The filter system in a pool does the majority of the work involved with keeping the water clean while chemistry plays a role by fine-tuning the process. There are several reasons why the chemical balance in a pool must be manipulated with care.
- Hazardous pathogens, such as bacteria, live in water. Untreated water in a pool is a breeding ground for microorganisms that carry any number of different diseases.
- Water with an improper chemical balance is harmful for varying components of a pool.
- Water without an appropriate balance can cause eye and skin irritation.
- Water without an appropriate balance can become noticeably cloudy.
Pool chemistry explained starts with a disinfecting agent that will eliminate the pathogens in the water. Typically people use chlorine in the form of a liquid, sodium hypochlorite, or a solid, calcium hypochlorite. The water and the chlorine react to form a number of chemicals, most importantly hypochlorous acid. This acid goes after the cell wall lipids and wipes out the enzymes and structures within the cell through oxidation. This process destroys the bacteria and additional pathogens. There are other sanitizers, including bromide, that complete the same process and produce results that differ slightly.
Most people prepare chlorine as a tablet, powder, or liquid. All of these forms can be added to the water at any point in the cycle. It is best practice to add it with a chemical feeder immediately following the filtering process. When chlorine is added directly to the pool water, it tends to build up in the area where it enters the water.
After chlorine has mixed with the bacteria and additional agents in the water, the chlorine becomes inactive and does not sanitize the water any longer. A shock treatment must be used to burn off the combination of chlorine and harmful organics each week. The pool filter system then takes the matter out of the water.
One important aspect of pool chemistry explained is that hypochlorous acid is not the most stable agent. It can break down when it is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light, and it can mix with other chemicals to create brand new compounds. Most pool chlorinators include a stabilizing agent, such as cyanuric acid. This agent reacts with the chlorine to create a more stable compound that does not break down so easily during ultraviolet light exposure.