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The Complete Guide to Pool Shock in 2020

How to use Pool Shock properly

When it comes to pool shocking, the main thing people seem to worry about is the sheer volume of chemicals they are dealing with. A pool shock does indeed involve utilizing chemicals that can be dangerous if they are not used correctly. It is natural then to approach shocking your pool with a certain measure of caution. At the very least, if you have just purchased your first swimming pool, shocking is definitely something you will want to learn about in greater detail. The better you understand this project, the easier it will be to see why it can be highly useful to the care and maintenance of your pool.

Generally speaking, the pool shock is one of the most important additions you will need to make to any swimming pool you may own. There are a number of benefits to not only using this chemical but in terms of making sure it is being used correctly. There are also some potential downsides that you are going to want to keep in mind.

This is definitely one aspect of swimming pool maintenance that you want to become comfortable with. There are numerous benefits to shocking your pool on a regular schedule. Let’s explore those facts in greater detail, while simultaneously giving you all the information you need to do the job correctly.

What Is A Pool Shock?

If you have ever walked past a swimming pool, and felt a little overpowered by the voluminous smell of what you assume to be chlorine, you have probably walked past a pool that was recently shocked. As it turns out, what you are actually smelling is an odor that originates from chloramines. If you can smell that, then it is almost a certainty that the pool is completely out of balance. This is perhaps why you tend to smell chloramines near the hotel or public swimming pools, as opposed to pools on private residencies. Those tend to be better cared for, with respect to keeping the optimal balance of chemicals and water.

Chloramines are created by mixing chlorine with the inherent nitrogen in such things as various oils, sweat, and even urine. Beyond the striking odor, the presence of chloramines can also cause swimmers to experience irritated, itchy skin. You can cause damage to your eyes, and there is even potential for damage to your respiratory system.

This is where the pool shock process proves to be profoundly useful. By essentially shocking your swimming pool with chlorine, as well as possibly other chemicals, you can eliminate the presence of chloramines. This is why shocking a pool is considered by most experts to be a fundamental aspect of caring for your swimming pool from one season to the next.

There are a few terms associated with pool shocking that you will want to keep in mind:

  • Free chlorine: This refers to the specific amount of chlorine that is actively working to disinfect your water. The free chlorine level for a healthy swimming pool will be somewhere between 1ppm (parts-per-million) and 3ppm.
  • Combined chlorine: This chlorine is still in your water, but its effectiveness has been diminished to extreme capacity. Combined chlorine levels should always be below 0.2ppm.
  • Total chlorine: This is the combined amount of your free chlorine and combined chlorine.
  • Breakpoint chlorination: This means you have enough free chlorine in your pool to eliminate the presence of chloramines. It is estimated that you want roughly ten times the amount of combined chlorine in your pool to hit the BC target. If you fail to hit this breaking point, you run the risk of adding even more chloramines to your pool. If things get out of hand, you will be left with no choice but to remove and replace some or even all of the water in your pool.

Remember that testing kits are available for swimming pools. These can show you in no uncertain terms where you stand with your free chlorine and total chlorine levels.

Now, the next question you probably have is: Can’t I just use chlorine tablets to shock my swimming pool? Generally speaking, this is not possible. You will need to purchase a separate product to do what your pool needs. Even so, these products tend to be fairly affordable. As we discuss the best pool shocking tips and practices, let’s also break down the different shock products that are currently made available to you.

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How To Use A Pool Shock

Before we get into the actual steps involved in how to shock a swimming pool, let’s first understand the different strengths, potential weaknesses, and other details of the products currently available. As you probably guessed, it is important to choose a shock product that will deliver the results your pool requires:

  • Calcium Hypochlorite: This particular chemical, which is also known as cal hypo, has been in use since roughly the end of the 1920s. It is convenient, and perhaps the most affordable of the different options available to you. Most calcium hypochlorite products will have between 65% and 75% of chlorine. It must be used around dusk. It is advised to wait at least eight hours before going back in the water, once you have added it.
  • Lithium Hypochlorite: If you want faster results, and/or if your swimming pool contains a high degree of calcium, this might be the solution for you. Just keep in mind that it is a bit costlier. The only other thing to keep in mind is that it is highly toxic to aquatic life. That means it can be perfect for killing algae in your pool. At the same time, make sure you dispose of it safely, and in a fashion that will not cause harm to anyone or anything.
  • Dichlor: One of the nice things about dichlor shock products is that you can add them directly to your swimming pool. Many people also like that a dichlor can be used for not only shocking but for general chlorine treatments, as well.
  • Non-Chlorine Shock: One consistency among the different shocks we’ve mentioned is that you will be expected to wait several hours, before getting back in your pool. Non-chlorine shock products are different. In most cases, you will be able to get back in the pool after about fifteen minutes. It can be added directly to your pool, but keep in mind that because it does not contain chlorine, it will not be able to kill chlorine.

Most shock products should be used after the sun has already gone down. You don’t want the sun burning off the chlorine you’ve just added, which will make the product less effective. This is why the non-chlorine shocks can be added whenever you please.

You should shock your pool at least once every other work. The product you purchase will probably tell you exactly what to do, but here are the general steps involved:

  • Get everything together. This will probably include protective eyewear, gloves that can resist chemicals, protective clothing you don’t mind getting dirty/stained, a testing kit, your shock product, a five-gallon bucket, and something that will let you stir your shock safely.
  • Figure out how much CC is currently in your swimming pool.
  • Use your product’s instructions to determine how much shock you will actually require.
  • If you need to dissolve the shock, combine what you need in the bucket with roughly 3/4ths warm water. Stir slowly, adding 1-pound increments as you go.
  • Once diluted, add containers to reach what is we referred to earlier as the calculated breakpoint.
  • Walk around your swimming pool, pouring your shock into the water as you go. Add pool water to eliminate any small/medium chunks of particles from the shock.
  • Wait however long the instructions on your product suggestions. Going back in the water too early can irritate the skin and eyes, cause respiratory problems, and more.

Now, we can discuss the pros and cons of these products.

Pool Shock Pros

The pros of using a pool shock product should be easy enough to appreciate at this point. When the right products are used, you are ensuring the perfect balance in your water. This enables you to enjoy the pool to the fullest. These products are fairly affordable, depending upon which one you get. You will also find that shocking your pool is not particularly difficult, once you get the hang of it. The best products will tell you everything you need to know to stay safe.

The variety of pool shock products is another aspect we certainly appreciate.

Pool Shock Cons

The only significant downside to any pool shock product would be the issues that can occur when you fail to shock your pool correctly. This is why you should always wear protective gear, research your choices carefully to find what you want, and avoid things like breathing in the chemicals directly.

As long as you follow directions, you really shouldn’t have anything to worry about.


Clearly, pool shock products have a lot to offer swimming pools of all shapes and sizes. It is an essential aspect of pool maintenance.

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