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What Concentration Of Chemicals Are We Talking About Here?


moishe
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Hi all,

I've been reading up on water mainenance here and at the pool calculator and am putting together the shopping list and trying to figure out where to get the items.

I'm located in Germany, my hottub has about a 1600l capacity and the city water I'm using is at the high end of the hardness scale.

For chemicals I was looking at

  • muriatic or dry acid
  • baking soda (which I probably won't need, unless I overshoot the acid)
  • dichlor/bleach
  • borates

I was looking towards Afla Asear as a chemistry supplier. However, not being a chemist, I'm stumped by the multitude in quality, sizes and concentrations available.

I wouldn't mind buying a mulit-year supply, but am also not so sure about the shelf life, especially with hygrophobic chemicals in our fairly humid climate.

Am I even looking in the right place for these things?

I know, thats a lot of questions all rolled into one... Here's a short list of the items I found at Alfa:

Perhaps you would kindly steer me in the right direction.

Thanks!

Mike

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With the exception of Dichlor and a few specialty products everything you need can be found in your local grocery store.

Baking Soda - YES you will need to replenish TA. Usually sold in 1lb (500g) or 1Kg box.

Borax - Also sold in the laundry section of the grocery store most common brand name is "20 Mule Team" - 1 box is more than 1 yr supply.

Chlorox (Bleach) - Make sure it's plain (Unscented) Chlorox Ultra is the preferred brand, not sure if that particular brand is sold in Germany - This is what you will use the most of. I buy it in 5.3 L jugs usually lasts about 2 months (also available in 1.89L jug but 5.3L is more economical)

Muriatic Acid - Often found in hardware stores or pool supply outlets, commonly sold in 4L jugs (more than enough for 1 yr under normal circumstances)

Dry Acid, also known as pH minus - usually a Pool/Spa outlet item, common size for spa use is 1Kg.

Use either Dry or Muriatic Acid. You don't need both.

Hot Tub Water Maintenance is often referred to as "Teaspoon Chemistry" so actual quantities involved are very small, usually measured in grams or mililiters.

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With the exception of Dichlor and a few specialty products everything you need can be found in your local grocery store.

Thanks, Spanky, I needed to be told explicitly...

I now got 250g of Kaiser Natron baking soda for €1,45 and 1l of Eau de Javel unscented liquid chloride bleach for €1,65, both at a dm drug store. I'll probably get the Eau de Javel at a better price in neighboring France as it's more commonly used there and I remember them selling larger jugs at for instance Auchan hypermarchés.

1l of muriatic acid (Salzsäure) cost me €3,85 at a hornbach hardware store. So these are taken care of.

Borax is no longer sold over the counter in the EU (since 2009 I understand). It does not seem to be considered a dangerous substance for passenger air travel though, so I am considering asking someone bring some back here from the US if it turns out I really can't get any here.

So what remails open for now is Borax and Dichlor. Might someone knowledeable in chemistry please take a look at the links in my original posting regarding these?

Thanks!

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The dichlor is fine but you might find it cheaper in a pool or spa supply store. I assume they do have them over there.

The borax would be sodium tetraborate decahydrate. You can also use sodium tetraborate pentahydrate, which is functionally the same but requires a bit less by weight for the same effect. The decahydrate has 10 water molecules attaches while the pentahydrate has only 5.

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Thanks, waterbear!

I found something labeled Schnell-Chlor (i.e. speed chlorine) at the hardware store. The main ingredient is Natriumdichlorisocyanuratdihydrat which according to the chembook would translate to SODIUM DICHLOROISOCYANURATE DIHYDRATE, so I guess this is the right stuff.

Also, in order to follow Nitro's Approach to Decontamination, I obtained some enzyme cleaner which just arrived today. The ingredients are <5% non-ionic tensides, 15-30% phosphates, 15-30% oxygen-based bleaching agent (Sodium perborate), enzymes.

Two things surprise me:

  1. if the enzymes make up the unspecified remainder of the volume, they would be around 35-69% of the cleaner. Can this be right - and can it be the right stuff for the job?
  2. Sodium perborate (with ten water molecules) sound a lot like sodium tetraborate decahydrate, but I guess it is not Borax. Anyway, I wouldn't want to introduce the cleaner's other ingredients into the regular pool water.

Am I on the right track here?

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Is the enzyme product one made for pool/spa use? It sounds like a laundry product since sodium perborate is a non chlorine bleach and it not really used for pools and spas since it destroys chlorine and bromine.and is a sensitizer and irritant. (It is NOT borax!) You want to use chemicals that are made for pool/spa use.

What use is the Schell-Chlor (Fast-Chlor if I remember my 5 years of studying German correctly) used for? If it is a cleaning or laundry product I would not use it since it might contain surfactants that you would not want in the pool/spa.

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  • 1 month later...

I've been looking around several shops and quite some time has passed...

Is the enzyme product one made for pool/spa use? It sounds like a laundry product since sodium perborate is a non chlorine bleach and it not really used for pools and spas since it destroys chlorine and bromine.and is a sensitizer and irritant. (It is NOT borax!) You want to use chemicals that are made for pool/spa use.

No, it's not made specifically for pool/spa use. I is advertised as a multi purpose cleaner. I realize it's not borax - I'll can the borax issue for now and wait for an opportunity to get some 20-mule-team from the states.

None of the spa shops or specialists I've talked to over here have of have heard of any product with enzymes for spas. So if this stuff is unsuitable for use in following Nitro's Approach to Decontamination

1. Use an enzyme to clean out your pipes, such as Swirl Away, Spa Flush etc. Add this product, run the jets 30 mins and let sit overnight. It will clean out your pipes and deposit the gunk along the water line.

then I'm at a loss for what to do to combat the toilet paper syndrome I'm faced with.

What use is the Schell-Chlor (Fast-Chlor if I remember my 5 years of studying German correctly) used for? If it is a cleaning or laundry product I would not use it since it might contain surfactants that you would not want in the pool/spa.

No, this is definitely the Dichlor. And it is for pool/spa use.

So the current status is: I'm all set up with test equipment (Lamotte) and all regular maintenance chemicals. Thanks for all your help on these issues.

What's missing at this point is the right thing - enzymes - for a thorough decontamination.

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I'm sorry I'm not familiar with the products available in Germany. The Commission Decision 2008/809/EC excluded boric acid from Annex I, IA, IB for product type 2 (and most other product types as well) which includes use in swimming pools. It is only approved for product type 8 which is as a wood preservative. This PDF file gives details about their concern. It was mostly the concern on the effects on fertility that led to its ban, but only the high daily ingested dose of 58.8 mg boron/kg bw/day led to infertility. The EPA had already seen such studies in their evaluation and is why with a standard factor of 100 safety margin they allow boric acid to be used in pools up to 50 ppm dosing. Boron is in food so the body uses what it needs and is able to remove the rest up to a point; it does not bio-accumulate at low-to-moderate doses and has no dermal absorption so the only issue is that of drinking pool water in very large quantities on a regular basis. So it's unfortunate that Europe decided to ban it completely rather than simply limit its concentration in specific uses. Perhaps they could reconsider in the future. I also wrote a post Are Borates Safe to Use? if you are interested in that topic.

Anyway, if you're going to go the route of having something shipped to you, and given that the shipping costs will be expensive, you can consider getting boric acid instead of Borax since you won't need to add any acid with it. You can get it from The Chemistry Store or from AAA Chemicals. To get 50 ppm borates using Boric Acid in your 1600 liter spa requires 705 grams (1.6 pounds). The main purpose of the borates is to have an additional pH buffer since you'll have the TA (carbonate buffer) be lower to not have the pH rise from carbon dioxide outgassing. The other approach to handling this is to use a phosphate buffer instead, but that precipitates calcium often clogging filters when first added which is why we don't normally recommend that approach, though once you get past that hurdle it does "lock in" pH effectively.

As for Spa System Flush, you might be able to get Aquafinesse Spa Clean treatment (it's a puck) since they are based in the Netherlands, but do not get any of their other products. You basically just need a strong surfactant to dislodge the biofilm (it also helps to handle grease from initial spa manufacturing). Once dislodged, chlorine will kill it or it will get caught in the filter and removed.

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chem geek, thanks for your insight on this!

You are certainly making a strong case for using borates. As as an end user I don't seem to stand a chance of getting them here, I'll just have to stock up on 20-mule-team on my next visit to the states... BTW: What's the mileage on a box?

Yes, Aquafinesse is definitely available here and there's one on the way to me now. Thank you for pointing me there! They suggest to use it on every water change. Is that advisable or just them trying to sell more of their product?

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BTW: What's the mileage on a box?

For a 1600l tub you'll need 705g 20 mule team borax plus 351ml muriatic acid.

I believe 20 mule team is sold in a 2Kg box, so 1 box will be enough for 2 water changes. You want to target 50ppm borates. Unless you have a lot of "Splash out" form the tub you usually don't need to add more untill your next water change.

Instructions can be found here http://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=36430

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Spanky, thanks for the pointers. Good one about "splash out" as well - I have kids.:-)

The Aquafinesse Spa Clean arrived today and has already been put to the task. Will clean rim and cover and check the filter and chlorine level in the morning...

Oh boy, am I looking forward to using the tub again after all this is done!

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