What Order to Add Pool Chemicals

Adding Chemicals to your pool should be done according to the most important to least important order relying on what works best by trial and experience but most of all try to be patient and not hurry, give the chemicals the time they need before moving on to the next step on the list. In What Order Do I Add Chemicals to My Pool?

  • Alkalinity(80-140 ppm) wait time 4-8 hrs.
  • Retest TA
  • pH (7.2 -7.6 ) wait time 30 min.
  • Retest pH
  • Calcium Hardness-(200–400 ppm) wait time-30 min.
  • Cyanuric Acid-(25-50 ppm) wait time 30 min.
  • Shock the Pool-10 ppm wait time-4 hrs.
  • Algaecide after shock wait time-5 days
  • Clarifier-after algaecide wait time-5 days

This sequence is from my 30 years of opening, balancing, and putting the muscle back into the swimming pool’s water chemistry over the years this order can get your pool rock and roll fast.

What Order to Add Pool Chemicals

After you take the pool cover off, clean up the surrounding area, top off the water level, visit the Pool Supply Store, begin the work needed to open your swimming pool, and keep it clear and clean for the entire summer season. A method used by pool owners puts things into a rhythm of sorts brought on by the familiarity of seasons past.

I know because I have opened and run my inground pool for years. I just wanted to let you know what to expect. You know how many chemicals will get you through until Fall. You know what kind of chemicals you’ll need to open the pool and add for the first part of the season and those last “dog days of summer”

All this will depend on some variables like how bad the pool water looks after you pull the pool cover off. The mechanical operation of the pump and filter system and if all the pool tools like brushes and skimmers held up over the winter. When everything is operational from the sand filter to the GFI switches it’s time to adjust the pool water chemistry.

Once the pool is full or topped off after the long winter months and you remove the pool cover the sunlight that hits the water for the first time in 6 months can kickstart an algae bloom so as they say “times a wasting

Adding chemicals to your pool in the correct order is essential for maintaining water clarity, safety, and balance. Here’s the general order to follow:

  1. Test the Water: Before adding any chemicals, test your pool water to determine current levels of pH, alkalinity, chlorine, and other necessary parameters.
  2. Adjust Total Alkalinity (TA):
    • Ideal Range: 80-120 ppm
    • Adjustment: If too low, add an alkalinity increaser (sodium bicarbonate). If too high, add an acid (muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate).
  3. Adjust pH Levels:
    • Ideal Range: 7.4-7.6
    • Adjustment: If the pH is low, add a pH increaser (sodium carbonate). Add a pH decreaser (muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate) if the pH is high.
  4. Add Calcium Hardness Increaser (if needed):
    • Ideal Range: 200-400 ppm
    • Adjustment: If calcium hardness is low, add calcium chloride. High calcium hardness typically requires dilution of the pool water.
  5. Add Sanitizer (Chlorine or Bromine):
    • Chlorine: Ideal free chlorine levels are 1-3 ppm.
    • Bromine: Ideal bromine levels are 3-5 ppm.
    • Types: Use stabilized chlorine (sodium dichlor or trichlor) or unstabilized chlorine (calcium hypochlorite or sodium hypochlorite).
  6. Add Cyanuric Acid (Stabilizer):
    • Ideal Range: 30-50 ppm
    • Adjustment: Add stabilizer if using unstabilized chlorine to protect chlorine from UV degradation.
  7. Shock the Pool:
    • When: Regularly (weekly) or after heavy use, rain, or contamination.
    • Type: Use either chlorine-based (calcium hypochlorite) or non-chlorine shock (potassium monopersulfate).
  8. Add Algaecide (if needed):
    • When: If you notice algae growth or as a preventative measure.
    • Type: Follow manufacturer instructions for the specific algaecide used.
  9. Add Clarifiers or Flocculants (if needed):
    • When: If the water is cloudy and you need to gather fine particles for removal by the filter.

Additional Tips:

  • Always add chemicals to water, not water to chemicals, to avoid dangerous reactions.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for each chemical, including recommended wait times before adding the next chemical.
  • Ensure your pool pump and filter are running while adding chemicals to ensure proper distribution.
  • Allow time for each chemical to circulate fully (usually a few hours) before retesting and adjusting further if needed.

By following this order, you’ll help ensure a balanced and safe swimming environment.

How Long Do You Wait Between Adding Pool Chemicals?

All pool chemicals take their own time to mix and dissolve when added to pool water then changing the chemistry of the pool water but it all depends on the chemical’s active ingredients or strength …………………………………………………………………. Read more

Is It Necessary to Run The Pool Pump While Adding Chemicals

Yes, it is necessary to run the pool pump while adding chemicals. Running the pump ensures that the chemicals are evenly distributed throughout the pool water, preventing localized concentrations that could potentially cause damage to the pool surfaces or equipment. Proper circulation helps the chemicals dissolve and integrate more effectively, making them work faster and more efficiently.

When chemicals are added to stagnant water, they might settle in one area, leading to uneven treatment and potentially causing staining or scaling. For example, chlorine granules can sink and bleach the pool liner if not dispersed correctly. Moreover, certain chemicals can interact negatively if they come into direct contact with each other, posing safety risks. Running the pump minimizes these risks by promoting even distribution and thorough mixing.

This practice also ensures that all parts of the pool, including the water in the pipes and filtration system, receive the necessary chemical treatment. Proper circulation helps maintain balanced water chemistry, reducing the likelihood of algae blooms, cloudy water, and other water quality issues. Additionally, it ensures that pH levels, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels remain consistent throughout the pool. Regularly running the pump while adding chemicals helps the filtration system more effectively remove debris and contaminants.

Overall, running the pool pump during chemical addition is essential for maintaining a safe, clean, and enjoyable swimming environment.

Testing Pool Water

Testing your pool water regularly is essential to maintain its balance and ensure safe swimming conditions. Here’s how to test your pool water effectively:

  1. Choose a Testing Method: There are various testing methods available, including test strips, liquid test kits, and electronic testers. Select the method that best suits your preference and budget.
  2. Taylor Service Complete Pool Water Test Kit K-2006C

    Follow Instructions: Read and follow the instructions provided with your chosen testing kit carefully. Each testing method may have specific steps for accurate results.

  3. Collect Water Sample: Use a clean container to collect a water sample from elbow depth in several areas of the pool. This ensures a representative sample of the overall water quality.
  4. Perform the Test: Depending on the testing method, immerse the test strip into the water sample, add the specified number of drops of reagent, or use the electronic tester according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Wait for Results: Allow the test to develop for the recommended time. Depending on the testing method, this usually takes a few seconds to a few minutes.
  6. Read Results: After the specified development time, compare the color or numerical values on the test strip, liquid test kit, or electronic display to the provided reference chart. This will indicate the levels of various parameters in your pool water.
  7. Record Results: Keep a log of your test results over time to track any trends or changes in water quality. This can help you identify and address issues before they become more significant problems.
  8. Interpret Results: Pay attention to key parameters such as pH, total alkalinity, chlorine/bromine levels, calcium hardness, and cyanuric acid (stabilizer). Ensure these parameters fall within the recommended ranges for balanced pool water.
  9. Take Action if Necessary: If any of the test results are outside the ideal range, take appropriate action to adjust the water chemistry. This may involve adding chemicals to raise or lower pH, alkalinity, or sanitizer levels, or using other treatment methods as needed.
  10. Retest as Needed: Test your pool water regularly, ideally at least once a week during the swimming season, and after significant changes such as heavy rain, pool parties, or adding chemicals. This helps ensure ongoing water quality and safety for swimmers.

By following these steps and testing your pool water regularly, you can maintain balanced water chemistry, prevent problems, and enjoy a clean and safe swimming environment all season long.

Pool Chemical Tips

Maintaining a pool’s chemical balance is crucial for water quality and safety. Total Alkalinity (TA) helps stabilize pH levels, ensuring they remain within the ideal range of 7.4-7.6. Adjust TA using sodium bicarbonate to raise it or muriatic acid to lower it. Similarly, pH levels should be kept within the recommended range to prevent corrosion and scaling. Use sodium carbonate to raise pH or muriatic acid to lower it.

Calcium Hardness, ideally between 200-400 ppm, protects pool surfaces and equipment; increase it with calcium chloride or dilute the water to decrease it. Sanitizer levels, such as chlorine or bromine, should be maintained between 1-3 ppm for chlorine and 3-5 ppm for bromine to effectively kill bacteria and algae. Cyanuric Acid acts as a stabilizer, protecting chlorine from UV degradation; add it if using unstabilized chlorine.

Shock treatments, performed weekly or as needed, break down organic contaminants and prevent cloudy water. Algaecides are essential for preventing and killing algae, while clarifiers and flocculants improve water clarity by removing fine particles. Always follow manufacturer instructions for proper usage of each chemical to ensure a clean and safe swimming environment

Here’s a table summarizing key pool chemical tips:

Additional Tips for Adding Chemicals:

  • Always add chemicals to water, not water to chemicals.
  • Run your pool pump and filter while adding chemicals to ensure proper distribution.
  • Allow time for each chemical to circulate fully before retesting and adjusting further if needed.

Can I Add All My Pool Chemicals At the Same Time

No, it is not advisable to add all your pool chemicals at the same time. Each pool chemical serves a specific purpose and interacts differently with the water and other chemicals. Adding multiple chemicals simultaneously can lead to unwanted chemical reactions or the formation of harmful byproducts.

For example, mixing chlorine-based chemicals with acid-based chemicals can produce toxic chlorine gas. Additionally, adding chemicals all at once can make it challenging to accurately gauge and maintain the proper chemical balance in your pool.

It’s best to add chemicals one at a time, allowing each one to fully disperse and react before adding the next. This approach ensures that each chemical can effectively perform its intended function without interference. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for each chemical and allow sufficient time for proper circulation and mixing before retesting the water and making further adjustments. By adding pool chemicals sequentially and allowing adequate time for them to react, you can maintain a safe and balanced swimming environment for you and your family to enjoy.

Why Is It Important to Balance Total Alkalinity Before Adjusting Ph

Balancing total alkalinity before adjusting pH is crucial because total alkalinity acts as a buffer for pH levels, helping to stabilize them and prevent rapid fluctuations. High alkalinity can protect against sudden pH changes, which can otherwise lead to an unstable pool environment.

If the total alkalinity is too low, the pH can fluctuate widely with the addition of chemicals, making it difficult to maintain a consistent and safe water balance. Proper alkalinity levels help ensure that the pH remains in the optimal range, which is essential for the effectiveness of other chemicals, such as chlorine. Chlorine works best

Balancing total alkalinity before adjusting pH is crucial because total alkalinity acts as a buffer for pH levels, helping to stabilize them and prevent rapid fluctuations. High alkalinity can protect against sudden pH changes, which can otherwise lead to an unstable pool environment. If the total alkalinity is too low, the pH can fluctuate widely with the addition of chemicals, making it difficult to maintain a consistent and safe water balance.

Proper alkalinity levels help ensure that the pH remains in the optimal range, which is essential for the effectiveness of other chemicals, such as chlorine. Chlorine works best within a specific pH range, and maintaining this range ensures maximum disinfection and water clarity.

Additionally, balanced alkalinity prevents corrosion or scaling of pool surfaces and equipment, extending their lifespan. It also helps in avoiding swimmer discomfort, as improper pH levels can cause skin and eye irritation. By first ensuring that total alkalinity is within the recommended range, subsequent pH adjustments are more manageable and stable. This foundational step in pool maintenance simplifies the overall chemical balancing process, ensuring a safe and enjoyable swimming environment.

Managing Calcium Hardness in Swimming Pools

Is Your Swimming Pool Over Full?
Opening a Swimming Pool

Calcium hardness in pool water can increase due to various factors, primarily influenced by the source of water used to fill the pool and the addition of certain chemicals. Hard water sources, containing high levels of dissolved calcium and magnesium minerals, can contribute to elevated calcium hardness levels.

For pools in hard water areas, tap water of 400–600 ppm is not uncommon. The ideal range of 200–400 ppm is somewhat flexible, as many pools operate with much higher Calcium Hardness levels without a problem. If your water is soft, meaning levels are below 150–180 ppm, this can cause aggressive water conditions known to cause etching, staining, and mineral deposits. Add Calcium Hardness Increaser to raise Calcium Hardness levels in your pool. If your source water has naturally high Calcium Hardness, you can manage it with a stain and scale control product.

Additionally, using calcium-based products such as calcium chloride or calcium hypochlorite for pool maintenance can also raise calcium hardness levels over time. Evaporative concentration, where water evaporates from the pool surface but leaves the dissolved minerals behind, is another common cause of increased calcium hardness. High temperatures and low humidity accelerate this process, leading to a buildup of calcium hardness in the remaining water.

To manage elevated calcium hardness levels, several strategies can be employed. Diluting the pool water by partially draining and refilling it with fresh, lower-calcium water can effectively reduce calcium hardness levels. However, this approach is not always practical or feasible, especially in areas with limited water availability or where draining regulations apply. Another method is to use a commercial calcium reducer product specifically designed to lower calcium hardness levels in pool water.

These products typically contain chelating agents or sequestering agents that bind to calcium ions, preventing them from forming scale on pool surfaces. Regular monitoring of calcium hardness levels and taking preventive measures to avoid excessive calcium buildup can help maintain balanced water chemistry and prolong the lifespan of pool equipment and surfaces. Additionally, using a water softener or filtration system before filling the pool can help remove minerals responsible for hard water, reducing the likelihood of calcium hardness issues. By addressing the root causes of elevated calcium hardness and implementing appropriate management strategies, pool owners can ensure optimal water quality and extend the longevity of their pool infrastructure.

How Do You Know If Your Pool Needs Algaecide

You can determine if your pool needs algaecide by looking for specific signs of algae growth and considering preventive measures. Algae in a pool often appear as green, yellow, or black spots on pool surfaces, such as walls, floors, or steps. If you notice the water becoming increasingly cloudy or developing a slimy texture, this is another indication that algae might be present. Additionally, a strong, musty odor can signify algae blooms.

Here are key indicators that your pool needs algaecide:

  1. Visible Algae: Green, yellow, or black spots on surfaces.
  2. Cloudy Water: Persistent cloudiness despite regular cleaning.
  3. Slimy Surfaces: Pool walls and floor feel slippery or slimy.
  4. Musty Odor: Unpleasant, musty smell emanating from the water.
  5. Recurring Algae: Algae reappear quickly after cleaning.

Preventative use of algaecide is also advisable during periods of heavy pool use, high temperatures, or after heavy rains, as these conditions promote algae growth. Regular testing of pool water can help you catch imbalances that may lead to algae. If your pool consistently experiences algae problems despite maintaining balanced water chemistry, adding algaecide can provide an extra layer of protection.


Regular testing of your pool water is crucial for maintaining its balance and ensuring safe swimming conditions. By following proper testing procedures and accurately interpreting the results, you can identify any imbalances or issues in your pool water chemistry.

This allows you to take timely corrective action, such as adjusting chemical levels or implementing other treatment methods, to restore optimal water quality. Keeping a record of your test results over time helps track changes and trends in water quality, enabling you to address potential problems before they escalate. Ultimately, by prioritizing regular testing and proactive maintenance, you can enjoy a clean, clear, and healthy pool environment for yourself, your family, and your guests to enjoy throughout the swimming season.

How Do You Make the Water in Your Swimming Pool Soft and Silky Smooth?

  • By dropping levels of Calcium dissolved in the H2O using Muriatic Acid,
  • Take Calcium out of the solution by Raising pH & Alkalinity to 10 pH in warm temps.
  • Add Flocculant
  • Circulate
  • Let pool Sit
  • Vacuum floc to waste
  • Lower Alkalinity, pH with Muriatic Acid .……………………………………………………………………..  Read more

JimGalloway Author/Editor


In-the-Swim- Adding Chemicals at Start-up


How often should I test my pool water? You should test your pool water at least twice a week. During periods of heavy use or extreme weather, testing more frequently can help maintain proper chemical balance.

What is the correct order to add pool chemicals?  The recommended order is: adjust total alkalinity first, then pH levels, followed by calcium hardness, sanitizer (chlorine or bromine), cyanuric acid (if needed), shock treatment, algaecide (if needed), and finally clarifiers or flocculants (if needed).

What should I do if my pool water is cloudy?   First, test and balance your pool chemicals, especially pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels. If the water remains cloudy, use a pool clarifier to gather fine particles or a flocculant to settle them for easier removal.

How often should I shock my pool?   You should shock your pool weekly, or after heavy use, heavy rain, or if you notice the water is cloudy or has an unpleasant odor.

What is cyanuric acid and why is it important?   Cyanuric acid is a stabilizer that protects chlorine from being broken down by UV rays from the sun. Outdoor pools need to use unstabilized chlorine to maintain effective sanitizer levels.


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