Bromine: Pool Sanitizer FAQs

Although bromine is a popular sanitizer for spas and hot tubs, most swimming pools use chlorine as a sanitizer instead. Take a look at the following bromine facts to help you understand the bromine vs. chlorine debate and decide which sanitizer you prefer for your pool.

What Is Bromine?

Like chlorine, bromine is a type of chemical known as a halogen. The two chemicals are part of the same family of elements, and as such, bromine and chlorine have similar properties. They can combine with hydrogen ions since they are both bases; however, bromine and chlorine have some important differences that affect how they perform as swimming pool sanitizers.

Bromine Advantages

Bromine pools can be more comfortable to swim in than chlorine pools since chlorine reacts with impurities in the water to form chloramines, which are released into the air and can cause eye, skin, and lung irritation. Chloramines can be a particular problem for indoor pools, where they can't simply disperse into the atmosphere. Trapped clouds of chloramines are responsible for that "chlorine smell" that often hangs around indoor pools, and to get rid of them, pool owners need to shock their pools by adding a heavy dose of chemicals and waiting at least eight hours before using the pool again. Instead of chloramines, bromine forms chemicals called bromamines, which are much less likely to release into the air. Instead, bromamines remain in the pool water and continue to kill bacteria.

Bromine is a more effective pool sanitizer than chlorine when the pH of the water is higher than 7.8 since chlorine can't work effectively above this pH level; chlorine pool owners must regularly test the pH of their pool water and use chemicals to maintain the level.

Bromine is more stable than chlorine in warm water, which is why it is such a popular choice in spas and hot tubs. Bromine's higher boiling point means that its standard state at room temperature is a liquid, whereas chlorine's natural state is a gas. Therefore, hot temperatures are unlikely to cause bromine in pool water to vaporize.

Bromine Disadvantages

The main disadvantage of bromine is that it is less stable in sunlight and breaks down quickly in outdoor pools. Pool owners need to top up the bromine levels in their outdoor bromine pools regularly, which can get expensive.

The cost of pool bromine is higher than the cost of chlorine, so you need to factor that cost into your budget when you are considering setting up a bromine pool. Also, pool chemical suppliers are more likely to stock chlorine than bromine, since chlorine is the more popular choice of pool sanitizer for pool owners.

In summary, there is no clear answer to the bromine vs. chlorine debate. If your pool is an indoor pool and you want to avoid the buildup of chloramines in the air, you will find bromine could be a good choice. However, maintaining an outdoor bromine pool can be more of a challenge since you may need to add bromine frequently to compensate for the chemical breaking down quickly on sunny days. One solution is to use bromine tablets, which gradually release bromine into your pool to keep the concentration stable. Bromine tablets are more expensive than chlorine tablets, but they are the preferred choice for many pool owners.

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