chlorine smell unpleasant and overwhelming.

While swimming pool bromine has several advantages over chlorine by being less harsh and by producing less of an odour, it can be more difficult to wash away bromine's chemical smell from your skin after swimming. Also, the main disadvantage of using pool bromine as a sanitizer is the cost, as bromine tends to be significantly more expensive than chlorine. However, if you are prone to skin or eye irritation or are particularly sensitive to strong odours, then it may well be worth paying the extra money to use swimming pool bromine as your pool sanitizer.

When deciding whether to use pool chlorine or pool bromine to keep your swimming pool healthy and safe, you will need to consider all of the advantages and disadvantages of each chemical as well as your particular needs and circumstances. No matter what choice you ultimately make, however, both chemicals are widely available from retailers of swimming pool supplies. Once you have purchased everything that you require, make sure that you read the product instructions carefully so that you can ensure that you are sanitizing your swimming pool in the safest and most effective way possible.

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