Borax & BBB pool care

Total hardness and calcium hardness in pool water. Scale, calcium buldup, hard water and scaling problems in swimming pools.

Borax & BBB pool care

Postby fatybabe » Mon 03 Mar, 2008 09:13

I would like to consult your extensive knowledge on Borax a swimming pool application and would gladly like to know yr comments as such.

Borax has water softening effects that i udnerstand however can:

(1) Use as a scale inhibitor ?
(2) Control scale deposits in boiler/heater where precipitation raises hardness levels?
(3) What dosages would i be looking at for 10,000 gallons of pool water
and how often will i be looking to apply?
(4) What are the otehr uses of Borax in a pool app?
(5) So to speak does it aid in maintaing - water clarity?

Further I have been to Simplicity website by Biolab and found product named Maximizer with pH of 5.3 ingredient known as Boron Salts now are there major differences to 20 Mule Team Borax besides pH?

Most of my knoweldge lies from waste water treatment industry that im in and are looking very much to your insights.

Cheers Alex.
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Borax and pool care

Postby chem geek » Mon 03 Mar, 2008 12:29

Borax in pools isn't typically used to inhibit scale. Scale is prevented through proper management of water parameters, especially pH, Total Alkalinity (TA) and Calcium Hardness (CH). With fill water (such as well water) that is very high in CH, a calcium metal sequestrant can be used or the water can be filtered with a water softener (ion exchange resin) before being added to the pool.

[EDIT] Borax in water will stabilize the pH so for saltwater chlorine generator (SWG) pools, it will reduce the rate of scale formation in the SWG cell due to its pH buffering. However, it won't prevent scale overall in the pool itself if the pool water balance has the saturation index too high. [END-EDIT]

There are three main uses for 20 Mule Team Borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) in pools. The first is as a base to raise pH without adding to carbonates. With this usage, it is added in relatively small amounts as needed to raise the pH. This isn't very common unless one is using an acidic source of chlorine (when accounting for chlorine usage) such as Trichlor or Dichlor.

The second use of Borax in pools is as an additional pH buffer that allows one to lower the Total Alkalinity (TA) somewhat to reduce the rate of pH rise, such as typically found in saltwater chlorine generator (SWG) pools. The third use of Borax is as an algaecide. For these two uses, typically 30-50 ppm Borates is the level to have in the pool. It takes 589 ounces weight (36.8 pounds) of 20 Mule Team Borax which is 7-3/4 boxes (each is 76 ounces weight) per 10,000 gallons to get to 50 ppm and also requires 282 ounces of Muriatic Acid (31.45% Hydrochloric Acid). The Borax and acid should be added alternately, the Borax first, and probably split up the dosage addition into 2-4 parts going back and forth between Borax and acid. These should be added (separately) slowly over a return flow in the deep end -- especially for the acid which is very concentrated.

Some people report that with 30-50 ppm Borates in their pool they find that the water sparkles.

20 Mule Team Borax is a decahydrate form of Borax while Proteam Supreme is a pentahydrate form. I do not know which type the Simplicity Maximizer product contains though it is obviously not all tetraborate since it is acidic and probably contains Boric Acid. For the pentahydrate form of Borax (such as with Proteam Supreme), it takes 450 ounces weight per 10,000 gallons to get to 50 ppm Borates, not 589 ounces as with the decahydrate form for 20 Mule Team product.

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Borax and pool care

Postby fatybabe » Tue 04 Mar, 2008 00:12

Thank You the details provided has been very informative and would be looking to hear more insights from you with regards to chemistry behind pool management.

The addition of 20 Mule Team Borax as a pH buffer would be time consuming and complicated for your average pool operator and as i suspect Proteam Supreme to be an acidic form of Mule does that mean i could eliminate the addition of an acid like Hydrochloric.

(do correct me if im wrong - and if so can you advise me as to what i can buy preferably something that has a pH of 5 - 6 like Maximizer)

And to what extent does it work well as a pH buffer?

Should i also consider using Borax as an algecide and by maintainin proper halogen levels can i completely replace this from the use of a polyquat as a maintenance product?

Would it also be feasible that i raise the Borates to 100 - 150 ppm and reduce halogen content in water features for algea prevention as a cost cutting measure?

Are there any implications with raising levels too high in water features and can i complete phase out chlorine or an oxidizer as such? Nonethless
is it possible that i raise Borate levels to 100 ppm in a pool setting? are there any associated side effects to doing so?

I udnerstand that Borates have long been marketed as a water softener, what is the chemsitry behind and so to speak if it doesnt combine with calcium.?

Lastly I am looking to cost cut and simplify maintenance procedures with the use of Borates do you think its possible? Probably as a one time additional product per season rather than using all the expensive algecides etc which BioLab and others are marketing..... Would you have any recommedations?


Thank You
Alex
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Borax: 20 Mule Team Borax

Postby chem geek » Tue 04 Mar, 2008 02:23

Alex,

It's actually VERY easy to add the acid and the 20 Mule Team Borax as you only do this once since the Borates don't go away except from dilution. Of course, you can buy a product with a more neutral pH if you want -- there's nothing wrong with that. The Proteam Supreme, however, is not pH neutral and requires acid addition, but they do make something called Proteam Supreme Plus which is indeed formulated to be pH neutral and is a combination of Sodium Tetraborate Pentahydrate and Boric Acid. So if you don't mind spending more money, then that would be a good product for you.

The Borates have more capacity to resist a rise in pH rather than a drop in pH which is why they barely measure in the TA test (50 ppm Borates only adds 5 ppm to TA). So for SWG pools that have a tendency to rise in pH (due to hydrogen gas generation in the SWG that aerates the water and drives out carbon dioxide), this can be quite helpful at reducing the frequency (but not quantity) of acid addition. The algaecidal properties can sometimes let one lower SWG output in which case one source of pH rise is lessened so that does let one use less acid addition over time.

As for Borates vs. PolyQuat, weekly PolyQuat usage is more effective as an algaecide so it's up to you depending on how much algaecidal protection you want. You can certainly keep away algae with chlorine alone so long as you watch your FC/CYA ratio (keeping FC at around 10% of the CYA level will keep away green algae -- 7.5% of the CYA level is the minimum FC). This rule works up to a phosphate level of around 3000 ppb which is quite high.

I wouldn't raise the Borates too much above 50 ppm. Borates in sufficiently high concentrations can be toxic if you drink the water -- not a problem for humans but if you have dogs drinking pool water regularly I'd train them not to do that (even at 50 ppm Borates). It's at the edge of first symptoms if they drink every day.

Borax can precipitate calcium at sufficiently high levels, mostly by raising the pH. In a pool, however, it really doesn't soften the water and you'll find no drop in Calcium Hardness (CH) after adding the Borax.

If you are just looking to eliminate use of algaecides, then you don't need Borates though you could certainly do a one time addition if you wanted to. All you need to do is switch to using unstabilized chlorine such as chlorinating liquid, unscented bleach, lithium hypochlorite (expensive) or if your calcium hardness levels are low, Cal-Hypo. If you continue to use Trichlor or Dichlor products, then you will continue to increase the CYA level and if you don't raise the FC level to compensate, you will risk getting algae. It's that simple. For every 10 ppm FC added by Trichlor, it also adds 6 ppm to CYA. For every 10 ppm FC added by Dichlor, it also adds 9 ppm to CYA. For every 10 ppm FC added by Cal-Hypo, it also adds 7 ppm to CH.

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Borax and borates in pool water

Postby fatybabe » Tue 04 Mar, 2008 03:35

I believe there might have been some misunderstanding. Pools and features catered for use either a source of unstabilized chlorine or bromine.

I do understand by increasing FC level algea free pools can be maintained however am looking at ways that can reduce Cl/Br consumption in conjuction with another chemical.

So if im correct if i increase the Borate level to greater than 50 ppm it would show better algecidal properties? And should be of no problem as long as pool remains for Human use only.

Nonetheless in a fountain i can greatly increase this amount to 200 ppm as concern is only the control of algea and reduce cl level to 0.3 - 0.4?

AM i correct in this sense?
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Borax and borates in pool water

Postby fatybabe » Tue 04 Mar, 2008 04:02

I thought Borates reduced the amount of CO2 in water hence its ability as an algecide so does that not have effect in incresing pH levels rather than reducing pH levels?
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Borax and borates in pool water

Postby chem geek » Tue 04 Mar, 2008 15:24

I've seen that before about Borates reducing CO2, but I can find no chemical basis. The claim is that the borates lower CO2 which algae need, but that is also not true as algae can also use carbonates, not just dissolved CO2. The borates inhibition of algae is more likely related to some direct effect of boric acid upon the algae. At any rate, the effect is not linear with borates level and it's smaller than found with PolyQuat 60 algaecide used weekly. If you want the lowest chlorine level, then using PolyQuat 60 will let you use a lower FC/CYA ratio -- perhaps down to around an FC that is 3-4% of the CYA level. The other alternative is to use a phosphate remover that will have roughly the same result. In any event, you shouldn't go below 1 ppm FC and 2 ppm FC is better unless you have relatively low chlorine demand, because you want to make sure chlorine does not run out even due to localized demand.

If your goal is to reduce chlorine consumption, then you need to first get rid of any algae you may have by shocking the pool or fountain (if you have algae or an unusual chlorine demand overnight which of course has no sunlight). Then, you just maintain a sufficiently high FC relative to the CYA level. If it's an outdoor pool, then some users have found that a higher CYA level approaching 70 ppm will result in less breakdown from sunlight even if the FC is raised accordingly to close to 7 ppm. If you are trying to reduce chlorine usage from other sources, such as human sweat or organics that drop into the pool such as pollen and leaves, then there's not much you can do about that except have better circulation, filtration, and cleaning of the skimmer and filter.

As for a fountain, yes you could raise the borates level higher to possibly give you some better protection. Just make sure even people do not drink a lot from the fountain. I don't think you could lower the FC to 1 ppm with 70 ppm CYA unless you used an additional algaecide along with the borates -- either PolyQuat 60 or a phosphate remover. The latter would be a one-time thing with a smaller maintenance dose while the former is mostly a larger maintenance dose.

Like much in life, every situation is different and you could experiment a bit to see what works best and then report back so others can share in your experience.

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Borax & BBB pool care

Postby Davdid Campbell » Thu 24 Sep, 2009 11:03

I have a pool tha thas been giving what I erefer to as a high ph tint...aquamarine...normally I would just adjust my ph and t/a. All my readings including ph and t/a are normal but this tint won't go away. I did do an oxidation and the tint dissappeared for a few weeks and then returned. The only reading I can find out of whack is my borate reading which is negative 50. Would this cause a tint in an otherwise clear and balanced pool
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Borax & BBB pool care

Postby chem geek » Thu 24 Sep, 2009 11:18

How are you testing the borate level? You can't get a negative reading. Did you mean you read 50 ppm in the Borate test? If the color of the water is clear and not cloudy, then this could be copper. If the water is hazy or cloudy, then it could be algae. What is your FC and CYA level? Are you using your own good test kit (Taylor K-2006 or tftestkits.net TF100) to make measurements?
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Borax & BBB pool care

Postby Eyeez84 » Tue 20 Apr, 2010 05:20

I have a question what is the most effective way to utilize that feature? I ran it for several hours for a few days in a row and it seemed to not have any effect in raising my FC levels - I assume my scaling/ PH problem could have contributed?
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