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Thread: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

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    Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Alright, so I've never recorded numbers.

    Theoretically, bleach from the grocery store should be 6% active sodium hypochlorite. This should make bleach about 63% the cost of the 73% cal-hypo that I sell in my store. I've done 7 swamp-to-pool conversions pro-bono for the sake of knowledge, with all the work entailed, since I started in this industry.

    Of these seven pools (4 of which were above ground), only one was cleared up via the bleach method with constant testing. It required a lot more bleach than was recommended, and I worked it out to determine that the bleach was about 4% active.

    The others came out to about 2-3% active chlorine. The other six pools I gave up on and was able to clear up with one 30ppm dose (volume/10k x 1.8 x 30 = oz) of cal-hypo, plus all of the manual labor involved.

    I read these forums every day, and I'm drinking and in a celebratory mood for various reasons. But through direct experience, and through thousands of water tests and advice, I just don't see the point in trying to use bleach for serious algae problems. It's unpredictable and a pain in the ***.

    Thank you, internet water chemistry ninjas. I understand that the active chlorine numbers are subject to a wide variety of problems; I did the best that anyone could. But the simple truth is that the cal-hypo clears it up in a day whereas the bleach required days of testing and dosing.

    I love you all.

    seilsel

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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Cal-hypo costs more and it adds CH. Eventually your CH level will get too high and that can cause scaling, which can be really expensive to fix. If your CH level is low enough and you don't mind spending money then there is nothing wrong with cal-hypo. Bleach does involve more carrying, but most people are more than happy to do that in order to save money.

    If you are having problems with bleach that is less than the listed percentage then buy a better quality of bleach. Clorox seems to consistently have a slightly higher active percentage than stated on the label. Some house brands are good, some not so much. WalMarts house brand has been reported as good several times. Many pool stores sell 10% or 12% chlorinating liquid that is usually fresh and easier to carry than bleach.

    The total amount of chlorine required is going to be the same with bleach or cal-hypo.
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Also note that most Regular bleaches, except for Clorox, are only 3% or less in strength. It is usually the off-brand Ultra bleaches that are 6% similar to Clorox Regular (in Canada, I believe it's still Clorox Ultra for 6%).

    Certainly, using Cal-Hypo is less weight to carry when doing shocking. As Jason noted, you just have to deal with the increased CH levels though that isn't always a problem unless you were somewhat over-saturated to begin with. For every 10 ppm FC added by Cal-Hypo, it also increases CH by at least 7 ppm.
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Well, in my market, the CH comes out of the tap at about 30ppm. Adding calcium here is either beneficial or harmless.

    My point is that the cost vs. convenience idea simply doesn't work out in some regions. For a lot of first-time posters, regardless of whether or not they have a vinyl or gunite or marcite pool, dosing out some reliably active cal-hypo would be better than telling them to go buy 12 gallons of questionable bleach.

    It just seems that telling them to go buy some cal-hypo for initial cleanup would provide more consistent results, regardless of a *potential* savings of 30%, vs. bleach.

    Just a suggestion for the site.

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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Where are you located? We have done price comparisons in dozens of places and found bleach winning on price in every one of them. Problems with bleach active percentages do come up occasionally, but they have been very rare. Plus, if someone guesses wrong about what their current CH level is, and it is actually high to begin with, using cal-hypo can be a very expensive mistake.
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Mid-Southern GA.

    Never used anything but Clorox brand from Kroger and Wal-Mart. In the first case, when I first got converted to BBB, I was testing every 45 minutes or so and came out with a max percentage of 4%. I was trying to prove a point and it took days and a lot more bleach than was predicted to clear up the pool.

    Even with the increased cost of cal-hypo vs. bleach it came out a wash, unless said pool do-it-yourselfer was starting with a bulk amount of cal-hypo, in which case it comes out in favor of cal-hypo.

    You can see the difference when you use the two. If you start with a swamp and adding bleach, the whole pool clears up gradually; when you add the cal-hypo, you will literally have a section of the pool that is near-blue while the rest of the pool continues to clear up.

    All I'm saying is that I will be helping friends and family with their pools this spring, and I will use cal-hypo. For a first time poster here, the dramatic difference in terms of convenience alone is likely to turn more people onto doing themselves versus relying on often-stupid pool store advice.

    This site saved my sanity.

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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    In our area most tap water has virtually no calcium or TA and a ph upwards of 8. The majority of commercial pool maintainence companies use a mix (not in the same vessel) of Calhypo and Triclor tabs. I'm sure that each region has its own peculiarities.

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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Adding bleach to a swamp, I'd think some of it would be used up after even only 45 minutes, and so you'd get an artificially low estimate of the strength. If you want to derive % hypochlorite for some brand of bleach, I'd do it in a clean pool. Or a bucket.
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Seilsel,

    Having cleared my own green swamp on more openings than I care to admit, I always go back to Liquid chlorine. Sure you can use Cal-hypo, MPS, dichlor, etc (perhaps even throw 20 floaters of trichlor in the pool and fill the skimmers with pucks) but each of these methods has drawbacks that liquid chlorine doesn't.

    Especially for newbies just learning pool chemistry, Clorox remains the single best vehicle to deliver the chlorine to your pool. It's a PITA to haul but it's still the best.

    By the way, as PaulR suggests, bleach starts being consumed instantly in a green pool and I have never seen a formula for calculating how much bleach it should take to clear a pool. How are you calculating that?
    Dave S.
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    I think Cal-Hypo has its uses. I buy 24 one-pound sacklets from my friendly internet supplier each year in a free shipping and handling window. Cost is virtually the same as liquid Cl from pool store which is cheaper than bleach from Wal-mart or Costco where I am, plus I get free Ca. I find that 24 or 48 sacklets are cheaper per pound than bulk buckets of Cal-Hypo.

    I use the Cal-Hypo at start-up as I make up for the lowered winter water level (CH will be low and my make-up water is very low CH) and whenever Ca is needed due to b/w or splash-out. Also I use it when I leave the pool in someone else hands for a week or two--I can put a sticky "Add Tues" on each sack and make it idiot proof. One sack is a pretty good two-day dose for my pool, if I get the FC up before I leave. The friendly idiots I use for this are more likely to mess up dosing with liquids.

    I also buy some cheap pucks for when I travel and leave the pool solo or when I need a bump in CYA. Both pucks and Cal-Hypo make a lot of economic sense if you NEED the Ca or CYA that you get for free when you use them. This way I never buy CYA or CH increaser on their own and both are quite expensive. I am more than capable of adjusting pH and other effects created by temporary use of these heretical materials. I always come back from the dark side to liquid Cl for most of the season.
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Duraleigh,

    Sorry, I was unclear. I didn't mean how much bleach was required to clear up the pool, I meant how much it took to reach my target of 30ppm.

    Anyway, I didn't mean to ruffle anyone's feathers. Liquid chlorine is great. I just think that in a large number of situations, the convenience and potency reliability might make cal-hypo the better recommendation for shocking when someone is very new to pool care. The idea of going to the grocery store and loading up a cart with bleach might be a turn-off for some people who come to the site who might otherwise come around to BBB.

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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    No feathers ruffled at all.....good informative thread.

    1. There are some situations where Cal Hypo would not be the best choice.

    2. There is virtually never a situation when LQ is not the best choice.

    Remember, you are in the business and have years of experience. The advice we give on this forum has to be aimed at first-time green pool folks who do not understand any part of pool water chemistry. Time and again, LQ is bulletproof with the fewest side effects (sore back) of any of the delivery vehicles.

    I used Cal hypo in my pool three summer ago as I needed to raise my CH somewhat anyway. After about two weeks, the Cal Hypo deposited calcium scale on my pump strainer basket lid to the point where I couldn't see through it. Easy enough to clean with muriatic and only a twenty minute project but that was because I understood what caused it and what would cure it. That could end up a major complication to a newbie.

    Eliminating or reducing as many side effects as possible for newbies is our goal. They can learn "tricks and tips" as they begin to understand the basics better and can then branch out as their comfort level increases.

    For many, having just the basic knowledge to put chlorine in the pool to prevent algae and bacteria is as far as they want to go.....ever. That's fine - they can use LQ and never have to think about it.
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Durk
    I also buy some cheap pucks for when I travel and leave the pool solo or when I need a bump in CYA. Both pucks and Cal-Hypo make a lot of economic sense if you NEED the Ca or CYA that you get for free when you use them. This way I never buy CYA or CH increaser on their own and both are quite expensive. I am more than capable of adjusting pH and other effects created by temporary use of these heretical materials. I always come back from the dark side to liquid Cl for most of the season.
    Hear, hear. A variety of "combo" chems (trichlor, cal-hypo, dichlor) have their place in the experienced pool owner's bag of tricks, and I've used all three of those, although my primary chlorine source is liquid.

    But to confirm what duraleigh said, I wasn't there a year ago. Gotta learn to sink a pool ball on a straight shot before you start playing around with banks and splits. So until it's clear somebody understands the basics, they're better off if we recommend the most straightforward approach using chems that essentially do only one thing at a time, like bleach.
    --paulr
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Since this is in "Chemistry 101" rather than "Introduce Yourself", I will venture to add that I think paulr's (and several others) points are good for people moving beyond basics and likely to be reading this thread. Using a variety of FC sources depending on what the pool needs at the moment is the next step beyond "Introduce Yourself". My personal example ... when I first took over from the Pool Fool and started testing myself, my CH was also low, so I added cal-hypo for a good while before starting with bleach. Loved the convenience, BTW. Last year, when my CYA mysteriously disappeared (lots of discussion about that last year about this time), I found a use for all the pucks that the PS sold me before I found this site. Anyway, there's lots of good information on the forum about what FC source to use and when for people moving beyond handshakes with their pools.

    A second, and probably more controversial and likely goofy, thought concerns seilsel's earlier observation in this thread about cal-hypo clearing the pool so much better than bleach. This got me to thinking, which my wife says is generally a bad thing, but here goes.

    I wonder if it's really a mixing problem and an associated visual perception problem. The cal-hypo goes in and has to dissolve, making a much higher local FC concentration and likely clearing locally much faster. You then (more slowly) mix clear water with green water. The visual perception, though, would be that it was very good at clearing the pool. The bleach, on the other hand, being a liquid, mixes more rapidly, giving a more uniform but smaller FC increase, and thus more gradually increasing the clarity overall without any of the more obvious "clear" sections.

    Just a thought that occurred to me. Probably just nonsense. This may have nothing to do with seilsel's observations. Hopefully he or she will correct me if I'm out in left field ... my usual position, of course.

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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    If you add a given amount of chlorine more or less all at once it will have the same effect, regardless of where the chlorine comes from (bleach/cal hypo/etc). The difference comes from the "all at once" part. It is possible, though not desirable, to add cal-hypo to the pool much more quickly than you can normally add bleach, creating an extremely high concentration of chlorine in one particular spot. Doing that can give the effect described, one section of water partially clearing up (going white rather than green) quickly while the rest of the pool remains green, it can also damage the pool surface (because of the locally high chlorine concentration). It won't result in the entire pool being cleared up any more quickly (again - using the same total amount of chlorine either way).
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    JasonLion, I agree, of course, with everything you said, I was just trying to understand ...
    Quote Originally Posted by seilsel
    You can see the difference when you use the two. If you start with a swamp and adding bleach, the whole pool clears up gradually; when you add the cal-hypo, you will literally have a section of the pool that is near-blue while the rest of the pool continues to clear up.
    I couldn't help but wonder if the cal-hypo was being added in a relatively small area. I certainly didn't mean to recommend such a method. When I was using it I was careful to broadcast it over the entire pool surface, following what I learned here. Didn't mean to cause any confusion.
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    I use Cal-Hypo primarily, but my area doesn't have high levels of calcium. It also stores better than bleach without losing much of it's strength.
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Cal-Hypo is good for a one-time use only in an emergency case for shocking purposes, otherwise it puts too much calcium in the water. Being from the SoCalifornia area, the water comes out of tap already at 400 ppm. Its also way more expensive too. Cal-Hypo also has too much conditioner in the water like any other granular and I like being able to control the conditioner myself and just using liquid chlorine.

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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    So everyone pretty much agrees that most all of the chemicals available can have a place in the arsenal *IF* you know what it is doing and can accept and effectively manage the side effects of each, right?

    It's knowing your tools that allows you to use them effectively.
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    Re: Why do you never recommend Cal-Hypo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pacifica
    Cal-Hypo also has too much conditioner in the water like any other granular and I like being able to control the conditioner myself and just using liquid chlorine.
    "conditioner in the water"? Cal-Hypo does not add any Cyanuric Acid (CYA), aka stabilizer or conditioner. Only Trichlor (pucks/tabs or granular) or Dichlor (granular/powder) increase CYA and they do not increase Calcium Hardness (CH). The following are chemical facts independent of product concentration or of pool size:

    For every 10 ppm Free Chlorine (FC) added by Trichlor, it also increases Cyanuric Acid (CYA) by 6 ppm.
    For every 10 ppm FC added by Dichlor, it also increases CYA by 9 ppm.
    For every 10 ppm FC added by Cal-Hypo, it also increases Calcium Hardness (CH) by 7 ppm.

    For ANY source of chlorine (except a saltwater chlorine generator, SWG) for every 10 ppm FC that is added, the result will be an increase in salt of 8 ppm when the chlorine gets consumed/used (since the chlorine becomes chloride). For sodium hypochlorite and lithium hypochlorite, there is an additional 8 ppm salt added upon addition so the net result is an increase of around 17 ppm salt (not 16, due to rounding and other by-products). For Cal-Hypo, the extra salt added is around 2-4 ppm so the net salt increase is around 10-12 ppm.
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