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3 Steps to Evaluate Pool Chemical Quality

Did you know that the quality of pool and hot tub chemicals varies wildly? It can be confusing to know how to shop for the right formulas. And we get it! Water quality treatments are totally different from household chemicals like laundry detergent or spray cleaners.

That’s why we’re so passionate about helping our customers feel comfortable about water safety! The Splash team is all about sharing our knowledge. Let us help you buy pool and hot tub chemicals with confidence. Here are three things to look for that are completely separate from price.

1) Understand Active Ingredients

Ready for a quick chemistry lesson? An active ingredient is the main substance in a formula that is responsible for the primary benefits. When you take a pain pill, the active ingredient is acetaminophen for a brand like Tylenol or ibuprofen for Advil. Pool and hot tub chemicals function the same way – there is always a dominant substance that actively produces results.

Why do active ingredients matter? Because their percentages aren’t equal between all brands. One product might have 50% of an active ingredient while another has 35%. But those numbers alone don’t tell the full story. It all depends on the product and its purpose if a higher or lower percentage is actually better.

2) Look at the Full Formula

Another thing to understand about an ingredient list are the inert materials. These are the other substances that make the entire formula effective. Like with our pain pill example, you’ll see a number of chemicals beyond the main pain reliever. For water safety products, inactive ingredients are often solvents, binders, and antifoaming agents.

Let’s see how a real-life comparison works. We are a huge fan of the Poolife brand, which we carry in our store and our staff uses widely. We’ll use an algaecide as our example, one from Poolife and one from a competitor  that is commonly available through Amazon and Walmart. To make sure both products are comparable, they are liquid formulas, last for 90 days, and address green, yellow, and black algae.


Poolife’s  Algaecide 90


Anonymous Online Product
Active ingredient

60% polyoxyethylene (known as a poly quat algaecide)

Active ingredient

11.8% copper sulfate pentahydrate

Other ingredients


Other ingredients


Same type of product and purpose yet different active ingredients and very different active vs. inactive ratios. Scratching your head? Totally natural! That’s why you can always drop by the store and get help from our staff.

3) Come Talk to the Experts

We know that your favorite big box stores and online retailers carry pool and spa products. And those places are amazing for many purchases. But what they lack are knowledgeable staff available for questions.

Think about it – a home improvement store has millions of products. Even the most well-trained employee can’t be an expert about everything on the shelves. If they don’t own a pool or hot tub themselves, there’s a small chance they have a deep understanding of these chemicals.

That’s where we’re different! Our sole focus is on pools, hot tubs, swim spas, and saunas. Many of us have them at home, with years of practice managing our own water quality. We don’t sell any products we wouldn’t use ourselves. We only suggest formulas that we’ve verified work safely and effectively.

We care so much about water quality and absolutely recognize there’s a learning curve. That’s why our retail staff is here to help! We want you to feel confident that you are using the right chemicals with the proper ratios and timing. That’s also why we always offer free water testing, so you have an accurate reading. Let us teach you everything we know!

To keep learning about water chemistry from our Splash team: