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Pool Sanitizing Chemicals What is a pool sanitizer? What is the best pool sanitizer? How do you sanitize a pool? What is the difference between chlorine and bromine? Recommended Brands

Pool Sanitizing Chemicals

To keep you pool sparkling clean and safe for swimmers you need the help of sanitizers. Simply removing leaves and debris won’t do the trick. That’s because water chemistry is impacted by everything from sunshine to air pollutants to swimmers’ perspiration.

Maintaining a proper chemical balance in your pool requires several different types of chemicals working together, but sanitizers do the heavy hitting. Sanitizers kill bacteria, neutralize algae, and eliminate chloramines. They keep your pool looking and smelling nice. More importantly, they keep the water safe for swimmers.

So what pool sanitizer options are available, and how do you know what to choose? We’ll give you an overview of pool sanitizer options, answering these questions:

  • What is a pool sanitizer?
  • What is the best pool sanitizer?
  • How do you sanitize a pool?
  • What is the difference between chlorine vs. bromine?

Keep reading for more information on pool sanitizers. Then choose the best option for your pool or consult your local pool professional for pool-specific advice.

swimming pool with tanning chairs

What is a pool sanitizer?

A pool sanitizer cleans your pool water, killing bacteria, viruses, algae, and other contaminants. Sanitizers make your water safe for swimmers, and they keep it looking sparkling clear too.

However, sanitizers are powerful chemicals and must be handled with care. Too little sanitizer means your pool water might harbor harmful contaminants while too much pool water sanitizer could irritate swimmers’ skin.

inground pool with spillover spa

What is the best pool sanitizer?

The most common pool sanitizers are chlorine and bromine, but the best pool sanitizer depends on factors like your budget, your primary concern (are you most worried about bacteria? Killing algae? Both?), and maintenance routine.

Use this easy comparison chart to see which pool sanitizer is right for you:

This is an element in the form of solid calcium hypochlorite tablets or granules or liquid sodium hypochlorite.

Unique Features
  • Keeps water clean
  • Destroys harmful bacteria
  • Keeps water safe for swimming
  • Keeps algae away
Tips for using:

Add chlorine granules directly into your pool water or place chlorine tablets to a floating dispenser, skimmer basket, or automatic chlorinator.

Bromine is a heat-resistant sanitizing element that sanitizes contaminants in pool water.

Unique Features
  • Breaks apart harmful bacteria
  • Remains active longer than chlorine
  • Works better in hot water
  • More expensive than chlorine
Tips for using:

When bromine breaks down, it produces bromamines, which impact its sanitizing function. Shock your pool to rid it of bromamines. If you use bromine tablets, they contain some chlorine for optimal sanitizing function.

These salt systems pass electricity through dissolved salt to produce chlorine for a pool.

Unique Features
  • Produces a purer form of chlorine
  • Gentle on eyes and skin
  • Lowers pool chemical costs
Tips for using:

Expect to replace the salt cell after four or more years of use.

How do you sanitize a pool?

To sanitize a pool, you need to understand what chemicals your pool requires. Figure out your pool water’s chemical profile by testing it with a liquid testing kit, test strips, or professional testing at your local pool store. Then add chemicals to get your pool water into desired range.

Here are some chemicals you may want to add:

  • Pool chlorine or bromine pool chemicals to sanitize
  • Cyanuric acid to stabilize chlorine
  • Soda ash or baking soda to raise pH
  • Muriatic acid to lower pH

After a pool party or heavy rain, as well as once every week, you’ll want to shock your pool. This usually means adding an extra strong dose of chlorine, although non-chlorine shock formulas are also available.

When Things Heat Up: Hot Tub Maintenance

Hot tub sanitization requires some of the same steps that you use to maintain your pool. First, test your water for measurements including pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness. Adjust these levels by adding acids, alkalizers, and minerals as needed. However, you’ll likely use bromine as the primary sanitizer for a hot tub. Get a floating bromine feeder to make hot tub maintenance easy. Remember to run your hot tub for at least 30 minutes a day to keep all these chemicals circulating throughout the spa.

swimming pool with spillover spa

What is the difference between chlorine and bromine?

Chlorine and bromine are both effective pool sanitizers, so what’s the difference between them?

Let’s start with chlorine, the king of all pool sanitizers. Chlorine is a chemical element that comes in several forms: granules, tablets, or liquid pool chlorine. Chlorine offers the following advantages:

  • It’s easy to use
  • When combined with a stabilizer like cyanuric acid, it tolerates sunlight
  • It’s inexpensive, even in large amounts
  • It works quickly and effectively
  • It remains stable in cold temperatures

Bromine is a sanitizer that offers chlorine some underrated competition. Bromine is particularly effective for hot tubs’ high temperature, but it has some other advantages too:

  • It remains stable at high temperatures
  • It has little smell and is gentle on skin
  • It kills bacteria and viruses
  • It doesn’t have to be added as often as chlorine, lasting up to a week

Chlorine has the disadvantages of a strong smell, frequent application needed, and the potential to irritate skin. Bromine has disadvantages of being ineffective in cold water, making water cloudy, costing more, requiring a bromine feeder device, and difficulty washing off of skin.

Ultimately, it’s difficult to name a best sanitizer for your pool. To do so requires evaluating the unique aspects of your pool or hot tub, your lifestyle, and your needs. Know that both chlorine and bromine are effective sanitizers when used according to directions. For more information on what sanitizer would be best for your pool, visit your local pool store. The experts there can point you in the direction that will produce a sparkling clean pool.

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