Chlorine Vs Bromine: Exploring The Pros & Cons
Now comes the time for decision-making. Which one is best for your swimming pool? Chlorine is readily available, very effective, and can be used on indoor and outdoor pools, however, it leaves a strong scent, could cause skin irritation and can wear down or even bleach the vinyl liner. When it comes to bromine, it does not have a strong scent, its gentler on the skin, does a great job sanitizing high-temperature pools, and works well with vinyl liners. But this option is more expensive than chlorine, has less oxidation power, and does not work as well in sunlight. There are pros and cons for both chemicals, but it is ultimately up to the pool owner to make the final decision of which option to choose.
Chlorine Vs Bromine: Which Is Better
Pool chlorine may be the hottest thing in swimming pool sanitation, but did you know that there are many other options to choose from?
One of those options that people sometimes talk about is pool bromine. Bromine and chlorine are similar in many ways, but they cant be used interchangeably without a noticeable difference.
So what is pool bromine and how does it differ from pool chlorine?
Since were swimming pool experts at River Pools , we thought we would share what we know about these two pool sanitizers to help you learn the differences and choose the right one for your pool or spa.
Lets start with a brief overview of chlorine .
How Long Should Bromine Tablets Take To Dissolve
Bromine tablets dissolve according to how large the tablets are, and how much of the tablet is exposed to water.
For example, a whole 1-inch tablet fully exposed to water may dissolve in 1-3 weeks, whereas a partially crushed or broken tablet will likely dissolve in just a few hours.
If you use a dispenser like the Life Deluxe Spa/Hot Tub/Pool Chemical Floating Tablet Dispenser, it can take 2-3 months before all the tablets dissolve, at least on the lower settings. This is the slowest and most controlled way to dissolve bromine tablets that I’ve found since owning a spa.
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Bromine: The Other Hot Tub Sanitizer
This guide can answer the popular questions: What is Bromine? and What sanitizer should I use in my hot tub? Its a perfect resource for new spa owners looking at all the sanitizer options. Its also a guide for established hot tub users who want more information on bromine. Ill go into detail on what it is plus why and how to use it.
How To Set Up And Maintain Spa Water Bromine
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Bromine can be used to keep your spa water sanitary and is gentler on your skin than chlorine. Its also really easy to get started and maintain your system. Start by flushing, draining, and refilling your spa with fresh, clean water. Then, add sodium bromide to the water to build up a reserve of bromide. Use a spa shock treatment to activate the bromide and turn it into the sanitizing bromine. To maintain the proper levels, test the water with bromine test strips, float bromine tablets on the water, and shock the spa water regularly.
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Why Your Chlorine Or Bromine Level Is High
To start, how do you decide which is a better sanitizer for your tub?
Bromine is commonly used because it excels in high water temperatures , whereas chlorine is better for anything under 65°F.
However, if your spa is open to sunlight, chlorine is the option to go with. This is because the suns UV rays destroy bromine and chlorine within a matter of hours.
This is not so for bromine, as theres no stabilizing chemical that can protect it from the sun. For this reason, shaded or indoor spas usually use bromine, while tubs in the sun use chlorine with CYA.
For any sanitizer to be effective, the right amount must be present in the water at all times.
High levels of either chlorine or bromine usually occur when youve overdosed the tub with them. This can be the result of adding too much sanitizer during regular maintenance, or it could be from shocking the water.
When you shock a hot tub youre adding a massive dose of chlorine shock , or non-chlorine shock . Shocking is done to quickly kill off everything in the water. For a period of time, the sanitizer will remain at this heightened level because of it.
Indoor And Outdoor Pools
Chlorine works well indoors and outdoors, but bromine is sensitive to sunlight and less effective when exposed to UV rays. In fact, according to the NSPF, half of pool bromine can be destroyed by exposure to sunlight in just 60 to 90 minutes. Unlike chlorine, cyanuric acid does not protect bromine from the sun. Because of this, bromine may not be very compatible with a pool UV system.
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Pool Decking Water Features And Landscaping
Sometimes referred to as landscaping, along with the trees, flowers or shrubs around your pool area, the deckingor material you use to cover the ground around your poolmay be equally as, or more expensive than the pool itself. Marc Luff, Co-Owner of Betz Pools in Stouffville, Ont., notes that, on average, premium interlocking stones in a large format can cost $27 to $33 per square foot through his firm, while imported natural stone can run about $40 to $45 per square foot. Flagstone laid on concrete is about $50 to $55 per square foot, and natural Canadian dimensional stone is $65 to $75 per square foot. Decking prices vary among pool and landscaping companies, so these prices are only an example of what you might expect to pay. You may be surprised that wood decks are the priciest option, clocking in at around $80 per square foot thats because wood on its own would rots quickly from the pool water, and therefore needs poured concrete installed underneath.
Flowing water fountains provide a zen ambience, but even a small one can add $5,000 or more to your total cost, depending on the materials you choose.
Some pool installation packages include a certain number of lights in the pool, but more will cost extra , as will replacement bulbs when neededanywhere from $300 to more than $1,000, depending on the type of bulb.
Stain & Scale Prevention:
For pool owners that want to protect their pool surfaces from metallic stains and mineral scale. Sequestering agents lock minerals and metals in solution, to prevent stains and scale.
Initial Dosage: 16 oz. per 10000 gallons.Maintenance Dosage: 2 oz. per 10000 gallons, weekly.Example: Using our Super Stain Away, 48 oz initially, then 5 oz per week, for 20 weeks.Recommendation: 4 1 Qt bottles or save with our 4 x 1 Qt bundle. See also Natural Chemistry Metal Free or Scale Free.
Many of our customers like to buy our Chemical Value Packs, for spring start-up kits and summer chemical packages. You may find all you need in one box!
With over 100 different pool chemicals available, the choice can be overwhelming! Thats probably why I like to group pool chemicals into 3 bucketsSanitizers, Balancers and Specialty chemicals.
However, many pool owners only use 3 or 4 pool chemicals on a regular basis and another 2 or 3 chemicals less frequently. So you can just buy what you need.
Now is the time for stocking up on summer pool chemicals. Check our home page for specials later this week on our Top Chemicals for summer!
In The Swim Blog Editor
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What Is The Best Type Of Brominator
Brominators are plastic floating devices that hold bromine tablets. They are designed to let the tablets dissolve gradually over time, which keeps your spa’s bromide bank topped up. You can usually control how much water comes into contact with the tablets, and therefore how quickly they dissolve.
There are a few different designs of brominator. These are the most common shapes you’ll find:
The type on the left is cheaper and more common, but also less sophisticated. The top has an opening and the bromine tablets are placed inside. You twist the bottom to try to limit how much water can get inside, but it’s not the most accurate mechanism in my experience.
The one on the right is my preferred type. The tablets stack up inside the tube, and you partially unscrew the bottom to expose the lowest tablet. The water cannot reach the tablets above. This design gives you fine-grained control over exactly how much tablet is exposed to the water at once, so not all the tablets will start to dissolve right away.
Chlorine Or Bromine Chemical Levels
Outdoor pools require a reading of 3-5ppm. If a swimming pools chlorine or bromine levels are not maintained and tested regularly this can entail insufficient sanitisation, leading to bacteria and algae growth.
A solution to this particular issue is to shock dose the pool. We recommend considering the use of chlorine tablets or a chemical dispenser. Chemical dispensers will help to ensure a constant supply of chlorine.
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Bromine Vs Chlorine: What Is The Difference
The way these compounds go to work is different, but with the same goal in mind.
When you add chlorine to spa or pool water, the chemical cleaning process is called oxidation this means that chlorine steals electrons from the gunk, essentially changing the molecular structure of the contaminants. This process leaves behind a waste byproduct called chloramine, which is the cause of that distinct chlorine smell and dry skin we associate with the chemical.
Bromine works by a process called ionization, which actually forces apart the chemical bonds of the contaminant it also has a lower pH than chlorine, so it helps balance the chemistry of spa or pool water.
There are many pros and cons to each chemical compound, which weve broken up into categories:
- Physical Form
- Health & Safety
Chlorine Vs Bromine In Hot Tubs
This is one of the areas in which chlorine and bromine differ the most. Hot tubs and spas maintain high water temperatures, and higher water temperatures can lead to rapid changes in pH levels. Bromine performs better than chlorine at higher temperatures and higher pH levels, often making it the preferred choice for spas.
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Basic Pool Chemistry 101
Wouldnt it be great if you could just fill your pool with water, and then never worry about algae growing, or bacteria building up, or the water just becoming a gross breeding ground for all kinds of nasty contaminants and organisms? Sure, testing the water and adding pool chemicals on a regular basis might be time-consuming and tedious, but its absolutely necessary.
A little up-front work means a lot less remediation later when your pool becomes infested with algae, or so imbalanced, the only solution is to drain it and start over. While keeping your pool clean and sanitized may not be the most fun tasks, theyre also not difficult. All it takes is a little basic pool chemistry knowledge, the right equipment and supplies, and a desire to keep your pool clean and swimmable.
Why High Chlorine Or Bromine Is Bad News
When chlorine or bromine levels are too high for extended periods of time, it can cause all sorts of issues with your water.
- Pungent water. You know that pungent chlorine smell some hot tubs get? Its not lack of chlorine in the water, but actually a sign that theres not enough of it. Chlorine and bromine both off-gas as theyre used up. When these gasses accumulate, the water becomes pungent with chloramines and bromamines. This gas can irritant swimmers lungs and even cause respiratory distress.
- Health issues. Overly high chlorine or bromine levels can cause issues with your health. Itchy skin, brittle hair, red and irritated eyes, and irritated nasal passages are all signs you have too much sanitizer in your tub.
- Damage to your tub. High levels of chlorine or bromine will slowly eat away at the soft surfaces in your tub, and may even cause a leak. Buildup under your hot tub cover can also occur.
- Equipment can be compromised. Not only will problems arise with the tub itself, but the equipment youre using to run the tub can be damaged. With too much sanitizer, it will corrode plastics like your plumbing, the pump, and even the filter. Additionally, it can also ruin your hot tub heater. These are all major components that many times cant be salvaged.
- With spiked levels of sanitizer, the pH level of the water will drop. When this happens the water turns acidic, and youll have to spend more time and money returning the water chemistry to a neutral state.
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The Importance Of Balanced Pool Water
Balanced pool water is clean, safe, healthy, and comfortable to swim in. And it will prevent damage to your pools structure and equipment.
Too much chlorine will cause skin and eye irritation, and potential illness, while too little will not be effective at killing bacteria, algae, and other contaminants.
If pH levels are too high, the water will become cloudy and create scale deposits on your pool walls and equipment. And if the pH levels are too low, the pool surfaces and equipment will become etched and corroded.
Simply put, unbalanced water can lead to plenty of unwanted issues with your pool. So do yourself and your pool a favour and keep your water balanced.
Safety Tips For Handling Chlorine And Bromine
Take a sample of your water with you to the shop. The dealer will check the acidity and help you make the best purchase.
For chlorine, fill a container with a blend of chlorine and water. Pour the mixture into a second container and add water. Get the granules to dissolve by stirring the mixture.
Pour in the chlorine mix while walking along the pool edge, dispersing evenly. Wait a few hours and look for residue towards the pool floor. Vacuum the residue.
For bromine, you need to generate a sufficient level of bromide ions in the water. Regular shocking, or oxidation, will convert bromide to bromine.
Follow the label instructions, adding sodium bromide to your spa. After building up your bromide bank, use spa shock at least once a week to activate the bromine.
When preparing your sanitizer, work in an open, ventilated space. Use PPE. For storage and handling, take a look at my guide on swimming pool chemical storage.
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What To Do If The Total Bromine Reading Is Too Low
When your spa has low total bromine youre risking a build-up of organic matter thatll turn your spa into a cloudy, friend-fleeing cesspool.
Start with these steps:
If all is well so far, then you can increase the amount of spa bromine in your spa:
For inline tablet feeders:
- Increase the feeder control valve to one notch per day.
- Take a reading after 24 hours.
- Repeat this process until bromine reaches 3-5ppm.
For floating tablet feeders:
- Add one extra tablet into the feeder.
- Take a reading after 24 hours.
- Repeat this process until bromine reaches 3-5ppm.
See? Low total bromine levels can be fixed by carefully adding more bromine!
How Do You Put Bromine In A Hot Tub
Sanitizing a spa with bromine is a usually 3-part process:
When measuring bromine levels, the ideal range to aim for is 2-6 ppm .
And that’s really all that’s involved. With a little practice, bromine can be a very low-maintenance and convenient way to sanitize a spa.
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