When it comes to disinfecting swimming pools, it comes down to two options: chlorine or bromine. The traditional chlorine is still more widely used because of its commercial availability and ease of use, but there are factors that certainly support the usage of bromine as well. Proper maintenance of a swimming pool is critical, so before making a decision, it is important to have a good understanding of how each chemical works.
The two chemicals react very differently in the water when it comes to removing unwanted bacteria from a swimming pool. Chlorine tends to dissolve the bacteria and itself along with it, washing out of the pool entirely after purifying the water. Bromine neutralizes the bacterial content of the pool continuously and stays present in the water for much longer. Because of this, less bromine is needed when disinfecting a pool.
The most notable ingredient in chlorine is bleach, which has a very distinct smell on clothes, skin and hair. Many find the fumes to be unpleasant or even dangerous if they are exposed to them for long periods. On the other hand, bromine has what is widely viewed as an imperceptible smell, both while you are in the water as well as on your skin and clothes when you emerge from the water.
Bromine is often used when sensitive skin is an issue, as the bleach components of chlorine are very harsh on certain skin types and can cause excessive dryness. A pool filled with bromine disinfectant will have fewer reported issues of skin or eye irritation. Furthermore, since bromine contains no bleach content, water treated with it is much easier on swimsuits. Additionally, excessive exposure to chlorine has been linked in various studies with heart disease and various types of cancer.
Standard one-inch tablets cost about $70 for chlorine and about $75 for bromine, making chlorine the cheaper option. This difference may not seem like much, but over time it adds up to a considerable amount. The good news for bromine users is that it tends to hang around in the water longer and work in smaller doses, so they may not use as much of it over time, erasing chlorine's cost advantage.
Ease of Use
A big edge for chlorine is how easy it is to apply to water, even for beginning pool owners. While bromine dissolves better in water temperatures over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, chlorine is more effective in temperatures less than 75. Chlorine comes in several forms and can easily be stored in tablet form in a floating device that stays in the pool, keeping the levels perfect for up to a week. Bromine, on the other hand, is more difficult to dissolve well, and must be inserted into the pool through an automatic feeder that requires separate installation.
Spencer Hendricks has written for various well-regarded blogs. His work has appeared in the "Kickapoo Prairie News" and online at sprayahen.com and Spencer Vs. The Food Industry. He is currently in the process of obtaining a degree in Web development.