Buy Your Swimming Pool Chemicals at the Grocery Store?

Yup! Here's how.

First, a warning! Follow these instructions only if you are using chlorine or bromine chemistry. If you are using a copper/silver system – whether ionizer, Nature2™, or something else, or a baquanide system, such as Baquacil™, SoftSwim™ or whatever, DO NOT try this till you get rid of that goop!

Second, you must understand what chemicals you are replacing:

How much to use?

One gallon of household bleach equals about 3/4 lb HTH™ or other calcium hypochlorite, and will add about 2 ppm of chlorine to a 30,000 gallon (typical 20'x40') pool. It can be poured directly into the skimmer, but watch out for splashback! (Protect your eyes!)

Warning! Don't let bleach, or any other chemical, come into direct contact with trichlor tabs you may have in the skimmers!

One pound of baking soda is identical to one pound of alkalinity increaser; use them at the same rates.

Use 20 Mule Team Borax™ at a starting dose of 1/2 box, per 10,000 gallons of pool water. , but have some acid (pH Minus, or whatever) on hand. Be sure that you do NOT get a box of detergent that contains borax, unless you want an awful mess! Borax, or sodium tetraborate should be the ONLY listed ingredient.

Please note: I consider borax of particular value in pools operated at a higher pH pool (7.6 - 8.0). If you don't know anything about this, you can still use borax as a cheap replacement for soda ash (pH UP). If you want to know more about high pH in swimming pools, you can read the preliminary paper I've posted on the topic, but it's pretty technical.

Final Note

Some folks think it would be nice if there were grocery store versions of all their swimming pool chemicals at the grocery store. But, there unless you shop at a super-Walmart, you can't buy all your chemicals at your grocer's.

In particular, chlorine stabilizer (cyanuric acid) is available ONLY under pool labels. There's simply no other consumer use for that chemical. I've heard that borax may be available cheaper, but in large quantities, from some agricultural distributors and co-ops, but this is not true in all areas. Copper sulfate, which I do NOT recommend, is commonly available from agricultural sources.

On the other sand, many chemicals, such as algaecides, clarifiers, and the like, which are available only through swimming pool product channels, are products you are usually better off without. Clarifiers can occasionally be helpful if you have a sand or cartridge filter, but do NOT overdose. There is one, and ONLY one algaecide I commonly recommend: polyquat (picture). The rest of the anti-algae products have serious side effects on your pool chemistry, and should be used with caution, and only when there's no alternative.

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