There are so many things we just KNOW about pools. If you grew up around pools, you probably learned lots of fun and important pool facts from your parents, your friends, or the local lifeguard. But did you ever stop to ask yourself if all those “facts” are really true? Probably not! As your local Atlanta pool experts, The Pool Butler would like to go through some of the most prevalent swimming pool myths and bust them wide open. Mind = blown!
#1. If you don’t wait an hour to swim after eating, you’ll get cramps that will keep you from swimming and you’ll drown.
Well, this was certainly a scary one. This myth was widely disseminated by concerned moms and other caregivers who wanted their kids to take a break from the pool. The theory seems to be that so much blood will rush to your stomach to digest your food that your muscles will be starved of blood and you will cramp up AND DIE! But that actually has no basis in science. Think about it. Is there any other strenuous activity that will cause you to cramp up and keel over if you don’t wait an hour after eating? We didn’t think so.
So what does cause muscle cramps? Most often, a combination of overuse and dehydration. So while it is important to take breaks, hydration plays a much more significant role. If you’re out in the pool, chances are it’s pretty warm out. And as you splash around, you may not notice how much you’re actually sweating. So make sure to hop out and take a drink every now and then. But even if you don’t, it’s very unlikely that you will get such severe cramps that you will freeze up and drown.
#2. That strong chlorine smell means your pool is really clean.
Oh, how we wish this one was true! Unfortunately, it’s just the opposite. What we think of as the chlorine smell is actually not the smell of chlorine at all, it’s the smell of chloramines. When chlorine is in your pool doing its job, you can’t smell it. But when chlorine reacts with organic compounds that get into the pool on the bodies of swimmers, it creates smelly chloramines. Chloramines are formed when chlorine reacts with body oil, sweat, cosmetics, hair products, and yes, even urine. If there’s enough junk in the water to create a smell, the pool probably needs more chlorine, not less.
Chlorine interacting with all the different contaminants that can get into a pool can create thousands of unique compounds. And we don’t know much about the safety of most of them. What you smell is these chemicals exiting the pool as a gas. In outdoor pools, the gas usually just dissipates naturally with a little breeze. But indoor public pools are actually required to maintain some pretty serious ventilation systems to avoid poisoning swimmers with unknown gases. Scary, right?
#3. Chlorine will turn blond hair green.
Wow, more bad news about chlorine. Of course, you’ve probably guessed by now that it’s not the fault of the chlorine. In fact, pool water can turn blond hair green, but not because of chlorine. Many algaecides that are added to pools include copper sulfate. The copper sulfate binds to proteins in your hair to create that dreaded green tint. And it’s not just blond hair. If your hair is bleached blond, the green will be more pronounced, but even brunette hair can get a green tint. If you want to avoid the green, you could try a swim cap. And if wearing a swim cap sounds terrible, just make sure you rinse your hair really well after you leave the pool.
#4. Chlorine in the pool will give you red eyes and dry, itchy skin.
People just love to rag on chlorine, don’t they! While there is some truth to the chlorine as irritant myth—especially when it comes to dry, fragile hair—your red eyes have little to do with chlorine. The real culprit is poorly balanced pool water. Your body has a natural pH of 7.4. As long as you keep your pool’s pH between 7.2 and 7.6, the water shouldn’t bother you too much. But if the pH gets higher or lower than that, you’ll feel it. The more out of balance it gets, the more irritating the water will be. Chlorine can affect pH, but it’s definitely not the chlorine that’s the problem. So can we all please stop blaming chlorine?
#5. If you pee in the pool a special dye in the water will turn blue, or green, or any other color.
This one is a plain, old-fashioned scare tactic. Part of why it seems like it would be okay to pee in the pool is that no one will notice. You are, after all, surrounded by water. But tell a kid that peeing will surround them in a cloud of brightly colored dye, and they’ll make sure to save it for the restroom. In fact, this scare tactic has been so effective that many adults still believe it. Of course, it isn’t true. Anything in the water that would turn bright colors when it interacts with urine would also interact with a whole bunch of other, less offensive substances. The pool would be a mess, and the whole point of the dye would be lost.
#6. A saltwater pool is great because it has no chlorine.
While we can’t really confirm whether or not a saltwater pool is great—that’s up to personal choice—we can confirm that it definitely has chlorine in it. A saltwater pool generates its own chlorine, so you rarely have to add it. The saltwater passes through electrodes that break the chlorine off the salt molecule and use it to sanitize the pool. But if there really wasn’t any chlorine, the pool would quickly turn into an algae-filled frog pond. There’s nothing magical about adding salt to your pool water that would keep it clean without chlorine. But don’t worry. By now you should know that chlorine isn’t all that bad after all. (If you want to learn more about swimming pools that really don’t use any chlorine, check out this post about natural swimming pools. It’s pretty amazing, but it takes a lot more than salt.)
The Truth About Swimming Pools
Now that we’ve busted some of the most common swimming pool myths, we feel that it’s time to share some swimming pool truth. The truth is that swimming pools are a great way to relax, play, and spend time with family and friends. But pools need to be maintained. The chlorine, the pH, the contaminants from all those swimmers, all need to be kept in check. Balancing your water on a regular basis is the only way to keep your pool safe for swimming. You also need to skim, brush, and vacuum regularly. A pool is an investment, and you’ll only see the returns if you put in a little time and money. If you stop maintaining your pool, your investment will self-destruct as your pool quickly becomes unusable.
Of course, maintaining a pool doesn’t have to be a time-sucking chore. Let the pros at The Pool Butler help you out. Whether you need occasional tune-ups and repairs or you want a full-service maintenance package, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today to find out how we can help you keep your pool in great shape!