Bromine - Bromine Uses in Swimming Pools and Spas

Bromine is a chemical element that uses the symbol Br. Br belongs to the same chemical group as chlorine. Meaning that they are both halogens. Br was discovered in 1826 by a man by the name of Anthoine Balard who found out that Br has an atomic number of 35 and atomic mass of 79.904.

Liquid Br at ambient temperature is a brownish-red color.

Over the years the swimming pool and spa industry have noticed that br is a great disinfectant or sanitizer for swimming pools.

It was also discovered that Br had good algicidal properties - making it a goo oxidizer as well.

Chlorine, which is recognized by the symbol CL2, comes in several different forms. One of which is a gas; however, elemental br comes in the form of a heavy brownish-red liquid - as was mentioned before.

Characteristics or Properties of Bromine

Br in its elemental form, is not available for use in spa and swimming pool care as a disinfectant. But there several other known compounds that are currently in use. These are organic compounds that release br in the form of hypobromous acid. In swimming pool care - a lot of us are use to hypochlorous acid as a form of spa and disinfectant.

In delivering hypobromous acid (HOBr) to swimming pools and spas, there are two methods that are currently in use. The first of these two methods is limited in use when it comes to small volumes of water. It is also not recommended for use in commercial swimming pools.

The hypobromous acid developed through this method, comes from Sodium Bromide - which has to be activated by an oxidizer called Potassium Monopersulfate.

This method of developing and delivering hypobromous acid disinfectant is called the two part system. The second of the two methods that is used to deliver hypobromous acid to the water of swimming pools and spas, uses a solid form of bromine. This solid form of Br is bound to an organic molecule. In this method of delivery, a swimming pool erosion feeder is used.

The solid compound is dissolved in the erosion feeder before it is injected into the pool water. These type of system are normally controlled by a pool water monitor - which operates an electronically controlled solenoid valve, located on the discharge side of the erosion feeder.

The pool monitor opens and closes the solenoid valve depending on the settings of the unit. In swimming pool care, organic compounds are used in commercial pool and spas. It is not the elemental form of Br.

Bromine Facts verse Chlorine Facts

The hypochlorous acid (HOCL) - that is formed from the pool chemical chlorine has a similar chemistry make up as that of hypobromous acid. Whenever br releasing pool chemicals are dissolved in water, three things are developed. These are hypobromous acid, hypobromite ions, and hydrogen ions.

Just like pool chlorine, hypobromous acid and hypobromite ions are very dependent on the value of the pH in pool water. For instance - when the pH value of your pool water is between 6.9 and 8.0, both hypobromous acid and hypobromite ions will be present in your swimming pool.

Monobromamines, dibromamine, and nitrogen tribromibe are three other compounds that are formed in pool and spa water.

As with the chemistry of pool chlorine, these compounds are formed when ammonia is present in the water of your swimming pool or spa.

In a similar way, organic amines will produce organic bromamine.

Organic bromamines to some are an excellent form of swimming pool disinfectant.

And it is believed that - compared to chloramines, they have less odor and are less irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes of humans. Because of these great properties of Br, pool chemicals that release hypobromous acid from organic BR, have gained a wider acceptance in spa installations.

Advantages of Bromine uses

Pool chemicals that release BR, are oxidizers; however, they are not as strong as chlorine. Some of the known advantages of using Br as a swimming pool or spa sanitizer are as follows:

  • Bromine dissolves in pool water about three times better than its counter part chlorine.
  • No dangerous gasses are required for the production of br.
  • Br does not bind strongly; therefore, its activity time in water is shorter.
  • Br is more stable in hot water than pool chlorine. This would explain its high use as a disinfectant for spas.
  • Br does not cause harm to the fabric of swimwear.
  • There are fewer instances or complaints of skin, eye, and hair problems from swimmers..
  • Br does not lose its effectiveness when it is exposed to the sun's UV light.
  • Unlike chloramines, bromamines are effective at killing bacteria and viruses in swimming pools.

One of the main advantages of bromine uses in swimming pools and spas - is the fact that the residual concentration is low and no separate substances are required for its removal.

Disadvantages of bromine uses

With the use of pool chlorine some disadvantages will be encountered. The same holds true with using br. One of the main disadvantages of using Br, is that its initial costs are much higher than chlorine. However, over time the user will see savings in the cost of this pool chemical.

There are other disadvantages that are well known in spa and swimming pool care. They are as follows:

  • Bromine tablets take much longer to dissolve and mix well with the water in swimming pools and spas.
  • Bromine is very reactive.
  • To maintain adequate pool water disinfection, the addition of Br has to be high.
  • Br aggressively reacts with metals and it s a very corrosive material.
  • Br causes staining of the plaster of your pool or spa.

The efficiency of Br uses

As I mentioned earlier - the bromamines that are developed from Br use, maintains their killing power in water that has ammonia present; thus, making them just as effective as free chlorine. This literally means that they kill pathogenic micro-organisms in the water of swimming pools and spas.

The organic form of Br that is used for pools and spas are available in tablet form.

However, because this pool chemical is so stable in water - its odor on the skin is much harder to wash off after a swim.

Although the bromamines maintain their ability to sanitize a swimming pool or spa, studies reveal that they are far more carcinogenic than chloramines.

What does this mean? Well - it means that they are very cancerous to individuals. This could be the main reason why, many owners/operators of swimming pools and spas are seeking alternative sanitation methods other than the use of bromine.

Bromine is a swimming pool chemical used in pool sanitation.

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