It is time to shock your pool. That may sound a little scary but don’t worry; it is not as frightening as it sounds. In fact, there is no need to use any electricity or scares. Shocking your pool may sound intense, but it is rather mundane when you get down to it. This article aims to clear up everything about shocking your pool, from why you do it to how to do it. Let’s get started with the question, what is pool shock?
What is Pool Shock?
Before we get down to asking what does pool shock actually do, we need to ask what pool shock is. Do you remember walking into a pool as a kid and taking in a big whiff of that chlorine? Smells good, right? Smells clean? Well, what if I told you that you were not smelling the chlorine in the water, but you were instead smelling the chloramines.
What are chloramines? They form when the chlorine in the pool mixes with sweat, oils, and, unfortunately, urine. The smell is the result of a natural chemical process. Let’s just hope that you are not getting a similar smell from your swimming pool! These chloramines can irritate your skin, eyes, and respiratory system, so you have to be careful to avoid them.
When you shock your pool, you are adding enough chemical to destroy the chloramines. Remember the smell that you thought was chlorine? You actually want to get rid of that smell by adding chlorine or other pool chemicals.
Pool Shock vs. Chlorine
So, what is the difference between pool shock and chlorine? The difference could be a lot, or it could be irrelevant. Most pool shock is composed of some form of chlorine. To understand exactly how pool shock works, you have to understand your chlorine levels and shocking your pool. So, what is the active ingredient in pool shock? Well, most often, it is chlorine itself.
When we think about the chlorine in our pools, we need to think about various types of chlorine in the water. Free chlorine is the amount of chlorine which is actively disinfecting your pool water. It is recommended that your free chlorine be between 1-4 parts per million.
Combined chlorine is the chlorine which has been used already. It has actively sanitized your pool water, but it does not have the potency to do so any longer. The recommended level is below 0.2 parts per million.
Total chlorine is simply the free chlorine added to the total chlorine. Your pool test kits will be able to determine your free chlorine and total chlorine levels. From this, you will be able to determine your combined chlorine.
The breakpoint chlorination is when you add enough chlorine to shatter the bonds of the chloramines. For that to happen, you need to add roughly 10 times the amount of combined chlorine. Adding this chlorine to your pool is known as shocking your pool. If you fail to add enough chlorine to your water, you run the risk of the chloramines building up, and you will need to replace the water.
Types of Pool Shock
So, what is the active ingredient in pool shock which helps your pool water? Well, mainly chlorine is used, but there are non-chlorine shocks available too. Let’s take a look at some of the options out there.
Calcium hypochlorite has been used for almost a hundred years. It is an easy chemical to use to shock your pool, and it is affordable too. It contains around 70% chlorine. You need to use this shock after dusk and wait eight hours before swimming in it.
Lithium hypochlorite has a lot of calcium but is a little bit more expensive than other shocks. The great thing about this shock is that it dissolves quickly. It contains around 35% chlorine. Use it after dusk and wait eight hours before swimming in it.
Dichlor is easy and safe to use. It contains around 55% chlorine and can be added straight to your water without having to dissolve it first. Use it after dusk and wait eight hours before swimming in it.
Non-chlorine shock is great if you want to use it in your pool and go for a swim immediately. It does not have chlorine in it, so you can go swimming 15 minutes after using it.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
The sun will burn off some of the chlorine in shock, so it is best to do it at night to get the best effects.
You should try to shock your pool once a week to keep the chloramines in check (or when the levels are not right after testing). If your pool has been used a lot, there has been heavy rainfall, debris got into the pool, the water level changed a lot, or if there was an accident in the pool, you should perform an additional pool shock.
To shock your pool, wear protective eyewear and gloves. Test your water to ensure that it needs to be shocked. Follow the instructions on the shock you are using to ensure that you are adding the correct amount based on your total chlorine and combined chlorine.
Either dissolve the shock in a bucket of water first or add the shock directly to your pool (depending on the instructions). Slowly pour the shock into the water. Leave the shock for the recommended amount of time before you go for a swim. Also, remember to use the shock after the sun has gone down for best results.
What Does Pool Shock Do to Your Body?
If you swim in your pool too early after adding shock or get shock on your skin while shocking your pool, then it can irritate and burn. Wash it with fresh water and soap as soon as you can.