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Can I Use Clorox In My Swimming Pool?


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#1 quantumchromodynamics

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 06:20 PM

I wanted to ask and answer this question because there is so much misinformation about using bleach in swimming pools.

Much of the misinformation is spread by pool stores so that they can sell you their overpriced chlorine. Most of pool store chlorine contains additional chemicals, such as calcium and cyanuric acid, that will build up and cause you trouble.
______________________________________________________________

Answer:

Yes, you can. In fact, it is one of the best sources of chlorine for your pool

I have thoroughly researched this, and I use it all of the time. I have contacted Clorox and the company that makes 80% of all liquid chlorine and private label bleach in the country. They have told me that regular bleach is the exact same thing as liquid chlorine, just at a lower strength.

You can call the 800-292-2200 number listed on every bottle of Clorox to hear the recording of how to use Clorox in your pool.

From http://cloroxprofess...icebulletin.pdf

"This product is a 6.15% sodium hypochlorite solution, containing approximately 5.84% available chlorine by weight. The purity of its ingredients and the carefully supervised process of its manufacture make this product a quality source of chlorine for water treatment in swimming and wading pools. This product is especially suitable for use in chlorinators as it is a liquid and has no insoluble particles. This product is widely used as a
source of chlorine for swimming pool sanitation and does not have any adverse effects on materials used in pool construction including swimming pool liners."

This is the Clorox bleach that is sold at the big hardware stores, like Lowe's or Home Depot. It is the same bleach as regular Clorox. It is just labeled differently.

Pool stores love to mislead people with a bunch of misinformation so that you will be dependant on them for their expensive chemicals. Most of what they sell is completely unnecessary. Algaecides, phosphate removers and such are nothing more than high mark-up profit makers.

The pool store will tell you that bleach is not strong enough to do anything. Complete nonsense. Bleach is just as strong as any other source of chlorine. The concentration is lower, so you have to add more total weight of bleach, but this is just water and a tiny bit of salt.

Bleach is the cleanest and easiest way to chlorinate your pool with the least amount of adverse effects. Pool store chlorine such as Calcium Hypochlorite, Lithium Hypochlorite, Dichlor etc are all inferior to bleach in virtually every way.

Pool stores will tell you that bleach is not stabilized, and will burn off way too fast. More nonsense. Outdoor pools should already contain about 40 ppm of Cyanuric Acid (Chlorine Stabilizer). When the bleach is added, it rapidly combines with the cyanuric acid to become stabilized.

Some pool store employees will claim that bleach contains ammonia, detergents or other such chemicals. There are no such problem chemicals in bleach. The only thing you need to be careful about is to get regular, unscented 6% Sodium hypochlorite bleach. Be careful not to get a scented or otherwise "special use" bleach.

Many pool store employees have no real experience taking care of pools and don't really know what they are doing. They are just following a script written by corporate HQ and the big chemical makers that is designed to make the largest profit possible.

One of the best things a person can do is to get their own good test kit such as the Taylor 2006 Complete (FAS-DPD Chlorine) and test their own water. http://www.taylortec...s...&KitID=2230
You can't manage what you don't measure. Get a good test kit. I recommend the Taylor K-2006 for chlorine or the Taylor K-2106 for bromine.

#2 jkusmier

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 08:30 PM

Amen, brother. But you're preachin' to the choir!

Besides polyquat at closing and judicious use of vinyl liner cleaner throughout the season, I don't put anything more in my pool than 1) bleach, baking soda, calcium chloride, CYA and dry acid at startup, and 2) baking soda*, bleach and dry acid throughout the season. (Well, I've used lithium on occasion, but rarely).

*Tested TA yesterday - for the first time in a month. Had dropped from 100 to 60, so I added 8 lbs of baking soda to bump it to 90. First time I've added anything but bleach or dry acid to the pool in weeks, and I've only added bleach while I was having a comm problem between my control panel and my Pentair SWG.

The only thing I buy at pool stores nowadays is dry acid (and I usually buy HTH's version at WalMart) and skimmer socks, esp BioGuard SkiMor - they're pricey, but I truly believe they capture alot of the suncreen/lotion in the pool. Used clarifier a few times the past few seasons but only once this season - no need, I could read a newspaper on the bottom of the deep end from my deck (well, not really, but you get the point). Recall going into a nearby pool store to buy a pack of SkiMor socks about a month ago and watching a pool owner buying $200+ of chems. I was tempted to tell him to run away fast, but had neither the time nor inclination to explain why. It's a free market, and most people w/ a pool have internet access, so the information (like the wealth offered in this forum) is there to be had if one takes the time to look and learn.

In sum, if I can offer an analogy: I can't give a home to every stray animal I see out there...

#3 billp

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 06:40 PM

While some of this is true, it is a bit of an emotional rant that assumes all pools are the same throughout the country. There can be perfectly good reasons to use different forms of chlorine depending on differing needs.
Grocery store bleach is typically 4% to 5.25% (approx) available chlorine. "Pool" chlorine is typically 10% to 12.5% available chlorine. From here you just run the numbers to see if it is beneficial to haul around twice the weight and volume if you are using liquid.
There are perfectly legitimate and useful reasons to use other forms of chlorine, such as trichlor or cal hypo. ALL forms of chlorine have their advantages and disadvantages and it is a matter of finding which form is best at meeting your needs.
Spa savant? Commercial spa, si, portable spa/hot tub, NO!
Fresh water is the cheapest thing you can use in a pool to cure many problems.

#4 quantumchromodynamics

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 06:59 PM

Trichlor and Dichlor have some value as long as they are used properly. It is my opinion that Calcium hypochlorite and Lithium hypochlorite should never be used by anyone. 12% liquid chlorine is the same thing as bleach. If you can find a good reliable supplier of 12% liquid chlorine at a good price, then that is fine.

I have found some suppliers of 12% liquid chlorine to be very unreliable. Their chlorine is often very weak and dirty. I don't know if they are diluting it to make more money, or just mishandling it.

You can't manage what you don't measure. Get a good test kit. I recommend the Taylor K-2006 for chlorine or the Taylor K-2106 for bromine.

#5 chem geek

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 10:24 PM

QUOTE (billp @ Aug 9 2009, 07:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
While some of this is true, it is a bit of an emotional rant that assumes all pools are the same throughout the country. There can be perfectly good reasons to use different forms of chlorine depending on differing needs.
Grocery store bleach is typically 4% to 5.25% (approx) available chlorine. "Pool" chlorine is typically 10% to 12.5% available chlorine. From here you just run the numbers to see if it is beneficial to haul around twice the weight and volume if you are using liquid.
There are perfectly legitimate and useful reasons to use other forms of chlorine, such as trichlor or cal hypo. ALL forms of chlorine have their advantages and disadvantages and it is a matter of finding which form is best at meeting your needs.

I think this is oversimplifying. The following are chemical rules of fact that are independent of concentration of product or of volume of water:

For every 10 ppm Free Chlorine (FC) added by Trichlor, it also increases Cyanuric Acid (CYA) by 6 ppm.
For every 10 ppm FC added by Dichlor, it also increases CYA by 9 ppm.
For every 10 ppm FC added by Cal-Hypo, it also increases Calcium Hardness (CH) by 7 ppm.

Chlorinating liquid or bleach (or lithium hypochlorite, for that matter) do not increase CYA nor CH. So all forms of chlorine are NOT the same. Yes, you can use the other types of chlorine, but you need to understand what else they are adding. At even a low 1 ppm FC per day chlorine usage, after 6 months of Trichlor as your sole source of chlorine you will increase CYA by over 100 ppm if there is no water dilution.

Richard

#6 billp

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 11:29 PM

QUOTE (chem geek @ Aug 9 2009, 11:24 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (billp @ Aug 9 2009, 07:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

There are perfectly legitimate and useful reasons to use other forms of chlorine, such as trichlor or cal hypo. ALL forms of chlorine have their advantages and disadvantages and it is a matter of finding which form is best at meeting your needs.

I think this is oversimplifying. ... So all forms of chlorine are NOT the same.
Richard

Where did I say ALL forms of chlorine are the same? See quote above, I stand by it. There are trade-offs whichever approach you take. Grocery store bleach may be the best approach some places, but I can guarantee you it is not the best approach everywhere.
Spa savant? Commercial spa, si, portable spa/hot tub, NO!
Fresh water is the cheapest thing you can use in a pool to cure many problems.

#7 chem geek

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 07:28 AM

I'm not saying that chlorinating liquid or bleach is the best approach. Trichlor is more convenient since it is slow-dissolving. However, if you look at the hundreds of posts on pool forums with people having algae problems with their pool, the number one reason is that they are using stabilized chlorine (such as Trichlor), have the CYA rise, and don't proportionately raise the Free Chlorine (FC) level so algae starts to grow. Since the chlorine/CYA relationship isn't generally taught by the industry or pool stores, all sorts of other reasons are given for this algae growth -- the latest being that it's phosphates so a phosphate remover must be sold (yes, phosphates are an essential nutrient for algae, but algae growth can be prevented with the appropriate FC/CYA ratio regardless of phosphate level).

The key is understanding the pros/cons of all chlorine sources and not underestimating the relatively rapid rise in CYA from continued use of stabilized chlorine unless there is significant water dilution (say, from rain overflow, backwashing, intentional partial drain/refill, etc.).

#8 quantumchromodynamics

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 04:41 PM

Lithium hypochlorite is ridiculously expensive and, in my opinion, there is never a time when it would be the best choice.

Calcium hypochlorite never fully dissolves. It clouds the water and leaves residue on the bottom. The residue can stain the bottom of the pool. Calcium chloride should be used to raise calcium levels.

If the pH and/or alkalinity are low in a plaster pool, the residue will leave a big black stain. Since plaster pools should be fully saturated all of the time, the cloudiness is very persistent. The cloudiness is dangerous due to low visibility and it is dangerous because if someone swims in the cloudiness, the dust could get in their eyes or on their skin and cause irritation. Even when the cloudiness clears, there is still residue left on the bottom. This will re-cloud the water when the water is disturbed by swimmers, when you brush or when you vacuum. I don't know about you or your customers, but neither my customers nor I like a cloudy pool that they can't be used for about 8 hours.

In a vinyl liner pool, the residue will cause bleaching stains.

What advantage does calcium hypochlorite have? It adds a little bit of calcium. I don't consider that to be a significant advantage. I give it no value. You can give it any value that you want.

The only significant advantage the calcium hypochlorite has is that it is about 1/10 the weight of bleach or 1/5 the weight of liquid chlorine per ppm available chlorine. This advantage is offset by the availability of bleach. Bleach is readily available almost everywhere. Calcium hypochlorite isn't.

Another significant disadvantage to calcium hypochlorite is that you have to buy it in 100 lb. buckets to get a good price. 100 lb buckets are heavy and that much chlorine can be dangerous. It is a HazMat risk if you get into an accident

In my opinion, there is never a time when Calcium hypochlorite would be the best choice.

Gas chlorine is only a good choice for a limited number of commercial/industrial applications and is outside this discussion.

Trichlor can be useful, however, I have found that most people who use trichlor, use it as their primary source of chlorine and run their cyanuric acid way over 100.

You can't manage what you don't measure. Get a good test kit. I recommend the Taylor K-2006 for chlorine or the Taylor K-2106 for bromine.

#9 RMS

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 01:31 PM

QUOTE (quantumchromodynamics @ Aug 7 2009, 07:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I wanted to ask and answer this question because there is so much misinformation about using bleach in swimming pools.

Much of the misinformation is spread by pool stores so that they can sell you their overpriced chlorine. Most of pool store chlorine contains additional chemicals, such as calcium and cyanuric acid, that will build up and cause you trouble.
______________________________________________________________

Answer:

Yes, you can. In fact, it is one of the best sources of chlorine for your pool

I have thoroughly researched this, and I use it all of the time. I have contacted Clorox and the company that makes 80% of all liquid chlorine and private label bleach in the country. They have told me that regular bleach is the exact same thing as liquid chlorine, just at a lower strength.

You can call the 800-292-2200 number listed on every bottle of Clorox to hear the recording of how to use Clorox in your pool.

From http://cloroxprofess...icebulletin.pdf

"This product is a 6.15% sodium hypochlorite solution, containing approximately 5.84% available chlorine by weight. The purity of its ingredients and the carefully supervised process of its manufacture make this product a quality source of chlorine for water treatment in swimming and wading pools. This product is especially suitable for use in chlorinators as it is a liquid and has no insoluble particles. This product is widely used as a
source of chlorine for swimming pool sanitation and does not have any adverse effects on materials used in pool construction including swimming pool liners."

This is the Clorox bleach that is sold at the big hardware stores, like Lowe's or Home Depot. It is the same bleach as regular Clorox. It is just labeled differently.

Pool stores love to mislead people with a bunch of misinformation so that you will be dependant on them for their expensive chemicals. Most of what they sell is completely unnecessary. Algaecides, phosphate removers and such are nothing more than high mark-up profit makers.

The pool store will tell you that bleach is not strong enough to do anything. Complete nonsense. Bleach is just as strong as any other source of chlorine. The concentration is lower, so you have to add more total weight of bleach, but this is just water and a tiny bit of salt.

Bleach is the cleanest and easiest way to chlorinate your pool with the least amount of adverse effects. Pool store chlorine such as Calcium Hypochlorite, Lithium Hypochlorite, Dichlor etc are all inferior to bleach in virtually every way.

Pool stores will tell you that bleach is not stabilized, and will burn off way too fast. More nonsense. Outdoor pools should already contain about 40 ppm of Cyanuric Acid (Chlorine Stabilizer). When the bleach is added, it rapidly combines with the cyanuric acid to become stabilized.

Some pool store employees will claim that bleach contains ammonia, detergents or other such chemicals. There are no such problem chemicals in bleach. The only thing you need to be careful about is to get regular, unscented 6% Sodium hypochlorite bleach. Be careful not to get a scented or otherwise "special use" bleach.

Many pool store employees have no real experience taking care of pools and don't really know what they are doing. They are just following a script written by corporate HQ and the big chemical makers that is designed to make the largest profit possible.

One of the best things a person can do is to get their own good test kit such as the Taylor 2006 Complete (FAS-DPD Chlorine) and test their own water. http://www.taylortec...s...&KitID=2230


You can use bleach, but you should use it only for emergencies. As was stated, bleach is about 15% chlorine, while Calcium Hypochlorite is about 65% chlorine. Why would you use 12% when you can get 65%?

Use Cal Hypo. and get more bag for your buck. The only drawback is when you shock you'll have a layer of calcium of the bottom of the pool that will need to be vacuumed.

http://www.clean-poo...l-chlorine.html

#10 waterbear

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 05:00 PM

QUOTE (RMS @ Aug 13 2009, 05:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can use bleach, but you should use it only for emergencies. As was stated, bleach is about 15% chlorine, while Calcium Hypochlorite is about 65% chlorine. Why would you use 12% when you can get 65%?


You are comparing apples and oranges in a very deceiveng way!.
In a 10000 gallon pool adding
1 gal 12.5% sodium hypochlorite raises the FC by 12.5 ppm net effect on pH is neutral
1 gal 6% ultra bleach (sodium hypochlorite) raises FC by 6ppm net effect on pH is neutral
1 lb 73% cal hypo (just about impossible to find these days because it is a class III oxidizer) raises FC by 9 ppm and CH by 6 ppm net effect on pH is neutral
1 lb 65% cal hypo (another class III oxidizer) raises FC by 8 ppm and CH by 5 ppm net effect on pH is neutral
1 lb 48% cal hypo (the stuff you ususally see these days) raises FC by 6 ppm and CH by 4 ppm net effect on pH is neutral
1 lb dichlor raises FC by 7, CYA by 6 and drops the pH by .25
1 lb trichlor raises FC by 11 CYA by 7 and drops pH by .6

Now compare prices and you will see that liquid chlorine and bleach are often the best bang for the buck and have the fewest side effects.

All these forms of chlorine will add salt but salt is innocuous in pool water. If it interfered with sanitation then SWGs would not work!
I've tested more water than I ever care to think about!
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#11 chem geek

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 06:18 PM

For a true price comparison, including accounting for the pH balancing needed with Trichlor, etc., see Cost Comparison of Chlorine Sources.

#12 quantumchromodynamics

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 08:44 PM

QUOTE (RMS @ Aug 13 2009, 02:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The only drawback is when you shock you'll have a layer of calcium of the bottom of the pool that will need to be vacuumed.


If you have to vacuum, that will take you two hours. What is your time worth? How is spending two hours of your life vacuuming cal-hypo residue getting "More bang for your buck"?

I have added calcium hypochlorite to pools thousands of times. I know exactly what calcium hypochlorite does. I have not used it in a long time, and I don't miss it one bit. I do not plan to ever use it again.

You can't manage what you don't measure. Get a good test kit. I recommend the Taylor K-2006 for chlorine or the Taylor K-2106 for bromine.

#13 jkusmier

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 07:40 PM

QUOTE (quantumchromodynamics @ Aug 10 2009, 07:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Calcium hypochlorite never fully dissolves. It clouds the water and leaves residue on the bottom. The residue can stain the bottom of the pool. Calcium chloride should be used to raise calcium levels.


Just curious - why do you say that? Isn't the reaction:

Ca(OCl)2 + 2 H2O → 2 HOCl + Ca(OH)2?

And doesn't the calcium dissolve in the water? I know the Ca can precipitate out of solution (and I know that Ca tends to precipitate out at warmer temps, unlike most substances, which are more soluble in warmer temps).

Again, just curious, thanks!



#14 quantumchromodynamics

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 05:03 PM

First, I can say it based on the real world experience of adding it to pools thousands of times. I know exactly how it acts.

Second, most of the pools that I deal with are concrete; I keep them over-saturated with calcium to protect the plaster. Water that is over-saturated does not easily accept new calcium compounds.

Third, as the Calcium Hypochlorite goes into the water calcium hydroxide and calcium carbonate are part of what makes the water cloudy. Calcium hypochlorite is produced by combining calcium hydroxide and chlorine gas.

Calcium hypochlorite contains calcium hydroxide, calcium hypochlorite, calcium chloride, sodium chloride and calcium carbonate. Your equation shows calcium hydroxide as one of the reaction products, although much of the calcium will go into the water as calcium ions and the hydroxide will raise the pH.

The calcium hypochlorite has a high pH, which increases the SI in the water locally where the calcium hypochlorite is added. This further reduces the water's ability to dissolve the calcium compounds.

You can't manage what you don't measure. Get a good test kit. I recommend the Taylor K-2006 for chlorine or the Taylor K-2106 for bromine.

#15 jkusmier

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 06:55 PM

Thanks. As I said, just curious. My pool is vinyl-lined; CH is around 140, TA is around 90 and SI ranges from -.02 to -.05 as TA fluctuates (I have a SWG, try to keep TA between 7.4-7.8). I've only added CalHypo once this year - early in the season, when I needed to shock, had a few bags on hand, was out of bleach and was too lazy to run across town for more.

My water did cloud once this year, during a heat spell when my water temp was around 92F and I'd let my pH creep up to 8.0+. Added some dry acid and the calcium that had precipitated out went right back into solution within an hour (16,500G w/ a high turnover rate).

Thanks!

#16 chem geek

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 09:41 PM

Basically, if you've got a plaster/gunite/cement pool that is saturated with calcium carbonate to protect the pool surface, then adding any calcium product or any pH raising or Total Alkalinity raising product can cloud the water. So adding calcium hardness increaser or pH Up or Cal-Hypo can all cloud the water. In fact, when I used to use Trichlor tabs years ago, adding pH Up too quickly would result in clumps of calcium carbonate chunks and the water would be temporarily cloudy as well until it fully dissipated. If you have a vinyl pool with a low CH, then adding such products won't cloud the water or at least won't do so for nearly as long.




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