How Open a Pool Using the BBB method...

A BBB guide to supermarket poolcare.
Use store-bought bleach, baking soda
and borax to replace proprietary pool chemicals.
momofsamuel
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How Open a Pool Using the BBB method...

Postby momofsamuel » Thu 02 Apr, 2009 16:50

I usually use chlorine from the pool store but am interested in saving money on pool maintenance this year. What are the instructions for opening a pool using the BBB method?

I will be opening my pool in about a month. It is a 21 ft above ground pool.

TIA!
Annie


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How Open a Pool Using the BBB method...

Postby chem geek » Thu 02 Apr, 2009 18:07

You can read more about BBB and other related pool care topics at the Pool School. Basically, BBB is about proper testing and having information so you can make informed choices. It is not about using store-bought chemicals. It's perfectly reasonable to use pool store chemicals so long as you know what you are getting and believe it to be of value. For example, I buy 12.5% chlorinating liquid from my pool store because it's reasonably priced (compared to equivalent chlorine quantity of 6% unscented bleach) and they reuse the bottles which is better than recycling.

Richard
czeckmate

Is Borax the best kept secret?

Postby czeckmate » Sat 16 May, 2009 09:50

By the volume of your posts I assume you have extended knowledge about pool maintenance. Do you recommend boric acid for a new pool start up ? It seem to add so many good thing to the pool and it stays there pretty much like a calcium hardness.
Also, why is pool industry hushing up the basic benefits of borates as an algistat ? Places like Leslie's do not even have a in store test for borates levels.
Is it a simmilar approach as the Alkalinity Up at 2.00 a pound in a Walmart, where you can buy the same thing in their grocery section for a 50 cents a pound? (It makes a difference for acid neutralizing atfer new plaster acid treatmant. (I needed 20 pounds of baking soda).
Just one more question. I have ordered 3L bottle of phos-free to limit phosphates in 22000 gal pool.
The pool has a brand new Diamond Brite plaster. How much should I use and how often?
Thanks!
chem geek
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Is Borax the best kept secret?

Postby chem geek » Sat 16 May, 2009 12:44

I'm just a pool owner and do not work in the industry nor am I a chemist (though majored in chemistry/physics in college).

The use of 50 ppm Borates, most easily added by Boric Acid since it's close to pH neutral (it's a rather weak acid at pool pH), is a MILD algistat and not a full-blown algaecide. So it will help slow down algae growth, but generally won't stop it completely if you don't have any chlorine in the water. Nevertheless, it does help and is also an additional pH buffer and gives a shimmer to the water (reduced surface tension) and some say it makes the water feel more silky. You can order Boric Acid from The Chemistry Store or Simplicity Maximizer from poolgeek.com which might be cheaper with its free shipping.

You can use LaMotte Insta-Test Borate test strips to test the borate level, though that's not something you need to test very often since, like Calcium Hardness (CH), it doesn't change very much (though in your pool with curing plaster, your CH will rise).

As for common chemicals you can often buy at less expensive prices, these include the following:

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda is the same as Alkalinity Up (sodium bicarbonate).
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (careful: NOT the laundry detergent) is the same as pH Up (sodium carbonate) though one can also use 20 Mule Team Borax to have the pH rise with half of the rise in TA.
Unscented Bleach (e.g. 6% Clorox Regular or off-brand Ultra) is the same as chlorinating liquid except for strength (concentration).
Dow Peladow or DowFlake are the same as Calcium Hardness Increaser (calcium chloride)

You are right that new plaster requires a lot of acid addition due to plaster curing. This will slow down over time, but is worst in the first weeks and month or so. You may still see a rise for up to a year, but it significantly slows down after some months. As you point out, adding acid will lower both pH and TA so you need to add baking soda periodically to keep the TA up.

If you properly maintain a minimum Free Chlorine (FC) level relative to your Cyanuric Acid (CYA) level, then you will not need to use a phosphate remover. I have 2000-3000 ppb phosphates in my pool (well, I did before some winter rain dilution) and prevent algae by maintaining the chlorine level. See the Chlorine / CYA Chart and should just read up at Pool School since there is a lot of helpful information there.

You should look at a phosphate remover the same way as an algaecide added weekly. It's extra cost to prevent algae growth, but is not the only way to do so. It is like insurance in case you ever let the FC level get too low relative to the CYA level. I will say that my pool with high phosphates is very unforgiving -- it's fine so long as I maintain the FC level, but if it gets to zero for just a few days, then not only can algae grow (so the pool gets cloudy), but bacteria can grow very quickly and consume the CYA and turn it into ammonia (see this thread ) though it will be interesting to see if Borates can help prevent this since I added 50 ppm Borates this year (after the opening incident).

Richard
czechmate
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How Open a Pool Using the BBB method...

Postby czechmate » Sat 16 May, 2009 18:39

Richard,

Thanks for a fairly detailed response. I have also added 50 lb of boric acid powder week ago. The plaster is now little over 2 weeks old. (I was fortunate to pick up 55lb bag for 50 bucks which was a one time deal).
I have saved a little of the boric acid for the pesticide around the house and garage.
Within a couple of hours as much as it may sound subjective, I have noticed the water changed clarity from nice to fantastic.
The Diamond Brite plaster under more detailed scrutiny consist of a lot of stone particles ( the colored ones are just barely half of the total mix) maybe a 70% of the aggregate exposure. That means actual bonding plaster is at minimum and so is the calcium release during the curing time.
It still calls for a 1-2 pints of acid daily, though.
Most reviews claim, that this type of plaster is more algae resistant than regular marcite, but after last two years of figting algae on rough plaster surface. I am doing my homework on prevention.
So very next thing I am getting is a FC tester. That seems to be the key.
Borates I can add few times in a season by adding 5lb of borax, and have optimizer test done in a pool store.

Thanks a bunch for the heads-up!
chem geek
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How Open a Pool Using the BBB method...

Postby chem geek » Sun 17 May, 2009 02:31

The water clarity improvement is a bit of an illusion as the boric acid in the water lowers the surface tension so adds to some shimmer effect and can make the water have more sparkle. The boric acid isn't an actual clarifier so isn't removing things from the water, though it is a mild algistat so if your chlorine were too low, then it could help prevent algae growth and that could lead to a bit more water clarity.

As for a good test kit, including the outstanding FAS-DPD chlorine test, I recommend either the Taylor K-2006 you can get at a good online price here or the TF100 from tftestkits.net here with the latter kit having 36% more volume of reagents so is comparably priced per test.

Richard
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How Open a Pool Using the BBB method...

Postby czechmate » Mon 18 May, 2009 08:43

Richard,
thanks again.
You absolutely right. The clarity was there prior to boric acid additive. But the visual effect of sun playing in the moving surface is priceless.
Even though it is not by far the reason I have added this chemical to start new fill, I consider it as a pretty valuable windfall. It adds to the pleasure of servicing a pool that shows your spent effort. Like a fertilized grass after a nice rain.
The difference here is, that you do it only once. The "eyes friendly" water for the kids always diving and soft feel of the water is also not a small thing.
For the mere cost of 2 quarts of an expensive algicide this was the right decision.
I do appreciate your wide spread presence on this forum. It is really helpfull to lot of people!

Ivan
here's help

How Open a Pool Using the BBB method...

Postby here's help » Thu 04 Feb, 2010 18:18

Boric acid and Borax are not the same close but not the same
chem geek
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How Open a Pool Using the BBB method...

Postby chem geek » Fri 05 Feb, 2010 00:13

here's help wrote:Boric acid and Borax are not the same close but not the same

That is correct. 20 Mule Team Borax is sodium tetraborate decahydrate and will not only increase the borates level but will also increase the pH. When one wants to increase borates by a lot, then one adds Borax and Muriatic Acid (added separately). Boric acid is closer to pH neutral, only slightly acidic, so can be added to increase borates without needing acid, but it is more expensive.
Douglas375

How Open a Pool Using the BBB method...

Postby Douglas375 » Sun 07 Feb, 2010 22:36

Chem geek, would it be OK to make boric acid by mixing Borax and muriatic acid together in a 5 gallon bucket?

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