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Swimming Pool Myths

This article looks at some of the more common swimming pool myths and the truth behind them. Most of the myths discussed here revolve around water quality. As we stress here at TFP, testing your water daily with a reliable drops-based kit and balancing it is the most effective way to maintain a safe and sanitary swimming environment. No gimmicks, no expensive treatments; just five minutes a day!

Myth #1: Chlorine will turn my blond hair green “I spent the day swimming in my friend’s pool and now my formerly blond locks (natural, of course) are GREEN! Her chlorine level must be sky-high for that to have happened!! 
It is not the chlorine in the pool water that is turning your hair green, but the copper! Copper is introduced into your pool either from a ‘mineral system’ or from certain copper-based algaecides. Chlorine is the most effective algaecide around, so if you maintain proper chlorine levels, you have no need for algaecides anyway. Mineral systems are discussed in Myth #4.

Myth #2: Chlorine pools smell bad
Yes, Mr. Honest-Pool-Store-Man, I agree chlorine pools smell awful! How much for that alternative NatureBaquaFrog2 system? A properly maintained chlorine pool has virtually no smell at all. The “chlorine odor” actually comes from combined chloramines (CCs). CCs are formed as the free chlorine is ‘used up’ by organics in the water. If you are only testing for ‘total chlorine’ you may think your chlorine levels are fine. But CCs are no good at sanitizing your water, and in fact you need to get rid of them. The sun also burns them off, but you need to bring your water up to shock level and hold it there until you have 0ppm CCs.

Myth #3: Rashes, swimmer’s ear, and red stinging eyes are caused by high levels of chlorine
Ouch! Stupid chlorine in the community pool caused my baby to get a rash on his tushy! Rashes and swimmer’s ear are usually caused by bacteria. Many times the rashes develop under the bathing suit, where the environment is warm and damp. Same thing for swimmer’s ear. The bacteria get into the ear, water is trapped with it, and the bacteria thrive. To help prevent rashes, rinse promptly after getting out of the pool. You can use commercial drops, or drops made from one part alcohol and one part vinegar before and after swimming to help prevent swimmer’s ear. You also need to shock your pool to kill the bacteria and maintain a safe, sanitary environment.

My eyes! My eyes! Most of the time, red stinging eyes are caused either from improper pH or high CC levels. Your tears have a pH of 7.4, and any value too far either higher or lower causes irritation. Again, the presence of CCs indicate that you need to shock the water.

Myth #4: Mineral systems are good alternative sanitizers.
With all the push for “natural” things, one might conclude that a mineral system would be great for your pool. After all, minerals are natural and healthy, right? Not in this case. The minerals here refer to the metals silver and copper. While these metals do kill algae, there can be many other contaminants in your water. These minerals do NOTHING to destroy these other pathogens. All mineral systems are used in conjunction with chlorine, which is proven to kill all of the complex pathogens found in your water, including algae. If you are using chlorine anyway, and properly maintaining your water, you have no need for the added ‘minerals’ and in fact they can cause problems of their own, like staining and green hair.

Myth #5: Wait an hour after eating to get in the swimming pool, or you’ll get a cramp and die
Ah, Mom. She always had your best interest at heart! But it was always SO hard to wait, when the water was SO inviting! So could you REALLY die from swimming too soon after eating that PB&J? Not likely. As your food is digesting, more blood goes to the stomach and other digestive organs to speed the process along. This means there is less blood for your muscles. If you are using your muscles more than your body can handle, you can get a cramp. However, if you eat a sensible meal, and take it easy for a while after returning to the water, even the risk of a cramp is very low. Now, if you consume a seven-course meal fit for Henry VIII and immediately commence to swim a marathon, you could have a different result!

This covers just a few on the common myths we see as pool owners. Before you assume something to be fact, be sure to do a little research and find out for yourself.