Pool chemicals play a vital role in transforming your water from unhygienic and dirty to clean and safe. As a pool owner, learning to handle these chemicals and store them with caution, according to recommended guidelines, is essential for your and your family’s safety.
Pool chemicals can explode or ignite if stored or stacked too close together or left unsealed, so ignorance of proper safety standards can lead to serious consequences. Pool chemicals also expire and have a limited shelf life if stored incorrectly.
In this article, I will cover how long pool chemicals usually last, where and how you should store them, and how to dispose of expired substances safely.
- Pool chemicals have an expiry date like any other product but usually possess a long shelf-life if kept under the right conditions.
- Liquid chlorine is your most unstable chemical – most other chemicals are stable.
- Some tips on storing chemicals safely are to avoid damp or hot conditions, direct sunlight, and to avoid stacking chemicals together.
- When disposing of chemicals, consult local waste management companies to comply with local regulations.
Do Pool Chemicals and Shock Expire?
Pool chemicals and shock do expire. However, most pool chemicals, including shock, also have a generous shelf life. In dry and cool storage conditions, if kept in airtight containers away from sunlight, you’re looking at several years of long-lasting potency from your chemicals. The bottom line is that most of your pool chemicals (with the exception of liquid chlorine), such as clarifiers, stain or scale removers, muriatic acid, granular chlorine, pool shock, or algaecides, will last you for a good 3-5 years.
Shelf Life Of Pool Chemicals
Liquid and dry chemicals have different shelf lives. I have expanded further on the shelf life of most major chemicals below, but keep in mind that this is a general look at the expiration dates. The best way to keep track of the shelf life of your chemicals is to look at the manufacturer’s best-by date.
Liquid chlorine has the shortest shelf life of all your pool chemicals, losing up to 50% or half of its potency approximately 5-6 months from when first opened. It loses almost 90% of its potency after a year, even with the best storage conditions. My top tip is to buy a fresh batch every pool season and use it over that season only.
Pool shock, or granular chlorine, has a shelf life of up to 3-5 years, depending on the container it is stored in, which needs to be airtight. Granular chlorine should never be exposed to the air since it is moisture-absorbent and quickly becomes a mushy, unusable paste if left outside.
Like pool shock, chlorine tablets can last up to 3-5 years and should not be exposed to direct sunlight or air for maximum longevity and chemical effectiveness.
Cyanuric acid, also called pool conditioner or stabilizer, can technically last forever. However, it must be kept in an airtight container for the best results.
Algaecide can remain effective for up to five years when stored in cool and dry conditions. Direct sunlight, extreme humidity, and temperatures above 75°F or below freezing can ruin it.
Stain or Scale Removers
Stain and scale removers can last indefinitely when stored indoors in a cool, dry location within an airtight container.
Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda can last around two years. But it can have a longer shelf life if stored correctly in a sealed container and kept dry.
Muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate can last as long as five years. However, since the acid can break down the container it is stored in over time, make sure to keep an eye on it.
Soda ash or sodium carbonate lasts 2-5 years but can last longer if kept in the right conditions. But keep in mind that if soda ash is stored in a humid room, it will cause it to clump and lose effectiveness – eventually converting it into sodium bicarbonate.
Pool Test Strips and Liquid Test Reagent
Test strips can usually last up to 2-3 years, and liquid test reagents typically have a shelf life of 1-2 years. Check the container your tests come in for an expiration date. Store your test kits in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight.
Where To Store Pool Chemicals
Pool chemicals cannot be stashed in the corner of your yard and forgotten about. They are sometimes hazardous, potentially volatile substances that require careful and proper storage. Apart from safety concerns, storage is also essential to maintain the potency and effectiveness of these chemicals.
Further, it is possible that the elements present in pool chemicals, such as oxidizing or acidic elements, can damage electrical objects and other equipment in the storage area by causing rust. Even lidded products can leak, and while a drop or two might not seem harmful, it is a threat, especially if located near a unit with electrical heating coils or kerosene.
So to store your pool chemicals properly, keep the following in mind:
- Separate them from each other
- Seal them tightly
- Label your chemicals
- Store them someplace cool and dark
If you wish to learn more about this, check out my detailed article on how to store your pool chemicals.
Can You Use Expired Pool Chemicals?
For several reasons, using your expired pool chemicals is not advisable. One main reason is that time robs chemical substances of their effectiveness, and they will have no effect on your water chemistry. So there’s no point in using expired substances.
Another reason is safety. If you mess around with expired chemicals and put them in your water, it could lead to burns, skin problems, and other possible health hazards. In addition, balancing water chemistry is already a sensitive task, so using expired chemicals goes against all safety regulations.
I recommend that even if most dry pool chemicals last you a long time, avoid buying them in bulk. Instead, plan according to your anticipated yearly consumption rate and try to restock every two years. By replenishing according to what you need and tracking your usage and the amount you have, you will have a more efficient system for maintaining your water chemistry.
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How To Dispose of Pool Chemicals
Pool chemicals are volatile materials and cannot simply be left in the trash can for the garbage trucks. Therefore, you must understand how to dispose of pool chemicals properly.
Get In Touch With Professionals
If you are unsure of how to dispose of pool chemicals, the simplest way is to ask a pool expert for help. If you don’t know who to contact, you could write to your local garbage disposal authority, solid waste authority, or local municipal department and ask for directions on how to proceed.
Community Clean-Up Events
Some disposal-based authorities organize household hazardous waste (HHW) collection programs now and then or offer routine drop-offs at their facilities. Speak to your town’s local waste management to learn more about this and how you can participate.
If you have pool chemicals about to expire, get in touch with local pool communities to see if they have any use for them.
Questions? Let me know. Also, be sure to read my guide on swimming pool chemistry tips for all the basics.