Pool Chemical Glossary:

Every Term You Will Need To Know About Pools

Acid: Products on the lower end of the pH scale. These products are made up of a chemical compound that releases hydrogen ions in the water thus lowering your pool pH. Such products include muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate and are used to lower your pH and total alkalinity in your pool.

Acidic: When the water in your pool is anywhere below 7.0 oh the pH scale.

Algae: is a living plant that grows in water, it must have food to live and will be killed by several pool chemicals. Hates copper and are one of the major causes of the hated “green” pool.

Algaecide:  a product that will kill algae. They are two major kinds: poly-quats and copper based. (Hint: copper is a natural algaecide hence is presence in many mineral pool santizers like Nature2)

Alkalinity: The measure of amount of carbonates and bicarbonates in the water. Alkalinity is the opposite of acidic on the pH scale. Alkalinity works as a buffer that keeps you pH balanced in your water.

Bacteria: living organisms that can cause illness. Can be killed by most chlorine or bromine based santizers.

Backwash: Running your water bypassing the filter to an area outside the pool. A way to get debris out of your pool without dirtying the filter.

Balanced Water: the result when all of your chemical parameters are where they should be and thus balance each other. The four parts of balanced water using the Langelier Index of water balance.

Base: The opposite end of the pH scale from acidic.

Biguanides: The name for alternative sanitizers using the polymer PHMB, the only non-halogen sanitizer available for pool and spa use. “Soft Swim” and “Baquacil” are two examples of this technology.

Bromines: combined bromine – ammonia molecule. Unlike chloramines, which are strong smelling and offer no sanitizing properties, bromamine compounds continue to sanitize.

Bromine: An alternative member of the halogen family, mainly used in spas to keep them clean, because of its resistance to hot water with rapid pH fluctuations.

BTU: British thermal unit, the measure of heat something puts out such as pool heaters.

Calcium Carbonate: more commonly know as scale, crystalline deposits of calcium may form on your pool surfaces, equipment, or even line your pipes.

Cartridge: one type of pool filter media used a porous pleated paper in which traps debris as the water flows though

Chlorimines: The chlorine molecule is strongly attracted to nitrogen and ammonia. When these two combine they form a chloramine, which are undesirable, foul smelling, space taking, compounds that require shocking the pool water to get rid of.

Chlorine: A member of the halogen family of sanitizers, it’s use in swimming pools is in the elemental form of a gas, liquid, granular, or tablet compound. When added to water it acts as an oxidizer, sanitizer, disinfectant, and all around cleaning agent.

Chlorine, Free Available: is that which is active, not a chlorimines, and ready to react to destroy organic material.

Chlorine, Combined: That portion of total available chlorine left over when free available is subtracted. It is the measure of chlorine that has already attached itself to other molecules or organisms. Most of this is made up of chloramines.

Chlorine, Total available: The sum of both combined and free chlorine levels. With any test kit, one determines free available level, then total available. The difference, if any, is the level of combined chlorine.
Chlorine Generator: A miniature chlorine factory. This device creates its own sanitizer for your pool. The cells in salt-water pool system are an example of this.
Chlorinator: Devices that allow for the safe controlled introduction of chlorine into the water.

Chlorine Demand: The amount of available chlorine removed during the process of sanitizing. Pretty much how much waste in your water equals the amount of chlorine needed to get the job done.

Clarifier: A chemical that clumps micro particles into larger sizes so they can be caught in your filter. Clears cloudy pools.

Cyanuric Acid: A granular chemical added to the pool water which provides a shield to chlorine stop UV rays from burning chlorine out of the water. Think of it like sunscreen for the water.

Diatomaceous Earth: The filtering medium of the DE filter is the fossilized remains of the ancient plankton also know as diatom.
Enzymes: Used in swimming pools to break down and digest oils. Also used in oil spills such as Exxon Valdez in the same way.

Filter: A device used to remove particles suspended in the water by pumping water through any one of three different mediums: DE, Cartridge, or Sand.
Filter Element: A device inside a filter tank designed to entrap solids and direct water through a manifold system to exit the filter. Cartridge filter elements and DE filter grids are two examples.
Filter Medium: A finely graded material such as sand, diatomaceous earth, polyester fabric, or anthracite coal that removes suspended particles from water passing through it.
Filter: The device that pulls water from the pool and pushes it through the filter on its way back to the pool. The kind of filter is based on the medium you use.

Gunite: A dry mixture of cement and sand mixed with water at the “gun”; hence the name. A gunite operator “shoots” the pool’s rough shape, while finishers trowel after.

Halogen: The periodic table “family” that includes such sanitizers chorine, bromine and iodine.

Hard Water: That water which is high in calcium hardness and other salts. This can cause scale build up.

Ionizer: a device mounted on your return line, and through which water flowing will receive charged metal ions. The anode will either be copper or silver. Copper is an algaecide and algaestat, while silver works like chorine and will sanitize your water.  This electric, limited technology has been replaced by the Vision System.

Langelier Index: aka the Saturation Index, Mr. Langelier devised a system to determine water balance by assigning values to levels of pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness and water Temperature. When all parameters are in balance, the water will neither be corrosive or scaling. The formula is “SI = pH + TF + CF + AF – 12.1.”  You will never need to use this.

Muriatic Acid: The liquid dilution of Hydrochloric Acid used to lower pH and alkalinity, and to remove mineral stains and scale. Extremely caustic and corrosive.

Non-chlorine shock: A granular form of potassium permonosulfate, used to oxidize materials such as microorganisms, contaminants or chloramines. Also used as the shock of choice in spas using bromine.

Ozone:  The molecule containing three atoms of oxygen it is known to be a very powerful sanitizer. Used in ozonators they work by using UV rays to zap ozone into the water.

pH: a scale that tells you if things are acidic or alkalinity(basic) by a number. 0 is highly acidic while 14 (the highest number) is strongly basic. 7 are neutral and your water should be around this number.

Sand Filter: a filter that uses sand is the medium in which to trap particles and clean your water. Was the industry standard but was replaced by the cleaner cartridge filter. Though a combination if zeobest and sand can get the cleanest water available.
Sanitizer: A chemical agent used to remove unwanted contaminants.

Scale: Usually whitish in color, scale forms on pool surfaces and equipment when mineral salts are forced out of solution. If you have an unbalanced calcium hardness, pH, and alkalinity pool this can lead to what is termed a scaling condition.

Shock: As a noun it loosely describes the products used in shocking, such as hypochlorites, potassium permonysulfate or hydrogen peroxide. As a verb it describes the act of bringing the sanitizer level up so high that breakpoint chlorination is reached.
Super-Chlorinating: applying 7 – 10 times the normal amounts of chlorine to the pool as an added “boost” for contaminant removal. Some refer to super-chlorinating as being less than shocking, in that breakpoint thresholds are not reached, or the terms may be used synonymously.

Total Alkalinity (T.A.): The ability of the pool water to resist changes in pH. The “buffering” capacity of the water. Additions of Sodium Bicarbonate will increase the levels, expressed in PPM.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS): A measure of everything that has ever dissolved in the water. High TDS levels can oversaturated your water, which can make your water difficult to balance and keep clean.

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