Swimming Pool Chemicals List: Pool Chemistry 101

Last Updated on May 25, 2021

 

When it comes to keeping your pool water clean and clear, the swimming pool chemicals you will be using will play a big part. For first-time pool owners, figuring out the right chemicals to use can be an impossible task without a proper guide.

The good news is we have compiled a swimming pool chemicals list that will help you maintain your pool water in good condition as well as help you when pool problems such as cloudy water or green water arise.

To start, we have here a swimming pool chemicals list that you should always have in stock. Hey, you could even call this pool chemicals for dummies!

Most Important Pool Chemicals To Have

Pool owners should always have these pool chemicals on hand to keep their pool water balanced and safe to use.

Test Kit or Test Strips

Before you can start balancing your pool’s water chemistry, you have to know the current levels of the chemicals in your pool. Make sure that you know how to properly test your pool water, and always keep water testing supplies on hand. Here are the best pool test kits we’ve reviewed.

Chlorine Tablets and Pool Shock

Chlorine is the most popular pool sanitizer to keep your water clean and free of bacteria, viruses, and algae. Chlorine levels in swimming pools should be kept between 1 to 3 ppm. There are also other alternatives to chlorine that you can explore for your pool.

pH Increaser and Decreaser

Anything that enters your pool will have an effect on your water’s pH level. For this reason, you must have both a pH increaser and a pH decreaser if a need arises that you need to use either of the two.

Alkalinity Increaser and Decreaser

The alkalinity of your pool water is directly related to your pH levels and this pool chemical helps prevent your pH level from drastically moving up and down the scale.

Calcium Hardness Increaser

Clorox Pool&Spa 12204CLX Calcium Hardness Increaser, 4 lb, White
  • Increases low Total Hardness levels in swimming pool water
  • Prevents corrosion, etching, and staining
  • Prevents pool surface damage
  • Ideal for plaster pools and soft water areas

A low calcium hardness level often leads to scaling and corrosion of your pool surfaces, and the best way to prevent that from happening is by using a Calcium Hardness increaser.

Algaecides

Algae blooms are often the worst nightmares of pool ownership. Using algaecides in your pool will prevent algae from growing and keep your pool water clear.

Clarifiers

HTH 67023 Super Clarifier Swimming Pool Cleaner, 32 fl oz
  • BENEFITS: Clears up dull, cloudy or hazy pool water so you can relax in crystal clear water all summer long
  • USE: Apply directly to pool water or skimmer; Use 4-12 hours after HTH Shock! and HTH Algaecide products for best results
  • COMPATIBILITY: Great for all pool types including all pool surfaces and saltwater systems
  • FEATURES: Does not affect pool’s pH levels; Improves filter efficiency to remove dead algae and organic debris; Fast-acting, concentrated formula

A pool clarifier is the go-to option for clearing cloudy pool water fast. It enables your filter to clear your pool effectively from those tiny particles that are causing your water to be murky.

Ultimate Swimming Pool Chemicals List

Sanitizers

Arguably the most important of all pool chemicals, sanitizers control bacteria and algae growth. They greatly reduce the risk of viruses and other microorganisms, as well as help to maintain water clarity.

Chlorine

  • Chlorine eliminates waterborne pathogens.
  • It is the most common pool sanitizer.

Chlorine is a halogen-based oxidizer that is commonly used on swimming pools to destroy and deactivate various dangerous bacteria and viruses in your pool water. Chlorine comes in liquid, tablet, and granular form. Liquid and granular chlorine are best for pool shocking while tablets are best used in maintaining the chlorine supply in your pool.

Bromine

  • Bromine is an alternative to chlorine that’s easier on the skin and has less odor.
  • It is more effective in killing algae than chlorine.

Bromine makes compounds called bromamines that works to disinfect your pool water. Pool owners with very sensitive skin may prefer to use bromine since it does not cause as much skin and eye irritation as chlorine. Bromine comes in tablet or granular form.

Note: Bromine is more expensive than chlorine and works best in indoor pools and spas.

Polyhexamethylene Biguanide or Biguanide

Baquacil Sanitizer
  • Swimming Pool Sanitizer and Algistat
  • Chlorine-Free
  • Biguanide is an effective microbe killer and helps prevent bacteria growth.
  • It also does not break down in high temperatures, unlike chlorine.

Biguanide is an alternative to chlorine and bromine products and is considered to be a very swimmer-friendly sanitizer. However, it will not work with any other kinds of sanitizing chemical.

If you plan to use biguanide to sanitize your swimming pool, you also have to use hydrogen peroxide to kill other contaminants that this pool chemical cannot break down like body oils, sweat, and any other chemicals that your body releases when you’re using your pool.

Warning: Pools using biguanide are prone to cloudy water or foaming.

Ionizer

No products found.

  • Pool ionization keeps your water clean without using any harsh chemicals.
  • This is the best pool sanitizer for people with very sensitive skin.

A swimming pool ionizer sanitizes pool water by releasing positively charged silver and copper ions into the water to get rid of viruses and bacteria. Ionization eliminates the need to use high levels of chlorine or bromine in your pool. However, to achieve the best pool sanitization, you still have to supplement your ionizer with chlorine on a weekly basis.

Warning: Ionization can cause brown or black stains to appear on your pool surfaces if there’s constant high copper levels.

Pool Shocks/Oxidizers

Similar to sanitizers, pool shocks aid in controlling the bacteria and algae growth in your swimming pool. A shock’s main purpose is to destroy organic compounds present in your pool and the sanitizer bi-products in it like chloramines and bromamines.

Pool owners are advised to shock their pool once a week or once every two weeks depending on how often you use your pool.

Tip: Pool shocks quickly disappear from your pool because of the sun’s UV rays, so the best time to shock your pool will be during night or dusk. You should leave your pool pump running to distribute the shock properly around your pool.

Sodium Dichloro-S-Triazinetrione or Sodium Di-Chlor

In The Swim Sodium Di-Chlor Chlorine Granular - 5 Pound Bucket
  • Powerful quick-dissolving chlorine shock treatment that is great for regular maintenance
  • Main active ingredient is 99% Sodium Dichloro-S-Triazinetrione Dihydrate (Sodium Di-Chlor) with a minimum of 56% available chlorine
  • Does not contain calcium and is pH balanced
  • Dosage: 1 Pound per 10,000 gallons
  • Sodium Di-Chlor is a strong pool shock treatment that contains 55-62% active chlorine.

When dichlor reacts with pool water, it quickly turns into hydrochloric acid and hypochlorite ions and proceeds in eliminating any microscopic compounds in your pool.

This quick-dissolving pool shock contains cyanuric acid and comes in granular or tablet form. It has a pH level of around 7 (neutral) so it does not have much effect on the current pH level of your swimming pool.

Calcium-Hypochlorite or Cal-Hypo

In The Swim Calcium Hypochlorite Chlorine Granular Pool Shock - 50 Pounds
  • NOTE: You must be present to sign for delivery of this item.
  • NOTE: This item cannot be shipped to Alaska or Hawaii (item will be removed from your order).
  • 65% Available Chlorine (35% Calcium).
  • Non-stabilized formula is ideal for super shocking or everyday use.
  • A better alternative to Sodium Di-Chlor, Cal-Hypo is the most common form of granular pool shock and is the least expensive.

Shocking your pool with calcium hypochlorite will help ensure your pool is well-defended against bacteria, algae, and other water contaminants.

When calcium hypochlorite is added to your pool, it goes against microbes and other organic contaminants. Its chlorine compounds will start to destroy the functions of cells by bonding with enzymes and other cell components. By disabling their internal workings or rupturing the cell walls, it will shut the cell down, thus sanitizing your pool water.

Warning: Don’t use Cal-Hypo on pools with a pH of over 7.8 or high alkalinity or calcium levels. For every 1 ppm of free chlorine added, Cal Hypo also adds 0.7-0.8 ppm of calcium to your swimming pool.

Sodium Hypochlorite

On Sale Now!
Liquid Chlorine Pool Shock (Case - 4 Gallons) - 12.5% Sodium Hypochlorite
  • ✅ Premium Swimming Pool Shock - NSF/ANSI 60 Certified
  • ✅ Product Does Not Cloud Pool
  • ✅ Ready To Use, No Mixing Required - Great Choice for Pool Closings
  • ✅ Perfect For Pressure Washing, Sanitation & Other Related Uses
  • Sodium Hypochlorite is commonly referred to as liquid chlorine and is widely used in both residential and commercial pools.

The popularity of sodium hypochlorite is primarily due to the product’s availability, efficacy, and cost. Unlike Cal-Hypo, Sodium Hypochlorite is quick-dissolving and does not need to be pre-dissolved before using it in your swimming pool.

Liquid chlorine has a high pH level of 13 and is a preferred shock treatment to quickly remove algae.

Non-Chlorine Oxidizer or Monopersulfate

2-Pack Oxy-Spa Non-chlorine Hot Tub & Pool MPS Oxidizing Shock 2 x 1.5 lb (3 Lbs. Total)
  • (2) 1-1/2 lb. Bottles (3 lbs. total)
  • Granular Monopersulfate Oxidizing Shock
  • Unsurpassed quality - Equals or outperforms other brands
  • Maximum effectiveness in pools and hot tubs
  • Non-Chlorine Oxidizer will effectively remove oils from your pool and improve water clarity.

Non-chlorine oxidizer or Monopersulfate or MPS uses the power of active oxygen to eliminate contaminants in your pool water and allows chlorine to stay effective longer. It also does a good job of preventing chloramines from building up so you don’t need to super chlorinate often.

It will remove all organic material from your pool water and eliminate waste without the unpleasant side effects of chlorine shock. it is commonly used by mineral-based pool systems.

Lithium Hypochlorite or Litho Shock

  • Lithium Hypochlorite dissolves quickly and leaves very little residue.

Litho shock is a favorite of vinyl pool owners since it’s a great oxidizer with a low available chlorine percentage. It does not contain any calcium or cyanuric acid, unlike other pool shocks.

Unfortunately, due to limited lithium supplies, the production of Lithium Hypochlorite has been discontinued by most pool chemical manufacturers.

Water Balancers

Balanced pool water is clean, healthy, and safe to swim in. It also prevents damage to the structure of your pool and your pool equipment.

As a pool owner, you must accept the fact that your pool water is constantly changing all year round. Everything that comes into your swimming pool will affect your pool water balance and it’s your job to maintain the right balance.

pH Increaser

Clorox Pool&Spa 12104CLX pH Up, 4 lb, 4lb
  • Raises low pH in swimming pool water
  • Reduces eye irritation for swimmers
  • Guards against corrosion
  • For best results, use with the Clorox Pool App
  • Easily increase the pH level in your swimming pool.

pH is a measure of your pool’s acidity. Pool water with a pH level below 7 is considered acidic and may not be safe to swim on. The main causes of low pH in pools include heavy rains and having lots of organic waste/debris in your pool.

The best way to increase the pH level in swimming pools to 7.2 to 7.6 pH is by making use of pH increasers. Restoring your pH level to neutral will prevent corrosion and protect you from experiencing dry itchy skin and eye irritation.

pH Decreaser

Clorox Pool&Spa 12105CLX pH Down, 5 lb
  • Lowers high pH in swimming pool water
  • Restores neutral pH
  • Protects from scale
  • Easier, safter than Muriatic acid - easy pour, no splash application
  • Easily decrease the pH level in your swimming pool.

A high pH level in your pool water makes waste chlorine and makes them inactive. The most common causes of high pH levels are aeration from water features and low total alkalinity levels.

If your pool’s pH level is more than 7.6, you must add an acid to bring it down to 7.2 to 7.6 and prevent scale formation on your pool surfaces. The common acids used to decrease pH are muriatic acid and sodium bisulfate or dry acid which is the active ingredient in most pH decreasers.

Alkalinity Increaser

No products found.

  • Helps increase the total alkalinity in your pool.

The level of alkalinity is a measurement of all carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides, and other alkaline substances present in your pool water. Total alkalinity is connected to the pH level of your swimming pool. Low alkaline water cause low pH level while high alkaline water leads to high pH level.

If your pool has low alkalinity, you need to use an Alkalinity Increaser to bring the total alkalinity level closer to 100 ppm.

Alkalinity Decreaser

Acid Blue Muriatic Acid - Swimming Pool pH Reducer Balancer | Buffered, Low-Fume - 1 Gallon
  • ✅ Vapor Reduction Technology reduces up to 90% of harmful vapors normally associated with 'old school' muriatic acid
  • ✅ Controls the pH level of water in pools - super effective pool water balancer
  • ✅ Brightens concrete & masonry surfaces
  • ✅ Removes stains from driveways or garage floors
  • Helps decrease the total alkalinity in your pool.

Commonly known as the buffering capacity of water, alkalinity helps prevent pH from drifting. A high alkalinity in your pool will often lead to algae bloom and calcium buildup.

If your pool has high alkalinity, you need to use an Alkalinity Decreaser to bring the total alkalinity to the recommended levels which is 80 to 120 ppm. Similar to decreasing the pH level, the most common pool chemicals used to decrease alkalinity contains muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate.

Calcium Hardness Increaser or Calcium Chloride

Clorox Pool&Spa 12204CLX Calcium Hardness Increaser, 4 lb, White
  • Increases low Total Hardness levels in swimming pool water
  • Prevents corrosion, etching, and staining
  • Prevents pool surface damage
  • Ideal for plaster pools and soft water areas

How hard or soft your pool water in terms of its Calcium Hardness level is important in keeping your pool balanced. The recommended range is anywhere between 180 to 220 ppm.

Soft pool water often leads to corrosion of your pool structure and the best way to avoid this is by using Calcium Hardness increasers.

Note: For those who need to soften “hard” pool water, you can simply add new water to your pool to lower the calcium hardness content. You don’t need to rely on pool chemicals to do so.

Algaecides

This is highly recommended for outdoor pool owners as an added protection against algae. This pool chemical helps disrupt algae’s regular cellular processes and prevent it from taking over your whole swimming pool.

Quaternary Ammonia or Quat Algaecides

  • Most common and least expensive pool algaecide available today.

The ammonium compounds in quat algaecides act as surfactants in the water. This lowers the water’s surface tension, which splits open the algae cell walls and kills them in the process. This pool algaecide contains ammonium chloride salts at 5 to 10 percent concentrations.

Quat algaecides are in liquid form and may cause foam if your pool gets overdosed with it.

Note: Quat algaecides are used for prevention and are not to be used to kill existing algae in your pool.

Polyquats

  • Polyquats are better at preventing and removing algae from your swimming pool than Quat algaecides.

Unlike Quaternary Ammonia, Polyquats are can handle and kill many types of algae such as those green, mustard, and black algae. Polyquats contain ammonium chloride salts at 30 to 60 percent concentrations and they don’t foam when used in your pool.

Mineral

  • Mineral-based pool algaecides helps prevent and destroy algae in your pool.

Currently, there are two types of mineral-based pool algaecides, those containing copper sulfates or colloidal silver. They work by creating residuals on your pool’s interior surface where algae is usually found. These pool algaecides are often by pool owners experiencing persistent algae growth.

Borates

  • Borate does not only stabilize the pH in your pool but it also inhibits the growth of algae.

Borate prevents algae from undergoing photosynthesis and starve them by stopping their metabolism. Borate is also a good way to control corrosion in your pool by acting as non-oxidizing anodic inhibitors.

Sodium Bromide or Bromine Salts

  • Bromine salts are not technically algaecide but when used with granular chlorine, they help kill algae in your pool effectively.

Bromine salts are considered shock enhancer since it helps create hypobromous acid which has algae-killing properties. Bromine salts are effective in destroying mustard and black algae.

Specialty Pool Chemicals

These are the pool chemicals that can come in handy when an unexpected pool problem arise, or to better keep your pool in good condition.

Clarifiers

HTH 67023 Super Clarifier Swimming Pool Cleaner, 32 fl oz
  • BENEFITS: Clears up dull, cloudy or hazy pool water so you can relax in crystal clear water all summer long
  • USE: Apply directly to pool water or skimmer; Use 4-12 hours after HTH Shock! and HTH Algaecide products for best results
  • COMPATIBILITY: Great for all pool types including all pool surfaces and saltwater systems
  • FEATURES: Does not affect pool’s pH levels; Improves filter efficiency to remove dead algae and organic debris; Fast-acting, concentrated formula
  • Clarifiers are used to clear cloudy water.

Pool clarifiers contain polymers that act as coagulants for these tiny particles to clump together. This makes it easy for your pool filter to capture and keep these particles from reentering your swimming pool.

Cyanuric Acid (Stabilizer)

Pool Mate 1-2604B Swimming Pool Stabilizer and Conditioner, 4-Pounds
  • Increases Cyanuric Acid Level
  • Decreases Chlorine Loss due to Sunlight
  • Reduce Chlorine Consumption up to 25%
  • Contains 100% Cyanuric Acid
  • Stabilizer helps protect chlorine molecules from dissipating rapidly because of the sun’s UV rays.

Cyanuric acid is used to stabilize the chlorine in your pool so the sanitizer that you’re using will last longer. This keeps your pool water clean longer.

Tile and Vinyl Cleaner

On Sale Now!
In The Swim Super Pool Tile and Vinyl Cleaner - 1 quart
  • Extra-strength all-purpose tile and vinyl cleaner and degreaser
  • Removes the toughest waterline build-up and organic scum ring
  • Leaves no oily, sticky residue
  • Use as needed
  • Tile and vinyl cleaners are used to remove oils and grease build up in your pool.

This pool chemical is often alkaline-based and helps remove organic scum marks and calcium deposits.

Filter Cleaners

On Sale Now!
HTH 67025 Filter Cleaner Care for Swimming Pools, 1 qt
  • BENEFITS: Clears out all the gunk that the swimming pool filter catches so that it can continue to run correctly and keep your water ready for fun all season long
  • USE: Apply in the evening and allow to work overnight
  • COMPATIBILITY: Great for all types of pool filters including cartridges, D.E. and sand filters; for all pool types including saltwater systems
  • FEATURES: Helps filtrations system to work more efficiently and last longer
  • Mainly used to keep your pool filter in tip-top shape.

Filter cleaners are for sand, cartridge, and diatomaceous earth (DE) filter elements to effectively remove oils, minerals, metals, and other foreign elements and keep your filter system working properly.

Metal Removers

Pool Mate 1-2550 Metal Out Swimming Pool Mineral Remover, 1-Pack
  • This product helps prevent discoloration of pool water due to iron, calcium, manganese, copper and other metals and minerals which may be present in the water supply
  • This product is an excellent general purpose sequestrant which helps protect plumbing and pool walls from rust, stain and scale
  • It should be used for all pool openings and closings and throughout the season as needed
  • 1 quart per 10,000 gallons
  • Metal removers prevent staining and water discoloration in your pool.

Metal removers work by removing heavy metals in your pool water with the help of your pool filter. This leaves your water clean and free of heavy metals that cause stains on your pool surfaces.

Stain and Scale Inhibitors

Bosh Chemical Vanish Pool & Spa Stain Remover (2LBS)- Natural Safe Citrus Based, Works Excellent on Vinyl, Fiberglass, and Metals, Removes Rust and Other Tough Stains
  • ✅ FAST EASY and SAFE USE--Naturally remove stains from pool linings and underwater surfaces without scrubbing. Completely safe for your pool, produced from citrus by-products. Works on fiberglass...
  • ✅ SIMPLE TO APPLY- Simply pour Vanish Pool Stain Remover into the pool around the stained area and watch the stains disappear. You may choose to mildly brush the surface for heavier stains.
  • ✅ HIGHLY EFFECTIVE AGAINST METAL STAINS- Occasionally pools can get excess metals from pool components, heaters, or piping. Our formula easily dissolves the toughest rust and metal stains from your...
  • ✅ TREATS UP TO 20,000 GALLON OF WATER!!!
  • Stain and scale inhibitors control that stains caused by minerals.

This pool chemical is often used on pools with high Calcium Hardness levels to prevent the formation of scale.

Start-Up Kits and Closing Kits

  • These kits are used for opening and winterizing swimming pools.

Whether you need to close your pool for the winter or reopen it for the new pool season, these pool kits will surely make performing those tasks easy.

Hopefully, our list here has been helpful in your quest in keeping your swimming pool in great shape. It’s best to consider your current pool’s size and location as well as your pool usage before buying pool chemicals. It’s a good way to determine which ones you really need and how much should you get for each chemical that you’ll be using.

If you also need help figuring the best place to store your pool chemical, you should check out our post, How To Store Pool Chemicals.

Shade Ideas for Your Pool

Can we feature your pool on this site?

We are always working on new content here at OwnThePool.com and we love to feature pictures of our readers' pools! We're always looking for:

  • Pool Design & Landscaping Ideas
  • Backyard Oasis
  • Shade Ideas

Send to publisher@ownthepool.com

Leave a Comment