Chlorine is the most used sanitizer for swimming pools. But some companies recommend bromine for their brand. Some pool owners are even confused about whether to use chlorine or bromine for their pools. One came to us the other day to confirm whether he can put bromine in his pool as his supplier recommended.
The answer to that question is “Yes”. Bromine can be used in a pool as a disinfectant. At a higher temperature of about 75°F, bromine is more stable than chlorine. However, being stable at higher temperatures doesn’t make it the best sanitizing agent for your pool. Chlorine is more common among pool owners and it is the most effective disinfectant.
Bromine is preferred by some pool owners because it has no odor. Moreover, it is a disinfectant, oxidizing and anti-algae treatment product for swimming pool water. It eliminates microbes, bacteria, and algae from the pool.
The disinfection of swimming pools with bromine is one of the best alternatives to chlorine, as it is a very effective chemical to kill algae, bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It works well over a wider range of pH levels and its oxidative capacity destroys any organic matter in pool or spa water.
Bromine, even though it is toxic, is widely used to sanitize spas/hot tubs because it is more stable than chlorine in warmer temperatures. Bromine combines with bacteria in pool water to neutralize the same way chlorine does. But a good portion of the bromine stays active even after combining with the bacteria.
Bromine works actively despite variations in water temperature or UV rays. It is, therefore, the ideal disinfectant for spas and indoor pools where the water temperature exceeds 23°C. However, its effectiveness depends on the pH of the water, which must be above 7.
More and more private pool owners are opting for bromine treatment. Despite being more expensive, bromine has significant advantages even over chlorine that is most popular.
Although bromine is not the most common swimming pool treatment, it is as effective as chlorine and much less restrictive daily. Bromine is also the best alternative for people with allergies to chlorine. So how do we use bromine, what are its advantages and disadvantages?
If you are using bromine in your pool, it is better to learn how it works, how to maintain it, how to measure and readjust the bromine level, and the cost of this type of treatment.
Due to its effectiveness and cost, many consider bromine as a disinfectant for high-end swimming pools.
Why some brands recommend the use of bromine
- When bromine combines with organic matter; it produces so-called bromamines (NHBr2), also known as combined bromine. Unlike the well-known chloramines, bromamines do not irritate the mucous membranes, we will also forget about unpleasant odors. Best of all, the combined bromine remains effective in disinfecting water.
- The combined bromine does not produce irritation or odor and maintains its disinfecting power.
- Bromine maintains its effectiveness with significant fluctuations in pH.
- In bromine treatments, the recommended pH is between 7.2 and 7.8, although it can tolerate up to 9 according to some manufacturers.
- It is much less corrosive than chlorine as it is not so volatile, and it also remains stable at higher temperatures.
- Still 80% effective even with high pH or water temperature (against 20% for chlorine)
- It is not sensitive to sunlight
- It is soft and completely odorless
- Bromine doesn’t irritate the skin and mucous membranes like chlorine do.
Bromine can, however, be used to disinfect pools instead of using chlorine. However, there are some aspects to take into account if you decided to put bromine in your pool;
Bromine itself does not have disinfecting power, to acquire that quality, the bromide ion (Br-) needs to combine with an oxygen atom to form hypobromous acid (HbrO). This acid is the one that has magnificent qualities to keep the water in our swimming pool in a good sanitary condition. It means that adding dry bromine does not make any sense, since it lacks disinfecting capacity. For this reason, an activator must be added to bromine, an oxidant that provides it with the oxygen atom it lacks to form hypobromous acid.
Bromine for pool disinfection
In contrast to chlorine, bromine is only available in 2.5 cm tablets and must be used in a feeder. It cannot be used in the skimmer basket. Bromine tablets only dissolve when water flows over and past them in a bromine feed. So if you decided to use bromine, you will need to buy a feeder that the tablets will be used in.
Since bromine dissolves slowly, it takes longer for a heavy residue to form in the water. Keep in mind that if your bromine levels drop, it will take longer to correct the situation than it would with chlorine.
Similar to how chlorine works, bromine produces compounds known as bromamines when it disinfects the water. However, unlike chloramines, bromamines remain active, continue to disinfect, and produce no odor or stinging in the eyes. Also, bromamines can be “reactivated” by shock treatment, which will restore them to full strength. But chloramines, as we mentioned earlier, are simply burned off.
It has been stated that bromine just like chlorine can be used to disinfect pools, so let’s take a look at the advantages of bromine disinfection.
Advantages of bromine disinfection
The advantages of disinfection with bromine have been told throughout this article, but to make it clear we are going to summarize it in four key points;
- Bromine maintains its effectiveness, even at high pH levels. So, you may not bother so much about disinfection when your pool pH goes beyond the ideal range. Even with pH levels between 7 and 8, bromine maintains a disinfection level greater than 90%. But chlorine loses its effectiveness when the pH goes out of the range of 7 to 7.4.
- It maintains its effectiveness with water at higher temperatures, and this makes bromine the best option for the disinfection of indoor or heated swimming pools, hot tubs, spas, and of course any outdoor swimming pool, especially in Malaga where in the summer months it is very hot.
- Water disinfected with bromine does not smell or irritate. It can indeed produce bromamines but this by-product, unlike chloramines, has almost the same disinfection capacity as free bromine. When using this disinfectant, it is not worth distinguishing between free bromine and combined bromine as with chlorine, since all the bromine present in the water acts as a disinfectant.
- It has a high algaecide capacity. Even in low concentrations, bromine surpasses chlorine in the control and elimination of algae. If you often have algae problems in your pool and suffer from some of the problems mentioned above, you should seriously consider using bromine for disinfection.
Disadvantages of bromine disinfection
- Bromine is more expensive. Also, if you go for the tablet formulation, you will need to invest in installing a brominator. It is, therefore, advisable to reserve it for small pools or hot tubs.
- Bromine is very corrosive. When not diluted in water, bromine is very corrosive. It is, therefore, imperative to handle and store it with caution. In particular, it must be stored away from air and light, and above all, inaccessible to children and animals.
- The bromine must be properly dosed: any excessive dosage requires emptying a large part of the basin, which is neither economical nor ecological.
- Bromine is an irritant to animals. If humans are less sensitive to it, animals react more to it. They must therefore stay away from the pool.
- Allergies are very rare compared to chlorine, but they do exist. Swimming in water treated with bromine may cause reactions in some swimmers. In particular, coughing, sneezing, itching, wheezing, redness of the skin, and dry skin.
How to maintain your swimming pool with bromine daily
The daily maintenance of a bromine swimming pool is not very restrictive because of the bromine slow diffusion. The chemical should be added about once every two weeks. It is also possible to use a bromine regenerator. On the other hand, it is recommended to monitor the pH of your pool water every week because the effectiveness of bromine depends on it. Depending on the results, adjust the pH with pH- or pH+ product.
Too much bromine? To lower the level of bromine in your pool, you have two solutions: drain part or all of your pool or use a bromine neutralizer. If you are draining, it is sometimes difficult to know how much water to remove. The pH must then be readjusted and more bromine added to obtain the desired level.
The bromine neutralizer makes it possible to reduce the level of bromine or to eliminate the bromine. It is useful for lowering the bromine level or when you decide to switch to chlorine treatment. As a general rule, count 2 grams of neutralizer per cubic meter of water to be treated and per milligram per liter of bromine to be deactivated.
Pool products incompatible with bromine
If you want to change the treatment for your pool and switch from chlorine to bromine, it is important to remove all traces of chlorine because bromine is incompatible with stabilized chlorine. It is also incompatible with all acidic products.
Bromine for swimming pools exists in different forms:
- In pebbles or briquettes: in this form, just place it in the feeders and let it act.
- In pellets: the bromine pellets must be placed in a bromine diffuser, also called a brominator. It should be connected to the filtration system for continuous and progressive diffusion. This option is recommended because bromine dissolves less quickly than chlorine and its action is therefore slower.
Bromine can be purchased mainly in two formats:
- In the form of sodium bromide, known as bromine salt (BrNa)
- In bromo-chlorine tablets, they are very slow dissolving tablets, which are allowed to dissolve in the skimmer.
How much does it cost to treat a swimming pool with bromine?
Bromine is around 30-40% more expensive than chlorine. This is one of the main reasons pool owners prefer using chlorine. Plan a budget of $60 – $100 to buy a bucket of 5kg of bromine and $45 on average for a bucket of chlorine of the same weight. At the price of bromine, we must also add the price of the brominator. Depending on the model chosen, you will have to spend between $100 and $300.
Bromine treatment comes in two forms
In tablets (slow dissolution) used as a regular treatment of swimming pool water. Since bromine is very reactive, you need to frequently monitor the level of the disinfectant. You may have some challenges while doing it manually, so it is better to install a brominator that will test and regulate the level of free bromine in the water.
However, you need to store and handle the bromine with great care because it is very corrosive when not diluted in water.
In tablets or briquettes (rapid dissolution) for shock treatment to quickly raise the bromine level in the water, an operation that can be combined with destabilized chlorine.