How Long After Adding Chlorine Can You Swim

If you’re a swimming enthusiast, you wouldn’t like to take a dip in a swimming pool without chlorine. This chemical keeps the water free of bacteria and prevents the growth of algae. But what happens if you forgot to add chlorine the night before? Well, you expect to get a barrage of questions from your kids. But don’t worry; you’ve come to the right place. So, how long after adding chlorine can you swim?

A general rule of thumb is to wait for 2-4 hours to complete the turnover of water. The exact waiting time will depend on the amount you’ve added and the size of your pool.

While waiting for a full swim through the filter may sound like a lot of information to take in, this is what the experts recommend. It’s tough to wait, but you don’t want to mess your health. If you’ve tried to search for this question on the web, you’ll see ballpark estimates that go all the way to 24 hours. This is because the real answer is – it varies.

In this post, we’ll discuss everything you should know about swimming after adding pool chemicals. Read on to know the best time to use the pool after treating it with chlorine.

Once you add chlorine, you should wait until the water is 5ppm. To eliminate any doubt, you should test the water before swimming. The information you get shows whether the chemical has properly circulated. Your sample should be at least 12-18 inches deep.

The timing also matters. For the best results, you should test the water in the morning since chlorine tends to burn off during the day. If you wait for too long, you could get inaccurate readings. Chlorine is also used with other chemicals to shock the pool, and this can be highly corrosive to the skin.

If you’re overseeing pool maintenance, the recommended chlorine level should be 1.0 – 4.0 parts per million. The timing will also depend on whether you go for liquid or solid chlorine.

If you’re shocking the pool (super-chlorination), you add large amounts of chlorine to give the existing one a boost. This is seen as a great way of bringing back the balance by destroying the bacteria and algae in the pool. Since the process uses more chlorine, it will take longer to adjust. But again, this will depend on several factors. Are there algal blooms? How dirty is your pool?

Sometimes, the process could take up to 24 hours. If this is the case, swimmers should not be allowed to get into the pool until the following day.

But it doesn’t always go that way. Let’s say your baby’s diaper didn’t hold well in the water, and you had planned an afternoon party for your guests. Well, you have to shock the pool in daylight. On average, you ought to wait for one hour for every pound of chlorine you add into the water. Do you get the picture? Be sure to test the chlorine and PH levels to ensure they are balanced before you allow anyone into the pool.

For family pools, one of the challenges you have to face is keeping the children out of the water. And this is where supervision comes in. Only give a green light once the time has elapsed.

If you add liquid chlorine, it’s advisable not to swim until you vacuum to maintain the effectiveness.

Why chlorine is used in swimming pools

Besides killing germs, chlorine reduces swimmers’ risk of waterborne diseases, skin infections, and swimmer’s ears. Unlike other pool chemicals, chlorine keeps working for longer after it has been added to the pool.

Maintaining the right chlorine level in water also keeps unwanted substances like sweat, body oils, and urine at bay.

What chlorine level is safe to swim?

No matter the type of chlorine you use in your pool, you should maintain a level of 1.0 to 5.0 ppm. Any level higher than this could be an irritant. If the ppm is on the high side, it should be allowed to lower. Once you achieve the desired level, you must turn off the chlorine feeders.

But here is the thing – chlorine doesn’t work alone. You must check the PH level of the water as high levels may compromise the effectiveness of chlorine. Be sure to retest the levels every 6 hours. Plus, always resume chlorination once the level is below 2ppm.

What happens when you swim in a pool with too much chlorine?

The obvious side effect of too much chloride is poisoning. When you inhale or swallow too much, you could exhibit symptoms like coughing, difficulty breathing, burning nose, etc. If you notice any of these, you should get out of the water immediately.

Lung irritation

If you have asthma, too much chlorine can be a respiratory irritant. Watch for signs like nasal irritation or wheezing.

Eye and nose irritation

When chlorine gets to your nasal passage, it can sting. And because it affects PH in the water, your eyes could irritate if it’s too much.

Dry skin

Swimming for extended periods in over-chlorinated water can trigger skin irritation. It’s more of a risk to the skin – this can trigger itching around the nails.

Chlorine rash

It’s an itchy rash that appears on the skin when you swim in an over-chlorinated water. It’s not an allergic reaction but a minor chemical burn due to the hypersensitivity of chlorine. While the rashes can happen to anyone, they are common to active swimmers.

How to protect hair from swimming pool chlorine

Chlorinated water can wreak havoc on your hair. It often leaves it brittle and dry. Before you take the plunge, there are a few things you can do to reduce the damage.

Add a protective layer with natural oils

Natural oils (coconut or olive) give an extra layer of protection. They are rich in antioxidants like vitamins A & E and fatty acids that moisturize the scalp.

Use conditioners made for swimmers

There are lots of products that can protect your hair when swimming. So before you get into the water, you can use a hydrating conditioner to coat the hair strands. This works as a barrier against chlorinated water. First, you should wash your hair with shampoo and use a leave-in conditioner. This prevents your hair from further damage.

Rinse the hair with clean water

When your hair is dry, it can absorb some liquid and sucks up chlorinated water. And this is what strips away the natural oils from the hair. So before you dip into the pool, you can rinse your hair thoroughly. This explains why you should take a shower before and after swimming.

Use a protective cap

If you’re serious about swimming, you should keep chlorinated water far away. Why not wear a tough swimming cap to protect your hair? It doesn’t have to be the most fashionable accessory, but a latex swimming cap can do the job.

Use a nourishing hair mask

Chlorinated water can weaken the protein structure of the hair strands and can be easily broken. A hair mask will improve the elasticity of hair to restore natural shine.

How to remove chlorine from the skin after swimming

If taking a dip in a pool leaves your skin dry, itchy, or sensitive, blame it on chlorine. Generally speaking, chloride strips robs the natural oils that keep the skin moist. Not to mention, repeated exposure to chlorine can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. So how do you protect your skin from chlorine?

Before you get into the pool, you should rinse with clean water. That way, your skin won’t soak up much chlorine. And your body can’t have much sweat that can react with chlorinated water.

Another strategy that works wonders is moisturizing your skin. Coconut, jojoba, almond, avocado, and argon oils can work as natural moisturizers. And before you prepare for the second session, you want to do a follow-up with lotion.

How about using sunscreen? Waterproof sunscreen can protect your skin from the UV-rays. This is what you need if you’re outside for a long time.

Some researchers suggest that you use vitamin C solution. It naturally neutralizes chlorine causing less harm to the skin.

What is the best chlorine for swimming pools?

Chlorine is available in the form of tablets, sticks, or automatic feeders. The best product is the one that doesn’t contain cyanuric acid (protects it from being broken by the sun). Calcium hypochlorite contains 65% chlorine – it’s touted as the most effective at fighting microorganisms. For pools with high calcium hardness, sodium chloride can do the job. It’s safe and effective for small home pools.

Another top pool chemical is lithium hypochlorite. It contains 35% chlorine, enough to maintain the chemical balance of pool water.

Wrap up

One of the perks of the summer season is getting to cool off in a swimming pool. Whether you have one at home or you take trips to a public pool, they have one thing in common – chlorine. So, how long after adding chlorine can you swim?

From the above post, you should wait for 2-4 hours. But before you get into the water, you may want to retest it to ensure the levels are safe. Always wait for the chlorine level to get to 5 PPM. Sometimes, you may have to wait for up to 24 hours.

Since adding chlorine is part of the regular cleaning routine, you should always ensure the water is safe for those who want to swim.

Happy swimming!

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