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Almost every pool chemical company has a borate product. Borates are natural mineral salts that are mined from the earth in Boron, CA. They are common in soaps, cosmetics and in the foods we eat every day. Boron is a micro-nutrient needed by all plants and animals for a healthy diet. Borates are also used in the manufacturing of glass, insulation and ceramics. Liquid borates dissolve faster in water but liquid or powder equally work as well as long as they are completely dissolved and cycled through the pump. Some borates are already pH adjusted where others require alkalinity to be monitored while a borate application is performed.

Borates can be used to control pH drift due to high aeration levels. Borates also help to control algae. Various subjective water quality and feel improvements are also attributes of borates. If you are not intentionally using borates there is no need to test for them. To use borates to control pH rise and algae, add borates to between 30 to 50 ppm.

With borate levels at 30 or above there is a chance that pets which drink the majority of their water from the pool might have some problems. Since pets should always be trained to not drink pool water, this shouldn't be a problem.

You increase borates by adding borax and acid, or by adding boric acid. 20 Mule Team Borax can be found in the laundry detergent section of most large grocery stores. Boric acid is available over the Internet. To lower borates, you have to replace water. Proteam's Supreme, Bioguard's Optimizer Plus, Omni's Maximizer, PoolProof and Poolife's Endure all contain borates.

Maintaining the balance of swimming pool water has always been a delicate and never-ending task. Just consider all the factors that affect your pool: water temperature, air temperature, hours of sunlight, size of the pool, number of swimmers, and then all the chemicals to prevent algae, balance pH, clarify water, balance hardness and on and on.

1. Water Clarity

When borate is in the pool water, it dissolves instantly and changes the refractive index of the water. As a result, light passing through the water gives it a brilliant crystal clear sparkle that is noticeably brighter and more eye appealing than standard water.

2. pH and Chemical Performance Enhancements

Swings in pH can require you to constantly add chemicals to bring the pH into balance. When borate is used in pool and spa water, it acts as a buffering solution which resists changes in pH when small quantities of an acid or an alkali are added. Since the pH change in pools is not drastic, borate can remove hydrogen ions or hydroxide ions that are introduced into the water that cause the pH to change. It also reduces eye irritation caused by hypochlorous acid formed by chlorine and reduces calcium scale and corrosion.

Many of the algaecides and sanitizers that are used in pools and spas tend to flash off when exposed to the sunlight’s ultraviolet rays. Borate discourages this chemical reaction and allows these chemicals to last longer in your pool or spa so you spend less money on chemicals.

3. Conservation

The addition of Borate can minimize the quantity of time needed to run your pump. Because Borate creates harmony in your pool or spa, there is less need for filtering. Borate users have reported pump reduction times which conserves energy and saves money. Borate is “GREEN” and can be discharged without fear of environmental impact.

4. Water Feel

Borate water feels similar to a water softener as it rejuvenates the layers of dry skin on your body and creates a smooth lotion feel on your skin. Chlorine pools and spas have a natural drying effect and damages skin cells. You may even feel like your skin is tightening after you come out of a pool without borate. Chlorine has been proven to speed up aging. So instead of feeling dried out after you leave the water, your skin has a silky smooth feel when it has borate in it.

How to Use Borate

There are several types of borate. A few are in liquid form and others are in a powder format. Borate is compatible with all other chemicals used to maintain your water balance in the normal maintenance of swimming pools, including saltwater pools and spas.

Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for required quantities. Run pool pump during application to recirculate properly. Run pump long enough to turn the water over once through the pump. Then test the ph level and make sure it is 7.4-7.6.

Water loss from filter backwash, splash-out, rainfall draining or winterizing draw down will reduce the amount of borate in your pool. Use a “Boron Indicator Test” to maintain 3650 ppm of boron and add product as needed. Borate does not evaporate and is not degraded by sunlight.

A pool that contains borate will remain sparkling clear during the winter season with minimal effort. Before shutting the pool down for the winter, test the water to make sure that an adequate level of borate is present, approximately 40 ppm.