New borate drop test at piscines-apollo vs. test strip

JoyfulNoise

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Interesting. Looks like a small company out of Florida offering testing chemicals. Funny though if you look at their website they do not ship the borate testing to residential addresses. Only to commercial companies :scratch:

Anyway, the test that they are using is a phenolphthalein indicator based test where you are looking for a clear-to-pink transition. For phenolphthalein, that typically occurs at a pH of about 8.2 which is a little high for the borate-mannitol test. The test in this thread uses bromothymol blue (BTB) which is a yellow-to-blue transition and that occurs right around 7.4. Both tests have a tendency to slightly overestimate the boron concentration but the BTB is a little closer to the mark. One would ideally do these measurements in a laboratory using a electronic pH probe and a proper titration setup, but since that's a bit overkill, either test method will work "well enough".

If you don't mind spending the money and giving the test kit a whirl, I say go for it and see what you get. Worst that will happen is you'll be out $30...
 

HOO

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Jun 4, 2015
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Freeland MI
I have been hibernating for the winter, but I checked out this thread today. Last year (see the bottom paragraph of post 138) you will see that I have tried the ClearWatersTesting borate test kit. There are two versions, $28 for commercial and $30 for residential customers. Only difference is the price. I had many email exchanges with Chris (ClearWatersTesting) and we tried various different tests and titrants but I could never get proper results. He told me he was using glycerin not mannitol but was considering changing to mannitol. I finally decided to ask for a refund and he promptly responded and even included the shipping cost. I have no idea what he is selling now, but Chris is earnest in developing a working borate test and is well versed in chemistry. However, I'm happy with the testing procedure found in this thread, so I'm not going to change, but I wanted to pass along this information.
 

JoyfulNoise

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I have been hibernating for the winter, but I checked out this thread today. Last year (see the bottom paragraph of post 138) you will see that I have tried the ClearWatersTesting borate test kit. There are two versions, $28 for commercial and $30 for residential customers. Only difference is the price. I had many email exchanges with Chris (ClearWatersTesting) and we tried various different tests and titrants but I could never get proper results. He told me he was using glycerin not mannitol but was considering changing to mannitol. I finally decided to ask for a refund and he promptly responded and even included the shipping cost. I have no idea what he is selling now, but Chris is earnest in developing a working borate test and is well versed in chemistry. However, I'm happy with the testing procedure found in this thread, so I'm not going to change, but I wanted to pass along this information.


Thanks for the update!

It’s probably glycerol not glycerin as one uses polyhydroxl compounds. Glycerol has been used in the past but it’s not as effective as mannitol and can substantially change the solution volume since it’s a liquid. Mannitol and sorbitol are solids and so dissolve without a volume change.
 

lightmaster

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I ordered some Boric Acid and the stuff listed in Post #135. Already had the reagents from the TF100, but was running a bit low on those in particular, so went a head and ordered a top up of them. All of it should come in by the end of the first week of May, so I'll get started adding borates to my pool then. :) Everything else in my pool has stabilized nicely and now I don't have anything to tinker with with my pool, lol. :party:...... :cry::cry:

Do borates ever breakdown or evaporate from a pool (besides splash out)? Just curious cuz when I initially filled up my pool, I had to add a few boxes of Borax to my pool since my well water's pH is around 4.9. Wondering if I'll still have a small amount of borates in the pool from that. Gonna test before adding anyway, obviously.
 

JoyfulNoise

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Borates are permanent like CYA or CH, they only go down when you exchange pool water with fresh water. If you know how much you added and what water loss you may have had over winter (if any), you can use Pool Math to calculate the borate level. If it’s really low, you probably won’t see much with the test.
 

lightmaster

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Jun 22, 2017
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Got all the reagents and stuff in today. Ran the test twice and both times it took 3 drops to bring it back to the same shade blue from step 3, so 12ppm boron. I added 2 5lbs bags (161 oz by weight), so that should should raise my borons by 31ppm, so I expect my test tonight after work to show 43ppm. Add more then and test again in the morning.

Do you call it ppm borons, or ppm borates?
 

JoyfulNoise

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It’s 50ppm in concentration. If you were to covert that to borate [B(OH)4] molecular mass, it would be closer to 250ppm.

The choice of mass species unit (boron versus borate) is arbitrary. In most literature that deals with boron in water, soil, or epidemiological studies the ppm’s are almost always expressed as boron concentration. So TFP expresses it that way as well.

- - - Updated - - -

Oh, and I’m glad the test worked out for you. Don’t worry about overshooting, there’s nothing magical about 50ppm. I think my water is around 56ppm and it’s been as high as 60ppm. Some literature recommends going as high as 80-100ppm. 50ppm is just and safe & efficient level.
 

lightmaster

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I’m aiming at 50-60ppm. I’d read about going as high as 100ppm, but I also read that 100ppm is the start of the range that might pose a risk for young children. Since I have a 4 year old and a 1.5 year old, definitely want to stay below that.

Also, back to square one with all my levels in my pool. Had to top off the pool before going to work today, and forgot to turn off the water, so it was overflowing for 10 hours. :drown: Already got FC back up, added what salt I had on hand and need to buy more tomorrow (salt dropped to like 1000ppm), and added some borax to get my pH from 6.5 to 7.3. I have pretty acidic well water (around 4.7), so I'm surprised it only dropped to 6.5. Also, considering that adding 40oz of borax raised my pH exactly as much as PoolMath predicted, I guess my pH meter does accurately read at least as low as 6.5.

Tried the Borates test, but wasn't sure what to do when I added the BTB and the sampler went straight to yellow. Maybe a starting pH of 6.5 is too low?
 

lightmaster

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Water is mostly balanced now. Had to bring the FC up to shock levels for my now lowered CYA, so it could oxidize all the iron that flooded into my pool. Polyfill is currently filtering all that out. Tomorrow gotta raise up salt and CYA, then Thursday I'll be back to business as usual.

When I said earlier that I was bored and didn't have anything to tinker with with my pool, this isn't what I meant, lol. :hammer:
 

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lightmaster

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FC: 8
CC: 0
pH: 7.4
TA: 60
CH: 20
CYA: 70
Salt: 3200
Borates: 56

Pool is nicely balanced again, and borates have been added and tested twice from 2 separate samples at 56ppm. Really enjoy doing the borates test cuz its so much more involved that the other tests. My kids also absolutely love watching the borates test with all its color changing, lol. I thought it would be a lot harder when initially reading the directions, but on my 3rd time doing it, didn't even need to read the directions. I did condense the directions a bit and print them out on an index card and laminated it, to add to my tackle box of tests, lol. Great job to everyone that concocted this test. :bowdown:
 

Derb22

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A quick shout out to the Borate test procedure. Bought the recommended items (LOVE THE SPEEDSTIR!) followed directions and Walla 12 drops of R-0010 later Borate level 48!
One sorto of issue. The Mannitol they delivered is a bit clumpy and hard to get a precise two 1/8 spoonfuls. Any suggestions?
 

JoyfulNoise

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A quick shout out to the Borate test procedure. Bought the recommended items (LOVE THE SPEEDSTIR!) followed directions and Walla 12 drops of R-0010 later Borate level 48!
One sorto of issue. The Mannitol they delivered is a bit clumpy and hard to get a precise two 1/8 spoonfuls. Any suggestions?

Don’t worry about it. You’re adding mannitol in excess of the amount actually needed so it’s not precise to begin with. My mannitol is like a fluffy white crystalline powder that goes flying everywhere from static charge on the bottle. Makes everything taste sweet ;)
 

JoyfulNoise

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Is it safe to place a silicate anti-moisture packet inside the mannitol bottle to try to aborb some of the moisture in it?

Don’t see why it wouldn’t be. Just remember - those packets are not edible.... :laughblue:

Funny story - as a new Dad many, many, many moons ago, I was home alone in our apartment with my first born (who is now 13) and we were assembling something (I forget what). It had one of those anti-moisture packs in it and I tossed aside as I was getting all the parts out of the box. Well, my 12 month old baby crawled over to it, picked it up and started chewing on it (unbeknownst to me). After about 10mins or so, I turn around to see him give me this big grin with a ripped open baggie of silica and little white silica sphere all over his mouth and inside it :shock: I totally freaked out, hauled him over to the sink and practically water-boarded the kid to get it all off him. He was in tears wailing and I’m on the phone with Poison Control trying to ascertain if my son needed to go to the hospital for a stomach pump :cop: The nice lady on the poison control line informed me that the little pellets were not considered toxic and, as long as the child didn’t aspirate any into his lungs, they would pass. Fast forward a few hours later and the dear wife rolls in from her girls night out. Me and the boy are sitting on the couch - I with a beer and he with a sippy-cup of milk watchng some Thomas The Tank Engine. Momma bear asks how the evening went and I shrugged it off and said, “All good...”. The next day she calls me into the bedroom with my son on the changing table and she’s all like, “check out the dirty diaper, what are all those seedy looking things??”. I’m all innocent and said, “Huh :scratch: weird....must have been something he ate...”
 

MediumMo

Member
Sep 26, 2015
22
Corpus Christi, Texas
The Hach strips are just too vague for good measurements. So ordered the stuff JoyfulNoise recommends. Looking forward to seeing the difference with Borates for salt pools and pH rise, and my pools with high amount of aeration

What makes the Hach strips too vague? I’ve read this entire thread and more trying to determine the best (easiest) test method. If the issue with the strips is determining the colors I thought I could get a standard solution to pinpoint the exact color the strip should be. If that makes sense :)
 

lightmaster

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What makes the Hach strips too vague? I’ve read this entire thread and more trying to determine the best (easiest) test method. If the issue with the strips is determining the colors I thought I could get a standard solution to pinpoint the exact color the strip should be. If that makes sense :)

I've never used an borate test strips so I don't know how difficult they are to see the color of them, but in general, drop based tests are significantly more accurate (small margin of error) than strips are. After some quick Googling, I can't find any information on the margin of error for Borate test strips, but for salt test strips, they have a margin of error of +/- 800ppm. By comparison, the K-1766 salt test has a margin of error of +/- 200ppm. I'm pretty sure this is right, since each drop in a 10mL test equals 200ppm, but hopefully Matt or someone can comment on whether or not that's accurate. That means with a pool that actually has 3000ppm salt in it, the strips could say anywhere form 2200ppm to 3800ppm, whereas the drop test could say 2800ppm to 3200ppm.

While Borate test is gonna have a different margin of error, its definitely gonna be a much larger margin of error than the +/-4ppm that the drop test in the thread has. Also, after doing this drop test several times, it really is quite easy and the BTB and Mannitol should last you a very very long time.
 

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