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Thread: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

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    So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    We started out our new swim spa with chlorine 2 weeks ago. When we had problems balancing things and had cloudy water, the spa store told us "it will clear up" and said to only add chlorine once a week, no matter what the test strips say. Well, we ended up with bacteria and my kids got bacterial hot tub rash badly. The spa store said since we were having such a hard time balancing things, we should switch to bromine. Now, from what I have been reading here, it sounds like chlorine would be better for us since we are in it quite often. I have just refilled it and put the metal protectant in and then tested it at spa store yesterday to try to get alk and ph balanced. Thank goodness, my Taylor test kit was delivered today, so I can now test it myself without those dang strips (and without relying on spa store)! Anyway, I would love advice on this. I know my spa is bigger than most since it is a swim spa, but I would think it would be the same as any smaller spa too. Thanks in advance!
    1000-gallon Master Spas H2X Swim Spa. Installed June 2015.
    Started with chlorine and it went south (with awesome advice of spa dealer....insert sarcasm).
    My kids ended up with bad bacterial hot tub rash 10 days after installation.
    Dumped it and started over with bromine.

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    Mom we can get you fixed up. I am glad you have a good test kit. Please post the results of your test.

    FC
    PH
    TA
    CH
    CYA

    We will help you go from there. Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    poolnoob.ca's Avatar
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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    Quote Originally Posted by kimkats View Post
    Mom we can get you fixed up. I am glad you have a good test kit. Please post the results of your test.

    FC - switched to bromine
    PH
    TA
    CH
    CYA - zero (not used with bromine)

    We will help you go from there. Kim
    sorry to hear about your trouble so far, Kim is right, TFP will get you and your spa fixed!
    32,000L Fibreglass Leisure Pools IG 12.5'x23'x5' Pump: AstralPools BX1 1.0HP
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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    Quote Originally Posted by kimkats View Post
    Mom we can get you fixed up. I am glad you have a good test kit. Please post the results of your test.

    FC
    PH
    TA
    CH
    CYA

    We will help you go from there. Kim
    OK, I was going to say that mine will not test CYA, even though there is a little tube for it.

    I am new at this, but I watched the Taylor video and read as much of the booklet as my brain could comprehend. I used to do all the testing on my inground pool growing up, but I don't remember it being this detailed!

    This is what I got just now:
    ph 8
    alk 110
    calcium 120

    The spa place has tested my water twice over the last couple weeks and said my hardness was 274 and 286, although my strips say it is low. Maybe the strips know more than the spa place since this test kit tested it low? The spa guy gave me some of his strips (which only proves that he sold me bad ones if you ask me) to use and match up to the old can values. His strips come out with different #s than mine do.

    I haven't even begun to start the bromide reserve and all that. My husband is really wanting to get in the spa too, but I have to get this right this time!

    Any thoughts on bromine vs chlorine?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Oh, and my test kit is the Taylor K-2106 FAS-DPD Bromine Complete Test Kit.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by poolnoob.ca View Post
    sorry to hear about your trouble so far, Kim is right, TFP will get you and your spa fixed!
    Thank you!
    1000-gallon Master Spas H2X Swim Spa. Installed June 2015.
    Started with chlorine and it went south (with awesome advice of spa dealer....insert sarcasm).
    My kids ended up with bad bacterial hot tub rash 10 days after installation.
    Dumped it and started over with bromine.

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    I only know chlorine so cannot help you much.

    I am sorry

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    First and foremost, I would get Ahh-Some and then do a water change. That will remove any biofilms that may have developed during the time the spa was not properly disinfected, and you already know you've probably got Pseudomonas bacteria that gave the kids hot tub rash. If you want to proceed ahead without such spa purging, that's up to you but you'll be taking a greater risk. Also, a new spa will have greases and oils in addition to possible biofilm in the piping due to wet testing of the spa and the Ahh-Some helps to remove all of that. You will be amazed by how much it will remove from your new spa.

    Then you'll need to decide whether to go with chlorine or bromine. You can switch from chlorine to bromine at any time, but you can only go from bromine to chlorine by doing a water change. We have stickies talking about Using Chlorine in a Spa and Using Bromine in a Spa. The only tests missing in your test kit that was designed from bromine is that it won't test separately for Free Chlorine (FC) and Combined Chlorine (CC) and it doesn't have a Cyanuric Acid (CYA) test.

    Does your spa have an ozonator? That will affect how much oxidizer/disinfectant you will need to add after each soak. Usually for a high use spa used every day or two chlorine works better. It's a strong oxidizer and if you use the Dichlor-then-bleach method you'll get a longer time between water changes and won't have to every shock your spa. It's also less expensive.
    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
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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek View Post
    First and foremost, I would get Ahh-Some and then do a water change. That will remove any biofilms that may have developed during the time the spa was not properly disinfected, and you already know you've probably got Pseudomonas bacteria that gave the kids hot tub rash. If you want to proceed ahead without such spa purging, that's up to you but you'll be taking a greater risk. Also, a new spa will have greases and oils in addition to possible biofilm in the piping due to wet testing of the spa and the Ahh-Some helps to remove all of that. You will be amazed by how much it will remove from your new spa.

    Then you'll need to decide whether to go with chlorine or bromine. You can switch from chlorine to bromine at any time, but you can only go from bromine to chlorine by doing a water change. We have stickies talking about Using Chlorine in a Spa and Using Bromine in a Spa.

    Does your spa have an ozonator? That will affect how much oxidizer/disinfectant you will need to add after each soak. Usually for a high use spa used every day or two chlorine works better. It's a strong oxidizer and if you use the Dichlor-then-bleach method you'll get a longer time between water changes and won't have to every shock your spa. It's also less expensive.
    Oh, I guess I should have mentioned that. We already did a clean with Swirl Away and drained the spa, cleaned the whole inside of it and started over. That is why I am wondering which to go with....chlorine or bromine. The spa dude said we should try bromine since chlorine was "so hard for us to balance", so I have the stuff for that now.

    And, yes, my kids had the pseudomonas bacteria and are both on antibiotics. This was after the spa guy said it was safe to use after I took a water sample in when it looked cloudy. They also said to only use chlorine once a week, no matter what the strips said. We used the oxidizer stuff every time after we used it also. I was just at a loss and ready to give up! My kids are both refusing to ever get in it again after this.

    As far as I know, it does not have an ozonator. I don't even know what that is, so I assume not.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by kimkats View Post
    I only know chlorine so cannot help you much.

    I am sorry

    Kim
    No problem. Thank you anyway!
    1000-gallon Master Spas H2X Swim Spa. Installed June 2015.
    Started with chlorine and it went south (with awesome advice of spa dealer....insert sarcasm).
    My kids ended up with bad bacterial hot tub rash 10 days after installation.
    Dumped it and started over with bromine.

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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    Just so you know, Ahh-Some is much better than Swirl Away, but since you've already used it you can just go forward from this point.

    So you need to stop listening to the spa guy that obviously doesn't know what he is talking about. This was not your fault -- it was his. You had no problem "balancing" chlorine -- the problem was his telling you that you only needed to dose once a week.

    So when you say you have the stuff for bromine, what exactly do you have? Do you have something that has sodium bromide -- might be called something like Broma-Start or something like that? Do you have bromine tabs and if so what are the ingredients? What else do you have? I assume you want to try bromine since that is what you have or do you want to try chlorine first? It's up to you -- we can walk you through either one.
    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
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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek View Post
    Just so you know, Ahh-Some is much better than Swirl Away, but since you've already used it you can just go forward from this point.

    So you need to stop listening to the spa guy that obviously doesn't know what he is talking about. This was not your fault -- it was his. You had no problem "balancing" chlorine -- the problem was his telling you that you only needed to dose once a week.

    So when you say you have the stuff for bromine, what exactly do you have? Do you have something that has sodium bromide -- might be called something like Broma-Start or something like that? Do you have bromine tabs and if so what are the ingredients? What else do you have? I assume you want to try bromine since that is what you have or do you want to try chlorine first? It's up to you -- we can walk you through either one.
    I will definitely remember that for next time. That was Spa Guy's recommendation.

    I have the Broma-Start and then I have bromine tablets and a floater for those. They say Active Ingredients are: 1-Bromo-3-Chloro-5, 5-dimethylhydantolin ....96%.

    Does that help?

    I think we will just try the bromine. I just keep reading about it and I saw that the water isn't as clear and someone said it doesn't sanitize as well. I just want to do the right thing. I don't have much chlorine left, so I guess we will go with bromine.

    - - - Updated - - -

    By the way, Spa Guy is the one that suggested changing to bromine and he was reading the back of the bottle to try to figure out to tell me how much to use. He never once mentioned establishing a bromide bank. I had to read that online myself and go buy the Broma-Start.
    1000-gallon Master Spas H2X Swim Spa. Installed June 2015.
    Started with chlorine and it went south (with awesome advice of spa dealer....insert sarcasm).
    My kids ended up with bad bacterial hot tub rash 10 days after installation.
    Dumped it and started over with bromine.

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    poolnoob.ca's Avatar
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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    Hope i didnt sound snippy towards Kimkats, i think she's awesome, she's TFP's cheerleader and positive thinker, and always trying to brainstorm creative ideas to help fix problems. I assumed from mom's sig that she had already added bromine, but it appears she's still on the fence. Anyhow chemgeek is a hottub expert, so we're in good hands! Best wishes
    32,000L Fibreglass Leisure Pools IG 12.5'x23'x5' Pump: AstralPools BX1 1.0HP
    Filter: AstralPools ZX-310 SWCG: AstralPools VX7T
    Heater: Hayward H250FDN Test Kit: TF-100

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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    Quote Originally Posted by poolnoob.ca View Post
    Hope i didnt sound snippy towards Kimkats, i think she's awesome, she's TFP's cheerleader and positive thinker, and always trying to brainstorm creative ideas to help fix problems. I assumed from mom's sig that she had already added bromine, but it appears she's still on the fence. Anyhow chemgeek is a hottub expert, so we're in good hands! Best wishes
    Well, that was my intention, but then I got cold feet of sorts after doing more reading this afternoon waiting for my test kit to get here! HA! Thank you!
    1000-gallon Master Spas H2X Swim Spa. Installed June 2015.
    Started with chlorine and it went south (with awesome advice of spa dealer....insert sarcasm).
    My kids ended up with bad bacterial hot tub rash 10 days after installation.
    Dumped it and started over with bromine.

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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    I should add that I did put in some ph and alkalinity down stuff since the ph was so high. I added that over an hour ago.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I'm lost as to how long to wait. Spa Guy said to wait till the next day to test ph again, but I seriously can't have all this taking so long between things! I'm ready to get things rolling! It's awesome weather!
    1000-gallon Master Spas H2X Swim Spa. Installed June 2015.
    Started with chlorine and it went south (with awesome advice of spa dealer....insert sarcasm).
    My kids ended up with bad bacterial hot tub rash 10 days after installation.
    Dumped it and started over with bromine.

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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    So your CH is fine at 120 since 120-150 ppm is what we recommend to help prevent foaming. Your TA of 110 ppm is high for a spa and is part of the reason why your pH is at 8, but you can get your spa ready to go and even use it while still adjusting the TA over time -- to some degree it will self adjust when you keep adding acid to maintain the pH.

    So I would add the recommended amount of Broma-Start to the spa which is usually 1/2 ounce per 100 gallons so for your 1000 gallons that would be 5 ounces. Then put bromine tabs into your floating feeder and if it has a dosing dial set it nearly fully open since you have a large spa. Finally, add an oxidizer to activate some of the bromide to bromine right away. You can use chlorine bleach as that oxidizer or if you have some non-chlorine shock (MPS) or if you have Dichlor you can use those if you want. Just note that with bromine, you might need to shock with chlorine once every week or two to keep the water clear. If you use chlorine as your oxidizer after each soak, then maybe you won't need to shock much if at all.

    As for how much chlorine to add, you should try and start each soak with around 2.2-4.5 ppm Bromine so you add whatever it takes after each soak to accomplish that. I'll give you some rules of thumb for this based on your bather load. You can use PoolMath to calculate dosages, but it's set up for FC (i.e. chlorine) so you'll need to divide your Bromine Now and Target numbers by 2.25 and enter that in as FC. So to go from 0 to 4 ppm Bromine, that's 2 ppm FC which in your 1000 gallon spa would need 3 fluid ounces of 8.25% bleach.

    As for how much oxidizer to add after each soak, the rough rule-of-thumb with no ozonator and a hot (104F) spa is that every person-hour requires 3-1/2 teaspoons of Dichlor or 3-1/2 fluid ounces of 8.25% bleach or 7 teaspoons of non-chlorine shock (43% MPS) to oxidize bather waste. The real rule is to add whatever you need to so that you still have roughly 2-4 ppm Bromine for the start of your next soak. Note that the bromine tab feeder should be adjusted so that it maintains a background bromine level in between soaks -- you do not use it to try and oxidize your bather waste after each soak unless you plan on being VERY consistent with your usage.

    As for your TA and pH, if your pH is high, use acid to lower it. The acid will also lower the TA over time. That's fine and let it drop, but if it gets to 60 ppm or so and your pH is still rising then tell us and there are some other things you can do about that (lowering the TA more and using 50 ppm Borates).

    Bromine tends to be easier than chlorine because of the slow dissolving bromine tabs that maintain the spa between soaks. If you soak every day or two, then chlorine is no big deal, but if you don't soak often then with chlorine you need to dose in between soaks. The main problem with bromine is that it smells different and some people don't like that. It's also a weaker oxidizer so may have some trouble keeping the water clear for as long. Finally, the disinfection by-products are technically worse with bromine than with chlorine, but the levels are low overall so most people ignore that.
    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: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    Wow! You DO know a lot! I'm on information overload, but I will keep reading it until I understand. We do plan on using it a lot as it is an exercise spa and that is why we bought it. Right now, we only have the temp. set at 87 because we don't want it too hot when we are working out. The heat outside will also bring it up higher some days but only to 90 at most.

    I was wondering how to use the PoolMath with bromine. Thank you for that information.

    I am still baffled by using bleach to oxidize, but it sounds like a lot of people do that. I was using this non-chlorine stuff Spa Guy sold me. The active ingredient in that is Potassium Peroxymonosulfate 42.8% (Active Oxygen 4.3%) and 57.2% inert ingredients....whatever that is.

    I used Sodium Bisulfate 96% to lower ph (and alk).

    - - - Updated - - -

    PoolMath is also asking for Borate level and it looks like it uses it for the TA. Am I correct there? If so, how do I get a borate level?
    1000-gallon Master Spas H2X Swim Spa. Installed June 2015.
    Started with chlorine and it went south (with awesome advice of spa dealer....insert sarcasm).
    My kids ended up with bad bacterial hot tub rash 10 days after installation.
    Dumped it and started over with bromine.

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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    How often can I test the water after adding something to it? Does it take a while for it to work?
    1000-gallon Master Spas H2X Swim Spa. Installed June 2015.
    Started with chlorine and it went south (with awesome advice of spa dealer....insert sarcasm).
    My kids ended up with bad bacterial hot tub rash 10 days after installation.
    Dumped it and started over with bromine.

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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    I apologize, but I have another question. How long should we wait after starting the bromine to use the spa? I assume we will need to test it, so how long do we wait before testing?
    1000-gallon Master Spas H2X Swim Spa. Installed June 2015.
    Started with chlorine and it went south (with awesome advice of spa dealer....insert sarcasm).
    My kids ended up with bad bacterial hot tub rash 10 days after installation.
    Dumped it and started over with bromine.

  17. Back To Top    #17

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    Re: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    Since you've already got the non-chlorine shock Potassium Peroxymonosulfate (that's MPS, also called monopersulfate), you can alternate using that and using chlorine bleach as your oxidizer after each soak. That way, you may not need to shock the spa with chlorine.

    So your water temp is much lower than a normal spa and even though you'll use it as a swim spa I'll bet you don't sweat as much so my rule-of-thumb will probably be too high so adjust accordingly. Maybe you'll only need to use 3/4ths the amount I wrote.

    The sodium bisulfate is fine for the spa for lowering pH.

    Your borate level is 0 because there is none in fill water.

    You should be able to add the chemicals to the spa, run the circulation for 10 minutes or perhaps the jets for 5, then get in. It doesn't take long to mix up water in a 1000 gallon spa. You can test again to make sure you've got a bromine reading before you get in.
    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: So frustrated!! Chlorine vs. Bromine

    OK, again, thank you SO much for your help! I fully hope to be able to take care of this thing by myself without any Spa Guy help, so your advice is hugely helpful! I hope you have a great weekend!
    1000-gallon Master Spas H2X Swim Spa. Installed June 2015.
    Started with chlorine and it went south (with awesome advice of spa dealer....insert sarcasm).
    My kids ended up with bad bacterial hot tub rash 10 days after installation.
    Dumped it and started over with bromine.

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