Pool Chemical Safety: Transport, Handling, Storage, Disposal


Pool chemicals can be dangerous, explosive and fatal if they mix with other chemicals or contaminants!

I hope that got your attention! Hello, I’m Dr. Pool, a Research and Development Chemist for In The Swim. Pool Chemicals can be hazardous, but risks can be minimized by following some simple precautions.

Today’s lecture will cover best practices for Transport, Handling, Storage and Disposal of swimming pool chemicals.

Transporting Pool Chemicals Safely

Commercial transport of oxidizers (pool shock) and sanitizers (pool tablets), as well as algaecides and other specialty pool chemicals, is highly controlled. There are limits regarding package size (which is why shock is sold in 1 lb. bags, and each chlorine tablet is individually wrapped) and limits on the total weight of pool chemicals that can be shipped.

Trucks carrying haz-mats (sanitizers and oxidizers) must be placarded, and the driver needs to be trained in emergency procedures, such as how to respond to a spill due to a collision or overturned truck.

oxidizer-placardResidential transport of pool chemicals is not as regulated. If you buy pool chemicals at a local pool store and drive them back to your home, follow these safety guidelines.

  • Check and Tighten all pool chemical caps or lids.
  • Secure pool chemicals in large plastic tubs, or boxes.
  • Separate incompatible pool chemicals from each other.
  • Drive directly home, using caution to avoid accidents.

Handling Pool Chemicals Safely


In our R&D lab, you can’t walk in the door without donning safety glasses and a lab coat. In the backyard, that may feel awkward – although it’s a really cool look! Here’s some ways to reduce your exposure to pool chemicals, as you add them to your pool.

  • Read and follow all label instructions before use.
  • Use dedicated clean scoops for products which require a scoop.
  • Respirators avoid injury opening chemical buckets, or broadcasting chemicals.
  • Safety glasses prevent eye injury adding liquid or powdered pool chemicals.
  • Gloves keep chemicals off of your skin, and prevent jewelry from tarnishing.

After adding a chemical, return any scoops used to the bucket and seal the lid tightly around all sides. Loose bucket lids allow moisture and contaminants in, and can be unsafe around children.

Clean up any spills around the pool immediately, by using a broom, blower or garden hose. Don’t put this back into the chemical container, but add it to the pool, or dispose of properly.

Which Pool Chemicals are Incompatible with Others? All of them! Oxidizers, sanitizers, acids, algaecides, antifreeze, clarifiers, and other pool chemicals – never allow them to mix!

Storing Pool Chemicals Safely

A proper place is needed to store pool chemicals. A dedicated location, out of the reach of children, which is dry, protected and preferably climate controlled.

Many pool owners store their pool chemicals in the garage or in a utility shed. Some use the pool storage bins that we have, specifically made for storing pool supplies or chemicals around the pool.

pool storage binA dedicated bin on the floor, with a sturdy lid, is the best place to store pool chemicals. Chemicals on shelves are more apt to easily be knocked off the shelf by someone rummaging for a pool noodle, or for our Californian customers, shaken off the shelf by seismic activity.

Keep pool chemicals separated from each other, in a series of boxes and dividers inside of your pool chemical bin. Never put chemicals into mis-labeled containers, like using an empty chlorine bucket to store DE powder, for instance.

Disposing of Pool Chemicals Safely

How long do pool chemicals last? It depends on the item, but most pool chemicals lose potency each year, but could last for many years on the shelf. Some pool chemicals may outlast the container they are in, however. Corrosive chemicals like acids or chlorine will slowly eat away at thin containers, eventually bursting at the bottom.

If you can use the old, leftover pool product, it’s probably best to add it to the pool according to directions. If you can’t read the directions but can make out the brand name, you can likely find the use and dosage instructions online.

chemicalsIf you’re not sure what the product is at all, and cannot identify it, you can contact your local landfill and ask if they accept unlabeled pool chemicals for disposal.

Clean out or use up your old pool chemicals to reduce the chance of a dangerous pool chemical incident in your garage or shed!

Take Care!


Dr. Pool


Pool Chemical Safety: Transport, Handling, Storage, Disposal — 7 Comments

    • Hi, if you don’t know any pool owners who would take it, you could 1). Call your local landfill (dump), and ask if they have a facility that accepts granular chlorine oxidizers, or 2) ask you local pool store or pool service company if they will take it off your hands. Or 3). you could box it up, and set it out front with a sign “Free Pool Shock”, inquire inside, just so kids don’t take it. The bags don’t last forever, the packaging material will break down after a few years, so shock in bags cannot be stored indefinitely.

  1. We are newbies and thought we could dilute CYA granules in a bucket of water before pouring into the pool. We have since found a better way, but are left with a small open bucket of water (about a gallon) with about a pound of granules at the bottom. We’re not sure if this is okay to keep in the garage as-is before either using it or disposing of it. Are there hazards (fumes, etc) to leaving the open container on the garage floor for a few days?

    • Hi, I don’t think so – cyanuric acid does generate heat when added to water, and probably some off-gassing, but I don’t think it will be a problem. You can lay a towel or something over the bucket, to keep it clean and covered.

  2. We don’t want to store bromine tablets in the house, but our garage gets into 100+ temperatures in the summer. Can we store the bromine tablets outside in the pool equipment enclosure, which is shaded most of the day? Our pool is in Bullhead City, Arizona where the temps are typically 115+ in the summer.

    • Hi Bernard, a better location would be inside of a large rubbermaid bin or outdoor storage box. As you may know, chlorine tablets and bromine tablets to a lesser degree will oxidize metals it comes in contact with. Even if the lid is tight all the time, you may notice corrosion to metal pump and filter parts, electrical equipment and such things, when tablets and shock are stored nearby. The rubbermaid bin or other outdoor storage will allow you to keep it outside the shed, maybe behind, where it’s shady? Under a bush or something? OR inside the shed, or garage, if your storage box or bin seals up well.

  3. Pingback: Randy

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