Many swimmers have a negative perception of chlorine in pool water due to problems such as strong smells, discolored clothing or hair, or burning/stinging. However, these problems are usually the result of out-of-balance water. For instance, if the level of stabilizer in the water is too high, then higher & higher levels of chlorine will have to be maintained for it to be effective. Eventually, the chlorine levels will grow to be so high that some of the problems mentioned above begin to occur. With properly balanced water, though, chlorine is effective at lower levels and swimmers will never even know it’s there.
One of the main advantages of chlorine is its easy availability. It can be purchased in a variety of forms, but the most convenient is in the form of conventional unscented household bleach of any brand. It’s quite nice to be able to buy pool chemicals at the grocery store, discount warehouse, gas station or drug store instead of having to make a special trip to a pool store.
Pool water can also be chlorinated with tablets. These are also convenient, however they contain another chemical – Cyanauric Acid (also called CYA or Stabilizer) – that makes chlorine less effective if there is too much in the water. Using tablets is acceptable as long as you intend to add stabilizer. Once the stabilizer reaches the correct level though, you will want to switch to regular liquid chlorine bleach or an unstabilized table.
The main challenge with chlorine is that it is does not have very much staying power. First of all, Chlorine is quickly dissipated by sunlight. By mid-afternoon on a bright, sunny day, chlorine levels can fall off completely. This reaction is slowed by adding stabilizer (CYA) to the water. However, the stabilizer only slows the reaction, it does not stop it. So even with proper levels of stabilizer, chlorine will still need to be replenished regularly.
Chlorine levels also fall off as it kills the algae & bacteria in the water. This is simply chlorine doing its job, there are no additives or chemicals that will slow this process.
Because of these two factors that are constantly depleting chlorine levels, you must regularly test your water and add chlorine so as to keep the levels up.