Ultimate Pool Chemicals Guide – Everything You Need to Know For Clean Water

When it comes to your pool, crystal clear, clean water is a must, and this all starts with your pool chemicals.

Spring is on the horizon, and pool season will quickly follow.

Whether you’re having a new pool installed this season or are preparing to open yours as soon as the warmer weather hits, keeping a well-rounded collection of all the necessary pool chemicals is a must.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best pool chemicals to include in your routine and give you tips on the perfect levels for each one, leaving you with clean, clear water all season long.

Let’s dive in!

6 Pool Chemicals For a Clean Pool

Your swimming pool chemicals work in harmony to support the health of your water, ensuring it’s safe for you to be in and maintaining its clarity.

With the right combination, managing your water won’t be a challenging task, and these six pool chemicals are the perfect ones to keep on hand.

1. Pool Water Balancers

Your water has a significant impact on your swimming experience.

Improperly balanced water is not only unsafe to be in, but it can leave you with red, irritated eyes or dry and itchy skin.

Furthermore, your water affects your pool’s system and can even degrade your liner over time if not kept in proper balance.

Your water quality comes down to two basic factors, including your:

  1. pH
  2. Alkalinity


Your pH levels reflect how acidic your water is.

As contaminants enter your water, your pH levels will fluctuate in response. This is a natural occurrence, which is why it’s important to test your water regularly and treat it as necessary.

We recommend testing your water at least 3 times a week.

Ideally, you’ll want to maintain a pH level between 7.4 and 7.6.

This ensures the acidity of your water won’t cause corrosion to your pool and is safe to swim in, and also helps your sanitizer work more effectively.

To maintain your pH levels, you’ll need two chemicals:

  • pH increaser
  • pH decreaser

Each of these pool cleaning chemicals will help you bring your pH back into balance each time it falls out of the optimum range.


Your alkalinity keeps your pH stable, controlling the acidity of your water.

If it’s not kept within its recommended range, your water’s pH levels can quickly and dramatically fluctuate, making it difficult to maintain your water chemistry.

We recommend your alkalinity remain between 100 and 150 ppm, with 125pm being the most ideal.

Because alkalinity stabilizes your water’s pH, it has a strong influence over its levels as you treat your water with your alkalinity products.

For this reason, it’s essential you bring your alkalinity into balance first before attempting to balance your pH levels.

To maintain your alkalinity, you’ll need two products:

  • Alkalinity increaser (or baking soda)
  • pH decreaser

If your alkalinity has dropped below the recommended threshold, you’ll want to use an alkalinity increaser to boost it back up into balance.

If you prefer a more natural solution, you can try using baking soda instead.

If your alkalinity is too high, you’ll need to use your pH decreaser to bring it back down.

Simply add enough pH decreaser to bring your alkalinity down into the recommended range, then use your pH increaser to boost your pH back up.

2. Pool Sanitizer

Your sanitizer is the pool chemical that’s responsible for keeping your water clean, combating both bacteria and contaminants.

Sanitizers come in various forms, each with its own benefits, giving you a range of options to choose from.


Easily one of the most well-known and commonly used sanitizers is chlorine.

Not only is chlorine extremely effective, but it’s also one of the most affordable options on the market.

Chlorine typically comes in two forms:

  • Tablets
  • Granules

Tablets are one of the easiest ways to add chlorine to your water. Simply add the tablet to your skimmer or to a chlorine dispenser, and it’ll slowly dissolve into the water.

Granules, on the other hand, are added directly to your water and, while effective, don’t always dissolve evenly, which can result in patches of untreated water. 

When testing your water, you’ll want to ensure your chlorine levels remain at three ppm.

One thing to keep in mind with chlorine is that it needs to be stabilized to combat the harmful UV rays from the sun.

Exposure to the sun will break down your chlorine faster, however, by stabilizing it, your chlorine will become more durable.

You can do this by either buying a stabilized chlorine or adding cyanuric acid to your water if you’re using unstabilized chlorine.


Bromine is a chlorine-based sanitizer that isn’t as hard as traditional chlorine.

Some of the benefits of this sanitizer are that it leaves your water softer and doesn’t break down as quickly as chlorine as it treats your water.

Unfortunately, it’s a more costly option.

When using bromine, including a pool shock treatment is essential to combat the byproduct created as the bromine breaks down the bacteria in your water.

If using bromine, you’ll want to keep your sanitizer levels between 3 and 5 ppm, never allowing them to drop below 3 ppm.

Mineral Sanitizer

Mineral sanitizers are often made up of a combination of silver, copper, magnesium, and borates, effectively combating bacteria and algae simultaneously.

This is a sanitizer that works alongside your bromine or chlorine and is not effective enough to work on its own.

With that being said, it is a powerful addition to your sanitizer chemicals and can save you money over time by reducing the amount of chlorine or bromine needed to keep your water clean.

Something important to note is that using a mineral sanitizer changes the levels of chlorine you’ll want in your water.

When combining chlorine and minerals, you’ll want to maintain a chlorine level of 0.5ppm

Chlorine Free Sanitizer

Biguanide is one of the only chlorine-free sanitizers on the market.

While chlorine and bromine work to break down the bacteria in your water, biguanide instead works to clean your water by attracting contaminants together into clumps.

This makes it easier for your filter to remove any contamination, keeping it clean and safe to swim in.

Bigunaide is great for anyone who has a chlorine sensitivity and provides a gentler swimming experience that’s less harsh on the eyes and skin.

However, it’s easily one of the most expensive sanitizers and isn’t as effective as its chlorine counterparts.

If you’re using biguanide as your sanitizer, you’ll want to maintain levels between 30 and 50 ppm.

3. Calcium Hardness Increaser

If the water quality in your area is too soft and lacks minerals, you may need to include a calcium hardness increase in your pool chemical rotation.

This helps boost the hardness of your water, making it easier to balance your pH and alkalinity levels.

Calcium hardness has a significant impact on your water, making it cloudy if it’s too high or becoming acidic and resulting in corrosion if there isn’t enough.

Ideally, you’ll want your pool’s calcium hardness levels to be between 175-225 ppm.

4. Pool Shock

Shocking your pool is a vital part of keeping your water clean.

Essentially, this is just adding a high dose of chlorine to your water once a week to quickly break up any bacteria that your standard sanitizing dose wasn’t able to.

Pool shock can be either chlorinated or non-chlorinated and should always be added to your pool in the evening after the sun has set.

This ensures the sun doesn’t deteriorate your shock, essentially rendering it useless before it has a chance to work.

After adding it to your water, you’ll want to keep your pump running overnight to fully mix it into your water evenly.

5. Pool Algaecide

If your water is properly balanced and sanitized, algae should easily be kept at bay, but there’s always a risk of it developing at one time or another.

Algaecide doesn’t work to clear up existing algae in your pool, it simply prevents it from spreading further.

Should you discover algae blooms in your pool, you’ll want to add both an algaecide and a shock treatment.

While your shock works to break down the blooms, your algaecide will ensure they don’t continue to spread throughout your water.

6. Stain and Metal Removers

Whether you have a vinyl liner or concrete pool, stains are inevitable, and this is especially true if you live in an area with hard water.

While maintaining a cleaning schedule can help keep your pool clean, this isn’t going to be enough on its own.

Including a stain and metal remover can help combat this long-term.

Pool Chemicals in Salisbury, Maryland

The pool chemicals you keep in your routine play a vital role in keeping your water clean and clear, ensuring you can enjoy a safe, refreshing swim every day of the week.

With a well-rounded range of products that work together, maintaining your water’s health will be simple, and the team at Pool Tech in Salisbury has everything you need to kick off the season right.

With over 40 years of experience, we can easily help you manage any of your pool struggles or help you discover new products to add to your routine to make caring for your pool easier than ever.

Visit us in-store to re-stock all your pool chemical supplies, or contact our team of experts for any support you may need.

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