Borates: Will it Raise My TA? Is 20 Mule Even Cost Effective at This Point?

Joe Garcia

Active member
Apr 9, 2020
29
Ft. Myers, FL
I want to take the plunge on Borates, but I went into Pool Math and using the Borax method of adding, the calculation for my pool raised my TA by 110! My TA is ok at the moment at 100. What I've read says get your TA down to the lower end of the scale before adding Borates. Even if I got my TA down to 50, (which it's NEVER been), according to Pool Math, to get 50 ppm of Borates, my TA would rise by 111 to 211 total! Do I really want to do that? My Ph would spike as well but at least I'm adding Muriatic Acid as part of the process in anticipation of the Ph rising.

Secondly is the cost to use 20 Mule and Muriatic Acid as compared to commercial products that would be a whole lot less work with potentially not much savings. I live in South FL and can get a 4lb. 1oz box of 20 Mule Borax for $4.47. My calculations for a 14,000 gallon pool are: 840 oz or 52.5 lbs. of 20 Mule Borax needed. At 66 oz per box, I need to by 12.92, call it 13 boxes of 20 Mule. Price for that is $58.11 plus tax. I also have to buy Muriatic Acid to lower Ph. I anticipate adding 2 gallons of Muriatic Acid which will cost me approx. $15 plus tax. Approximate cost: $75.

There are many commercial products on the market, but I'll use this one as an example. Optimizer by BioGuard is a popular product available on Amazon for $81.99 plus tax with free shipping( (20 lb. Bucket). Optimizer does not significantly raise Ph so it eliminates the need for adding Muriatic Acid. For my size pool I would have to use 20 lbs. Approximate cost: $87.00

With both methods I'll have to brush the pool to mix the powder and keep it off of the pool floor, but I like the idea of brushing 20 lbs with the Optimizer as compared to 52.5 lbs with 20 Mule Borax. With Optimizer I don't have to add the acid either. It seems like a lot of extra work besides shopping two stores and lugging acid and Borax for not a lot of savings. I'm not sure of Optimizer's effect on TA. Most commercial powdered products ask about 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of Borax for a given pool size. I'm not even talking about liquid products that are even easier to use. I wanted to give you an apples to apples comparison.

I just want to know if I'm missing anything here?
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
10,998
Franklin, NC
I want to take the plunge on Borates,
Why??

There are many commercial products on the market, but I'll use this one as an example. Optimizer by BioGuard is a popular product available on Amazon for $81.99 plus tax with free shipping( (20 lb. Bucket). Optimizer does not significantly raise Ph so it eliminates the need for adding Muriatic Acid. For my size pool I would have to use 20 lbs. Approximate cost: $87.00
This is an overpriced pool store product.

Borates are not any be all end all magic potion for pools. The truth is, very few pools have borates or need them.
 

PoolNewb2020

Well-known member
May 7, 2020
297
Lathrop, CA
I want through the same dilemma and in the end went with boric acid. You can order directly from dudadiesel or in my case, walmart, but comes from dudadiesel as well. There is no price difference between the two. Just makes sure order granules, NOT the powder.

As for why borates?
In my case I did notice my skin is a lot less dry. Turns out I do have sensitive skin.
Also water clarity did improve. It's not noticeable looking down, as the pool is only 6ft deep, but when underwater and looking from one end to the next, which is about 30ft, the water is definitely clearer.
 

Saturn94

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2015
1,003
SE Virginia
Why does Boric Acid from DudaDiesel not raise TA? I guess not all Boric Acid's are created equal?
Borax and Boric Acid aren’t quite the same thing. According to Pool Math, boric acid doesn’t impact TA. Boric acid also doesn’t raise pH like Borax, so no need to add acid when using boric acid (boric acid may lower you pH slightly though).
 
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Saturn94

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2015
1,003
SE Virginia
BTW, for what you pay for Optimizer, or maybe less depending on shipping cost, you can get 55lbs of boric acid from Duda (including shipping).
 

Joe Garcia

Active member
Apr 9, 2020
29
Ft. Myers, FL
I still haven't seen an answer to Why? Why do you want to add borates, @Joe Garcia ?

Whatever problems you're having will likely still be there after you add borates.
I have some reasons:

#1-My wife has sensitive skin and she asked if there were any alternatives to chlorine. I really don't want to switch to salt to I thought this might help.
#2-Secondly, I fight with keeping my Ph under 7.8 and have to put acid in my pool regularly. I thought Borates might help here.
#3-Lastly, if I can get some help with fighting algae and use less chlorine, see #1, that too works for me. as well.
Getting clearer, brighter water without having to add a clarifier would just be a bonus. Most people that add Borates have had good things to say with minimal negatives.
 
Last edited:

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
19,458
Northern NJ
#1-My wife has sensitive skin and asked if there were any alternatives to chlorine. I really don't want to switch to salt to I thought this might help.
Borates does not change the pools sanitation need.

Salt is not an alterntaive to chlorine. A SWCG changes the source of the chlorine in your pool to be the genrated chlorine from the salt instead of from solid or liquid chlorine products.


#2-Secondly, I fight with keeping my Ph under 7.8 and have to put acid in my pool regularly. I thought Borates might help here.
Borates will not change your acid demand when you have a high TA like you do. Before you add borates you have to be able to get your TA down around 60 to get any benefit.

Once you have borates in the water when you do need to lower pH it will require a lot more acid.

#3-Lastly, if I can get some help with fighting algae and use less chlorine, see #1, that too works for me. as well.
Getting clearer, brighter water without having to add a clarifier would just be a bonus.
I think that is largely subjective rationalization to support the actions they already took. Borates does not act as a clarifier.

Most people that add Borates have had good things to say with minimal negatives.
Note carefully the source of those comments. You have an IG plaster pool. A poster above commented about how borates work in his vinyl liner pool. A vinyl liner pool has very different pH chemistry then a plaster pool. You have to filter out the comments that are not applicable to your pools environment.

I don't think you ever said what the pH and TA of your fill water is.
 

PoolNewb2020

Well-known member
May 7, 2020
297
Lathrop, CA
I agree with the above. I have a plaster IG pool and borates do not seem to have any effect on PH and chlorine. I still have to use muriatic acid every few days to reduce PH and my chlorine use remains the same.
But like I mentioned already, my skin does get less dry and water is clearer. Those are the only two things I noticed.

People that converted to salt do report a softer feeling water as well, so that could be something to look into, but you have to understand that the water is still sanitized by chlorine. There is no real cost effective ways around it and definitely do not use less of it. Water that is not properly sanitized is far more dangerous than some dry skin.
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
23,924
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
I have some reasons:

#1-My wife has sensitive skin and she asked if there were any alternatives to chlorine. I really don't want to switch to salt to I thought this might help.
There are only three sanitizers approved for swimming pools and Borate isn't one of them. You will need to maintain the same chlorine level with or without borates to ensure any unwanted viruses or bacteria are killed quickly. And if the FC/CYA ratio is right, there is less active hypochlorous acid in a pool than what is allowed in tap water that people step under in the shower every day. If pH is whacked, or there's a lot of CC, then people get dry itchy skin.
#2-Secondly, I fight with keeping my Ph under 7.8 and have to put acid in my pool regularly. I thought Borates might help here.
That one will be true. It should slow the pH rise, assuming you get the TA down before you add borates. But once they're in there, it will require a lot more acid to effect a pH change. Go plug things into poolmath. For your 14K pool, if pH is 8 and TA is 60, to lower it to 7.6 will take 9.3 ounces of acid. Add 50 borates and that jumps to 46 ounces.
#3-Lastly, if I can get some help with fighting algae and use less chlorine, see #1, that too works for me. as well.
Getting clearer, brighter water without having to add a clarifier would just be a bonus. Most people that add Borates have had good things to say with minimal negatives.
It's true that Borates are a mild algaecide, but the chlorine needed to ensure sanitation is more than enough to ensure algae stays away anyway. You won't save any chlorine. I've read about the sparkle. My pool sparkles, too. My gut says you're expecting too much from borates. But go ahead, it won't hurt anything but your wallet. I just hope you don't end up disappointed if it doesn't cure everything.
 

Joe Garcia

Active member
Apr 9, 2020
29
Ft. Myers, FL
Borates does not change the pools sanitation need.

Salt is not an alterntaive to chlorine. A SWCG changes the source of the chlorine in your pool to be the genrated chlorine from the salt instead of from solid or liquid chlorine products.




Borates will not change your acid demand when you have a high TA like you do. Before you add borates you have to be able to get your TA down around 60 to get any benefit.

Once you have borates in the water when you do need to lower pH it will require a lot more acid.



I think that is largely subjective rationalization to support the actions they already took. Borates does not act as a clarifier.



Note carefully the source of those comments. You have an IG plaster pool. A poster above commented about how borates work in his vinyl liner pool. A vinyl liner pool has very different pH chemistry then a plaster pool. You have to filter out the comments that are not applicable to your pools environment.

I don't think you ever said what the pH and TA of your fill water is.
pH 7.8 and TA hovers between 90-100