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Thread: For the feel of the water, adding borates or salt is the better choice?

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    For the feel of the water, adding borates or salt is the better choice?

    Since finding this site last year when we were installing our first pool, I have been amazed at the wealth of knowledge by the people here. Using this wealth, I've been able to keep our pool in perfect condition the entire time with minimal effort (thanks so much for that!) and managed to convert a few friends from the "pool store racket".

    As I continue to learn and progress, I've been reading about improving the feel of the water by adding borates or salt to a regular chlorinated pool. While I have had nothing but compliments from my doubters so far, I'd like to go that extra mile but am undecided which one would be the best route so I am taking a poll, I suppose.

    Thanks in advance for your input. I look forward to the opinions/knowledge.
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    Re: For the feel of the water, adding borates or salt is the better choice?

    The "feel" is very subjective and I don't think most people feel it. With borates, there appears to be an extra "sparkle" to the water that might be related to changes in the surface tension of the water. The primary "feel" that would be different would be with significantly higher salt levels in terms of the time it takes for eyes open underwater to begin to be irritated. This is because the lack of salt causes water to enter the eyes creating osmotic pressure that irritates them. So increasing the salt level using any salt would help, but generally the salt level increase from sodium chloride salt is much higher than that when using borates.
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    Re: For the feel of the water, adding borates or salt is the better choice?

    I haven't tried borates myself, mostly because we now have a dog in the family who doesn't mind a little sip from the pool once in a while. Borates are not good for pets who regularly drink from the pool. If your salt level is low, it might irritate your eyes more than if it were closer to saline levels. From what I recall, 1000 - 3000 ppm is saline, which would be easier on the eyes than substantially less or substantially more salt.

    I myself am starting to wonder about the salt level in my pool which has only been chlorinated with bleach since I took it over. I definitely can't say that I have any hint that my salt level is any greater than tap water based on taste/feel/lack of irritation.
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    Re: For the feel of the water, adding borates or salt is the better choice?

    Thanks for the replies so far, guys. Chem geek, your explanation about the way water affects eyes will have me adding salt to the pool this weekend. Jvtrain, from reading in this forum, I think Jasonlion recommended to someone that around 2000 ppm was ideal so you guys are all on the same page, which is awesome. Currently, my pool has only trace amounts of either so looks like 11 bags of salt and 63 lbs of borates, according to PoolMath, if I add both. Following instructions received here is a God send to maintaining a pool. Have only added stabilizer, GV 8.25% bleach and nearly 1 gal of muriatic acid over time to the water and it looks fantastic. Hard to imagine I can still improve it more but I'm willing to follow the advice of the experts. Thanks guys!
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    Re: For the feel of the water, adding borates or salt is the better choice?

    As noted in this paper, it takes around 5000 ppm salt to completely eliminate eye irritation. This is because tears and internal eye fluids have around 8000 ppm salt.

    Saltwater chlorine generator pools in the U.S. use around 3000 ppm salt which is why such water is less irritating. Nevertheless, if you keep your eyes open long enough in that water, they will still get irritated. If you use 2000 ppm it should be significantly better than, say, 500 ppm salt and yet still be low enough that it's easy enough to manage the salt level and not so high as to increase metal corrosion rates too much.
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