Ever wonder how chlorine actually works?

Ever wonder how chlorine actually works?

How does chlorine work to clean swimming pools?

From How Stuff Works

Many people think that chlorine is bad for them.  While a very small percent of the population actually has a chorine allergy, very few are actually allergic to the chlorine chemical.  Some of the byproducts of the chlorine sanitizing chemical reaction like Chloramines are the culprit for most eye and skin irritation, skin disorders, and lung issues.  In this post from How Stuff Works, a good basic primer on Chlorine is given, and the way it works to protect your family is explained.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

hlorine is the chemical most often used to keep swimming pools and Jacuzzis free of bacteria that can be hazardous to humans.

Chlorine kills bacteria though a fairly simple chemical reaction. The chlorine solution you pour into the water breaks down into many different chemicals, including hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and hypochlorite ion (OCl-). Both kill microorganisms and bacteria by attacking the lipids in the cell walls and destroying the enzymes and structures inside the cell, rendering them oxidized and harmless. The difference between HOCl and OCl- is the speed at which they oxidize. Hypochlorous acid is able to oxidize the organisms in several seconds, while the hypochlorite ion may take up to 30 minutes.

The levels of HOCl and OCl- vary with the pool’s pH level. If the pH is too high, not enough HOCl is present and pool cleaning can take much longer than normal. Ideally, the level of pH in the pool should be between 7 and 8; 7.4 is ideal — this is the pH of human tears. Once the HOCl and OCl- are done cleaning the pool, they either combine with another chemical, such as ammonia, or are broken down into single atoms. Both of these processes render the chlorine harmless. Sunlight speeds these processes up. You have to keep adding chlorine to the pool as it breaks down.

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