Dealing with the Chlorine Shortage: Adding Borates to Your Swimming Pool

Have you struggled to find chlorine tablets for your swimming pool? Chlorine product availability has been challenging for the last several months. Supply shortages resulting from the Covid-19 Pandemic have been compounded by the August 2020 damage to the BioLab facilities caused by Hurricane Laura. The cost of chlorine supplies has nearly doubled in the last six months and sometimes cannot be found at all. What can you do?

Borates: a Swimming Pool Solution?

The use of borates in swimming pools originated in the 1980s. However, it hasn’t been a popular option for most swimming pool owners until recently. Though the product can help a pool owner use 60% less chemicals in their pool, many people are not aware of this fact. The normal levels of chlorine are between 3-5 PPM, depending on your specific pool, construction, vegetation around the pool, usage, etc. With the use of borates, you only need between .5 and 1% in most cases.

Borates work to stabilize the pH in your pool or spa and help prevent pH-related problems. However, when utilizing this option, it is important to keep in mind that adding borates doesn’t automatically address pH or algae problems. Borate testing and balancing your water will still be necessary, but adding borates to your swimming pool can make those issues easier to manage.

traditional swimming pool

The Benefits of Borates in Your Pool

There are several significant benefits of keeping the borate level of your pool between 30-50 ppm. One of these benefits is a stable pH level. The pH of your swimming pool won’t change a great deal when using borates. Because chlorine lasts longer when the pH is right at 7.6-7.8 and borates work to eliminate CO 2 (carbon dioxide), this helps reduce your chlorine usage. If you have a saltwater swimming pool, this is particularly helpful because the pH level of saltwater pools can fluctuate dramatically.

Another benefit of borate use is softer water. The water in your swimming pool will not burn your eyes. It is less harsh on your skin and hair, as well. Skin irritation is typically reduced and unlike the dry, tight skin commonly experienced after being in the pool, your skin will retain some hydration and not feel as dried out.

A few other benefits of using borates in your pool:

  • Less algae growth. While algae growth is not eliminated completely, borate use does hinder the growth of algae somewhat.
  • Less calcium build-up on the salt cell.
  • Sparkling water. As borates are more reflective, pool water will catch and reflect sunlight more noticeably.

swimming pool in summer

How to Add Borates to Your Pool:

Although you can purchase regular 20 Mule Team Borax found at local grocery stores, it doesn’t have all of the advantages that you can get from a borate product purchased from a pool product supplier. These specially-designed formulas use a combination of boric acid and sodium tetraborate. This mixture makes them more pH neutral than using 20 Mule Team Borax, so the pH of your swimming pool will not rise significantly when adding these products.

Pool owners may wonder why some pool service vendors and pool stores don’t discuss the use of borates as an option with them. The reasons may vary, but in many cases, it is simply a matter of money. Some pool supply companies don’t feel it would be good for their business to promote the sale of a product that will allow pool owners to use up to 40% less chemicals in their pool. However, our goal at 1Stop Pool is to serve our customers and we would like you to be informed regarding all of your options. If you have questions regarding this information or any other product, please contact the location nearest you and we will be happy to help you.