Swimming Pool Blog
by Rob Cox, January 20, 2013
Pool Borates - How to Use Borax in Pools
Hey kids ~ want to have less pH bounce, shinier, silkier water with no algae problems? But wait, there's more! You'll also be using half as much chlorine as you do now! Hard to believe?
When the John Galvin company introduced a product to the pool industry during the 80's, known as Proteam Supreme, claiming to buffer pH and alkalinity, and add a sparkle and shine to the water, while cutting chlorine use in half and simultaneously preventing algae outbreaks - some of us back then just rolled our eyes.
It sounded like snake oil to some, but what was in the bucket was a proprietary mixture of a white powder called sodium tetraborate pentahydrate, an EPA registered algaestat with water softening properties. Later, I learned that the mixture was a compound of Boric Acid, a close cousin of Borax. And borax - is available in the grocery store aisle under the brand name 20 Mule Team Borax.
Soon, we began to experiment with using 20 Mule Team, along with muriatic acid or pH decreaser, to counteract the high pH of the borax that we added to the pool.
How does Pool Borax Work?
I'm told that it works to reduce your chlorine demand and fight algae by removing most of the carbon dioxide from the pool water. Carbon dioxide is a favorite food source for algae, and occurs in water naturally. Users report that the alkalinity in the water becomes very stable, with less fluctuation, which also lends itself to a more stable pH level. A sparkling look and a silky smooth feel to the water.... perhaps the borates in the pool are reflective, but it is true!
How to use Borates in the Pool?
There are two ways to use Borates in a swimming pool. You can buy a product like Proteam Supreme, Bioguard Optimizer or Natural Chemistry's Foundation. The commercial products mentioned are a blend of boric acid and sodium tetraborate and other ingredients. They have a more pH neutral product that won't require as much pH adjustment afterwards. They also don't require near as much product, as compared to Borax. After initial treatment to your pool you will need only replacement doses to make up for backwash and splashout.
The second way is to use 20 Mule Team Borax product, and an amount of pH decreaser to bring the pH back in line after addition of borax to your pool. You'll need a lot of Borax and acid to do the job. For a 20,000 gal pool, about 60 lbs of Borax, and 4 gallons of acid. A calculator for borax dosage can be found at the poolcalculator website. The borax will really raise your pH, so you alternate the borax and the acid, building a borax or borates residual slowly over several hours or days, while keeping the pH in line.
How to test for Borates in the Pool?
If you are using one of the boric acid products or your own borax pool treatment, you can test the levels of borates in your pool by using the AquaChek Borate Test Kit. Test your borate levels in your pool monthly, or as needed, to maintain the residual of 30-50 ppm of borates in the water.
Borates use in pools has grown over the years, and has users all around the country who sing it's praises. Let us know if you decide to try borates or borax in your pool, and how it turns out for you.
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