So what is a Bacquacil?

Aug 7, 2017
16
Central IL
Total newb question:
I went into my local pool store today to ask a couple questions about doing a possible vinyl IG build. While I was in there, I saw Baquacil on the shelf. From what I can gather on here, it seems like it is a substitute for chlorine in a pool. What is this stuff? Pros? Cons? Thanks!
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,260
Tucson, AZ
Irrational fear of chlorine. Or a REAL chlorine algae which is much rarer than people think.

It is a CDC approved sanitizer (1 of 3, the others being chlorine and bromine), but it is very expensive and prone to problems like white water mold. It can't compete with the clarity achievable with chlorine.
 

Leebo

Admin
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 21, 2011
8,934
Eastern Ohio
Baquacil is a Chlorine alternative that uses Hydrogen Peroxide as an Oxidizer and “Baquacil” as a Sanitizer. As Jason mentioned it’s one of three that is EPA approved for use in public pools. It can be beneficial in extreme cases where a user has a legit chlorine allergy however those instances are very rare.
 

domct203

Bronze Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 3, 2015
3,959
CT
The Baquacil system is very expensive compared to chlorine, not to mention the issues associated with it.
 

jessica0917

Silver Supporter
Jun 8, 2014
26
Central Iowa
I just converted away from Bacquacil this year (thanks to this site) and it was well worth the extra work. When I purchased my pool in 2007 someone suggested I use Bacquacil instead of chlorine and little did I know what would be forthcoming.

The reasons I decided to convert to chlorine:

1) The past five years I was battling cloudy, slimy water every year - a known issue with bacquacil. Each year the costs mounted along with the hassle of running out to the pool store to buy more products to try to clear the water.
2) Much much cheaper than using baquacil products.
3) Now most of my pool "chemicals" come from big box stores.
4) My fear of using chlorine was related to smelling like bleach and damaging swimsuits but this doesn't happen, with proper levels.
5) This site has a wealth of knowledge for anything that pops up so I am no longer dependent on a pool store's "advice".


My pool is sanitized, clear, and is much easier and cheaper to maintain.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
3,010
Pacific NW
One of the huge issues beyond the high cost is, there is no reliable way to test the Baquicil so you
dose the recommended amount and hope it is correct. All they offer is test strips (what we call guess strips) or a super
expensive test kit but I think that is for pool stores only

Where as with chlorine a recommended test kit will always give you the accuracy needed
to maintain adequate levels and never worry about algae as long as you test often.
 
Aug 7, 2017
16
Central IL
So then there seems like there is no advantage to Bacquacil?

I remember in the past being in a Bacquacil pool and the pro being your eyes didn't burn anywhere near as bad as it did in a chlorine pool. Is this just because I've only ever swam in over-chlorinated public pools?
 

Oly

Gold Supporter
Jun 28, 2017
1,178
Fresno, CA
The "eye burn" is a reaction to improper pH and the pH of the human eye is around 7.5.

Swimming in pools with high combined chlorine is the issue.
 
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JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,884
Tucson, AZ
If you're interested in any chemical details, Wikipedia gives a very brief entry for it - Polyhexanide - Wikipedia

Typically Baquacil pools can work "well enough" for quite some time until issues with recurring white water mold (WWM) and biofilms start to develop. Then they become very difficult to keep clean and sanitary. They are very expensive to keep up as the chemicals for them are pricey compared to chlorine. Baquacil can also be used in a hot tub for people that don't like halogen sanitizers (I don't like hot tubs with chlorine or bromine in them, the chlorine fumes make me nauseous) and it's probably the only situation I would consider using it in. It can probably also work fairly well in an indoor pool environment but one would definitely need a secondary oxidation source such as UV light to help keep the water clean.

For an outdoor pool in the sun, chlorine works the best.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,884
Tucson, AZ
The "eye burn" is a reaction to improper pH and the pH of the human eye is around 7.5.

Swimming in pools with high combined chlorine is the issue.
Actually, this has been shown to not be true. Human tears have an immense buffering capacity against pH changes so that water can be anywhere from slightly below 7 to above 8 and you won't feel anything. What causes redness and eye burn is one of several factors -

1. Either the CC levels are elevated and that causes immediate stinging;
2. The salinity levels are too high or too low causing osmotic pressure differences and irritation;
3. Mechanical abrasion occurs because swimmers tend to rub their eyes when they resurface from below the water.

Check yourself next time you're in your pool and see how many times you can catch yourself rubbing your eyes when you get water on your face or you go under the water. The best way to clear water from your eyes is not to rub, but to blink and blink a lot. If you blink, the pool water will get pushed out of your eye. If you rub, you'll jam pool water into your eye and tear ducts. The chlorine in pool water will then combine with your tears and locally form small concetrations of chloramines that will then irritate your mucous membranes.

Also, see this CDC study from the 70's which showed pH was not a factor - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2130569/pdf/jhyg00081-0170.pdf
 

Divin Dave

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Oct 2, 2013
5,630
Longview, Texas
It wasnt the chlorine that made your eyes burn. It was chloramines. Chloramines is a by product in pool water caused by the oxidation of unsanitary and / or biologcial "stuff". You know your in a dirty nasty pool when you can smell that obnoxious strong odor. Yuk. That bad odor is chloramines.
A truly sanitary chlorine pool is nice and your eyes will not burn and will smell fresh, like it's supposed to.

Out of whack pH level can make your eyes burn too.

So then there seems like there is no advantage to Bacquacil?

I remember in the past being in a Bacquacil pool and the pro being your eyes didn't burn anywhere near as bad as it did in a chlorine pool. Is this just because I've only ever swam in over-chlorinated public pools?
 

anthonypool89

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2016
216
Berks County, PA
Irrational fear of chlorine. Or a REAL chlorine algae which is much rarer than people think.

It is a CDC approved sanitizer (1 of 3, the others being chlorine and bromine), but it is very expensive and prone to problems like white water mold. It can't compete with the clarity achievable with chlorine.
Ummm...you may be being a bit overly tough on baquacil. I can't argue that it's more expensive, but I have had very clear water over the years - including most recently just the other week. Has it been clear at all times over the past 25 years? No. Can't argue the mold and slime issues, but those organism are naturally occurring and can wind up in ANY pool. It's just that chlorine seems to kill them more efficiently. I switched from chlorine to baquacil because I did not like working with chlorine. The water with baquacil has seemed more gentle on skin and hair than I experienced when using chlorine. Others in my family (and friends who also use biguanide) have said the same thing. So I think the "irrational fear of chlorine" as the impetus to use biguanide systems is perhaps a bit unfair?
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,260
Tucson, AZ
Surprised it took you this long to chime in here, Anthony .... but given your track record of problems, I am not sure you are a good advocate for Baq :poke: :mrgreen:

So, when you were using chlorine 25 year ago (or when your family and friends experienced chlorine), can you say that you were following the TFP methods? If not, then I would suggest that you have not experienced the way a TFP chlorine pool should be maintained. And that you may be unfairly attributing issues (dry hair and skin) to chlorine when in fact it was a lack of proper chemical balancing. ;)
 

anthonypool89

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2016
216
Berks County, PA
Jason,

Thanks for your input. You may well be correct about the balancing issue. I can only go by my previous experiences. I'm considering going back to chlorine next season anyway, so you don't need to be too tough on me...lol
 

Donldson

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Jun 12, 2009
3,948
NW Ohio
There was a recent Cracked.com article about crazy things people grew up thinking. A couple were:

"When I was a kid I thought cars were only good for about a year. My dad drove such cheap, junky cars that after a year he would drive straight to the junkyard and get a new one"

"My mom had an irrational fear of bacteria, so she would overcook every single meal. When I had my first medium rare steak in my late 20's I almost cried."

If the only pools someone had experienced was improperly managed chlorine pools, it isn't a terrible leap to assume that is how chlorine pools are. On the same note is the guy who thought all meat tasted terrible because all the meals he had ever eaten were burnt to a crisp. Given the posts I have seen I know a lot of members here love to cook. So if a guy were to say to them, "I hate meat, so dry and crunchy and just gross" they would be rushing to point out that everything he knew about meat was based on improper cooking and begging him to try a properly cooked steak. Well, pretty much every member here also loves their clear comfortable chlorine pool. So if someone says "I hate chlorine, makes me itch and my eyes sting and stinks terribly", we are quite keen to correct that misunderstanding. Unfortunately, proving it to someone is a bit more difficult than just sending them to a good steakhouse...
 
Aug 7, 2017
16
Central IL
Thanks for all of the input. You all are quite knowledgeable on the subject, that's for sure!

Like I said, the only chlorine pools I have ever experienced have been public pools. We had a scare in my area roughly 10-15 years ago about one of the area pools being over-chlorinated, which caused the swim team who used it to become very sick. That also somewhat scared me and my understanding that chlorine helped keep everyone safe when using pools. And having only ever swam in a private pool that used Bacquacil, it made me wonder why there was such a discrepancy between the two pool chemicals.

On a side note, now I am forever going to think about DivinDave and why our school smells like chlorine whenever I walk past the indoor pool... I'll be sure never to get in that water (not that I would have anyways!!).
 

anthonypool89

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2016
216
Berks County, PA
Want my best advice? And this is coming from someone who still uses baquacil after close to 25 years....don't do it. Stick with chlorine. OR if you do want to use biguanide-based systems, DON'T also have a DE filter. Use sand. A friend of mine uses sand with baquacil and reports to never have any problems. MUST BE NICE :(