Currently, pool chlorine prices are at an all-time high. Pool owners and pool supply stores are having to shell out unheard-of amounts of money for this essential pool product. Chlorine manufacturing took a major hit and is currently struggling to produce enough chemicals to supply pool owners. This low supply and high demand have caused chlorine prices to soar in the past few years.
In this article, I will discuss why pool chlorine is so expensive right now and go over some alternative sanitation methods that may save you money!
- Chlorine can be expensive because it is a valuable commodity in the swimming pool and sanitation industry.
- There is a current chlorine shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic and fires breaking out at major chlorine manufacturing plants.
- Bromine, SWG, ozone, and UV systems are some alternatives for you to consider during this period.
Why Is Pool Chlorine So Expensive?
Pool chlorine is currently the most expensive it has ever been. The main driving factor in the spike in chlorine prices stems from simple supply and demand. Chlorine is a very important chemical, not only for swimming pools but also for cleaning drinking water.
Let’s take a look at the stats. There are currently 10.7 million swimming pools in the United States, of which 10.4 million are private residential pools, and the remaining 309,000 are public. That means there’s one pool for every 31 people in the country. To put it simply, that’s a lot of pools! Each of these pools needs to be kept sanitized, and while there are alternative methods, the main chemical used to clean pools is, you guessed it, chlorine!
Chlorine is also a valuable chemical for the treatment and sanitization of water outside of swimming pools. As per the New York State Department of Health: ‘[Chlorine is] used to disinfect water and is part of the sanitation process for sewage and industrial waste”. During the production of paper, chlorine is used as a bleaching agent. It is also used in household cleaning products, including bleach, which is essentially chlorine dissolved in water.
When demand is high and supply is low, prices rise rapidly.
For example, if there is a major drought and 50% of the orange harvest is ruined, the price for oranges will be much higher than during a non-drought year.
This same concept applies to chlorine. The demand for chlorine is always high, especially during peak swimming season (May to September), and currently, the supply of chlorine is low, so chlorine costs more than it does when there isn’t a shortage.
Apart from the simple supply and demand of chlorine, you also have to consider other factors, such as the cost of raw material manufacturing, production, labor costs, transportation, fuel costs, distribution, and more.
Why Is There a Chlorine Shortage?
So, now you know that a chlorine shortage is a main driving factor in pool chlorine being so expensive, but why is there a shortage?
The shortage started in 2020 due to a combination of factors. At first, there was an increased demand for chlorine during the COVID-19 pandemic. People were spending a lot more time at home and in their pools, not to mention that panic-buying for a sanitizing product spiked this demand to an all-time high—anyone else remember bleach and other cleaning products flying off the shelves?
There was a struggle to meet this massively increased demand due to supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. Several plants were temporarily shut down as per government-mandated lockdown procedures.
Even after production tentatively resumed, the chlorine shortage was further exacerbated after a fire broke out at a major chlorine manufacturing plant in Louisiana in August 2020. A couple of years later, a second fire broke out at a chemical plant in New Jersey, destroying 100,000 pounds of chlorine tablets.
So, as you can probably tell by now, the pool chlorine industry has had a rough time over the past couple of years, to say the least.
How Much Does Chlorine Cost?
Currently, the cost of chlorine depends on the type of chlorine, the brand, and the amount. Inflation has also driven up costs heavily. Here are a few popular chlorine products to give you an idea of how expensive chlorine is at the time of writing:
- Clorox Pool Chlorine Tablets: $105 for 25 pounds
- HTH 3” Individually Wrapped Chlorine Tablets: $204 for 25 pounds
- In The Swim Cal Hypo Pool Shock: $120 for 24 pounds
For more info on pool chemical costs, check out my pool maintenance cost breakdown.
Alternative to Chlorine in Pools
Are chlorine prices making you think you may need to close your pool? Luckily, you can use a few alternative disinfectant options to cut down on costs.
Bromine is a chemical element in the same chemical group as chlorine and fluorine. A reddish-brown liquid at room temperature, it has a strong, pungent odor and can be harmful to humans in its pure form. However, bromine compounds are very effective at sanitizing water in pool and spa maintenance. Bromine effectively kills bacteria, viruses, and algae, making it an effective sanitation method that can replace chlorine.
Saltwater Chlorine Generator (SWG)
The most common alternative to a traditional chlorine pool is saltwater systems. A saltwater chlorine generator is possibly your most cost-effective alternative to the current chlorine shortage. Not to mention, saltwater pools have softer-feeling water that is gentler on the skin and hair. Saltwater chlorine generators will cost you a bit of money to set up initially, but once installed, you won’t have to constantly purchase chlorine to keep your pool clean.
Want to convert your chlorine pool to a saltwater system? Read my extensive guide on the topic.
Pool UV systems (ultraviolet disinfection systems for pools) use ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms in swimming pools and spas. At the heart of the UV system is the UV lamp, which emits short-wavelength UV-C light on the water, penetrating the cell walls of microorganisms, damaging their DNA or RNA, and disrupting their ability to reproduce.
A UV system can achieve 99.9% or higher disinfection rates for bacterial or viral microorganisms, although I suggest you use it in tandem with SWG or bromine for maximum efficacy. UV systems can also be used with a chlorine pool to reduce your chlorine usage (more on this below).
Ozone (O3) is an effective oxidizer and disinfectant capable of destroying various pathogens and microorganisms in the water. These systems work by delivering ozone gas in high-voltage electrical discharges, which is deadly against unwanted organisms. They are pretty effective, but just like with UV systems, I recommend using them along with another sanitation method for the best results.
How to Reduce Chlorine Usage
It may not be feasible to completely convert your pool to a different sanitation system, but here are a few key ways to reduce chlorine usage.
- Avoid heating your pool. It is hard to avoid heating your pool water to a comfortable temperature. But try not to heat the pool, especially during the summer, as hot water consumes more chlorine.
- Use a pool cover. Sunlight is a chlorine killer and can deplete your chlorine levels by a significant amount in a single day! With current chlorine prices being so expensive, this hurts your wallet tremendously. Pool covers block the sun and prevent it from rendering your chlorine ineffective.
- Use cyanuric acid. Cyanuric acid (CYA) stabilizes chlorine and prevents UV rays from depleting the chlorine levels. This is an absolute must if you want your chlorine to last you as long as possible.
- Keep your pool clean. The cleaner your pool is, the less chlorine will be used up. Keep your pool clean by brushing the walls, stairs, and bottom of the pool regularly to dislodge debris or algae spores. Vacuum the pool regularly, and use a flocculant to clump up the dead matter for easy removal.
- Supplement with alternative sanitizers. You can use a UV or ozone system with your chlorine to reduce the amount of chlorine needed for your pool.
- Balance your other chemical levels. Keeping your pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and other chemical levels in check will keep your chlorine functioning as efficiently as possible. Check out my pool chemistry guide for more tips on this.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use bleach instead of chlorine?
Bleach is essentially a form of chlorine that is simply lower in concentration. So yes, you absolutely can use bleach as an alternative to liquid chlorine in your pool. Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite, a chemical compound used for disinfection and water sanitization. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that household bleach has a much lower concentration of sodium hypochlorite (a type of chlorine), so you might have to use a lot more to achieve the same level of sanitation needed. Plus, some household bleach brands might contain additional additives (fragrances, thickeners) that might not be suitable for pool water.
Why is chlorine still so expensive in 2023?
There is a serious supply-demand gap owing to global and local events such as chemical plant fires, continuing supply chain issues from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased rate of private residential pools that have sprung up in the States. The swimming pool industry is a billion-dollar industry, and as any economist will tell you, the less available a product is, the more valuable it becomes!
Will Chlorine Prices Stabilize?
This is a hard question to answer, and unfortunately, it appears that chlorine will continue to be expensive for the foreseeable future. While the manufacturing plants that caught fire are being rebuilt and production lines are expected to resume pre-pandemic output levels, it will take some time for the chlorine supply to catch up to the current demand.
Remember, stay calm and don’t panic buy when you find chlorine back on the shelves—this will only contribute to and worsen the chlorine supply problem. In the meantime, be patient and try to limit your chlorine usage as much as possible with the effective methods I’ve outlined above.
Have more questions about why pool chlorine is so expensive? Drop me a message. I’m already happy to clear up your pool-related questions!