Category Archives: Pool Water Chemistry

Salt Water Pool Chlorination

Is it a salt water pool, or is it a chlorine pool?

We have lost count of how many times a customer has said:

  • “I don’t use chlorine, I have a salt water pool.”
  • “We don’t use any chemicals, we have a salt pool.”
  • “My [insert familial relation here] is allergic to chlorine so we use salt instead.”

While salt chlorine generators are becoming more popular, the misconceptions abound.

Yes, Virginia, your salt water pool does indeed contain chlorine.

Salt Water ChlorinationYou have produced it from salt with the help of your salt chlorine generator.  The short version of the story is that you put salt in your pool water and as it travels through the salt cell it is converted to chlorine which sanitizes your pool.  As the chlorine is used up, it reverts back to salt, in effect recycling your salt.

The level of chlorine produced by the generator is low and constant so you avoid the spikes and total lack of chlorine that typically happens when you have to manage the chlorine on your own.  Usually you dump in a bunch of chlorine and then your level is high.  It tapers off until you notice there is no more chlorine (and maybe algae forming on the walls) so you dump some more chlorine in and have another spike in the chlorine level.  A salt chlorine generator will manage the chlorine level for you and keep up with the sanitizing so that the yo-yo chlorine level is avoided.

You really do need to add some chemicals to your salt water pool.

A salt chlorine generator is a wonderful thing, and it will make your water feel soft and inviting.  It’s not magic.  You still need to balance your water and monitor it for proper alkalinity, pH, hardness and stabilizer levels.  You also need to check to be sure your salt generator is producing chlorine and make sure your salt level is adequate.  The chlorine generator is taking care of the chlorine, you need to give it some help.

It is highly unlikely that anyone you know is genuinely allergic to chlorine.

Some people have more sensitive skin which reacts to poor water chemistry.  Skin and eye irritation is most often the result of unbalanced pool water. The water should be tested for Total Chlorine, Free Chlorine, Alkalinity, pH, Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid (stabilizer).  If the water is not in the proper ranges then the water is not going to feel comfortable, and sensitive skin is more likely to react.

The good news is that a salt chlorine generator will make your pool water feel better and save you time.

People who come to visit commonly remark on how soft and smooth the water feels in a salt water pool.  The chlorine level will be low and constant so the chloramines (that stinky, used-up chlorine) will be controlled.  As the water passes through the salt cell, it is super-chlorinated right in the cell and is returned to the pool clean and fresh. You can spend more time enjoying your pool and less time messing around with chlorine.

The benefits to a salt water chlorine generator are many:

  • You don’t have to buy chlorine
  • You don’t have to store or transport chlorine
  • You kids and pets won’t get into the chlorine
  • You won’t get bleached spots on your clothes and in your car from handling chlorine
  • Your chlorine level will stay constant so the water will stay sanitized and be much less likely to get cloudy or grow algae
  • The low level of chlorine won’t bleach your bathing suits
  • You don’t have to daily test the chlorine level or add a weekly shock
  • This form of chlorine is very natural, and does not have the normal byproducts you will find with other types of chlorine – itchy skin, red eyes, strong odor, etc.

 

Pool smells like chlorine? Add more chlorine!

Really?  More chlorine to smell less like chlorine?goggles

Good quality chlorine does not have much of an odor.  That chlorine smell that you associate with chlorine happens when chlorine combines with organic junk, oils, sweat, urine, etc.  A clean pool will smell clean. When you scoop up some pool water in your hands and smell it, it should smell like fresh, clean water.

A well maintained chlorine pool should not smell like chlorine.

You may have gone to a hotel and as you enter the pool area, you are hit with a strong odor you recognize as chlorine.  They have a lot of chlorine in that pool, right?  Wrong!  If you can smell the “chlorine odor” it means there is not enough good, available chlorine to keep the water safe.  That odor you associate with chlorine is actually coming from chloramines, which is used up chlorine.

So why does my tap water smell like chlorine and it’s okay to drink it?

The water provided by your city or town is sanitized with a deliberately created chloramine because of the special conditions needed for sanitizing water in the plumbing.  It is not the same as sanitizing your pool water. When you are smelling chlorine in your tap water, you are smelling chloramines.

A pool with a good level of chlorine will smell like fresh, clean water.

05Chlorine tests will usually show free chlorine and total chlorine.  Think of Total Chlorine as all of the chlorine in your pool, good and bad.  The Free Chlorine is the good chlorine that is free and available to do sanitizing.  The difference between the Total Chlorine and the Free Chlorine is the Combined Chlorine.  Combined Chlorine is the bad chlorine, used up, called Chloramines.  It is combined with organic junk and is responsible for that stinky, “chlorine smell” that burns your eyes and irritates your skin.  A strong smell of chloramines is an indication that you need to shock the pool.

Get rid of the stinky, “chlorine smell” by adding a Shock.

You can oxidize the chloramine waste and eliminate that stinky odor by shocking with chlorine (which will also boost your chlorine level) or by oxidizing with a non-chlorine shock such as monopersulfate (which will eliminate the chloramines without increasing the chlorine level).

A shock is generally added to a pool once a week.  Heavy use and hot weather may require more frequent shocking.

Those water parks that have hundreds of people splashing in the water in the hot sun are creating a high demand on the chlorine sanitizer. It is really hard to keep up with the sanitizer required for the volume of people who show up.  If you can smell a strong chemical smell, it probably is in need of additional sanitizer.  Should you go in?  Well, hundreds of people do, and we have been known to swim in lakes with fish, snapping turtles and water snakes, but we also like to bring a bottle of test strips to the water park to check the sanitizer level.

Isn’t all that chlorine going to turn my hair green?

No.  Chlorine can damage and dry out hair which makes it more susceptible to absorbing metals, which is usually responsible for that greenish tinge known as “Swimmer’s Hair”.  It is most noticeable on light-colored hair, and bleached hair is also damaged hair.

Swimmer’s hair can be the result of such factors as acidic water (low pH), iron or manganese in the water, and electrolysis from water moving through recirculation pipes at excessive velocities. It is seldom caused by the water treatment chemicals in a properly maintained pool.

It is always a good idea to wet hair with tap water before entering any pool or spa to minimize the absorption of chemicals by your hair. It is also important to rinse hair after swimming. Health and beauty experts recommend using a leave-in conditioner on chemically treated hair before entering a pool or spa.

There are commercial products available should hair discoloration occur. Below is a list of some of these products.

  • Alared (manufactured by Redken)
  • Baby shampoo
  • Shampoo containing chelating agent EDTA (ethylenediamene tetracetic acid)

Discoloration can also be removed by washing the hair in a mild vinegar solution followed with a mild baking soda solution to neutralize the vinegar, or rinse hair with warm water containing dissolved aspirin.

 

The Worlds Best Clarifier is now Clear & Perfect

worlds best clarifier in a new labelWE KNOW HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THE WORLDS BEST CLARIFIER FOR YOUR POOLS

Someone decided that Natural Chemistry couldn’t call their pool clarifier “World Best”.  Apparently there is no way to verify the “worlds best” claim.  So, the great stuff you have come to depend on is in a new looking bottle.  It says “Clear and Perfect Clarifier“.  So far, it is okay to call it “perfect”.

And we have it in stock!