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Thread: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking Soda?

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    Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking Soda?

    Hi there! Complete newbie, and I've read alot about the BBB method and love what I'm learning but. . . from what i'm reading it's not 'just' BBB, but BBB + a few other pool chemicals (like Dichlor, which has CYA, which means I need more chlorine, but it does last longer, etc.)

    The reason I ask is, I have just purchased a 10' x 30" round intex above ground pool. It is getting ~ 2 hours of use daily, from 2 kids, no sunscreen. I would love love love LOVE to only ever use these three ingredients. Here is the schedule/maintenence that I was planning on using:

    Startup dose: 1 quart household bleach (6%), 1 cup borax, 2 cups baking soda
    Every evening after the sun goes down: 1 cup household bleach.
    As far as I can understand, this should keep the pool looking good chemically, and be safe by the time the kids use the pool (after 4:00 PM)

    Is there any particular downside to just *not* using any CYA? It's another chemical to buy, and yes it means I can use less bleach because it's stabilized, but as I understand it it also means I have to use more bleach because it's not as effective, and that I have to add additional algaecides (is that a word?). I have AquaChek 'test strips' which I understand are not nearly as awesome as the drops, but because I wasn't thinking of using stabilizers, etc. I don't' know how well they work but I thought I'd give them a shot. If I should return them and just buy a cheap drops kit, let me know.

    And, not a pool chemistry question, but for accessories: I will be installing it on a slightly sloped patio with a heavy duty tarp underneath to prevent stones from poking through, and trying to help level it with kids' foam squares on one side =X. I will have a pool cover that I can use daily (this may help prevent chlorine loss during the day), and the pool itself comes with a pump and filter (I understand it's not a great one, but hey, a filter!) I do have a couple of mesh nets for skimming the pool with. From talking with a friend with an AG pool, I understand that I should remove the filter every morning and spray it out, and then use filter cleaner once a week (apparently I can make this with a cup of powdered dishwashing detergent in a gallon of water?)

    Should I buy a pool vacuum? Is there any other tool that I'm going to need that I haven't thought of yet? Am I crazy?
    10'x30" Intex AG pool (~1200 gal) with 530G filter pump, Salt Lake City, UT. K-1000 and T-100 Test kits.

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    The BBB method is not about only using Bleach, Baking Soda and Borax, but about understanding exactly what chemicals you need, and why. You may not need any baking soda or Borax. It depends on the TA and pH of your fill water. If your pH and TA are high, you will need muriatic acid instead. If your pH is low, you will need Borax. If your TA is low, you will need baking soda. A good test kit (the TF-100 or K-2006) would be good, but since you have such a small pool, you can just drain and refill if things start to go wrong. For you, it would be possible to get by with a 3 way test kit. As far as stabilizer, you will need some. If you have no stabilizer, there is much more active chlorine, which is harsher on bathing suits, skin, etc. You will also lose something like 50% of your chlorine to the sun. There is an article in Pool School about starting a temporary pool which you should read.
    John
    7 year old ~13,500 gal 24' AGP with 1.5 hp Proline pump, 150 sqft Pleatco cartridge, filled with well water with pH of about 4.5.
    Wanda the Whale pool vacuum, home made heater, Taylor K-2006
    Cloudy Pool? 1) Order test kit. 2) Follow SLAM
    New to TFPC? Read Pool School a few times, then post questions. PoolMath will help with chemical additions.

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    CYA - you need it. without CYA you will have to use LOTS more chlorine. as during the day the sun WILL DESTROY your chlorine. and require to replace it MORE frequently. - also you only really need to add it once. I dont know about USA prices for stabilizer but here in canuckistan walmart sells 1kg (~2.5lbs) for around $10.
    I have a CYA of 30 PPM (raising to 40) and during the day I lose about 2-3 PPM of CL a day. would hate to see what you lose without it.

    second, you may not baking soda, or borax in your pool. I have never needed either, (until this year) normaly I need muritac acid as my PH level is high (well water).
    I suggest you test your water before you start adding borax, and baking soda.

    strips wont cut it, you could try the 6 way HTH test from walmart - however it does not have the FAS test, so it is hard to get good accurate reading of CL level. getting a good test kit, will save you money in the long run. as you will know EXACTLY how much, of WHAT you need to put in your pool.
    13500 gallon AG, build late 90's, Hayward S220T sand filter,1Hp aqua coastal
    Gasser BBQ broilmate 155154 LP, Smoker CGK (akorn)

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    if you have already used dichlor you put in CYA. it should not really go away.

    use bleach from then on.
    borax use it to balance PH.
    baking soda to get Total ALK up to level.


    as for CYA what it does is store up FC and slowly releases it during the sunny part of the day.
    18X36 Grecian 24400 est., pacfab sand Triton II, 1.5hp AOSmith, clormatic 2

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    Thanks for the responses guys! This is exactly what I was looking for.

    I went to the local pool store today, and picked up a 1 lb package of sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrieone trihydrate (Dichlor) - it is E-Z clor 'quick dissolving stabilized chlorinating granules'. The pool lady told me that it did not have CYA in it, and that only the trichlor does, but they didn't sell trichlor in small packages (nor did they sell CYA alone in small packages) and I thought I remembered this being the right stuff, so I picked it up anyways.

    I did not pick up the Polyquat 60, as I wanted to ask you; They had 'Regal Algaecide 60' and 'Regal Algaecide 50', I am guessing the biggest difference is concentration; being that my pool is so small would be be OK for me to use the 50?

    The pool lady did tell me to go to the pet store and get a large aquarium vacuum (siphon action) - because it's way cheaper than anything else I could get at the store, and for a small pool that would be my best bet. Any thoughts on this?
    10'x30" Intex AG pool (~1200 gal) with 530G filter pump, Salt Lake City, UT. K-1000 and T-100 Test kits.

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    Quote Originally Posted by minsx
    The pool lady told me that it did not have CYA in it, and that only the trichlor does, but they didn't sell trichlor in small packages (nor did they sell CYA alone in small packages) and I thought I remembered this being the right stuff, so I picked it up anyways.

    I did not pick up the Polyquat 60, as I wanted to ask you; They had 'Regal Algaecide 60' and 'Regal Algaecide 50', I am guessing the biggest difference is concentration; being that my pool is so small would be be OK for me to use the 50?
    She lied to you. Well, it was probably unintentional so let's just say she was mistaken. Dichlor has more CYA content than Trichlor. The following are chemical facts independent of concentration of product or of pool size:

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

    The Regal Algaecide 60 is Polyquat 60. The Regal Algaecide 50 is not (it's a linear quat that can foam).

    I'll let others chime in on the vacuum, but what she said about that sounds OK to me.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    I see in the temporary pool guide it says to add algaecide weekly. Why is that? We always say that algaecide is not needed if you keep proper chlorine levels, so why are temporary pools different?
    John
    7 year old ~13,500 gal 24' AGP with 1.5 hp Proline pump, 150 sqft Pleatco cartridge, filled with well water with pH of about 4.5.
    Wanda the Whale pool vacuum, home made heater, Taylor K-2006
    Cloudy Pool? 1) Order test kit. 2) Follow SLAM
    New to TFPC? Read Pool School a few times, then post questions. PoolMath will help with chemical additions.

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnN
    I see in the temporary pool guide it says to add algaecide weekly. Why is that? We always say that algaecide is not needed if you keep proper chlorine levels, so why are temporary pools different?
    Good question. There are a few suggestions in that guide that I don't follow. I just finished setting up my seasonal pool today. You have to know the pool's water capacity for good maintenance, and use the pool calculator. When I got it filled high enough so I could use the pump, the first thing I did was add the appropriate amount of stabilizer to a couple of socks and hang them in front of a return. Then I dumped in 6 bags of salt for my SWG. Threw in a gallon of bleach to cover my butt until the salt dissolves and I can turn on the SWG, covered my pool, and turned on my heater. Salt and stabilizer will both be dissolved by noon tomorrow, and I can start my SWG. Then I am confident that the chlorine situation is under control and I can focus on the other opening issues. I will get my TA and pH adjusted next. And then add my borates (optional) when everything seems stable. I've never added algaecide, tabs, or pH down (muriatic acid instead). My pool is always perfect or close to it. I will test like a maniac for the first week for chlorine and pH. After that, I test chlorine and pH every 2nd day, sometimes every 3rd day. High bather load and I will test it daily. I test my CYA after a few fills from splashout. I don't test my salt. After 3 or 4 topups I'll throw in half a bag of salt. My SWG will let me know if salt is high or low. It's always been fine. Cell plates were immaculate at the end of last season - after not being cleaned at all.

    I started this reply just to agree with you and it turned into a ramble!! My apologies!!

    GC
    13'x22'x52" 8,000 gallon ProSeries Pool with Borates
    Intex 110 pound Sand Filter with Zeobrite, 2650 gph pump, 0.95 hp
    Bestway SWG
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    GLI Whirlwind Solar Cover Reel, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    I would not consider an 8k pool as temporary. The guide is intended generally for pools less than around 4k.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    I would have assumed that since I take the pool down every year and store it for the winter that it would be considered temporary. Even when I owned a 12 foot round intex that is how I maintained it after discovering this site.

    GC
    13'x22'x52" 8,000 gallon ProSeries Pool with Borates
    Intex 110 pound Sand Filter with Zeobrite, 2650 gph pump, 0.95 hp
    Bestway SWG
    AquaPro ECO500 50,000 BTU heat pump
    GLI Whirlwind Solar Cover Reel, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnN
    I see in the temporary pool guide it says to add algaecide weekly. Why is that? We always say that algaecide is not needed if you keep proper chlorine levels, so why are temporary pools different?
    The advice is simplified because the pools are temporary and the users usually less willing or able to do more consistent maintenance. Since the pools can be completely emptied if something goes wrong and since they are not usually up for very long, the advice uses Dichlor to build up CYA more easily and it uses Polyquat algaecide as insurance in case dosing is missed or inadequate. You can certainly do the regular approach for permanent pools if you prefer.

    I agree with Dave (duraleigh) that 8K is not normally considered to be temporary. Anyway, you can manage the pool either way though managing it like a permanent pool is the least expensive approach because you don't use the Polyquat algaecide. You just need to be diligent about maintaining the chlorine level.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    I certainly am not implying that I think the method is wrong because I am FAR from an expert and just a rookie compared to duraleigh and chem geek!! But simplicity to me is having to do nothing. Which is what I practically do once pool is first balanced. But I am one of the lucky ones as my fill water from the tap is very good and my pH anchors itself at 7.5 and stays there. Plus I like the challenge of getting to that point. So yeah, if you're not anal about water quality then you're steps are probably more appropriate.

    One point I didn't mention is that my daughter has eczema and good water is important. I've taken her out of swimming lessons at the local pool as its murder on her skin. Her skin is perfect throughout the swim season in my pool. I think it may be the borates in my pool along with good pH and other readings.
    13'x22'x52" 8,000 gallon ProSeries Pool with Borates
    Intex 110 pound Sand Filter with Zeobrite, 2650 gph pump, 0.95 hp
    Bestway SWG
    AquaPro ECO500 50,000 BTU heat pump
    GLI Whirlwind Solar Cover Reel, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    I know nothing about pool chemistry yet, so I won't comment on that, but is your pool an Easy Set? I have the 10' by 30" Easy Set and there is no way foam squares would keep it leveled! I filled the DOS in my lawn as well as I could with dirty from another part of the yard, leveling the dirt with a long 2x 4 with a level on top of it. It helped a lire, but didn't come out perfect and even that 1-2" of slope is really notice able!
    10' Intex Easy Set Pool with included filter, just over 1000 gallons. Fill water chlorine=1.5, fill water pH>8.2

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    Dips in my lawn
    Helped a lot
    10' Intex Easy Set Pool with included filter, just over 1000 gallons. Fill water chlorine=1.5, fill water pH>8.2

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    Re: Can I get by with ONLY using Bleach, Borax, and Baking S

    No, it's a metal frame. My sister refuses to let me put it on her lawn (she doesn't want a dead spot later) and so I can only put it on her patio. There's ~ 1.5" grade over 8 feet that I can see. We have foam squares under the current one just to make the bottom 'softer' bit they are already compressed to ~ .4 inches. =X I still haven't figured out just what I'm going to do about it.

    Thanks for the posts about the algaecide. I am sure I could use the $30 bottle at the store (smallest size they sell), but when you pay $100 for a pool it seems silly to spend significantly more than that on testers, chemicals, covers, filters, etc.
    10'x30" Intex AG pool (~1200 gal) with 530G filter pump, Salt Lake City, UT. K-1000 and T-100 Test kits.

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