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Thread: Water softener, salt vs borates

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    Water softener, salt vs borates

    Today went swimming with some friends along with a BBQ - it was great! Pool was sparkling and so clean, thanks to adopting TFP methods and that SLAM I've recently completed. Thank YOU, TFPF, for just being here!!!

    Now my next question... when I got out of the pool my skin became pretty dry. Not a major complaint, more like a nuisance, and was wondering if there's something I could do to soften the water so my skin feels better when I leave the pool?

    I've heard of adding salt, but my pool is not a SWG and I'm worried about corrosion of the plumbing system over time. I've also heard of Borax, and I actually have some on hand (along with baking soda and bleach to round up the BBB). But I'm a little skeptical that Borates would help the water feel, and hesitant to add more chemicals in a pool that I've already gotten sparkling over the weekend...

    What are the pro and cons of each?
    IG gunite pool size: 12,500 gallons - includes spa with spillover, Polaris vacuum cleaner, Ultrapure Ozonator, inline tab chlorinator that I no longer use
    Filter: Hayward Swimclear Model #4030, 4-Cartridge Filters
    Pump: Century, 2 HP with a Hayward 6060 booster pump
    Date of build: March-April 2014 *NEW* : Test kit: TF-100

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    While you wait for answers from someone with firsthand experience (I have none with either) try using the search box for Salt Feel. There are pages and pages of threads discussing it.
    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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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    Both salt and borates help improve the water "feel". The effects are slightly different and cumulative, that is to say that salt plus borates are better than either one alone.

    Keep in mind that water "feel" is subjective. Different people react differently. I use both salt and borates, and I definitely notice a difference, and many of my guests clamor to find out what my "secret" is because of how wonderful the water feels, but some of my friends didn't notice the change at all.

    Adding salt for feel you want to raise the level to about 2,000 ppm. This should not have any impact on your equipment, though there is a remote chance it could affect some kinds of natural stonework.

    When adding borates, you want a level between 30 and 50 ppm. One box of borax won't do anything for the water feel.
    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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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    I've thought about Borating, but it takes so much, I don't want to spend the cash on it. I tried it in my little pool, and think there was a difference, but just not sure enough about it to be convinced. If I ever do borate, it will likely be for pH stability rather than feel.

    Salt is going to be more damaging to Rockwork as Jason says. Unless you have metallic piping, it should not be a concern at all.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    Yeah, since I have a 12k gallon pool, it will take 5-6 boxes of borax to bring it up to 30 ppm. That's another expense, and I'm not 100% sure I really need it. Salt is probably much cheaper, and I'll need 5 40 lb bags of it... maybe less since I may already have some salt in the pool.

    Is 2000 ppm a maximum safe number in terms of corrosion of the flagstone? If so, I'll need to test for salts. Most of my piping is strong plastic or non-metallic.
    IG gunite pool size: 12,500 gallons - includes spa with spillover, Polaris vacuum cleaner, Ultrapure Ozonator, inline tab chlorinator that I no longer use
    Filter: Hayward Swimclear Model #4030, 4-Cartridge Filters
    Pump: Century, 2 HP with a Hayward 6060 booster pump
    Date of build: March-April 2014 *NEW* : Test kit: TF-100

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    tucsontico's Avatar
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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    Just added boric acid to my SWG pool this week. My personal opinion is the water does have a "softer" feel to it and appears to be less drying on my skin. I bought my granular boric acid from dudadiesel.com. I needed 48 lbs for my 19,600 gal pool so I bought their 55 lb package–with shipping it cost $110. Due to not needing to add MA, the cost was better for me. Good Luck!
    19,500 gal, 16' x 38' PebbleTec IG Pool, Built 4/2013; Pentair IntelliFlo VS 3050 3 HP Pump, Pentair Intellichlor IC40 SWG, Pentair IntellipH, Pentair 520 sq ft/150 GPM Cartridge Filter, A&A In-Floor Cleaner, Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robot (aka "Robbie"), Pentair EasyTouch Power Panel w/ Quick Touch 4 Remote Control, Autelis WiFi controller, Clear 12 mil Solar Cover on Presto SS Reel, Taylor K-2006 Test Kit.

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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    Thanks, I may consider boric acid instead of both borax and MA. I'll compare costs and such. When you added boric acid, did the pH move much or stay about the same? Did it also affect TA?
    IG gunite pool size: 12,500 gallons - includes spa with spillover, Polaris vacuum cleaner, Ultrapure Ozonator, inline tab chlorinator that I no longer use
    Filter: Hayward Swimclear Model #4030, 4-Cartridge Filters
    Pump: Century, 2 HP with a Hayward 6060 booster pump
    Date of build: March-April 2014 *NEW* : Test kit: TF-100

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    tucsontico's Avatar
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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    One of the side effects of the borates is pH buffering on the high end. The borates should slow the rate of pH rise in my SWG pool. I'll let you know my test results in a couple of weeks with the borates in the pool. Adding the boric did not budge my pH off 7.6. Also, there is no apparent change to my TA. I am quite happy with the results of using TFP chemistry recommendations–including the optional borate addition.
    Last edited by tucsontico; 05-29-2014 at 02:32 PM. Reason: Typo Replace
    19,500 gal, 16' x 38' PebbleTec IG Pool, Built 4/2013; Pentair IntelliFlo VS 3050 3 HP Pump, Pentair Intellichlor IC40 SWG, Pentair IntellipH, Pentair 520 sq ft/150 GPM Cartridge Filter, A&A In-Floor Cleaner, Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robot (aka "Robbie"), Pentair EasyTouch Power Panel w/ Quick Touch 4 Remote Control, Autelis WiFi controller, Clear 12 mil Solar Cover on Presto SS Reel, Taylor K-2006 Test Kit.

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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    We always add solar salt ($4/bag at Lowe's) to our pool. It makes the pool feel great and your skin doesn't feel dry when you get out. Do it!
    10,000 gallon inground vinyl FOXX pool - built in 1999. Hayward sand filter. 3/4 HP 2-speed pump with timer. Hayward Aquarite SWG t-3 cell. Love the BBB method - pool has never looked better!

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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    How many bags of the solar salt per 10k gallons? Also how do you add the salt and do you have to replenish over the season?
    pool size - 40kgal
    finish - Gunite
    pump size in horsepower and brand-Variable Speed, Hayward EcoStar SVRS3400
    filter size - Sta-Rite S8M150
    additional equipment - Hayward CL220 Chlorinator

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    tucsontico's Avatar
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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    Quote Originally Posted by jmagoulas View Post
    How many bags of the solar salt per 10k gallons? Also how do you add the salt and do you have to replenish over the season?
    Check out the Pool School article: http://www.troublefreepool.com/conte...rine-generator. Also do a search on the forums for "salt addition." I've never used "solar salt" but if you use "pool salt," simply adding it to the deep end while circulating the water and brushing a bit will dissolve the salt quite quickly.

    If you are adding salt "just for feel" then you'll probably want to raise the salt to 2000 ppm. Use the Pool Calculator to determine the correct amount for your pool size. Good Luck!
    19,500 gal, 16' x 38' PebbleTec IG Pool, Built 4/2013; Pentair IntelliFlo VS 3050 3 HP Pump, Pentair Intellichlor IC40 SWG, Pentair IntellipH, Pentair 520 sq ft/150 GPM Cartridge Filter, A&A In-Floor Cleaner, Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robot (aka "Robbie"), Pentair EasyTouch Power Panel w/ Quick Touch 4 Remote Control, Autelis WiFi controller, Clear 12 mil Solar Cover on Presto SS Reel, Taylor K-2006 Test Kit.

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    mariane's Avatar
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    Re: Water softener, salt vs borates

    For a few years now, we've been adding both solar salt (which is cheaper than pool salt) and borates and like the feel of the water. Can't remember what it felt like before we started. ) The borates also seem to help with algae control.
    16 x 28 Doughboy Mystic Garden AGP with 7' deep end (used expandable vinyl liner) ~11,800 gals. Deep end main drain. Thru-the-wall skimmer, one return at deep end. Media Master 150# sand filter. Doughboy PowerPak II pump, 1 hp. Pentair MinimaxCH 150m natural gas heater. Polaris 65 when it feels like working . TF-100 test kit. No longer 'pool stored' 5 years and counting. In sunny but fickle metro-Detroit.

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