What Types of Chemicals Do Commercial Pools Use?


Operating a commercial pool comes with many major responsibilities, with one of the biggest being the need to keep your pool clean and hygienic for visitors.

Commercial pool maintenance involves a variety of chemicals that remove harmful substances, clarify the water, and improve the overall water quality in your pool. However, using pool chemicals correctly takes some precision, as well as knowledge of which chemicals to use and when. 

This article covers everything you need to know about using chemicals for commercial pool maintenance, including which chemicals to use and how often to use them. 

Read on to discover how your commercial pool can benefit from a professional pool chemical service!

Comparing Commercial Swimming Pool Chemicals

Commercial swimming pools, whether public or private, are often hubs for activities in the communities they service. On a hot, sunny day, flocks of visitors gather around commercial pools to swim and relax.

As a commercial pool owner, it is your responsibility to maintain a clean and safe environment. Doing so requires regular use of specific chemicals that are designed to purify the water and eliminate any harmful toxins and substances from the pool. 

In addition to keeping your guests safe, pool chemicals also ensure a pool is kept in great working condition. Certain chemicals are made specifically to prevent the build-up of mildew, algae, and other substances that can negatively impact your pool’s smell, appearance, and durability. 

To help you determine the ideal chemical maintenance routine for your commercial pool, we must take a closer look at five essential pool chemicals:

  • Chlorine
  • Bromine
  • pH Balancers
  • Algaecide 
  • Clarifiers

Let’s begin with the two most crucial chemicals — chlorine and bromine. 

Chlorine vs. Bromine for Commercial Pools: Which is Better?

When it comes to keeping your commercial pool clean and safe, the most important chemicals to use regularly are chlorine and bromine. Both chlorine and bromine are used as sanitizers for pool water, eliminating germs left by previous guests and natural debris. 

However, chlorine and bromine have differing chemical processes and side effects that are important to know about before choosing one over the other.

Here is a breakdown of the differences between chlorine and bromine:

How is Chlorine Used in Commercial Pools?

Chlorine comes in a variety of different forms. Liquid chlorine and chlorine tablets are the most common forms used for sanitizing commercial pools, though the chemical can also come in a gas form. 

When chlorine is added to pool water, a chemical reaction occurs that creates the chemical byproducts hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. Both of these byproducts are highly effective at killing bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that may be contaminating the pool water. 

While chlorine is an incredibly effective sanitizer for commercial pools, it can also produce a byproduct known as chloramine that gives off a strong odor and can cause eye irritation. Additionally, chlorine can oxidize hard metals in pool water which can, in turn, leave swimmers with green-tinted hair on occasion.

This is one of the main benefits of offering a showering station at commercial pools, as it gives swimmers the opportunity to rinse chlorine off of their skin and hair. 

How is Bromine Used in Commercial Pools?

Bromine is widely considered the main alternative to chlorine and can act as not only a sanitizer but also an oxidizer and algaecide (more on that later) for commercial pools. 

The forms bromine comes in include granules, bromine tablets, or a two-part liquid. 

One of the biggest differences between bromine and chlorine is that bromine can maintain chemical stability at higher temperatures, making it a good option for indoor pools, heated pools, and hot tubs. Like chlorine, bromine is highly effective at killing bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms. 

Bromine is generally considered to be gentler on the eyes, skin, and hair of swimmers, though it can still cause irritation in some cases. However, if not used properly, bromine can lead to the formation of bromamines that lessen the effectiveness of the chemical. Ridding a commercial pool of bromamines requires regular shocking, a process of adding combined chlorine into the pool water. 

Is Chlorine or Bromine Better for Commercial Pools?

Choosing between chlorine or bromine for your commercial pool can depend on a few key factors. While both are effective sanitizers, each comes with its own pros and cons as a product.

Here are three considerations when choosing between chlorine and bromine for your commercial pool:

  1. Cost: Bromine is generally the more expensive of the two chemicals, making chlorine the more budget-friendly option. Additionally, overuse of bromine can result in a pool needing to be shocked with chlorine, which can further increase costs.
  2. Temperature: If you have a commercial pool with high water temperatures, such as a heated pool, spa, or hot tub, you will likely need to use bromine. Chlorine can dissipate at high temperatures, drastically reducing its effectiveness. 
  3. Visitor Frequency: For commercial pools that are very frequently visited, chlorine is typically the better option due to its greater overall potency. This is especially important considering all the contaminants that can come from the skin of swimmers, like sunscreen, lotions, and hair products.

Overall, chlorine tends to be the more commonly used chemical for sanitizing commercial pools. However, both chlorine and bromine have their benefits, so it’s up to you to make the final decision that is best for your specific pool and community. 

Additional Chemicals for Commercial Pools

While chlorine and bromine are undoubtedly two of the most vital chemicals for keeping your pool clean, there are several other chemicals that also come in handy for a commercial pool.

Here is an overview of three additional pool chemicals you should be using: 

Pool pH Balancers for Commercial Pools

Pool pH balancers are chemicals that help to balance the pH level in a commercial pool.

A pool’s pH level can have many major impacts on water clarity, swimmer comfort, and the effectiveness of other chemicals like sanitizers. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with 7 regarded as the neutral level. For commercial pools, the ideal pH level is between 7.2 and 7.8.

Commonly used pH balancers for commercial pools include sodium bisulfate (dry acid) for lowering pH and sodium carbonate (soda ash) for raising pH. 

Algaecide for a Commercial Pool

Algae growth can be a fairly common problem in commercial pools exposed to sunlight and warm weather. The telltale signs of algae growth in a commercial pool are slippery surfaces and green water.

Algaecide is a type of chemical made to kill and prevent the growth of algae in a commercial pool. This chemical comes in three different forms — quaternary, polyquats, and copper-based. Polyquats are considered to be the most effective form of algaecide, though they are often also the most expensive. 

Whichever algaecide you opt for, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for dosage. 

Clarifiers for a Commercial Pool

Oils from visitors’ skin, lotions, natural debris, and other substances can gather in your pool water, leading to the water becoming cloudy and unappealing over time. 

Pool clarifiers improve water clarity by aggregating substances into clumps that can then be removed by your pool’s filtration system. The most common type of pool clarifier is PolyDADMAC, which is an ammonium chloride with a highly positive charge density. 

Regularly using clarifiers ensures your commercial pool always looks clean, sparkling, and inviting. 

How Often to Use Chemicals in a Commercial Pool

Now that we have covered the basics of which chemicals to use in your commercial pool and the specific purposes they serve, let’s discuss how often you should be using these chemicals.

Here is a rough schedule of chemical maintenance for your commercial pool:

  • Chlorine: The chlorine value in your pool should remain between 1 to 1.5 ppm for optimal safety. To maintain this value, chlorine should typically be used around once per week, though you should check your ppm levels at least two to three times per week. 
  • Bromine: The bromine value in your pool should remain between 2 to 4 ppm for optimal safety. Bromine should be added to a pool roughly once per week, though you should measure your bromine levels two to three times per week. 
  • pH Balancers: To keep your pool in great working condition, you should be testing pH levels every single day. The frequency of use of pH balancers is highly dependent on the level of traffic coming in and out of the pool, so daily testing of pH levels is crucial. 
  • Algaecide: Algaecide should generally be used once per week or after every shock treatment. 
  • Clarifiers: It is recommended to use clarifiers in your pool once every one to two weeks. 

Final Thoughts: Should You Use a Professional Pool Chemical Service?

If you are feeling uncertain about how to best use chemicals in your commercial pool, your best option is to hire a professional pool chemical service.

A professional pool service can ensure your pool is kept on an ideal chemical maintenance schedule, as well as handle all the necessary measurements of chemical and pH levels. 

Get in touch with your local pool chemical service provider today to keep your pool in great condition!

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