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Bromine For Beginners

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#1 waterbear


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Posted 12 June 2011 - 10:50 AM

(The original thread that this post was in has become too long and people are not bothering to read the beginning so I am taking the Howto post and making it a locked sticky.)
Bromine is easy if done right! Most people do not understand the chemistry and do it wrong, including many dealers!

When testing water do NOT use strips, get a good drop based test kit. Your best bet for Bromine is the Taylor k-2106 and for chlorine the K-2006 (NOT the K-2005). THE TEST KIT IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN OWN FOR EASY SPA MAINTENANCE. GET A GOOD ONE! I cannot stress this enough!!!!!

On to bromine:
1. fill the spa and balance the water.Do not turn the heat up yet. If you have well water or know your water has metals then add a metal sequestrant at this point. You will need to continue with weekly maintenace doses of the metal sequestrant if your water has metals. A better solution is to fill from a water softener or purchase a "spa stick" filter that attaches to your hose to fill the spa to help remove the metals.
A,adjust TA to about 100 ppm (here is how to lower TA by using acid and aeration here is a more detailed explanation and howto), raise TA with baking soda, it's the same chemical sold as TA increaser for much less money!
B. Once TA is adjusted then adjust pH to between 7.4 and 7.8 Use dry acid to lower pH if too high (above 8.0). Use borax from the laundry aisle to raise it if too low (below 7.2) .Do NOT use pH up because it will make your TA go too high!!!!!!!! pH up is sodium carbonate, also known as washing soda and raises both pH AND TA!
C. IF you calcium hardness is below 130 ppm raise it to 130-150. If it is above 400 then add an anti stain and scale or calcium reducer to the spa weekly. If it is between 130-400 you are fine.

2. Add 1/2 oz of sodium bromide per 100 gallons of water to create your bromide reserve in the water. This is the MOST important step with a bromine spa and the one most people ignore. If you omit this step you will not have a bromine spa for several weeks until enough tablets dissolve in the water to create the bromide bank and you will not have sanitized water! Sodium Bromide is available in packets and jars from several companies. You will need to re add it on each drain and fill.]
Make sure that you get sodium bromide in either powder or liquid form that is sold to start the bromide reserve or 'bromide bank' and not a one step bromine product that is a mixture of mostly dichlor and a little blt of sodium bromide. READ THE LABEL! It should only contain sodium bromide (and water if in liquid form).

3. Shock the spa to 'activate' (oxidize) the sodium bromide into hypobromous acid (this is your 'bromine' sanitizer that you test for with your strips or test kit.) You can use MPS to shock but chlorine works just as well if not better and is much less expensive. One of the best sources of chlorine you can use with a bromine spa is sodium hypochlorite and that can also be found in the laundry aisle. It is ordinary liquid chlorine bleach. You want the regular, unscented bleach, not a thickened or scented one. It will come in either 5.25%, 6%, or 8.25%. Read the label to see which you have. Use 2.5 oz (5 tablespoons) of the 5.25% or 2 oz (4 tablespoons) of the 6% or 1.5 oz (3 tablespoons of the 8.25% per 100 gallons of spa water to shock. Your bromine will go very high. Uncover the spa and circulate until the bromine drops below 10 ppm before you use the spa. Now heat the spa up to temperature.

4. Put in the floater with your bromine tabs (which usually contain BOTH bromine and chlorine to activate the bromine, btw) and adjust the floater to maintain your bromine at about 4-6 ppm. this can take a bit of trial and error. Check your pH and bromine before you go ineach time and if bromine is low add a few tablespoons of bleach and retest until it is above 4 but below 10 ppm. It really only takes seconds for the chlorine to oxidize your bromide reserve into bromine sanitizer. If pH is not between 7.2 and 8.0 then you should adjust it before entering the spa and wait abot 30 minutes then retest it to make sure it is in the proper range. If both are off then adjust pH first then the bromine. If your bromine is always low open the floater a bit more. If high then close it down a bit. If it is above 10 then take out the floater and open the spa until the bromine level drops below 10 before entering the water and close the floater down a bit. Once you get the floater adjusted the bromne level will stay pretty constant and it becomes much easier! Remember to keep tablets in the floater at all times!

You are done!

Weekly test pH, Keep pH between 7.2 -8.0 and then when you have finished adjusting shock the spa with bleach just like when you added the sodium bromide but you do not need more sodium bromide. Add anti scale or calcium reducer if your calcium tested above 400 ppm.

Monthly check and adjust TA and calcium before you adjust pH and shock.

Every 3-4 months drain, refill, balance the water, add the sodium bromide, shock, and put the bromine tablets/floater back in.

Actually pretty easy!
If you follow these steps you will not need to waste money on defoamers, clarifier, enzymes, etc.!
Hope this helps.

Chlorine is a bit cheaper than bromine but it really does require daily attention. Bromine (and what I described above is known as 3 step bromine and is the most forgiving) is not as fussy (acceptable pH range is wider and water balance is easier than chlorine or 2 step bromine) and really only needs attention once or twice a week after you get it set up, besides checking sanitizer level and pH before you enter the spa each time.

Edited by waterbear, 04 July 2014 - 07:13 AM.
Updated 7/4/2014

I've tested more water than I ever care to think about!
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