Swimming Pool Chemicals Beginner’s Guide

Maintaining the proper water chemistry of your swimming pool is just as important (if not even more) as keeping it clean of visible dirt, leaves, and other debris. If you are in the process of buying your first swimming pool, this article will help you understanding what chemicals go into your swimming pool and why. The right balance of chemicals keeps your pool water safe and clean for swimmers.

There are several pool chemicals used to maintain the proper water chemistry of your swimming pool, including sanitizers, algaecides, shocks, balancers and stabilizers. The right combination of them can result in a clean water, but it’s important to use them the proper way. an imbalance can have negative impact on the health of swimmers, and can also harm your filtering, pumping, and heating system.

It’s not enough for your pool to look crystal clear.  The pH level must also be maintained between 7.4 and 7.6.  Lower or higher pH levels can lead to eye and skin irritation as well as corrosion to the filter system.


Chlorine is the most popular swimming pool chemical used to kill pathogens in the water.  It can be purchased in the form of tablets, liquid or powder.  Chlorine is added to the water as calcium hypochlorite (a solid) or sodium hypochlorite (a liquid).  The compound reacts with water to form a variety of chemicals, including hypochlorous acid.  Hypochlorous acid sanitizes the pool by killing bacteria and other pathogens.

Chlorine can be added directly to the water using a chemical feeder.  Chlorine tablets can also be placed in skimmer boxes to provide a steady supply of chlorine.

Bromine is another type of swimming pool chemical used as a sanitizer.  It is similar to chlorine but has a less penetrating smell.


Algae make your pool water look cloudy, green or brown.  Algaecides destroy and prevent algae from growing.  This swimming pool chemical can be purchased in tablet or liquid form.


Shocks are high doses of swimming pool chemicals.  They are normally used after your pool has been active for a significant amount of time.  Shocks are also used periodically throughout the swimming season to disinfect the pool, kill algae, clear out organic matter and get rid of chloramines which irritate the skin and eyes.


Balancers are swimming pool chemicals that increase or reduce the pH level to maintain the proper acidity and alkalinity of the pool.  Soda ash, sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate are used to raise the pH level.  Muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate lower the pH level and make the water more acidic.


Stabilizers are important in swimming pools that use a chlorine-based sanitization system.  These swimming pool chemicals enhance the effectiveness of chlorine and help to make the chlorine levels last that bit longer before requiring top ups.

Many companies now offer swimming pool chemical kits that include all products you will need to keep your pool clean.  Special kits can also be purchased for the treatments you will need at the start and end of the pool season.  One of the best ways to buy your swimming pool chemicals is to buy in bulk online from leading pool supply companies.  Usually you can get some great deals, with free shipping thrown in and you will have enough chemicals to get you right through the swimming season, and then some.