Chlorine vs Bromine: Which is Better for Swimming Pool Maintenance?

There is perhaps no better way to de-stress than taking a swim in the summer heat. However, nobody wants to swim in dirty, murky water, which may host multiple bacteria and germs. Hence, regular maintenance is imperative to keep your pool water clean and disinfected at all times. 

With multiple sanitizing options available these days, differentiating between their benefits and suitability is a frustrating task. The choice usually boils down to chlorine and bromine, the most preferred sanitizing options. 

It is necessary to know their properties, advantages and disadvantages to make an educated decision as to which water sanitizer to buy.

How do they work?

Chlorine and bromine both work differently as they are different chemical elements. According to ThePoolSupport, Chlorine does the job of a regenerative catalytic oxidizer and a sanitizer; it dissolves into the water within moments and disinfects it by killing bacteria.

However, the chlorine forms compounds called chloramines by mixing with other water elements, e.g. nitrogen. Chloramines hinder chlorine’s strength and, hence, more chlorine must be added 3-4 times a week.

Contrarily, bromine solely does the job of sanitizing. Therefore, bromine becomes active against bacteria after a long wait. However, it continues to be active against bacteria even after all the pool water has been disinfected. Therefore, bromine does not need to be topped up and rather only added once a week. 

What are their approximate costs?

Chlorine comes in multiple forms: solution, tablets or granules. The solution and granules do not require fancy machinery and are directly mixed in pool water; however, chlorine tablets need floating dispensers into which they are mixed to regulate chlorine levels. 

Bromine does not work if dispensed directly into pools. Instead, sophisticated equipment such as cartridge dispenses is needed, which increases the primary bromine usage cost. However, the cheaper option is bromine as it is topped up 4 times a month. Chlorine, on the other hand, must be added 4 times a week. 

Av average household pool is approximately 20,000 gallons. Chlorine as the sanitizing option will round up to around $600 per year in cost. An additional $20-50 floating feeder cost comes up if chlorine tablets are in use. However, bromine usage in a similar-sized pool takes monetarily $1,000 yearly, excluding the average $200 for installing bromine feeders. Hence, choosing chlorine is significantly cheaper for water sanitization. 

Do these pose health risks? 

Generally speaking, the safer choice is bromine, especially for those who suffer from eye or skin sensitivities, as it does not irritate them. However, bromine’s chemical base is made up of chlorine. So, both options are to be avoided if you are chlorine related allergies. 

Bromine comes without strong odors as compared to chlorine. However, bromine’s stability that maintains its activeness in pools also causes difficulty in rinsing the odor off of your body. Needless to say, this is not a problem if you do not suffer from any bromine related allergies.

Does the sun affect their sanitizing abilities?

Outdoor pools are always under the sun. This may pose an issue as chlorine and bromine are broken down by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Nonetheless, chlorine conditioners are available in the market to maintain its effectiveness. However, bromine is a better option for indoor pools as no product can be added to stabilize it in the sun. 

Heated vs. Unheated Pools:

Though sun-sensitive, bromine works better in high temperatures when put up against chlorine. It stays active in temperatures above 75°F while chlorine remains active in lower such as 65°F. Therefore, bromine is better suited for heated pools, while chlorine is appropriate for unheated pools.

Which is better?

This depends entirely on your budget, placement of the pool and any allergies you may have! Both chlorine and bromine are great sanitizing options, but you should only buy the one better suited for you. A thorough cost-benefit analysis that weighs both options against one another will help you make an informed decision about whether chlorine or bromine is better for you!