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Thread: Borates using 20 Mule Team Borax vs bioguard optimizer and confusing test results

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    Nasantos's Avatar
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    Borates using 20 Mule Team Borax vs bioguard optimizer and confusing test results

    I have a new pool as of last summer and I'm still working to get a handle on managing it. I was almost talked into adding bioguards oprimizer plus at our local pool store but with some helpful information from some other posts on tfp we decided to try to accomplish the addition of borates with 20 mule team borax and acid. I used the poolcalculator.com to figure out how much product I needed to achieve 50ppm and was able to purchased everything at Menards for under $100 22 boxes borax and 5 gallons acid. The required amount of bioguard optimizer and lo and slo was going to be $260. My pool store is also who helped install my pool and I frequent the store mainly for the free water sample testing. The test machine that my pool store uses is bioguard equipment and on the test result print out it states the desired borate range to be 30 - 35 I'm guessing ppm and the print out said to add 55lbs of optimizer? I added half borax 11 boxes and 2 gas acid and took a sample in the next day to see where my level was and the print out said 0. I was confused and concerned that maybe the borax wasn't doing what it was supposed to and thought maybe I got bad info from the Internet, wouldn't be the first time Google guided me wrong. So then I ordered up some lamotte borate test strips and tested my water and got a negative test. So then I decided to mix up a small amount a borax in a small cup of water and test that and that showed positive. Then I decided to add the other 1/2 of the borax and acid and after a couple days I took a water sample in to the pool store. The bioguard test now showed my borate level to be a 1 and now tge print out was telling me to add 53 lbs of optimizer.

    Does anyone one know why the addition of over 100 lbs of 20 mule team borax is only showing to be the equivalent of 2 lbs of bioguards optimizer? Anyone have any ideas of what these test results mean? I did try the borate test strip and it is showing positive but I'm having a hard time telling what ppm? I have a hard time with test strips in general though, I may be slightly colorblind or something.

    any help or advise would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
    28K gallon inground vinyl liner, slide, dive board, basketball hoop, pentair pump, heater and de filter, coverstar auto-cover, pentair prowler 830 cleaner. Fill water source is well water high in calcium and iron.

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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: Borates using 20 mike team vs bioguard optimizer and confusing test results

    Welcome! The borate test strips are indeed difficult to read...I generally trust my pool math calculations and then estimate seasonal waterloss to help confirm the test amounts and replenish/maintain.

    However, i would not trust the pool store borate reading, and if you dosed correctly, just trust that its there and test again in a few days to confirm.

    Frankly, pool store testing has proven on the whole to be wildly inaccurate, which is why I own and recommend the TFT100 test kit (started with the Taylork2006 kit) that TFP recommends. They can be found here: http://www.tfttestkits.net .

    In general, its hard to mix and match pool store and TFP methods, because they're not compatible -- the pool store advises the use of stabilized products and uses guidelines set my manufacturers that are both designed to promote products sold AND disregard some very important research about CYA:chlorine relationship that woul dramatically reduce the sales of "troubleshooting" products

    TfP, on the other hand, is of a mind to test and then add only what's needed, to know what youre adding, how it will behave and interact, and to avoid unintended consequences.

    If you decide to take over your pool the TFP way, this forum is a great resource. But most of our assistance can only be reliably given when we know someone can test their own water and generally intend to follow the TFP methods, as mixing/matching can cause unintended consequences.

    Best wishes!
    In ground extended Grecian, 22,000 gal, Hayward 220t sand filter, vinyl liner, dolphin m4 supreme.
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    Re: Borates using 20 Mule Team Borax vs bioguard optimizer and confusing test results

    In the future you should also consider just buying boric acid from Duda Diesel or The Chemistry Store (be sure to check shipping since The Chemistry Store can be more expensive depending on where you live). It's generally easier to buy just one product and at $65 (plus $17 shipping to Indiana) for 55 pounds plus $23 for 10 pounds (with free shipping) since you'd need around 67 pounds it's around $106 total.

    As you could determine from PoolMath, for your 28,000 gallon pool getting 50 ppm borates requires 103 pounds (21.7 boxes) of 20 Mule Team Borax and 6 gallons 1 quart of full-strength Muriatic Acid (31.45% Hydrochloric Acid) -- I'm not sure where you got that you only needed 5 gallons of acid. If you only added 11 boxes and 2 gallons of acid you should have found that your pH was way too high -- around a pH of 8.3 or so depending on the pH and TA that you started with. This should have increased borates by around 25 ppm. The pool store testing is clearly wrong assuming you actually added 20 Mule Team Borax.
    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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    Nasantos's Avatar
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    Re: Borates using 20 Mule Team Borax vs bioguard optimizer and confusing test results

    Thank you both for the replys! I'll be ordering a Taylor test kit to start doing my own testing. I do have some 5 way strips and a basic test kit but I like the idea of being able to test everything myself accurately. I'm big on do it myself and like to fully understand things and this us by far my biggest toy I have ever had and I enjoy messing with it, cleaning it and being in it with my family. I really appreciate the info you have given me and other threads I have read on this site.

    I did have a reason for only adding the two gallons of acid with the first 1/2 of the borax, I had just added 10 gallons of acid to my pool in the week before to bring my alkalinity into range and my ph was a little low do I estimated 2 gallons would work and it did after adding the first batch of borax and acid my levels were in good shape.
    28K gallon inground vinyl liner, slide, dive board, basketball hoop, pentair pump, heater and de filter, coverstar auto-cover, pentair prowler 830 cleaner. Fill water source is well water high in calcium and iron.

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    Nasantos's Avatar
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    Re: Borates using 20 Mule Team Borax vs bioguard optimizer and confusing test results

    I'm waiting on my test kits and in the meantime I brought another sample into my pool store to see where I'm at after the heavy rain from Sunday and the borate test came in at a 4. I just find it weird! I used a lamotte borate test strip and it looked like it's right at 50ppm
    28K gallon inground vinyl liner, slide, dive board, basketball hoop, pentair pump, heater and de filter, coverstar auto-cover, pentair prowler 830 cleaner. Fill water source is well water high in calcium and iron.

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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: Borates using 20 Mule Team Borax vs bioguard optimizer and confusing test results

    Nasantos, since you personally put the borates in your pool and now can read them on a test strip, you likely see why we're not big fans of pool store testing

    I'm so glad you're getting your own kit!

    Perhaps the proprietary bio optimizer test is testing another marker that is only in ITS product. That would be downright evil (not to mention irresponsible) and its more likely that there's a user error on the test system or its not calibrated right, but either way, steer clear of the pool store peeps
    In ground extended Grecian, 22,000 gal, Hayward 220t sand filter, vinyl liner, dolphin m4 supreme.
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