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Author Topic: Dichlor Dosing - Vermont Style  (Read 679 times)

Dr. Spa™ Ret.

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Dichlor Dosing - Vermont Style
« on: April 21, 2019, 10:57:22 am »
I was asked for a copy of this...and low and behold, found it :-)
Need to split it up as only 5500 characters are allowed per post.

(Contributed by Brad - a native Vermonter and owner of a small, private, commercial environmental microbiology lab in Williston, VT, Analytical Services, Inc.)

"Please keep in mind that my primary objective in putting together this (and other) information and recommendations is to help people to have a microbiologically safe tub. Other water chemistry issues are important, but, by far, the one of greatest concern to me (and many) is the potential of microbial (virus, bacteria, protozoan, etc.) contamination and the resultant potential for disease/infection."

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One brief comment - and a point where I differ slightly from many...

I strongly recommend that anyone using dichlor determine their daily dichlor dose based on the amount necessary to achieve a free chlorine residual of 2 - 3 ppm after dosing rather than simply going with a standard "volume" measurement (such as 1 teaspoon, etc.). Someone with a 500 gallon tub will obviously need to use a different volume of dichlor to achieve 2-3ppm free chlorine than would someone with a 250 gallon tub. In addition, the dichlor "strength" can vary, so what I use may result in a different free chlorine level from what you would see even if we both have the same tub and use patterns.

You really only need to thoroughly determine this once (check for several days to see if it is consistent) and then you can use whatever volume you have determined is necessary. Periodically check it a again (maybe every couple of weeks or if it never seems to vary, maybe extend that out to once a month) to make sure that water conditions, use patterns, etc. haven't changed and resulted in a change in the free chlorine level.

Normally, you will be able to decide on a "regular" dose that will translate to that "easy to use" volume approach (teaspoon, half teaspoon, etc.) but that amount will vary from tub owner to tub owner. The potential risk for just using a volume approach that works for someone else and not confirming the free chlorine concentration is that you may not be getting a sufficient level to assure a microbiologically safe tub (very important) or you may be dosing higher than you need to (this isn't necessarily bad, but if your chlorine level gets too high there may be some skin issues, etc. with some people).

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The process is actually quite simple. I'll give you the Reader's Digest version first - and you can stop with that. Or, you can read below that version and get into more details and explanations. It really is very simple and you will get into a routine that takes just a few minutes a week.

One note - I think the choice to use dichlor vs. MPS is wise. I see practically no advantages to MPS - and many disadvantages.

Reader's Digest Version - how to dose dichlor, Vermont Style:

    1) Add dichlor to achieve an initial free chlorine residual of about 2- 3 ppm. Add your dichlor after use and, ideally, even on days you don't use the tub. The latter (dosing on off days) is not critical if you are adequately disinfecting after use. Measure your free chlorine after you have gotten a thorough mix of the chlorine in your tub. Personally, I would try to not go below 2 ppm. The volume of dichlor needed will have to initially be determined by trial and error. Once you have established this volume (e.g. 1 teaspoon or 2 teaspoons, etc.), as long as your use habits stay the same, you won't need to measure the chlorine more than once a week or two (as a check) and your normal dose can probably stay consistent.

    2) If you change your use pattern (more people, longer tub use, etc.) you should check to see if you need to adjust your dose. Do this by measuring your free chlorine and confirming that you are in the 2 + ppm range.

    3) Ideally, keep your pH below 7.5 so that the more efficient form of free chlorine is present.

    4) Shock weekly (plus or minus a few days is OK) by adding about 7 times your normal daily dose. This will take care of chloramines and will "super disinfect" your tub on a regular basis.

    5) During any daily dosing or weekly shocking, make sure that all pumps, valves, jets, etc. are on/running/open so that you are getting the chlorinated water in contact with all wetted surfaces of your tub.
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Dichlor Dosing - Vermont Style
« on: April 21, 2019, 10:57:22 am »

Dr. Spa™ Ret.

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Re: Dichlor Dosing - Vermont Style
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2019, 10:58:00 am »
My unabridged recommendations - how to dose dichlor, Vermont Style - are as follow:

1) Add dichlor after you use the tub. This way the chlorine level will be at a minimum the next time you use the tub. It may not matter to you, but some people may be sensitive to chlorine (I'm not totally convinced of this) and by dosing after use you will be assured of minimal levels when you use the tub. If you don't use the tub every day, you can check the chlorine levels (see #3 below) and see if they are maintained. If they are, you can skip dosing if you don't use the tub - if they drop a lot (they probably will), I think it is a good idea to add dichlor even if you don't use the tub. It isn't as important to do this as after you use the tub, because if you dose appropriately after use, then there should be very few pathogens hanging around within a few hours of your dosing. I don't dose every day, but, if I was really practicing what I preach (and going for the ultimate in disinfection), I would probably do so.

2) After you dose, make sure you run all pumps and jets, etc. for at least 5 or 10 minutes to make sure that you have achieved a good mix of the chlorine (dichlor) throughout the tub and that all contacted surfaces have been hit with the chlorine. If you shut down a pump and it contains chlorinated water it should be sufficient to provide disinfection (assuming your does is high enough - see below). But you need to make sure you get the chlorinated water to the pump (or valve, or jet, etc.) to allow this to statement to be true.

3) Chlorine dose - I am a firm believer in adjusting your dichlor dose so that you achieve a target level of chlorine rather than use a simple volume dose (e.g. 1 teaspoon or 2 teaspoons, etc.). After you get familiar with your tub and its "chlorine demand" you can probably use a standard volumetric approach, but you first need to determine what volume is needed. I strongly recommend that you dose dichlor so that you achieve a minimum of 2 ppm of free chlorine after the dose. You can measure your free chlorine residual as soon as you have achieved thorough mixing. In my case, I feel this occurs approximately 5 to 10 minutes after addition. You can determine this by taking repeated measurements (5, 10, 15 minutes, etc.) and see if there is any change - when it remains steady , you can use that as your time delay for measuring in the future. I don't think you need to go much higher than 2 ppm, but if you can hit 2 - 3 ppm and if it stays there for a few hours before dropping way down you should be fine.
You also should initially measure free chlorine after dosing each day until you get used to your tub and its "chlorine demand" characteristics. Once you see a consistent dosing/concentration pattern, I think an occasional check is fine (I check maybe once a week or ten days now) to make sure that you are in the 2 - 3 ppm range. If you change your use pattern (e.g. more people, longer tubbin' times, etc.) don't assume your normal dose is OK - you should check the free chlorine after dosing and add more (as needed) to get to the 2 - 3 ppm range of free chlorine.

4) pH is important for the disinfection kinetics of chlorine. I can give you more details if you would like (or search on some of my old posts) but free chlorine is most effective if you keep the pH below 7.5 - the lower the better, but I wouldn't go below the general recommendation of about 7.2 due to corrosion considerations. Very briefly, free chlorine exists in your tub split between two forms - hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. The first form is many times more efficient in disinfection than is the second form. The first form dominates below a pH of about 7.5 - the reverse is true for a pH above 7.5. Again, if you would like more information on this, let me know. Chlorine will work at higher pH's, but not nearly as well.

5) Shocking - this isn't part of the "daily" dose question you posed, but it is an important part of chlorine disinfection. Again, briefly put, as you add your daily dose of chlorine, you are generally forming chloramines (basically combined chlorine that gets tied up with nitrogen - which comes from sweat, other body waste, environmental contaminants, etc.) and they become nasty smelling and irritating to eyes and skin.
You can counteract this process by "shocking" on a regular basis. Typically, this is weekly, but it doesn't have to be - you can sort of set your own schedule based on the "nasty" smell. The longer you wait, however, then theoretically you have to add more and more chlorine to break down the chloramines.
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Dr. Spa™ Ret.

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Re: Dichlor Dosing - Vermont Style
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2019, 10:58:40 am »
What you are attempting to do is to add about 7 times the "combined" chlorine level - the "combined" chlorine is the difference between total chlorine and the free chlorine you are dosing to. Many people don't measure both - if you don't, you don't have that exact value. However, it is a pretty safe bet that your combined chlorine is less than your free chlorine (as long as you don't wait too long between shocks) so you can use your free chlorine reading as a guide (conservatively high estimate).

But, this approach involves measuring and dosing, and measuring again after your shock dose, etc. - which is a bit of a deterrent to many. So, an easy way (rule of thumb) would be to take your daily volumetric dose and add 7 times that for your shock. So, if you use 1 teaspoon daily, then add a bit more than 2 tablespoons (3 teaspoons per tablespoon) and you should be fine. You can probably use a bit less and be OK - the only reason to use less would be to enable the chlorine levels to drop a bit faster so that you can use the tub sooner after shocking.

Shocking also gives you a "super disinfection" of your tub on a regular basis - while this isn't the primary purpose of shocking, it is a very definite added benefit.

There are a couple of compounds you can use to neutralize chlorine but you have to be careful not to overdose (then your normal dose of chlorine will be neutralized by the residual chemical) and you also need to watch your pH. It will tend to drop with the neutralizers. Both sodium thiosulfate and sodium sulfite can be used - you can actually use the same thing that you lower pH with (sodium bisulfate), but the pH issue is a real problem then and I wouldn't recommend it. You will also add somewhat to your TDS, but not enough to be a problem.

Dichlor is used by more tub owners than any other disinfectant - and is pretty much the standard for commercial spas. It is simple, tremendously effective (when used properly) on bacteria, viruses and some other pathogens and is inexpensive to dose and to monitor. It provides a disinfectant residual which helps safeguard your tub during periods of non-use. It also is an efficient oxidizer and, for that reason as well as a few others, contributes to the clarity of the water in a tub.

There are other choices - some of which I think can be equally as effective, but the simplicity of chlorine is hard to beat and I think it is a great choice to begin with.

Good luck and post back if you have any questions or problems.

Vermonter

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The first change from my original post is that my recommendation for using a shock dose that is 7X the normal dose should be viewed as a conservative "maximum/worst case" scenario and may not be necessary depending on your tub size, use, frequency of shock, etc. In many cases, a dose of about half that may suffice - you will be able to tell based upon your success in eliminating/preventing chloramine smells. If you normally use 1 teaspoon, then the 7X dose would be a bit over 2 tablespoons - not bad and the residual usually disappears fairly quickly. But if your normal dose is, say, 2 teaspoons or more, then you are starting to talk around 5 tablespoons or more and that is unlikely to be necessary and it may result in an undesirably long time prior to levels dropping down to where you can use/enjoy your tub.

Second, is my belief that you can use MPS instead of dichlor to shock your tub - although I wouldn't recommend this every time that you shock. I haven't personally gone this route, but it should be fine. I don't like MPS for routine use, but upon occasion, if you really need to shock the tub and want to be able to use it the next day, a heavy dose of dichlor might not work - using MPS would allow this. Since I haven't tried this, I'm not certain of the amount of MPS needed. Nature2 indicates 3 tablespoons per 250 gallons for a shock treatment. That may work or it may be low - again, the ultimate test is whether or not you prevent/get rid of chloramines. One major drawback to using MPS for your shock is that you lose the effect of a "super sanitization" that you get with a dichlor (or chlorine based) shock. MPS is purely and oxidant and offers no sanitizing benefits. Chlorine is also an oxidant (you need to an oxidant to get rid of chloramines, etc.) but it is an extremely effective and rapid sanitizer. You get the best of both worlds - with the only possible drawback being the time you have to wait for the chlorine levels to drop after shocking.
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Retired (mostly) from the industry after 33 years...but still putzing around with a consumer information website, and trying to sell obsolete owners manuals

Gomboman

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Re: Dichlor Dosing - Vermont Style
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2019, 12:16:37 pm »
Awesome Doc. Thanks for sharing. Whatever happened to Vermonter? I think that post goes way back to at least 2005?
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Re: Dichlor Dosing - Vermont Style
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2019, 12:16:37 pm »

 

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