Chlorine's Bad Rap
It is important to understand the reasons why there are chlorine alternatives and to make sure your choice is the right one for you.
Over the past 15 years of retailing, marketing and developing the portable swimming pool market, we have seen a lot of products come and go. Yet one constant has been the need for chlorine. And yet despite that chlorine is both easy to find and very affordable, there has always been some kind of alternative preference - which is always more expensive.
The latest alternative is the use of salt instead of chlorine. Many potential customers are led to believe that the use of salt means they are swimming in salt water. This is not the case, salt water generators are in fact generating chlorine by breaking apart salt (which is sodium chloride) it to two parts; sodium and chloride. The chloride sanitizes the pool and the sodium simply dissipates in the water. And though there is a higher concentration of sodium in the water - it can not be called "salt water" by any stretch of the imagination. But customers are convinced that this is the healthier, "greener" alternative. This is just not true. There two reasons why chlorine has received a bad rap.
First, as stated earlier, chlorine is both easy to find and very affordable. A customer can buy chlorine at a local home improvement store, hardware store and even at a grocery store during the summer. In fact during the summer, there are over a 100 places a customer can get chlorine other than through their local pool store.
The far more expensive alternatives were created not for health reasons or even for a "greener planet", but simply to generate profit for the the pool store. Regardless of the brand or make of the alternative, the maker has presented an argument against the use of chlorine. This argument is found online, in magazines and through all the local pool stores. Why? Because the local pool store will have what no other retailer in town will have and the pool store makes more money selling it. So they collaborate together to mislead the public.
The second reason is the application of chlorine. If you have ever entered a local commercial pool, you have certainly smelled the high concentration of chlorine or felt that scratchy feel on your skin. It is much worse in the community spa (yuck!). Given the number of kids and (sadly) adults that pee into a pool and/or spa, this hyper-chlorination is necessary. But personal pools do not experience this kind of chemical abuse. As long as a customer maintains the water's right chemistry balance there is neither a chlorine smell nor a scratchy feel on the skin. In fact, it really takes very little chlorine to keep a portable pool clean and inviting.
Now we do not knock the various alternatives available. Perhaps for deeper and/or larger in-ground pools they do come in handy. But for outdoor portable pools, chlorine really is the better choice. It is easily available and affordable. Every summer my family set up one of our portable pools. I place a floating chlorinator in the pool with about 4 to 5 1" tablets and let it float about. I check periodically (depending on the heat and sun exposure) and rarely if ever need to add anything else. When one of my children has a party and has a variety of children over, I'll add a little extra liquid chlorine and run the pump a few hours longer and that's it. The pool is good, clear and free of bad smells.
Let me just leave you with this, chlorine has been used with pools from the very beginning of the pool market. But it is not just in pool water, many municipalities use small traces of chlorine in the drinking water as well. If it was harmful or bad the US government would have banned it long ago. So come on, give chlorine a break. It doesn't deserve the bad rap it's been getting lately.
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