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Thread: question about bromine!!!!

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    question about bromine!!!!

    First, I'm a pool newbie - just had it installed 7 days ago and trying to learn from Pool School and everywhere else! I'm sorry for not posting my intro yet in the proper thread.

    Pool is above ground, outdoor, 24' round, vinyl liner, about 15000 gallons, cartridge filter, 2Hp pump with hi/lo setting (Waterways). It is located in a spot that should have sun all day unless it is raining ; )

    We've had a hot tub for 11 years and use bromine in it. We understand the importance of testing the water, but are learning more from your site every day.

    10yr old daughter has very sensitive skin. Hasn't had an issue in our hot tub, but did have severe case of contact dermatitis after swimming at a public pool. Took literally 12mo of seeing the dermatologist and trying different prescription creams to resolve it for her. I gather from various posts & people we've talked to that the public pool chemistry maybe harsher than what we'd do in our new pool. Also, to be fair, of course I didn't take water samples from the pool and CSI the case to prove that it was their pool water that caused her issue.

    My question is - can we use bromine in the pool? I understand it is more expensive. I understand that pool chemistry is key no matter what even if we use "regular" chlorine or SWG or BBB. What I don't understand yet is if the bromine will be broken down so much by sun that we'll be throwing too much money at it. Or, worse, will we have to put so much bromine in that it will be more of an irritant than a properly maintained chlorine pool. But we know that she has never had a reaction to bromine in our hot tub. And, frankly, it would be nice to have the same test kits and products to add to our 2 separate water bodies.

    If it matters, we are in New England, and expect to have the pool open for about 16wks a year.
    Looking forward to input, experiences, etc. Would prefer not to hear the "chlorine works best" message because I've gotten that message loud and clear in all the posts I've read. But I also read that the EPA has approved bromine as a sanitizing agent so I'm just trying to learn more about whether I can go that route for an outdoor pool : )

    Jaimi
    =====
    13500 gal, 24' round AG vinyl, 2 HP Waterways pump (2-speed), 150 sq ft cartridge filter 120gpm, installed 4/5/13
    Solar blanket that needs a crank system soon! Hayward electric heater, Aquatrol SWG
    Separate 300gal comfort spa, cartridge filter, bromine floater, installed 2002

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: question about bromine!!!!

    Welcome to TFP!!!

    It sounds like you have been doing your homework

    You are absolutely correct that a public pool is MUCH more harsh due to the higher active chlorine levels than a properly maintained private pool.

    I will admit that I do not know much about bromine, but will likely go do some searching. I understand your desire to have the same test kits for both bodies of water, but that just may not be the right solution. You could switch the hot tub to chlorine

    OK, hopefully someone will come along with more solid information.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: question about bromine!!!!

    It is rather unlikely that chlorine sensitivity is really the issue here. Almost everyone who is at all sensitive to chlorine is also sensitive to bromine. Most likely your daughter was reacting to poorly maintained water chemistry and not to chlorine specifically.

    Yes you can use bromine in an outdoor pool. You have to use more of it than you would of chlorine because of the sunlight issue and it costs more to begin with, but it is quite possible.

    By the by, it is easy to switch from chlorine to bromine, takes at most an hour. But it is very very difficult to switch from bromine to chlorine.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: question about bromine!!!!

    Thanks for the comments and the reminder about ease of switching from chlorine to bromine if she had an issue. Perhaps we'll start with chlorine....and we've been starting to learn about the salt water chlorine generators - thinking it would be gentler on the skin, too? That may be just a "feel" thing, not actually a reality in terms of the amount of chlorine that is in contact with her skin. She's assured me that she'll be spending every day in the pool, 24/7 if I allowed her to sleep on a pool float - so definitely more skin exposure to chlorine than in the shower ; )

    Knowing that the switch from bromine back to chlorine could be a real pain does make us want to be sure about it, but life isn't about guarantees, eh?
    Jaimi
    =====
    13500 gal, 24' round AG vinyl, 2 HP Waterways pump (2-speed), 150 sq ft cartridge filter 120gpm, installed 4/5/13
    Solar blanket that needs a crank system soon! Hayward electric heater, Aquatrol SWG
    Separate 300gal comfort spa, cartridge filter, bromine floater, installed 2002

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: question about bromine!!!!

    The salt can be more about feel ... you could put salt in the pool without the SWG ... I do.

    If you look at our recommended levels in Pool School, you can see that we do lower the minimum FC required when a SWG is in uses. I think this is due to the most consistent FC being maintained (less chance of user error by forgetting to add chloring for a day or two) and the harsh environment that occurs within the cell itself killing things off.

    Another thing that can make the water feel better is the use of borates in the water ... completely optional, but you can read about it in a sticky if you like.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
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    Re: question about bromine!!!!

    Hi, I moved into a home with a 22k gal outdoor inground pool last fall (just before closing it!) and just opened last weekend.
    About me:
    1) newbie to pool boards... thanks for this great resource.
    2) To qualify (or disqualify) anything I am about to say, this is the first pool I have ever owned. The pool was previously maintained as a 'bromine' pool (bromine tab feeder), and the previous owner was rather proud of that fact, citing 'skin sensitivity'.

    I read about BBB, and am pleased to report that I was able to open with a simple chorine shock after a single 13.5lb bag of baking soda to raise alkalinity to 110ppm (thanks Costco!) and a single box of borax to raise pH from ~7 to 7.4-7.6 (borax was predissolved in a bucket first... does not dissolve all that quickly). I found the water still a bit hazy after about 18 hours of recirc, so I added about 7 ozs. of a polymeric flocculent. 24 hours later, it was crystal clear with some sediment that I vacuumed up. I feel pretty good about using BBB so far.

    Now, about the BROMINE... my opening water sample (Taylor K2005 test kit) showed NO chlorine/bromine, pH ~7 (bottom of range), alkalinity = 60ppm and calcium 50ppm (this is a vinyl pool, so calcium was measured, but ignored). So, it was NEITHER a "chlorine" or "bromine" pool on day 1.

    After the shock burned off (I used a bunch of leftover dichlor the last homeowner left, with the balance of the 30ppm shock made up with 8.25% walmart bleach) over 2 days of direct sunlight (about 75% loss in total chlorine per day). I started the feeder at NIGHT with the tub of leftover 1" bromine tabs (on checking online, these appear to be about 50% more expensive than chlorine tabs). ~2hours of recirc brought the total bromine/chlorine (as you know, the test does not discriminate) to ~4ppm, which is the target for bromine pools. After the next day of full sunlight, the total (and free, and combined) Br/Cl levels were <1ppm (almost undetectable... similar result to my chlorinated city tap water). The same thing happened in the next 24 hour test interval. I'm going to adjust my timer to now run more than once a day to provide a more constant "maintenance level" of sanitizer, but that seemed like a worthwhile experiment.

    Anyhow, I conclude that 'once a bromine pool, always a bromine pool' is ONLY for indoor pools since there is minimal sunlight burnoff indoors, and that you can change an outdoor full sunlight pool from bromine to chlorine WITHIN 48 HOURS. Anyone, am I missing something?

    Now, I have this $100+ bucket of bromine I'm going to burn through, so I'm not going to chlorine... right now. But, I sure am tempted to look into it for later in the season. I notice that feeders appear to be piped differently for chlorine vs bromine use (e.g. my bromine feeder runs off a slipstream that bypasses the [cartridge] filter whereas I've seen chlorine feeders take the slipstream prior to the filter). The only difference I perceive that makes is that the bromine setup receives more flow due to a higher pressure drop on the slipstream. Yes, some of the water thus is also not filtered, but it is only a very small percentage of the total flow. So, QUESTION: if I have a flow proportioning valve on the feeder, does anyone feel I should be able to keep the piping configuration and just start filling up with CHLORINE tabs (and throttle the flow to get the right dissolution rate)?

    thanks again for the great 'crowdsourcing' resource!
    -30k gal, vinyl, 1 HP Hayward pump, sand filter, Dolphin Premier cleaning robot

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: question about bromine!!!!

    With the bromine tabs, you have a problem with the binder chemical that is used to make the tabs. I don't know the chemistry, but I know it doesn't break down in the sunlight.

    I expect you will grow tired of the unstabilized sanitizer issues and wish to convert to chlorine at some point, and that will probably require replacing the water. Depending on where you live and how you cover the pool when you close it, you may be able to rely on winter rains to dilute the water enough to get rid of the residuals.

    The idea that chlorine is hard on the skin is just a result of poor maintenance.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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