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Thread: Understanding How a Bromine System Works

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    Understanding How a Bromine System Works

    I need to know if I really understand Bromine. Can somebody check me out?

    1. My "Bromine" spa is really a "Sodium Bromate" tablet-dissolving, 450 gallon pool, of 101-104 degree chemicals, mainly H2O, with a bunch of other stuff dissolved in it. Some good. Some bad. I don't put Bromine in it. I put Sodium Bromate in it.

    2. Sodium Bromate, somehow, is buffered Chlorine. What that means, I don't know. But, Bromine is supposed to be more stable in hot water than Chlorine and needs less attention. You don't have to babysit Bromine daily like you do Chlorine. I'm away from my spa for a week. Bromine is a better choice.

    3. Bromine, the element Br-, is kinda nasty. So, instead, I use Sodium Bromate. The Sodium Bromate (tablets) spend their life dissolving in my spa. Where they go, and what they become, I'm not positive, but I'll guess they let go of each other and find different things to combine with--my only real concern is the Bromine finding the bad guys, like algae, and sticking to them so they die. Sodium Bromate, loosely referred to as Bromine, is my sanitizer. It kills stuff. It's my hired gun.

    4. Then, once a week, I'm supposed to toss in Chlorine to "shock" my spa. Yes, Chlorine goes in a Bromine spa. I'm still in denial on that one. I could use non-chlorine shock, but it contains other stuff that affects the water chemistry.

    6. Chlorine "shock" is my Oxidizer. I must "oxidize" the spa in order to make the dead things that the bromine killed big enough for the filters to catch. If I don't "shock", then all the dead things just circulate through the pumps and filters and my water turns cloudy and stinky. It might be "safe" and measure correctly on my tests, but it's like swimming with the dead. Cloudy and stinky, but nobody can hurt me. Like my spa is right now, because I didn't know I had to shock weekly.

    7. The bromine from the sodium bromate "kills" bad things by joining with it to make it into something that isn't bad--something that won't grow in my spa. As the bromine "kills" stuff, it is then "stuck" to the dead and useless to me. So, I need a "reserve" of bromine floating around looking for bad stuff to attach to and "kill".

    8. I release the bad stuff from my bromine with the chlorine shock, called oxidizing, which somehow lets the bromine let go of the dead thing it killed so it can find something alive to kill. The chlorine gets the rotten job of taking the dead things that the bromine killed to the filters where they are too big to pass and they get stuck. Since they get stuck in the filters, the water turns clear and the stink goes away. Or not. I'm not sure if I am getting "used" bromine back when shocking. Maybe the whole mess, bromine, chlorine, and the dead thing all go to the filter to get stuck.

    9. I could use a mineral stick inside one of my filters to supplement my Bromine system, but it has to be designed for a Bromine system. There's only one I'm aware of...

    10. If I used a mineral stick designed for Bromine, it is doing some sanitizing, which saves the Bromine from doing all the work, so I can use less Bromine.

    11. If I use less Bromine, I won't stink for hours afterwards and my skin won't dry up and make my hands useless to the touch.

    12. I don't want a bromine container bobbing around my spa, so I put the bromine tablets in the filter area to dissolve.

    13. I don't want any other contraption floating around my spa, so I put the mineral stick designed for bromine inside one of the filters.

    14. Mineral stick spas, with the stick in the filter, don't need a 24 hour pump. Or, they do need a 24 hour pump. I don't know if I have a 24 hour pump.

    2007 Artesian Island Spa, 450 gallon, Bahama 52, 2-pump, Serial 75777, Build date 2/27/2007.

    Please grade and comment.

    Thanks,

    Ken

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Understanding How a Bromine System Works

    Welcome to TFP!

    You are generally on the right track, even though nearly everything you said is incorrect.

    Bromine and chlorine are two similar, but completely different chemicals. They work in much the same way, but are chemically distinct.

    Bromine is the active disinfecting form, when used up it turns into bromide. Bromide can be reactivated by an oxidizer (for example chlorine), which turns it back into bromine. Bromine, and all of the other oxidizers, work by breaking complex chemicals down into simpler chemicals. Typically it takes several steps, but overall bromine breaks organic contaminates down into simple things like water, nitrogen gas, salt, and other harmless chemicals that are naturally in the pool anyway.

    We don't recommend using the mineral sticks. Bromine alone should be plenty.
    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: Understanding How a Bromine System Works

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    Welcome to TFP!

    You are generally on the right track, even though nearly everything you said is incorrect.

    Bromine and chlorine are two similar, but completely different chemicals. They work in much the same way, but are chemically distinct.

    Bromine is the active disinfecting form, when used up it turns into bromide. Bromide can be reactivated by an oxidizer (for example chlorine), which turns it back into bromine. Bromine, and all of the other oxidizers, work by breaking complex chemicals down into simpler chemicals. Typically it takes several steps, but overall bromine breaks organic contaminates down into simple things like water, nitrogen gas, salt, and other harmless chemicals that are naturally in the pool anyway.

    We don't recommend using the mineral sticks. Bromine alone should be plenty.
    Argh! Thanks for replying. I knew it wouldn't last. For a moment, I thought I understood Bromine and my spa.

    If you wanna keep playing...

    1. What is happening during the "shock" with the chlorine that is different than just adding more bromine tablets? I still don't get it. Chlorine to put used-up bromine back to work, and it is also supposed to clear up the spa?

    2. Why does it suddenly clear up the spa? Where do the things that are clouding it up go?

    3. Glad I can stop thinking about mineral sticks. Thanks.
    Last edited by heykerrdog; 03-25-2015 at 09:19 PM. Reason: typo

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Understanding How a Bromine System Works

    The "shock" step isn't about using a different chemical, it is about using more all at once. The tablets contain both bromide and chlorine. They add both slowly and relatively uniformly. The "shock" process you mention adds quite a bit of chlorine all at once, which greatly speeds up the process that was happening slowly anyway. In both cases the chlorine isn't being used as it would be in a chlorine spa, it is being used as an oxidizer to reactivate the bromide in the water back into bromine.

    The tablets are good at maintaining an appropriate bromide level. But they only add chlorine very slowly. The chlorine they add can keep up with the spa sitting unused, but you need extra chlorine when you actually use the spa. A more effective system is to add chlorine after each time you use the spa. That makes it much simpler to taylor the dosage to the amount actually required and gives things less time to get out of control between the otherwise weekly large chlorine additions.

    As I said, the things clouding up the pool are broken down into simpler and simpler chemicals until all that is left is harmless things like air and water and salt. There are a few things that get filtered out instead of broken down, mostly inorganic material and large clumps of stuff that would take a long time to break down.
    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: Understanding How a Bromine System Works

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    The "shock" step isn't about using a different chemical, it is about using more all at once. The tablets contain both bromide and chlorine. They add both slowly and relatively uniformly. The "shock" process you mention adds quite a bit of chlorine all at once, which greatly speeds up the process that was happening slowly anyway. In both cases the chlorine isn't being used as it would be in a chlorine spa, it is being used as an oxidizer to reactivate the bromide in the water back into bromine.

    The tablets are good at maintaining an appropriate bromide level. But they only add chlorine very slowly. The chlorine they add can keep up with the spa sitting unused, but you need extra chlorine when you actually use the spa. A more effective system is to add chlorine after each time you use the spa. That makes it much simpler to taylor the dosage to the amount actually required and gives things less time to get out of control between the otherwise weekly large chlorine additions.

    As I said, the things clouding up the pool are broken down into simpler and simpler chemicals until all that is left is harmless things like air and water and salt. There are a few things that get filtered out instead of broken down, mostly inorganic material and large clumps of stuff that would take a long time to break down.
    Alright. Got it. Sounds pretty straight forward. Thanks for the info and the help understanding.

    Kiteboarding? I can answer questions.
    2007 Artesian Island Spa, Bahama 52, 2 pump, 450 gallon, Serial# 75777, Build date 2/23/2007, on Bromine and Borates.

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