Overview of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Stabilized and Unstabilized Chlorine

Chlorine is widely used all over the world as pool sanitizer. If you’re using chlorine then you ought to know its two types: stabilized and unstabilized chlorine. In this post, you’ll learn the benefits and disadvantages of using them for your pool.

Chlorine is the most common sanitizer used to disinfect your pool’s water. There are two types of chlorine: stabilized and unstabilized.

They both have the same purpose, but they behave differently in different situations, so it’s important to know which type you’re using. For example, unstabilized chlorine slowly breaks down over time and needs to be replaced often, whereas stabilized chlorine doesn’t break down quickly. 

Many factors will impact your decision on which type of chlorine to use for your pool. Such as the problem with your pool water and how much money you want to spend on maintenance. You can read more about keeping your pool water sanitized here.

Today, we’re going to talk about what chlorine is best for you. But of course, the first step in choosing which one is right for you is by knowing the differences between each one. So, let’s dive in.

Unstabilized Chlorine: Pool chlorinator - Stabilized and Unstabilized

What is Unstabilized Chlorine?

Unstabilized chlorine is recommended for pools in both the open and closed positions. This is because it provides fast disinfection with a rapid reaction time. Using unstabilized chlorine might involve a slight increase in additional cost, but it is worth it because there are no dosing problems or pH adjustments.

It works well when there isn’t any organic matter present because it reacts with those compounds. This means that this will work great if you add nothing else to your indoor pool or outdoor pool. However, if you add something like algae-eating chemicals, you need to make sure that you also add some stabilizers to help keep the NaOCl stable.

If you don’t stabilize it, it can react too fast and start breaking things apart before getting them all cleaned up. That could lead to problems later on.

Unstabilized Chlorine: Advantage and Disadvantage

Advantages of Unstabilized Chlorine

The benefits of using unstabilized chlorine are numerous. 

  • It works fast and starts reacting almost right away. It also provides residual protection for pools that are in the closed position. In addition, the lack of dosing problems or pH adjustments means that chances for errors are absent, which results in a more reliable process.
  • It can be used as either tablets or liquid and can be bought at pool stores or local hardware stores. This makes it very accessible to many people with different preferences about how they want their chlorine to work out for them.
  • One advantage is that it will not cause eye, skin, or lung irritation. Also, there are no chemical changes to the freshwater.
  • Unstabilized chlorine can also be used as pool chlorine shock. This makes it simpler to use and cheaper for the pool owner. If you are looking for a way to kill algae without breaking down your water conditioner, then this is an option that you should consider to make it simpler and cleaner in the long run.
    Want to know more about pool shock? Read our guide on performing Pool Shock to create a sparkling, clear Pool.

Disadvantages of Unstabilized Chlorine

There are disadvantages to using unstabilized chlorine.

  • One disadvantage is that it does not provide enough residual protection for pools left open for a long time.
  • Another drawback is that it cannot be used effectively in saltwater systems. There are many reasons why this happens, including the fact that sodium chloride causes the pool chlorine to break down faster than regular freshwater. As a result, you may have to dose more often so that you won’t end up over-chlorinating your system.
  • A third problem is that it tends to burn plants and leaves. When you’re trying to clean your pool, you’ll notice that everything gets burned by the chlorine. Even though it’s supposed to be safe for humans, it still burns plant life. So, even though it doesn’t harm us directly, we know it hurts our environment indirectly.

Stabilized Chlorine

Stabilized chlorine is made from chloramines instead of sodium hypochlorite. These are salts that contain ammonia and free chlorine. They act very similarly to regular chlorine, except that they last longer. They actually become stronger over time. Because of this, they require less frequent replacement.

This makes sense since these are designed to stay around for long periods. And while they aren’t quite as strong as regular chlorine, they still provide enough disinfection power to handle organisms without needing to be replenished frequently.

So why do people choose to go with stabilized chlorine? For starters, it lasts longer. Since it contains ammonia, it helps prevent algae growth. Also, it’s easier to control the chlorine level.

With stabilized chlorine, you only need to adjust the dose based on the number of gallons being treated rather than changing the concentration of the product itself.

Advantages of Stabilized Chlorine

There are several reasons you would want to use stabilized chlorine:

  • It works better when used with filtration systems. This is because it doesn’t break down quickly like traditional liquid chlorine. Instead, it stays around much longer, so it provides continuous protection against bacterial growth.
  • It lasts longer. Unlike conventional liquid chlorine, it will remain effective even in cloudy pool water.
  • It’s cheaper. There are many types available, but most cost between 0.50-1.00 USD per pound. Compare that to the price of standard liquid chlorine, and you’ll see how much money savings you’d make by switching!
  • It’s safer. The traditional form of chlorine releases toxic gases such as hydrogen chloride and hydrocyanic acid. On the other hand, stabilized chlorine uses ammonia as a source of oxygen, making it safe for humans and pets alike.

Disadvantages of Stabilized Chlorine

  • It may cause buildups of chloramine in filters. This occurs when liquid chlorine or chlorine tablets break down naturally in the presence of organic matter. Unfortunately, this happens pretty easily in pools where there isn’t any filtering going on.
  • It can create problems with pH balance. When chlorine reacts with organic material, it generates free radicals. These free radicals react with minerals in the swimming pool water, causing them to precipitate into scale deposits. This is especially accurate in hard water areas. However, this effect is significantly reduced when the water is mixed with an alkalinity builder before treatment.
  • It takes longer to treat large volumes of swimming pool water. One reason for this is that the reaction rate slows significantly once the initial amount of chlorine reaches equilibrium. Another factor is that the chemical reactions involved take place at shallow temperatures. So, unless you’re treating cold swimming pool water, you won’t achieve full effectiveness until after about 30 minutes.

You must monitor usage carefully. Once again, this is because the reaction rates slow considerably once the initial amount of active ingredient is reached. That means you’ll need to keep track of how often you replace the chemicals. Otherwise, you could end up wasting valuable resources.

Understanding Pool Chlorine: Going Beyond the Basics

When it comes to maintaining pristine pool water, the type of chlorine used plays a pivotal role. Yet, diving into the world of chlorine types can be a bit overwhelming. But don’t fret! We’re here to clear the waters and offer insights into how certain chemicals work and the roles they play in pool sanitization.

1. Navigating the Cyanuric Pathway

One chemical that frequently pops up in pool maintenance circles is cyanuric acid. Contrary to popular belief, cyanuric acid itself doesn’t have sanitation or disinfectant capabilities. It is, however, the lifeguard that shields your chlorine from rapid disintegration under the sun’s fierce rays.

It’s particularly crucial when dealing with unstabilized chlorine sanitizers. When using these, cyanuric acid becomes an indispensable partner, ensuring your chlorine residual is shielded and remains effective for an extended duration. Think of it as providing your chlorine with a protective umbrella on a scorching sunny day.

However, it’s not all sunny skies. For outdoor pools using stabilized chlorine, which already contains CYA, it’s essential to monitor the cyanuric acid level diligently. An excess of it can be problematic and is often considered a significant challenge for pool owners.

2. Unveiling Chlorine Types and Forms

It’s essential to discern between the different types of chlorine available for pool use:

  • Calcium Hypochlorite: Commonly found in 1″ tablets, this is akin to the popular cal hypo pool shock. Calcium Hypochlorite, along with Sodium Hypochlorite (often referred to as bleach), are representatives of unstabilized chlorine.
  • Granular Chlorine: Typically made up of 99% sodium dichlor, this type of chlorine is not as harsh for swimmers. Its granular composition ensures it dissolves in a 4-foot column, thus eliminating concerns about potential bleach damage to pool liners. A notable variant in this category is the Rx Clear granular chlorine, with an impressive 99.3% Sodium dichlor composition.
  • Granular Form Chlorine Variants: Dichlor is especially noteworthy. It contains a higher cyanuric acid content than trichlor and usually comes in granular form. Apart from Dichlor, other forms like Calcium Hypochlorite (Cal Hypo) and Lithium hypochlorite also come in granular forms.

What’s Better for Your Pool?

Unstabilized Chlorine: chlorine in pool

The answer depends entirely upon your needs and preferences.

If you have a small residential pool, then using unstabilized chlorine might be better for you. But if you’ve got a larger commercial facility, then you should consider stabilizing your chlorine solution.

The main advantage here is safety. Since you don’t have to worry yourself overloading the system, you can safely increase the dosage without worrying about creating dangerous conditions. And since you know exactly what you’re getting, you can adjust the level of disinfection accordingly.

If you prefer not to stabilize your chlorine, then you still have some options.

  • You can always add more chlorine directly to the pool. Just remember that doing this increases the risk of algae blooms.
  • You can also try adding additional amounts of bromide. Bromides work well in combination with chlorine because they help prevent bacteria from growing while simultaneously helping to maintain proper PH levels.
  • You can combine both methods. By mixing chlorine and bromide, you get the best of all worlds – increased bactericidal activity along with lower risks of algae blooms.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I switch between using stabilized and unstabilized chlorine?

Yes, but it’s important to monitor chlorine and cyanuric acid levels to ensure proper pool chemistry.

Is stabilized chlorine more expensive than unstabilized chlorine?

It can be slightly more expensive due to the added stabilizer, but prices vary by brand and form.

Can I use stabilized chlorine in a saltwater pool?

It’s not typically necessary as most saltwater pool systems have built-in stabilizers.

How often should I add chlorine to my pool?

The frequency depends on the pool usage, size, and type of chlorine used. Regular testing is the best way to determine the need for addition.

Are there environmental concerns with using stabilized chlorine?

High CYA levels can be problematic if pool water is drained and can affect local water bodies.

In conclusion, whether you choose to go with stabilized chlorine or unstabilized chlorine, you’ll find yourself enjoying cleaner, healthier waters for years to come. Happy swimming!

Do you want to know more about keeping your pool sanitized and safe? Here are the 8 best types of sanitizers for your pool that you can use with chlorination. Visit our website for more articles.

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About the author

Brian Anderson

The rather dry pool world out there is in need of some passion to make it shine. With the help of my son Ruben and his wife Maria our mission is to help you create the favorite spot of your house - your pool.

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