Which pool chemicals are which and what pool chemicals are what????
It is that time again, every year opening your swimming pool can sometimes leave you confused and frustrated. Understanding all these chemicals is quite an undertaking. We are providing a list of major chemicals and their meanings, hopefully to make your pool opening easier this year. Let us know if this helps……..
ALGAECIDE A natural or synthetic chemical designed to kill, destroy or control algae.
ALKALINITY Also called total alkalinity. A measure of the pH-buffering capacity of water or water’s resistance to change in pH. Composed of the hydroxides, carbonates and bicarbonates in the water. One of the basic water tests necessary to determine water balance.
BALANCED WATER The correct ratio of mineral content and pH level that prevents the water from being corrosive or scale forming.
BROMINE A halogen element in the same group as chlorine and fluorine. Also a common name for several chemical compounds containing bromine that are used as disinfectants to destroy bacteria and algae in swimming pools and spas. Most commonly available as organic bromine in a tablet or granular, or as sodium bromide, a granular salt.
CALCIUM HARDNESS The calcium content of the water. Calcium hardness is sometimes confused with the terms water hardness and total hardness. Too little calcium hardness and the water is corrosive. Too much calcium hardness and the water is scale forming. One of the basic water tests necessary to determine water balance. Minimum level is 150 ppm. Ideal range is 200-400 ppm.
CHLORINE A term used to describe any type of chlorine compound used as a disinfectant in swimming pool and spa water or to kill, destroy or control bacteria and algae. In addition, chlorine oxidizes ammonia and nitrogen compounds (swimmer and bather waste).
CLARIFIER Also called coagulant or flocculant. A chemical compound used to gather (coagulate or agglomerate), or to precipitate suspended particles so they may be removed by vacuuming or filtration. There are two types; inorganic salts of aluminum (alum) or water-soluble organic polyelectrolytes.
CONDITIONER Also called stabilizer or cyanuric acid. It is a chemical that slows down the degradation of chlorine in the water by sunlight. The minimum effective level is 20 ppm as measured by a test kit. Very high levels of Cyanuric acid (above 300 ppm) can slow down chlorine activity or effectiveness. Conditioner does not protect bromine from sunlight.
COPPER ALGAECIDE A chemical compound that contains the element copper. Copper sulfate was one of the original copper algaecides. Too much copper in the water can cause green-colored stains or water. Newer copper algaecides contain an ingredient that prevents the copper from staining but does not affect copper’s ability to kill algae. These special copper algaecides are called chelated copper algaecides.
CYANURIC ACID Also called conditioner or stabilizer, this chemical compound protects chlorine in the water from being destroyed by sunlight. The minimum level is 20 ppm. Very high levels of Cyanuric acid (above 300 ppm) can slow down chlorine activity or effectiveness. Cyanuric acid does not protect bromine from sunlight.
HYPOCHLORITE The name given to a family of chlorine containing compounds, including calcium hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite and lithium hypochlorite, that are used as disinfectants and sanitizers in pool and spa water.
NON-CHLORINE SHOCK A term given to a class of chemical compounds that are used to oxidize or shock the water (destroy ammonia, nitrogen and swimmer waste). They contain no chlorine or bromine and do not kill living organisms. swimmers may re-enter the pool in only 15 minutes after adding a non-chlorine shock.
OXIDIZER A shocking or sanitizing compound that removes or destroys built-up contaminants and chloramines in pool water. Most chlorinating, brominating, and oxygenating compounds are considered oxidizers. Usually the fast dissolving oxidizers which contain chlorine, such as hypochlorites, are typically used to “superchlorinate” the water.
pH A term used to indicate the level of acidity or alkalinity of pool water. The pH being too low causes etched plaster, metal corrosion and eye irritation. The pH being too high causes scale formation, poor chlorine efficiency and eye irritation. The ideal range for pH in swimming pools is 7.4-7.6
SCALE The precipitate that forms on surfaces in contact with water when the calcium hardness, pH or total alkalinity levels are too high. Results from chemically unbalanced pool and spa water. Scale may appear as gray, white or dark streaks on the plaster, fiberglass or vinyl. It may also appear as a hard crust around the tile.
SHOCK TREAT The practice of adding significant amounts of fast-dissolving oxidizing chemical to the water to destroy ammonia and nitrogen compounds or swimmer waste.
STABILIZED CHLORINE A family of chlorine pool sanitizers that contain conditioner (cyanuric acid) to protect the chlorine from the degrading UV rays in sunlight. Most common types are sodium dichlor and trichlor. The granular form is dichlor, which is fast-dissolving and can be used for regular chlorination or super-chlorination by broadcasting into the pool or spa. Tablet or stick form is trichlor (which is usually used in a chlorine feeder- either the floating type or an in-line erosion type) used for regular chlorination only.
TURBIDITY The cloudy condition of the water due to the presence of extremely fine particles in suspension that cannot be trapped by the filter because they are too small. Adding a clarifier will coagulate the particles and make the filter more efficient.
WATER CLARIFIER Also called coagulant or flocculant. A chemical compound used to gather or to precipitate suspended particles so they may be removed by vacuuming or filtration.