Is your pool water cloudy? Or do you get irritated eyes when you go for a swim? Then, your alkalinity levels may be off. One of the best-kept secrets to perfect pool water is simply understanding and maintaining the correct alkalinity levels.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about pool alkalinity, from what it is and why it is vital to the best ways to measure and adjust it.

What is Alkalinity in a Pool?

Alkalinity is part of the composition of water, and it measures the water’s ability to neutralize acids. It also measures the buffering capacity of water to resist changes to pH. By keeping the right alkalinity level in your pool, you balance the pH level in the water.

pH vs. Alkalinity

The pH scale measures a substance’s acidic or basic levels on a numbering gauge between 0 and 14. This is based on how much hydrogen is in the substance, which can cause the substance to be more acidic or basic. 0 is the most acidic with items like battery acid and lemon juice. Seven is neutral, and pure water sits here. 14 is the most basic, with items like baking soda and bleach. The pH level of a pool should be between 7.2 and 7.8 to keep your pool clean and healthy.

Alkalinity, on the other hand, is a measure of the water’s ability to resist changes in pH. The ideal range for alkalinity in a swimming pool is between 80 and 120 ppm (parts per million). When the alkalinity is too low, the pH level can change rapidly and become unstable. When the alkalinity is too high, it can be challenging to adjust the pH level.

pH and alkalinity are closely related and interact with other pool chemicals, such as chlorine and calcium hardness. Chlorine, for example, is more effective at killing bacteria and algae when the pH is between 7.2 and 7.8. If the pH is too high or too low, chlorine can become less effective.

Measuring Alkalinity

Methods for measuring alkalinity in a swimming pool

  1. Test strips are an easy and convenient way to measure alkalinity. To use a test strip, you dip the strip into the pool water and compare the color to a chart on the package to determine the alkalinity level.
  2. Liquid test kits are similar to test strips, but they use a dropper to add a liquid reagent to a pool water sample. The color change of the water will indicate the alkalinity level on the chart on the package.
  3. Electronic testers use a sensor to measure the alkalinity level. They are more accurate than test strips or liquid test kits but are also more expensive. For electronic testers, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to use the device.

Low Alkalinity

What causes low alkalinity?

Various factors, including heavy rain, high evaporation, and backwashing of the filter, can cause low alkalinity.

What happens if pool alkalinity is too low?

The pH level can become unstable and change rapidly if the alkalinity is too low. This can lead to various problems, including cloudy water, irritated eyes, and damage to pool equipment.

Low alkalinity can also cause chlorine to become less effective at killing bacteria and algae, turning your pool water green. Always test and adjust as you go through these processes.

How to raise alkalinity in a pool

To raise alkalinity in a pool, you can use these methods:

  1. Add baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate). Start by adding a small amount of baking soda and then retest the alkalinity levels. If necessary, add more baking soda until the alkalinity level is within the ideal range.
  2. Use a commercial pool alkalinity increaser. These products contain sodium carbonate and are specifically designed to raise alkalinity levels. One of my favorite products to use is produced and sold by Clorox.
  3. Add sodium hydroxide (lye) to the water. This is a strong chemical and should only be used by professionals or those with experience handling it.

High Alkalinity

What causes high alkalinity?

High alkalinity can be caused by adding too much baking soda to the pool or not backwashing the filter often enough.

What happens if pool alkalinity is too high?

If the alkalinity is too high, it can be difficult to adjust the pH level. It can also lead to scaling on pool surfaces and equipment, cloudy water, and eye irritation.

How to lower alkalinity in a pool

Here are a few ways to lower the alkalinity in a pool:

  • Use muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) to lower the pH and alkalinity levels. The amount needed will depend on the size of the pool and the current alkalinity level.
  • Use a pool pH decrease product. These products contain phosphoric or sulfuric acid and are specifically designed to lower pH and alkalinity levels.
  • Add sodium bisulfate (dry acid) to the water. This granular acid can be used to lower the pH and total alkalinity.

It’s important to note that before adding any chemicals to your pool, you should test the water’s current alkalinity level and pH level. You should also read and follow the instructions for any chemical product you use and be aware of the safety precautions.

It’s also essential to make minor adjustments over time rather than trying to lower the alkalinity level all at once. Making large adjustments at once can disrupt the water’s chemical balance and cause other issues.

Summary

Maintaining the right alkalinity level in your pool is crucial for keeping the water clear, clean, and safe for swimming.

By understanding pool alkalinity, how to measure it, and how to adjust it, you can ensure that your pool is always in top condition and ready for fun. Happy swimming!

About the Author

stefan schulzStefan Schulz is the founder and owner of PV Pool Cleaner. He spent his college years working at Niagara Pools and Spas, one of the largest Swimming Pool and Hot Tub Dealers in the Eastern United States.

Today, he utilizes his background, experience as a pool owner, and the resources of his digital marketing agency, Orpical Group, to generate informative and engaging content for pool owners everywhere.

There’s nothing like diving into a refreshing pool on a hot summer day. The refreshing splash of water, the coolness on your skin, and the thrill of opening your eyes underwater…

But for some, that thrill is short-lived as the burning sensation of chlorine takes over. If you’re tired of dealing with red, irritated eyes and dry, damaged hair, it may be time to explore some chlorine alternatives.

Whether you’re a pool owner looking to make a change or simply someone who loves to swim, plenty of options can give you that same feeling of diving into a pool without harsh chemicals. So, let’s dive in and explore some of the best chlorine alternatives on the market today!

What is Pool Chlorine Used For?

Pool chlorine is a powerful disinfectant that keeps swimming pools clean and safe. It is added to the water to kill bacteria and other harmful organisms, preventing the spread of disease and illness. Chlorine also helps to keep the water clear and free of algae and can be used to control the pH levels of the water.

Reasons to Look for a Chlorine Substitute

Some people may want to find a substitute to chlorine because of its harsh effects on the skin and eyes. Chlorine can cause red eyes, dry skin, and even allergic reactions in some people.

Additionally, chlorine can bleach swimsuits and hair and give off a strong chemical odor that some find unpleasant. For these reasons, many people are looking for alternatives to chlorine that are more gentle and more pleasant to be around.

Types of Chlorine Alternatives

Saltwater pools

Saltwater pools are one of the most popular alternatives to chlorine. Instead of using chlorine, these pools use a process called electrolysis to convert salt into chlorine. The chlorine then helps disinfect the water and keep it clean. Saltwater pools are considered less harsh on the skin and eyes than traditional chlorine pools, and the salt is said to give the water a softer feel. However, saltwater pools require more maintenance than chlorine pools, and the salt can be corrosive to certain types of metal.

Mineral pools

Mineral pools are another alternative to chlorine. They use a combination of minerals, such as silver and copper, to disinfect the water and keep it clean. These minerals are typically gentle on the skin and eyes and can also help to reduce the growth of algae and bacteria. However, mineral pools require more maintenance than chlorine pools, and the minerals can be corrosive to certain types of metal.

Ozone pools

Ozone pools are a newer alternative to chlorine that uses ozone gas to disinfect the water. Ozone is a powerful oxidizer that is said to be more effective at killing bacteria and other harmful organisms than chlorine. Additionally, ozone pools are said to be gentler on the skin and eyes than chlorine pools and do not give off the strong chemical odor that chlorine pools can have. However, ozone pools require more maintenance than chlorine pools, and ozone generators can be expensive to purchase and operate.

UV pools

UV pools use ultraviolet light to disinfect the water. UV light is said to be more effective at killing bacteria and other harmful organisms than chlorine and does not produce any chemicals or by-products that can be harmful to swimmers. However, UV pools require more maintenance than chlorine pools, and UV lamps can be expensive to purchase and operate.

Comparison of Alternatives

Maintenance and Upkeep

All alternatives to chlorine, including saltwater, mineral, ozone, and UV pools, require more maintenance than traditional ones.

Each alternative has specific maintenance needs, such as regular testing and adjustments of salt or mineral levels, maintenance of ozone generators, and upkeep of UV lamps.

Cost

The alternatives above are also more expensive to operate than traditional chlorine pools.

  • Saltwater pools require the purchase of a salt chlorinator and the cost of salt.
  • Mineral pools require the purchase of mineral cartridges and test kits.
  • Ozone pools require the purchase of an ozone generator and the cost of electricity.
  • UV pools require the investment of UV lamps and the cost of electricity.

Additionally, these alternatives may require frequent testing and maintenance, which can add to the overall cost.

Effectiveness

When properly maintained, all of these alternatives can effectively keep the pool clean and safe. Saltwater pools, mineral pools, ozone pools, and UV pools can kill bacteria and other harmful organisms.

However, chlorine is still considered the most effective and widely used method for disinfecting pools.

Safety

All of these alternatives are considered to be safe when properly maintained. Saltwater pools, mineral pools, ozone pools, and UV pools can kill bacteria and other harmful organisms, which can prevent the spread of disease and illness.

However, it’s important to note that UV pools, Ozone pools, and mineral pools can be corrosive to certain types of metal, so it’s important to consult with a swimming pool professional before choosing one of these options.

How to Choose the Right Alternative

Personal Preferences

The choice of an alternative will depend on personal preferences and priorities. If you prioritize the feel of the water, a saltwater pool may be the best option. A mineral pool may be the best choice if you are looking for a more natural alternative. A UV or ozone pool may be the best option if you prioritize low maintenance.

Pool Usage and Size

The size and usage of your pool also play a role in your decision. Saltwater pools, mineral pools, ozone pools, and UV pools require different levels of maintenance, so it’s essential to choose one that will fit the needs of your specific pool. For example, a UV or ozone pool may be the best option if you have a large pool that is used often, as they require less maintenance.

Local Weather and Climate

The weather and climate in your area can also affect the decision-making process. For example, if you live in an area with high heat and humidity, saltwater or mineral pool may be the best option, as they are less affected by these conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some natural alternatives to chlorine for pool sanitation?

Some natural alternatives to chlorine for pool sanitation include:

  • Saltwater pools, which use a salt chlorinator to convert salt into chlorine for sanitation.
  • Mineral pools, which use natural minerals such as silver and copper to kill bacteria and algae.
  • Ozone pools, which use ozone gas as a disinfectant.
  • UV light pools, which use UV light to kill bacteria and algae.

How do chlorine alternatives compare to chlorine in terms of effectiveness and safety?

Chlorine alternatives can be as effective as chlorine in killing bacteria and algae. They are often considered safer for swimmers because they don’t rely on harsh chemicals as chlorine does.

Are there any chlorine alternatives that are suitable for use in residential pools?

Several chlorine alternatives are suitable for residential pools, such as saltwater pools, mineral pools, ozone pools, and UV light pools.

How do I switch from using chlorine to a natural alternative for pool sanitation?

Switching from chlorine to a natural alternative for pool sanitation can be done by installing the appropriate equipment and making sure to properly maintain and adjust the levels of the alternative disinfectant. It is important to seek the guidance of a professional pool service to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the alternative.

Are there any long-term health risks associated with using chlorine alternatives in pools?

Some long-term health risks may be associated with chlorine alternatives in pools, such as skin irritation or allergic reactions. It is important to research and consider each alternative’s potential risks and benefits before making a decision.

How do I maintain proper pool hygiene with a chlorine alternative?

Proper pool hygiene with a chlorine alternative can be supported by regularly testing and adjusting the levels of the alternative disinfectant, keeping the pool clean and debris-free, and adequately maintaining the equipment.

Are there any special considerations for using chlorine alternatives in public pools or other commercial settings?

There may be special considerations for using chlorine alternatives in public pools or other commercial settings, such as regulations and guidelines set by health authorities. It is important to research and comply with any relevant regulations before making a decision.

Can chlorine alternatives be used in combination with other pool sanitation methods?

Yes, chlorine alternatives can be used in combination with other pool sanitation methods, such as using a natural alternative as the primary disinfectant and a UV light system as a secondary method.

Are there any maintenance or cost differences between using chlorine and chlorine alternatives in pools?

There may be differences in maintenance and cost between chlorine and chlorine alternatives in pools. For example, a saltwater pool system may require a higher initial cost but may have lower ongoing maintenance costs. It is essential to research and consider each alternative’s costs and maintenance requirements before making a decision.

Conclusion

Saltwater, mineral, ozone, and UV pools have unique benefits and drawbacks. The big takeaway is that these chlorine alternatives all effectively keep a pool clean. However, these options will typically require more maintenance and money than chlorine solutions.

If you’re looking to switch from chlorine to an alternative, it’s important to consider your personal preferences, the usage and size of your pool, and the weather and climate in your area. Consult with a pool professional to ensure you choose the best alternative for your needs.

If you’re interested in learning more about pool chlorine alternatives, many resources are available online. Websites such as the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), National Swimming Pool Foundation, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide information on the different types of alternatives, their benefits, and their drawbacks. With the correct information and guidance, you can decide the best alternative for your pool.

About the Author

stefan schulzStefan Schulz is the founder and owner of PV Pool Cleaner. He spent his college years working at Niagara Pools and Spas, one of the largest Swimming Pool and Hot Tub Dealers in the Eastern United States.

Today, he utilizes his background, experience as a pool owner, and the resources of his digital marketing agency, Orpical Group, to generate informative and engaging content for pool owners everywhere.

Chlorine is essential in keeping swimming pools clean and safe for swimmers. Without chlorine or a chlorine substitute, pool water would quickly become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and other microorganisms.

This article will explain how pool chlorine is made, including the production of calcium hypochlorite and sodium hypochlorite.

Quick Facts

  1. Chlorine is produced from either salt or brine solutions as part of a process called electrolysis.
  2. The salt-based solution used in chlorine production needs to be heated for the production process to take place.
  3. An electrical current passes through the solution, causing the molecules of salt and water to break apart and release hydrogen and chlorine gases into the air.
  4. The chlorine gas is then collected, filtered, and cooled into liquid form before being distributed for commercial use.
  5. Manufacturers produce various grades of pool chlorine specifically formulated to meet safety standards and properly sanitize pools without damaging delicate pool filters and surfaces.
  6. Pool chlorine is then bleached after it’s formed to minimize any potential contamination or bacteria present in its raw state.

History of Pool Chlorine

The use of chlorine as a pool sanitizer dates back to the early 1900s when it was first used to treat drinking water.

It was only a short time before pool operators and engineers discovered the benefits of using chlorine to disinfect pool water.

The development of different forms of chlorine allowed for greater ease of use and effectiveness as a sanitizer.

During World War I, the use of chlorine gas as a weapon led to the development of alternative forms, such as sodium hypochlorite, which could be used safely in swimming pools.

As technology advanced, so did the methods used to produce chlorine compounds. Nowadays, most swimming pools rely on chlorine in the form of calcium hypochlorite or sodium hypochlorite to keep the water safe and clean.

Calcium Hypochlorite Production

Calcium hypochlorite is typically produced by the reaction of calcium oxide (lime) with chlorine gas. The reaction occurs in a vessel where the two chemicals are mixed under controlled conditions. The resulting product is a white powder that can be used to sanitize pool water.

The key ingredients for the production of calcium hypochlorite are lime and chlorine gas. The lime is typically sourced from a lime kiln and is in the form of quicklime (calcium oxide). Chlorine gas is usually obtained from on-site chlorine generators or delivered in cylinders.

Special equipment is needed to produce calcium hypochlorite, including a reactor vessel, a cooling system, and a filter press to separate the product from the reaction solution.

Taking proper safety precautions when handling these chemicals and the equipment used in the production process is important, as both lime and chlorine gas can be hazardous.

Sodium Hypochlorite Production

Sodium hypochlorite is produced through the electrolysis of saltwater. The process occurs in an electrolytic cell, where a direct current is passed through the saltwater solution. This causes the salt (sodium chloride) to break down into its component ions, sodium, and chloride. The chlorine ions are then oxidized to form chlorine gas, which dissolves in the water to form sodium hypochlorite.

The key ingredients for the production of sodium hypochlorite are salt and electricity. Salt is typically obtained from rock salt mines or solar salt evaporation ponds. The process requires a specific type of salt which is the refined form of salt called “salt cake” or “vacuum salt.”

Electrolytic cells are required to produce sodium hypochlorite, and a cooling system is used to lower the temperature of the electrolyte solution.

Comparison of Calcium Hypochlorite and Sodium Hypochlorite

Both calcium hypochlorite and sodium hypochlorite are effective as pool sanitizers, but some differences between the two compounds may make one more suitable than the other for a particular pool or pool system.

Calcium hypochlorite is a more stable and long-lasting compound than sodium hypochlorite, making it a better option for outdoor pools or pools that are not used frequently. It also has a longer shelf-life, so it can be stored for extended periods without losing its effectiveness.

Sodium hypochlorite is more active than calcium hypochlorite, which means it is more effective at lower concentrations. This makes it a better option for indoor pools. It also dissolves more easily in water, making it easier to use and apply.

Regardless of the type of chlorine you choose, properly handling and storing these compounds is important. Both calcium hypochlorite and sodium hypochlorite should be kept in a dry, cool place, away from heat and direct sunlight. They should also be kept away from other chemicals, as they can react with certain compounds and release toxic gases.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is Pool Chlorine Made?

Pool chlorine is produced by passing an electrical current through a salt-based solution. The resulting molecules of salt and water break apart and release hydrogen and chlorine gases into the air, which are then collected, filtered, and cooled into liquid form for distribution. Bleach is added to the chlorine to reduce potential contamination or bacteria.

What is Pool Chlorine Made Of?

Pool chlorine is primarily composed of sodium chloride and calcium hypochlorite. It also contains elements such as magnesium, potassium, and sulfate in its raw form. When mixed with water, it becomes a disinfecting solution which helps keep pools safe and clean.

Where is Pool Chlorine Made?

Pool chlorine is primarily produced in large industrial plants and warehouses. The process involves:

  • Passing an electrical current through a saltwater solution.
  • Collecting the resulting gases.
  • Cooling them into liquid form.

After being packaged, chlorine manufacturers ship the product to pool and spa supply distributors.

About the Author

stefan schulzStefan Schulz is the founder and owner of PV Pool Cleaner. He spent his college years working at Niagara Pools and Spas, one of the largest Swimming Pool and Hot Tub Dealers in the Eastern United States.

Today, he utilizes his background, experience as a pool owner, and the resources of his digital marketing agency, Orpical Group, to generate informative and engaging content for pool owners everywhere.