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Thread: Borates - Spa - Chemical smell?

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    jv92red's Avatar
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    Borates - Spa - Chemical smell?

    Well after 5 months of having borates in my pool I am 99% happy with the decision to add them. (1% negative explained below) Water clarity is a big plus but I also have not had any occurrence of algae and there were a few times when my chlorine level had dropped to very low levels a few times before I could catch it and supplement with liquid chlorine(high use late summer last year and salt cell was 100% and still could not keep up) and not ANY sign of the green stuff. When that happened pre-borates I had a small amount of bloom to deal with but now no longer! I'm a believer!

    Chem Geek - I did take some before and after shots of the water samples to see if there were any differences in meniscus and I could not tell the difference. I will try and track down the before and after water sample pics and post it on the other thread you referenced above when I do.

    BUT (I know does there have to be a negative here???)I did find that there is a very small negative for me and with my application of borates. My pool has a spa and my wife and I use it often. The problem I have is that post borates when we would run the spa my wife complained about a bad "chemical" smell in the air while we are in the spa then later when exiting the spa the same smell on her skin. And while I smell it too, she is my control since as the good husband I am I NEVER told her I did the borate addition. She has no idea I did it and still does not know. She complained about it initially right after I added the borates and I just blamed it on the salt water generator being left on (I have to manually turn it off when the spa is turned on or else it will continue to generate chlorine in now a closed loop spa which isn't needed) But subsequent times she continued to smell the chemical smell and I just shrugged and said I don't know? I later bought some InSaprations spa scents (non oil based but does have Proplyene Glycol) to pour into the pool during the spa visits to mask the smell so that she's not complaining any more. There was no other change to the water chemistry when I added boarates and never had this chemical smell before. With normal swimming in the pool we did not notice any smell with the pool water but for some reason when the water is heated up there was a chemical "smell". Is it enough to say it's a negative. Maybe not for most people since if you don't have a spa this would be a non issue but just something to note if you have a spa with your pool the heat must have some sort of reaction with the borates and give off the chemical smell both in the air and on our skin.

    Pool built in August 2013 and have had it BBB since day one. Pool has never seen a chlorine puck ever. I control the chemicals myself and keep the measurements fairly steady as follows:
    FC~5
    CYA~60
    PH~7.5
    TA~60
    CH~450
    Salt~4500
    Borates~50
    15'x35' IG 16,500 gallons w/attached raised 18" spa continuous coping w/underneath spill and ledger stone wrapped, NPT mini pebble aqua blue w/2x pigment & abalone shell finish, 2"x24" travertine coping, 3x Jandy Color LED lights (2 in pool), Jandy Flo Pro 2HP VS pump, Jandy LXI (low NOx) 400K BTU heater, Jandy CL460 cartridge filter, Jandy AquaPure Ei SWG, Jandy Z4 automation with iAqualink and remote poolside PDA, 1,300 sqft Belgard Catalina paver deck with drainage, fire pit that matches the spa with travertine coping and wrapped in ledger stone, Elitewood insulated patio cover, Vinyl gates, back vinyl fence coming soon...
    TF-100

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Borates - Spa - Chemical smell?

    I can't think of any way that borates are going to cause a smell. There are a number of other things that can cause a smell in the spa, but I can't see how it could be borate related.
    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: Borates - Spa - Chemical smell?

    There are quite a few Dichlor-then-bleach users for spas and most use 50 ppm Borates and I've never heard reports about a smell as a result. So I'm at a loss to explain this. The only thing I could figure on the pre vs post borate usage in the spa would be that perhaps the pH isn't rising as much as before the use of borates and maybe there is some chemical smell that is dependent on the pH.
    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: Borates - Spa - Chemical smell?

    I will say that I have noticed a slight odor also in my spa compared to the bulk pool water and only when the temp is raised and the water is bubbling. I have no idea if it is related to the borates and I notice it no matter if the pH is 7.2 or 7.8.
    16k gal plaster with raised spa, Jandy DEV60 filter, 2 HP 2-speed SHPF Jandy Stealth pump
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Borates - Spa - Chemical smell?

    Higher temperatures and aeration both encourage the outgassing of combined chlorines. Even at very low CC levels (i.e. unmeasurable) there is still occasionally enough CC to outgas in this way and be noticeable as a slight smell. In a related effect, residual chlorine in the water on your skin as you are getting out of the spa can react with sweat and other organics on your skin to produce CC for a short while after you get out of the spa, which is also sometimes noticeable as a slight smell.
    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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