Why There’s a Chlorine Shortage and What You Need to Know

Why There’s a Chlorine Shortage and What You Need to Know

April 2, 2022

Chlorine is a chemical familiar to anyone who’s ever been around a pool. (There’s nothing quite like that scent, after all.) Chlorine is essential for keeping your pool water safe by killing mold, bacteria, algae, and many other microorganisms. 2021 saw a severe shortage of chlorine along with skyrocketing costs, and from the looks of things, 2022 will be no different. While the global pandemic certainly didn’t help things, there are actually a few more factors at play regarding the cost of chlorine these days.

Is There a Chlorine Shortage?

Yes. And while you may at first think the pandemic is to blame, that’s not the whole story. The pandemic actually saw an increased demand for chlorine due to the construction of new pools — up 25% over 2019 — which obviously caused more demand for pool supplies, chlorine included.

That said, people all around the world saw trouble with supply chains due to transportation issues and labor shortages. While chlorine certainly felt this too, it was the leveling of a major chlorine production plant in Louisiana by Hurricane Laura late in 2020 that really caused the trouble. A fire on-site leveled the facilities, taking nearly 40% of the U.S. chlorine supply with it.

What Should I Expect With the Chlorine Shortage?

For now, things may look a bit grim, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. When the new manufacturing facility in Louisiana is complete, it will be operating with a capacity 30% higher than the original plant. The introduction of a faster, larger plant could conceivably have us return to a more normal chlorine supply by 2023. However, it’s also important to note that a continuing pandemic may throw these plans out the window, especially if issues with labor and transportation continue.

For the moment, expecting empty shelves might not be so far-fetched. If you’re having trouble finding chlorine tablets in your local area, consider switching to liquid chlorine or the well-known hot-tub and spa sanitizer bromine. It’s best to avoid hoarding chlorine tablets when you do see them. Properly stored tablets only have a shelf life of about three years before they begin to degrade, and those stored in sheds or other areas exposed to the elements degrade even faster, so stocking up on more than you need will probably cause you to run headlong into these issues.

Test More Frequently

If you’d like to keep using your pool during the shortage but are trying to make your chlorine supply last as long as possible, break out your water test kit a bit more often. Instead of keeping up a regular schedule of chlorinating your pool, use the water’s current chlorine levels to tell you when you need to add more. Test the water once per day, and only add extra chlorine or a chlorine alternative when the levels start to dip. This is a great way to stretch your supply without compromising water safety.

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