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Dealing With the Trichlor Shortage Head On

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Dealing With the Trichlor Shortage Head On

The recent fire that destroyed the chemical plant in Louisiana is the main reason for the current chlorine shortage. As a result, a good percentage of pool companies were adversely affected. At the same time, some pool companies remained unaffected by these events and have been able to carry on business as usual. Such companies relied on other pool sanitation systems like saltwater systems and baquacil.

Dealing With the Trichlor Shortage Head On

But generally, the shortage of chlorine is a big challenge for many pool owners. There has been a significant rise in the price of chlorine due to increased demand.

How did pool professionals deal with tricholor shortage?

Once the news hit home, pool experts came up with several strategies to deal with this sudden shortage of chlorine. President of Patio Pleasures Pools & Spas, Rene Huston, said that trichlor shortage forced them to stock up in excess. This way, they would still have supplies in the next swimming pool peak season. Although this was a good idea, they realized that the demand was too high. In particular, the demand was three times than what we would sell in normal seasons.”

Most pool companies stocked up the chlorine in excess to deal with the shortage. Even so, this strategy also comes with other challenges. When you decide to stockpile chlorine, you need to create safe storage space. As a result, pool product suppliers have had to expand their warehouses to accommodate excess stock. Aside from creating a stock house, you need a lot of money to purchase chlorine in bulk. Unfortunately, very few pool experts have enough cash to stockpile.

What were the early signs of chlorine shortage?

People started noticing the shortage of chlorine by a sudden hike in prices. Before, pool owners bought a 50-lb buck of 3-inch unwrapped tablets at $70 to $75. Last year., the price rose to $125. Thus, pool owners had to pay almost twice what they used to pay to get chlorine tablets.

CEO/RMO of Cline Commercial Pool Service in California, Lori Ann Cline, says that she received a notice that the price of chorine would rise by approximately 15 to 20% during summer. Therefore, her company had no choice other than increase their prices to retain their profits. Contrary to popular belief, the increase in prices has not helped them deal with scarcity. In fact, most of their suppliers are currently reducing their purchases every week. So, they cannot buy as much chlorine as they would wish. Unlike before, they cannot order multiple buckets of trichlor.

Dealing with the situation beforehand

The owner of Richard’s Pool Service, Richard Garnai, says that the shortage of trichlor has not been a big problem for them. They already had a solid plan for dealing with the shortage. Their suppliers advised them to purchase trichlor in bulk. This way, they would be able to meet the expected surge in demand during summer. If they run out of stock, he considers manufacturing the chemical himself. Additionally, he plans to use cyanuric acid and liquid chlorine if he runs out of stock.

Garnai advises pool experts not to depend on tabs this summer. He says that looking for other options is a great idea. Trying to reduce the use of chlorine tabs is a great idea to deal with this problem. Some of the alternatives to trichlor include calcium hypochlorite and liquid chlorine. Although bromine is also a great alternative, it tends to degrade when exposed to sunlight.

Education programs

At the moment, it is essential to educate customers about this sudden shortage. Most customers are angry about this whole situation. Consider informing your customers that you are suddenly experiencing a chlorine shortage, and it would be best to look for other alternatives. Explaining the sudden increase in prices is also a good idea. Pool professionals are also encouraging customers to stock up tabs before summer. Fortunately, most customers are responding positively.

Using alternatives to chlorine

At present, there is a broad spectrum of techniques that can help you lower chlorine usage in your pool. These techniques help pool experts deal with the trichlor shortage well. When reducing the pool’s dependence on chlorine, the first thing to do is keep the pool in good condition. Using UV, Ozone, and AOP pool systems also helps you reduce chlorine usage. Consequently, pool experts are trying to encourage customers to consider other pool sanitation alternatives. Fortunately, most customers are responding positively. Nonetheless, pool experts hope that they won’t experience these challenges in demand and supply come next year.

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Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email [email protected] your story idea.

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Cleaning and Service Equipment and Supplies

BioLab Plant Reopening Will Impact Chlorine Prices for 2023

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BioLab Plant in Westlake, LA - Reopening Will Impact Chlorine Prices for 2023

The news of BioLab’s plant burning to the ground during Hurricane Laura in 2020 had a ripple effect on chlorine prices that has lasted for the past two years. We first reported that BioLab was rebuilding the plant back in July of 2021. A recent announcement that construction is completed and in time for summer production has pool industry analysts optimistic. “We are delighted to reopen our BioLab facility in time to support the 2023 pool season,” said Michael Sload, CEO of KIK Consumer Products.

BioLab is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of dry chlorine products. An announcement that the Westlake, Louisiana facility is fully operational means that one of the driving factors for the initial spike we saw on the price of chlorine has been removed. Prices for dry chlorine products soared in 2021 due to concerns about shortages and remained high through the summer of 2022.

Understanding The Correlation Between BioLab & Price Increases

The conditions for a sudden surge in the price for chlorine stemmed partly from the fact that BioLab was out of commission. The main factor that was driving prices to explode during the past two years was largely due to the pandemic in general.

A large percentage of the population was quarantined, which meant more people than ever before, were at home and using their swimming pool. This put a much higher glut on demand than anticipated. With the pandemic shutting many plants down, and logistical delays plaguing distributors throughout most of 2021, these conditions as well as rising inflation in 2022 kept prices high through the summer.

The reopening of the BioLab facility will certainly impact the supply chain in a positive way. “BioLab will be actively supplying the pool market for the 2023 season which should provide some relief,” said plant manager Donald Brunette.

BioLab ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the reopening of the Westlake, LA facility.

Prices are predicted to begin dropping a bit in light of that fact but will certainly not sink lower than they were prior to the pandemic. As the population starts to adjust to a post-Covid world, the surge we saw for swimming pools has already begun to recalibrate to pre-pandemic levels. The only remaining catalyst for keeping chlorine prices from truly resetting back to 2020 is the cumulative rate of inflation is roughly 14.7% higher than in 2020.

While this should certainly factor into the equation, most experts agree that with this news, the chlorine shortage is finally over and a bucket of chlorine tablets should cost substantially less next summer than it has in previous years. This comes as welcome news for both consumers and pool professionals.

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Cleaning and Service Equipment and Supplies

Ultimate Water Taps Jeff Jones for Sales of Chlorine Genie

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Jeff Jones

Ultimate Water, whose flagship product is the Chlorine Genie, is pleased to announce the addition of industry veteran Jeff Jones as the new Regional Sales Manager and Buying Group Liaison for the company’s residential and commercial divisions.  Based out of Texas, Jones has been in the swimming pool industry for over 40 years spanning a broad range of roles including the VP of Sales for DEL Ozone, National Sales Manager for Letro Products, as well as work in construction management and sales for Blue Haven and Riverbend Pools.  Most recently Jones managed buying group sales for Florida Water Products. 

“We are very pleased to have Jeff join our team,” says Thomas Vessiere, National Sales Director for Ultimate Water.  “Jeff brings deep experience, industry knowledge, and strong relationships that will be especially helpful as the demand for the Chlorine Genie grows exponentially in our industry.” 

Having sold and designed pool water sanitation systems for many years, Jones is very enthusiastic about being a part of the growing success of the Chlorine Genie.  “The design and functionality of the Chlorine Genie makes it an ideal product for our industry and is especially welcome right now as builders, retailers and service professionals grapple with the most efficient way to continuously produce chlorine safely, cost effectively and immediately for their customers,” explains Jones. 

Jones will be at the AQUALive Show booth # 416 and can be reached directly at [email protected] or by calling 214-415-2510.

More information about the Chlorine Genie can be found at:

www.chlorinegenie.com

San Diego, CA

(800) 970-7616

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A Borates Shortage is Looming on The Horizon

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A Borates Shortage is Looming on The Horizon

One of the specialty chemicals being talked about a lot in light of the chlorine shortages and rising prices are borates. As strong proponents of borates, it troubles us to say that our go-to sanitzer supplement may soon be facing the same shortages and rising costs that we’ve been seeing on the trichlor side.

What The Boron Shortage Means For The Pool Industry

If you’re in the pool business you already know, borates are becoming increasingly difficult to find. What inventory is available is vastly more expensive than in previous years. We’re already knee-deep into the dog days of summer and prices for chlorine have skyrocketed well past analysts’ projections.

A lot of pool service professionals have been turning to borates as the savior during this time of inflation and rising prices. Many technicians already use borates as a buffer against upwards shifting pH. When your pH level rises above what is deemed “normal” (about 7.8), using borates achieves optimum results.

Pool service professionals have been turning to borates in a time of rising prices for sanitizers like trichlor.

Why Pool Professionals Are Turning To Borates

Bacteria can thrive in water with a high pH level. When this happens it makes chlorine less effective. Pool professionals use borates to alleviate the issue, because it works to keep pH from drifting upward. In addition, there are other positive aspects to using borates in your pool. For one, it keeps the pool clear of algae and calcium scaling. Pool equipment repair specialists will be the first ones to recommend borates. When it comes to maintaining ideal water chemistry for your pool equipment, borates does an amazing job.

For the past few years, the adoption of borates by pool pros has steadily increased season after season. The concern now is that we may have hit maximum capacity as demand has increased well beyond available inventory.

Dwindling Boron Supplies Driving Prices Higher

The global boron market shortage is driving prices higher this season. For those who’ve been thinking of switching to using borates, this definitely is something to consider. When it comes to getting trichlor at affordable rates, it already feels that pool pros are a lower priority as far as it goes to maintaining pricing structures. Now, it appears the same thing has begun happening with borates.

Although borates and boric acid are near synonymous with pools, the swimming pool industry itself is actually a lower priority in terms of its consumption of boron. The industrial glass industry is the largest consumer of boron, roughly 48%, followed by the ceramics industry (15%) and agricultural industry (15%); the cleaning industry of which the pool industry represents a fraction consumes roughly 2% of the world’s boron.

Boron is in high demand. There are a myriad of applications for it aside from pool cleaning.

You’ll find boron in everything from industrial fertilizers to high-end ceramics and solar panels. Boron also has medical applications which improve wound healing and boosts the body’s usage of estrogen, testosterone, and vitamin D. It improves magnesium absorption, reduces inflammation, increases antioxidants, and boosts brain electrical activity in both cognitive performance as well as short-term memory.

What is absolutely certain is that we (the pool industry) didn’t cause a borates shortage. Clearly, demand is higher in these other industries which are causing prices to surge. Right now the boron supply chain is very weak. Over 60% of the material comes from mines located in Turkey which is the top producer, followed by Russia, South America and the United States.

For the time being, production is gradually declining. As existing boron reserves deplete, we’re seeing demand far exceed supplies, resulting in higher prices such as $1,250 per ton, far exceeding analysts’ predictions for $739 per ton.

While the demand in the U.S. by pool professionals may be high, the top consumer of boron is China, followed by India and Japan. Boron is produced domestically only in the State of California and it appears very little of it is earmarked towards maintaining supply chains for borates.

Final Thoughts

The story isn’t all doom and gloom for pool professionals who want to switch to borates. Fortunately, folks like Natural Chemistry, Brenntag, and others are still intent on keeping inventory on the shelves so you should still be able to find their products through distribution. If they don’t have borates available, demand that they replenish their stock. This may be the only way to guarantee the pool industry remains a priority at all.

Listen to our entire discussion on the Talking Pools podcast.

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