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Thread: What causes the itchy skin or smell of chlorine?

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    What causes the itchy skin or smell of chlorine?

    I know its a newbie question but its hard to find a definitive answer just reading threads with these keywords. I haven't really had much of a problem with either but I've been to pools that smell of chlorine badly or make my skin really dry and itch when I get out. How do I avoid that?

    Latest test results... so I don't get hit for them:

    FC 3.06
    TC 3.25
    CC .19
    pH 8.1
    CH 314
    TA 114
    CYA 54
    New Pool: 22 x 35 | StoneScape Mini - Midnight Blue | ~17,500 gallons | Jandy Equipment - Built spring 2015 (click for details and pictures)
    Old Pool: 16 x 30 | QuartzBrite | 14,000 gallons | Pentair Equipment - Built summer of 2013 (click for details and pictures)

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the itchy skin or smell of chlorine?

    Typically it's a pH issue or combined chloramines. That's actually the chlorine smell you get in public pools. Chlorine oxidizes organic wastes - essentially flameless burning. The half-burned stuff would be the smoke in a fire and the smell in a pool. Raise the fire - get it going furiously - and there's very little smoke. Same with a pool.

    Organic wastes include dead skin, bugs, leaves, even snot.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Join Date
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    Re: What causes the itchy skin or smell of chlorine?

    Yup...as Richard said....your CC's should be less than .5 ppm..since they are not, you have organics in your pool and thus the "chlorine" smell. Itchy skin..your pH is too high. Use the pool calc. and get your pH back down to between 7.4-7.6. Your skin AND eyes will feel much better.
    33' x 52" Swim and Play Inc. PARAGON AGP. Hayward H200 Heater. Hayward Power-Flo LX 1.5hp pump. Sta-Rite Cristal Flo T-210WF Sand Filter. Stenner 45M5 chlorine pump

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    Re: What causes the itchy skin or smell of chlorine?

    You guys rock. I'm not sure what's best about this site... the knowledge or the fact that nobody flames newbies for simple questions. I really appreciate your help.
    New Pool: 22 x 35 | StoneScape Mini - Midnight Blue | ~17,500 gallons | Jandy Equipment - Built spring 2015 (click for details and pictures)
    Old Pool: 16 x 30 | QuartzBrite | 14,000 gallons | Pentair Equipment - Built summer of 2013 (click for details and pictures)

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    ship of fools's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the itchy skin or smell of chlorine?

    Quote Originally Posted by flyweed
    Yup...as Richard said....your CC's should be less than .5 ppm..since they are not, you have organics in your pool and thus the "chlorine" smell. Itchy skin..your pH is too high. Use the pool calc. and get your pH back down to between 7.4-7.6. Your skin AND eyes will feel much better.

    time for you to move from pool school to math school

    .19 is less than .50
    21,000 gallon inground
    Haywood Sand Filter
    Vinyl Liner

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    Donldson's Avatar
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    Re: What causes the itchy skin or smell of chlorine?

    We don't flame newbies, we oxidize them!
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard320
    Chlorine oxidizes organic wastes - essentially flameless burning.
    Hope you all heard a rimshot when you read that!

    It would also help you avoid both issues if you did your own testing. Pool store results are always suspect and rarely accurate. Using your own testing will help you keep FC, CC, and pH all right in range and help you maintain a pool that is smell and itch free. Just personal experience, my wife's legs get very itchy after showering, even if she doesn't shave them. She has not had a problem with that after swimming since we have switched to BBB and done our own testing.
    JD - 28' Round Above Ground Pool, 17,000 Gallons. Dual speed Jacuzzi pump with cartridge filter. Dual speed 1 HP pump, Hayward S210T sand filter
    Pool School - PoolMath - HIGHLY Recommended Test Kits

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    Re: What causes the itchy skin or smell of chlorine?

    Another factor is that commercial/public pools that are indoors and sometimes some that are outdoors don't usually use CYA in the water so chlorine's strength is not moderated. So the active chlorine level in those pools is 10-20 times higher than in your own residential pool. The chlorine oxidizes skin, hair and swimsuits 10-20 times faster as a result. So your skin gets dry from losing its oils and itchy from surface layers of skin getting oxidized and sloughed off.

    The higher bather-load of commercial/public pools makes them harder to control chloramines and some of these, nitrogen trichloride in particular, can be very irritating and smelly. The lower active chlorine level as well as the low bather-load in residential pools makes nitrogen trichloride a non-issue. Also, outdoor pools exposed to the UV of sunlight tend to have fewer chloramines since the UV reacts with some of them while the hydroxyl radicals formed when chlorine breaks down reacts with others (as well as with organics so probably helps control urea concentration).
    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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