Pool Chemicals For Dummies: Our Super Easy Water Care Guide


Pool chemicals for dummies.  Now that’s my kind of guide!  If you’re a little confused on what all these things are and you just want water that feels nice as well as looks nice, here’s your guide.  Because Aqua-Tests for 14 different components, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with what everything is, what it does and what products you need to use for it.  Here are the things we test for, why we test for them and what they do.

Saturation Index

Saturation index is a way to evaluate your water quality and to determine if your pool or spa needs certain chemicals to keep your water looking and feelings great.

TDS (total dissolved solids)

Total dissolved solids is the measurements of the combined content of inorganic and organic substances in your water.

CYA (cyanotic acid)

Also known as stabilizer!  What a great thing stabilizer is.  Stabilizer is the sunscreen for you pool.  The blazing hot sun is going to soak up every little bit of chlorine it can get its hands on.  That’s when our stabilizer comes in.  After you put your stabilizer in your pool, it becomes sunscreen for you pool so that less, if at all any chlorine gets soaked up by the sun and instead stays in the pool and does what its job is.


Every single time that pool or spa is used, we are bringing in bacteria.  The chlorine’s job is to kill that bacteria, and gas it.  When you smack a mosquito on your hand, you have to dispose of it.  When you kill the bacteria in your pool, just like a mosquito, you have to dispose of the waste.


pH is one of the three main components on your waters saturation index (the two others being alkalinity and calcium hardness).  pH is the main thing that fluctuates in your water.  It is affected by every little thing that comes in your water.


Alkalinity is essentially the boss of pH.  If your alkalinity is in range, there is more likely of a chance that your ph will ‘get jealous’ and want to stay in range as well.

Calcium Hardness

The amount of calcium that is in your water is important.  If your calcium is too hard, it can cause scaling and staining.  Though there isn’t really a way to control calcium it really depends where your water is sourced from and if your water is hard, for you to use a stain and scale to help staining and scaling.


Borates is the feeling of that water.  If you don’t have a salt water pool but love the feeling of it, we have a few products that you can put into your pool to get that beautiful silky smooth feeling while swimming.

Copper, iron and manganese

These are all the metals we test for and our fingers are crossed there aren’t any in your pool!


  1. Francois Kupo


    Great site; thank you for writing it up! I have an indoor pool, non-salt, and currently using lithium chloride for shocks. I don’t use the calcium variants because there’s no way to get rid of the calcium short of dumping water but I am on a well, so refilling is not optimal. The lithium may become unavailable due to battery uses of lithium; is there an alternative aside from calcium chloride?

    • Kathi B


      That is an excellent question! Yes, lithium was a staple to us pool people for years and, our world is changing to make it a challenge but the GREAT NEWS is there are some innovations that you may not have heard of that make lithium jealous. Smart Shock is a blended shock (39% available chlorine) https://aqua-tech.ca/store/index.php/smart-shock.html. It would be my #1 pick to replace the Lithium Hypochlorite you are using. Another great option is Power Chlor (https://aqua-tech.ca/store/index.php/power-chlor.html) if you don’t mind that is contains some cyanuric acid.

  2. K Pedder


    Is bicarbonate of soda good for bringing down PH levels ?

    • Kathi B


      no – that item has a high ph and will NOT reduce ph in your hot tub

  3. K Pedder


    Is bicarb of soda good to bring down PH ?

  4. Both my ph and chlorine levels are high,how do I balance them out

    • Kathi B


      the very best thing to do is to bring 500 ml of water in to us for analysis. that way we can see exactly how high the chlorine level is and deal with that first. then, when the chlorine is balanced we can look at the pH (but also the total alkalinity as ph and alkalinity need to be looked at as a whole to determine the best way to adjust things)

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