Do You Really Need All These Chemicals For A Pool Or Are They Just Trying To Get Your Money?

by Madison
(Clear Blue Pool eBook)

We bought chlorine, pH up, pH down, algaecide, shock plus, and test strips. Overall like a ton of money was spent.

It says we have to have stuff for total hardness, stabilizer, and total alkalinity too, but we don't have any more money to spend because we are broke!!!!

Do you really need those 3 things, or are they just trying to make you spend more money? Because according the test strips we have to have those things.


BTW, my water reading was:

Total Hardness: Very Low
Total Chlorine: Ok
Free Chlorine/Bromine: Very Low
pH: Low
Total Alkalinity: Very Low
Stabilizer: Very Low

Now, I have no idea how to take care of a pool or what to put in it or anything. It's so confusing.

Someone please help me!! It isn't that big of a pool at all. It's a small one from walmart with a small filter and it's about 2ft deep and 8 ft wide.

I don't want to spend all that much money on a pool this small, I just want one to play in! Please help me on how to care for my pool water.


P.S.: If NEED to have those things, are there any cheap substitutes? I really can't buy them. I'm just curious in case we get more money somehow.

Please help. I really hope we don't have to have those things, because we really can't buy them.

Thanks in advance.

Thanks for the question Madison, and I'm sure many people feel the same way you do.

I'm going to try to be as diplomatic as I can.

First, you do need to test the water. This is were a good pool test kit comes in handy. I've always used and recommend a Taylor FAS-DPD K-2006 pool test kit.

Pool Water Testing

Water Testing Kit

For a little play pool, something to just splash around in, you can use the strips. If something goes wrong with the water, it's very easy to drain, clean it, and refill.

This might surprise you, but some "pool chemicals" can be purchased at your local grocery store in the laundry isle. You can use bleach instead of liquid chlorine. It's the same thing, called sodium hypochlorite.

Bleach (at about 6.5% sodium hypo., water, and a little salt) is just a watered down version of chlorine (about 12 - 16% sodium hypo., water, and a little salt). But, being that bleach is at a lesser strength, you'll use more of it and it may cost you a little more in the long run than using regular liquid chlorine.

Swimming Pool Chlorine

Pool Shock

Pool Chlorine

Next is the pH and alkalinity up. You can use regular Arm & Hammer baking soda for both. This is called sodium bicarbonate. It just depends on how you put it in the pool that matters.

Go to these links to see how to add the sodium bicarb. to raise either the pH or alkalinity:

Proper pH Pools
Swimming Pool pH Levels

Pool pH

Alkalinity in pool water
Pool Alkalinity

Total Alkalinity

Or, if you just want to increase the pH, you can use 20 Mule Team Borax. This works great.

Next is the stabilizer, also called cyanuric acid (CYA). This is
where you might need actual pool chemicals. A stabilizer helps the chlorine by buffering it from the sun and heat. You find this in Trichlor tablets.

Chlorine Tablets

Pool Chlorine Tablets

There are different size tablets, ranging from 1" to 3". With a smaller pool, you can buy a tab floater and 1" chlorine tabs. This will help chlorinate the pool all week.

When you want to use the pool, simply take the floater and put it in a bucket or empty coffee can. Don't put in on the grass because the chlorine will kill it.

When you're finished swimming, place the floater back in the pool. You will be getting a small dose of CYA with the tablets and the only way to reduce the CYA is to drain 1/3 - 1/2 of the water, refill, and balance the chemicals again.

Next is the algaecide.

When I had my route of 50 pools in Arizona, only on rare occasions did I use an algaecide. The only time I ever shocked a pool is when a pool owner called me and said his pool turned green.

I never shocked my regular customer's pools. Didn't need to. I maintained the chlorine levels each week so algae blooms and green pool water never happened.

This is because I kept the chlorine level between 1.5 - 3.5ppm and the CYA between 30 - 50ppm. It's the chlorine that kills the algae and bacteria.

If the chlorine is kept in check, and it's doing its job, and I'm testing the pool water twice per week, then why do I need to shock the pool? Or use an algaecide? Take a sample of your pool water to you local pool store and have them test for chloramines.

This is the organic matter that gets into pools in the way of sweat, urine, dead bugs, leaves, grass, etc...

If your chloramine level is not above 0.6ppm, there's no reason to shock the pool. Your chlorine is doing its job in killing off everything.

To keep the chloramines down, take a hot soapy shower before swimming, try to keep grass and leaves out of the pool, and have your kids (if you have any) use the bathroom.

Hardness is mainly for plaster pool. This is because water is hungry for calcium and will try to get it wherever it can. A plaster pool will experience pitting when the calcium is low. This is when big chunks are ripped away and you'll have a hole in the plaster. By adding calcium to the pool, you'll eliminate this.

You don't need to spend alot of money. You can spend around $15 - $20 per month on chemicals on a normal 25,000 gallons pool. Your pool is a bit smaller, so $15 - $20 is more than enough, once you get the pool water balanced out.

If you need immediate assistance (within 24 hrs) or for emergency personal assistance, you can make a donation of your choice and I'll answer your questions by phone.

If you've found this site helpful please consider making a donation. Thank you.

Hope this answers your question and have a fun and safe swimming season.

Your post can be found here:

Swimming Pool Questions and Answers


Comments for Do You Really Need All These Chemicals For A Pool Or Are They Just Trying To Get Your Money?

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Sep 30, 2016
Purity beats cheap
by: Anonymous

I have been working in the pool industry for 27 years off and on, I am cpo certified. I agree with some well most of the advice. First don't be a bad consumer the pool industry is full of them. Using a busy pools store to do your work for you then buying your supplies some where else is really dirty. The thing to do is find a honest pool store.

Don't take all the advice on the internet as 100 % fact. Everyone has an agenda.if you go into a pool store and they sack the counter everytime you go in then you know they are crooked. The biggest problem in using non pool chemicals or cheap chemicals is purity.

Lastly learn the science for yourself learn what inversion is, ravi index,saturation point, learn why you should use the right chlorine for the job. Don't just use liquid cuz uncle jed did. Learn how temperature effects chemicals, knowledge I'd power and will save you money.

Thanks for the comment and I'm sure you're sincere and coming from a point of wanting to help. The term "working in the pool industry" is wide and reaching. There are many different divisions of "the pool industry" as there are many divisions of medicine and law.

You wouldn't want an OBGYN to perform brain surgery on you or a podiatrist do open heart surgery. I have been in the pool industry for nearly 18 years, but that doesn't make me an expert on the construction of above ground pools. So we need to specifically define what is meant by that statement and how we fit in.

Nobody in this post told anyone to use the pool store to do the work, then go by products somewhere else. The products offered here such as bicarb and borax can be used with great effectiveness and for much less money. Arm & Hammer and 20 Mule Team Borax are great products and their purity has never been a question.

Next is honest pool stores. The honesty of the pool store employees is not in question. It's their knowledge of pool water chemistry and pool maintenance, which is severely lacking across the board and is evidenced by the numerous comments, questions, and written and video testimonies on my site.

And my site is evidence of the growing trend of more pool owners taking matters into their own hands and learning how to take care of their own pools and not relying on the pool store employee for the wrong information. My testimony page is filled with pictures of pools that were green and nasty but are now perfect due to the great education they get in the form of my site, eBooks, and phone consults.

Telling people go get educated is one thing. Offering them the resources and knowledge of how, when, where, why, etc.. is what they find here.

You're right that people shouldn't take what they read on the internet at 100%. Absolutely correct. But those that can empirical evidence of what they say and those that can demonstrate their abilities with perfect consistency and perfect results should be.


Jul 29, 2016
by: Anonymous

I am a novice - just installed a small 18 Ft. above ground pool and "my head" is swimming - pun intended. I really appreciate you sharing your wisdom!

Jun 15, 2016
Help With Pool
by: Anonymous

I have a 15,000 gallon aboveground pool with a sand filter. I can't get my water completely clear. I have been trying for a month. You can see to knee level but rest is cloudy, even when all is balanced. What do I do??

You can post a full set of chemical numbers, including your pool size, kind of filter, and all products you've used such as type of chlorine, algaecides, phosphate removers, and the kind of water you have (well or city).

You can also refer to my eBooks and consults that I have available for you:

Clear Blue Pool eBook
How To Clear Up A Green Pool eBook
Personal Phone Consultation



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