How to Use, Handle, and Store Pool Chemicals

The chemicals used for cleaning your swimming pool, killing bacteria, and sanitizing the water and the filter, are – surprise, surprise! – chemicals.  Like any chemicals in our modern world, they are beneficial if handled and used properly, but dangerous, even deadly if they’re handled improperly or carelessly.  Below are a few common sense guidelines for the correct handling and storage of your swimming pool chemicals.

Handling of pool chemicals

Always add the chemicals to the water rather than the other way around.  These chemicals are formulated and designed to be added to large quantities of water.

For example, a 24-foot diameter above-ground pool, filled to the 4-foot mark will hold 13,594 gallons of water.  Swimming pool chemicals are intended to be added  to that much water.  Trying to work in the other direction, by adding water to the chemicals, will create a dangerously concentrated mixture which could result in deadly fumes, injuries, or fire.

Only use these chemicals with the proper equipment.  Swimming pool cleaners and chemicals are created to work together to clean and sanitize your swimming pool.  Using the wrong equipment with them could result in the creation of more corrosion and gunk in your pool instead of less.

Be careful you don’t spill these chemicals when you’re using them.  In their undiluted form, they can be very caustic.  They can also leach into the soil, contaminating it beyond your ability to correct it.  The EPA won’t necessarily come looking for you, but chemical spills are  their reason for existing and legally, you’re liable under the law for any spills or ground or groundwater contamination resulting from it.

seal of the EPA

Image credit: DonkeyHotey, Flickr 

Read the directions on the package.  Chemicals have to be used precisely as instructed in order for you to be safe and for them to be effective.  If you have any doubts about how you’re supposed to use the chemicals, stop and call the manufacturer or a local swimming pool store.  They’re usually more than happy to help you in any way they can.

Storage of pool chemicals

Swimming pool chemicals don’t always last forever.  Some of them will even begin self-reacting over time if they’re stored too long.  Depending on the chemical, this could have harmful consequences.  Check the expiration date or shelf life of every chemical you intend to store.  Make sure you understand it before storing it.

Swimming pool chemicals are intended to be reactive to water.  Humidity is also water.  If they’re stored too long in a container with a loose fitting top or a top that isn’t properly secured, they could begin reacting with the moisture in the air, creating dangerous fumes in the process.  Always make sure the top or lid is properly sealed when storing chemicals.

These chemicals also, by their very nature, react to sunlight.  They’ll begin breaking down or reacting in ways you won’t enjoy.  They also react badly to heat.

Store all swimming pool chemicals in a cool, dry, dark environment isolated from direct sunlight.  Make sure they’re safe from children and pets.  Make sure the storage area is properly ventilated.  A slow build up of fumes in an enclosed area can be deadly.  Always keep chemicals in their original containers.

Don’t . . .

  • Put chemicals in a different container with no labels
  • Place liquid chemicals above solid or powdered chemicals
  • Store chemicals in a shelf or area that is higher than your head
  • Stack chemical containers
  • Store acids and oxidizers near each other
  • Reuse empty containers
  • Keep them near any non-pool chemicals

Properly stored and handled, chemicals aren’t a hazard to anyone.  Following these simple rules will keep you and your family safe.