Can You Swim in a Pool With Chlorine Tablets?

Chlorine is the difference between a swimming pool and a swamp, and one of the easiest ways to automate your pool’s chlorination is to use chlorine tablets. They release a slow stream of Chlorine into the pool but are themselves concentrated bodies of Chlorine, which makes direct contact with them a health and safety risk.

You can swim in a pool with chlorine tablets if the tablets are in a dispenser because direct contact with them can cause irritation, watery eyes, and skin rashes. Upon interacting with water, Chlorine tablets also release gas that irritates the eyes, so you should stay away from the dispenser.

But standard Chlorine isn’t much better, yet you need some form of Chlorine in your pool. To decide whether chlorine tablets are right for your swimming pool, you need to see their pros and cons, which are all listed in this article.

Pros of Chlorine Tablets

Chlorine tablets are a multimillion-dollar product category within the swimming pool maintenance market because of a few key advantages they present over competing options like standard Chlorine and pool sanitizer. Below are the benefits of using Chlorine tablets.

They Slow-Release Chlorine

If pool maintenance was as simple as throwing a bucket of Chlorine into the water and calling it a day, we’d all be happier. However, it can be tedious to balance your pool’s chemical state where it is swim-friendly but kills microbes. 

You need to add Chlorine in increments alongside stabilizers and other pH-managing chemicals while constantly testing the pool for alkalinity and clarity. Pool tablets make at least the chlorinating part as close to “throwing a bucket and calling it a day” as possible. Because they release Chlorine more gradually, you can measure when the pool is in the right condition and take out the tablets before they over-chlorinate the pool. 

But if you were to add more granular Chlorine than necessary, the pool would start to smell immediately. To balance the overchlorinated pool, you would need to add hydrogen peroxide or wait for the sun to neutralize it.

Easier to Measure

As the previous advantage relates to ease of control over release, it is reasonable to build on that with ease of measurement. Unless you use very precise pouring tools, you cannot measure the exact amount of Chlorine you’re adding to your pool. This makes testing crucial every single time you chlorinate your pool. With tablets, once you’ve figured out how many tablets your swimming pool needs, you do not need to measure repeatedly. 

You essentially drop the tablets (often measured to match pool volume) and don’t have to worry about going a liter over or under your pool’s requirements. While measuring is a good measure, you don’t need to keep track as precision is built into the tablets. Still, it is good to test your pool for other chemicals and how they affect its pH.

Extend the Lifespan of Chlorine

If Chlorine were forever potent in water, you’d need to shock your pool once and never need Chlorine until you refill the pool after draining it. But since everything from sunlight exposure to swimming can affect the presence of potency of Chlorine in your pool, you need to keep adding Chlorine in your pool regularly. 

Chlorine tablets don’t release all their Chlorine in the pool immediately. As a result, their entire chlorine volume doesn’t interact with water, sunlight, and microbes. The self-evident result is that they ensure the presence of Chlorine in water for a longer period.

Cons of Chlorine Tablets

They Are Pricey

Chlorine tablets went through a supply crisis in 2021, with prices doubling across the United States. But even at their stable market prices, they cost more than granular pool chlorine. This can be a dealbreaker for those on a budget. However, those who opt for chlorine tablets instead of pool sanitizing powder believe that the upfront dollar-markup is more than made up for with longevity and less frequent purchasing.

They Can Be Too Slow

While you can purchase tablets by the bucket, you don’t dump them by the bucket unless you’re trying to sanitize the Indian Ocean. Since common quantities for pool tablets are small, they can take a little while before chlorinating the pool sufficiently. You need to add the tablets well before you want to swim in order to be safe. Granular Chlorine doesn’t have this drawback as it can be added to a pool minutes before you want to swim.

They Can Be Harmful to the Liner

Unless you have a concrete liner, Chlorine in large quantities can be dangerous to your pool’s longevity. And while chlorine tablets release a small volume of Chlorine into the water, they are quite chlorine-dense themselves, which makes direct contact with the pool liner quite risky. Dumping chlorine tablets into a vinyl liner pool will lead to rapid deterioration of the liner. 

The best-case scenario, with direct contact, is that your pool liner will get bleached and will require reinforcement. The worst-case scenario? the tablets will eat through the liner. You can read this post on the subject of the pool liner and chlorine tablets to discover how you can avoid this.

They Can Be Corrosive

Just like chlorine tablets aren’t kind to the pool liner, they’re not kind to one’s body. Even though you can swim in a pool with the tablets, it is far from advisable when these tablets aren’t housed in a dispenser. Direct contact with wet chlorine tablets can lead to skin rashes and even eye damage, which is why OSHA considers them hazardous. 

That said, anyone familiar with pool maintenance understands that all pool chemicals are hazardous or corrosive to some degree if not diluted. The only difference is that the chemicals, including standard Chlorine, get diluted immediately, whereas the tablets sit concentrated and solid for a while. Using a dispenser can offset this and effectively neutralize this drawback.

Final Thoughts

Chlorine tablets are right for enough pool owners to cause a nationwide shortage, so it is safe to say they aren’t the kind of product to be paranoid about. Still, it is good to be cautious and to use these tablets in a dispenser. Keep your distance from the dispenser to avoid exposure to concentrated Chlorine, and make sure the tablets don’t connect directly with your pool liner. And while the dispenser is at work in your pool, you’re free to swim.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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