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Pool Chemistry for Beginners

The whole idea of this guide is to get you pointed in the right direction so that you can start to grasp a firm idea of what to pay attention to, and what will help you immensely in the pool world. Who knows we might save you a google search or two.

Keyword Legend:

PPM = Parts Per Million ( This is how we measure how much chemical is in the water )

Conditioner ( Also known as CYA, Cyanuric Acid, Stabilizer )

Regardless of which sanitizer fits best for your family, the job of the sanitizer is to maintain and keep the water sanitary. Free of algae, virus's and strains of bacteria and other bad things that can grow in untreated water.

Here are all your choices

Chlorine: The most popular pool sanitizer due to its efficacy and lower cost, chlorine sanitizes your pool by oxidizing contaminants. Chlorine is effective at killing viruses, bacteria, and algae, and will also help prevent algae from growing in the first place.

Chlorine Tablets: Usually available in 1-inch or 3-inch sizes, chlorine tablets can be added to a floating chlorine dispenser, or to an automatic chlorinator. This method is vastly superior to granular whereas its automatic, and does not consume your time and evenly distributes chlorine into the water table.

Chlorine Granules: You pour chlorine granules into the pool where they dissolve and are distributed by your filtration system. This isn’t a top choice, though. The reason why it is not the best approach is because, it takes time from your day to do, and there's a higher chance of the product not being evenly spread out around the pool creating pockets of non chlorinated and super chlorinated areas.

Chlorine Pro Tip:

The ideal chlorine level in your pool water is 3 parts per million (ppm). Anything less than that requires treatment, because your pool water is not sanitized enough to ward off algae and other problems. Anything more than 5 ppm, and you need to dilute the water a little or use a chlorine neutralizer to get the level down. When it comes to chlorine, there is such a thing as too much

Two types of chlorine available: stabilized and unstabilized

Stabilized & Unstabilized Chlorine what is the difference?

If your pool is an outdoor pool chances are the sun is burning off the chlorine that is in the water table. Especially if you are using unstabilized chlorine this type of chlorine is vulnerable to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and they will burn the chlorine out of the water, reducing its sanitizing ability. This means you’ll have to add more chlorine to your pool more often, which means you’ll have to spend more money. When you add stabilizer to a chlorine product it protects the chlorine from the sun almost like sunscreen for skin.

Conditioner: Cyanuric Acid (Stabilizer) protects the chlorine so it stays in the water three to five times longer which means less money being spent on chlorine because it won't need to be replaced as often and saves you time.
#1 CYA TIP: If the chlorine you buy does not disclose that it is stabilized on the bucket directly. Just look for this ingredient Trichlor (Trichloro-S-Triazinetrione).



Rare Event: If too much cyanuric acid builds up in your water, it can reduce the chlorine’s effectiveness. If this happens, the only way to reduce the level is to dilute your pool water by removing some and replacing it with fresh water. Or, if there’s so much cyanuric acid that diluting the water won’t help, you may have to drain the pool altogether.


Chlorine Alternative # 1

Bromine: The most popular alternative to chlorine, bromine works by ionizing contaminants. The best benefit bromine has over chlorine is that as it works, it doesn’t break down as fast, so it stays active longer. It’s also important to know that bromine tablets for your pool are not pure bromine. The tablets contain a small percentage of chlorine. The largest downside for bromine users is it is not an effective problem solver, so if an issue arises its best to solve the problem with chlorine instead.

Important: Bromine DOES NOT USE CYA or Stabilizer or Conditioner!

Chlorine Alternative # 2

Salt: You add salt to your pool water, and a separate equipment system that is a salt chlorine generator converts it to chlorine. You should only use salt that's high purity or professional grade. Salt chlorine generators typically cost $1,200–$3,500 depending on size upfront and last about 3–7 years. They're easy to maintain, keep the water clear, and annually cost less than traditional chlorine.