Summertime has come at last, and your pool needs a thorough cleanse. Stocking up on liquid chlorine means practicing safe storage methods to avoid leakages or worse.
Store liquid pool chlorine in a dry, dark, cool space, away from other chemicals and acids. Ensure it stays in its original container. Additionally, the storage room should have adequate ventilation to disperse gases that the stored chemicals may emit.
Working with chemicals, especially one as volatile as liquid chlorine, requires forethought and caution. Continue reading for a discussion on the proper methods for storing liquid pool chlorine.
1. Store Liquid Chlorine in Its Original Container
Every specialized chemical, including liquid chlorine, comes sealed in a container specifically designed for storing that chemical. Removing the chlorine and placing it in a different container poses risks:
- The chlorine could mix with chemicals or other residues in the new container. This could create a harmful chemical reaction.
- The chlorine could react with the container itself and cause it to corrode, burn, or melt. For instance, liquid chlorine corrodes certain plastics.
- Gases from the liquid chlorine could seep out if the new container isn’t sealed correctly. The original container was made with this in mind.
Liquid chlorine is commonly sold in heavy-duty plastic jugs, however, there are some other containers you may see
Other materials used to store liquid chlorine are:
- Polyvinylidene fluoride
Once your liquid chlorine supply is used up, it’s recommended that you dispose of the container. However, you may not be able to dispose of a container used to keep such a potent chemical in a regular trash bin or even recycle it with your other recyclables.
You’ll need to:
- Rinse the container in a well-ventilated area while wearing proper protective gear, such as gloves and goggles.
- Thoroughly rinse the container
- Remove all caps and labels
- Mark it as “empty”
- Dispose of it at a designated disposal area
See the EPA guidance for more info about disposing of household hazardous waste.
2. Keep Liquid Chlorine Away From Other Chemicals
Pool chemicals such as liquid chlorine must be kept separate from other chemicals; they should never mix or be put at risk of mixing with any other substance.
When combined with other types of chlorine or any acid, liquid chlorine produces chlorine gas. This gas can jeopardize the health of anyone who inhales it for some time and can be fatal if inhaled for over half an hour at a concentrated level.
The risk of this happening is low if liquid chlorine is kept separately and sealed correctly. Still, if kept in close proximity to other chemicals, there’s a chance it could leak and cause a chemical reaction without you even noticing.
Below is a list of substances you should never store close to liquid chlorine:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Other forms of chlorine
- Any household cleaning product
Have a look at this breakdown to learn how liquid chlorine reacts with other chemicals and materials and how to use it safely.
3. Store Liquid Chlorine in a Cool, Dark, Dry Place
Liquid chlorine can only maintain its integrity and be safe for use if the container is kept dry and clean and if the environment is cool and dark.
Exposing liquid chlorine to direct sunlight is one of the worst things you can do. Though it’s not a combustible or flammable material, it has oxidizing properties and can cause an explosion or fire in certain conditions.
Extreme heat, in the form of extended exposure to sunlight, for example, causes chlorine to steadily expand. It also creates a chemical reaction resulting in chlorine gas, eventually bursting through the container.
The same reaction will take place if:
- You leave chlorine next to a fire
- Chlorine gas comes near an artificial heat source
- Liquid chlorine mixes with other chemicals
This is why it’s vital to store liquid chlorine in a room with a moderate temperature, preferably in a locked room or cabinet that keeps it away from sunlight and other chemicals. A garage is the typical chemical storage area for many homeowners, just take caution to ensure they are out of reach for any children!
Chlorine doesn’t have any flammable or combustible qualities on its own, so keeping it away from any external force that might agitate it keeps it passive and safe.
4. Ensure Your Storage Room Is Well-Ventilated
Keeping chemicals in a room with adequate ventilation is crucial because of two reasons:
- To avoid chemical inhalation or poisoning
- To cool the storage room and avoid volumetric expansion
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Chemical Inhalation and Chlorine Poisoning
Liquid chlorine is a common name for the solution sodium hypochlorite, but many also know it simply as bleach. Liquid chlorine is an irritant and can become highly toxic if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin.
With an irritant like liquid chlorine, it’s essential to put in place an external ventilation system that draws fumes from inside the room (storage area) and disperses them outside.
Air vents, windows, and extractor fans are excellent methods of dispersing chemical fumes, especially during hotter seasons and in rooms containing numerous chemicals.
If a chemical storage area isn’t well-ventilated, the gases that inevitably leak into the air have no way of leaving the space, thus gathering in the room. Someone inhaling that concentration of chemical gas could become seriously ill.
If you suspect there’s been a chlorine leak, check for the following:
- A strong odor: Liquid chlorine smells like bleach, and its strong chemical smell is an easy way to identify a chlorine leak.
- Breathing problems: Chlorine inhalation causes a tight chest, shortness of breath, and coughing.
- Skin or eye irritation: Chlorine causes blurred vision and watery eyes, while contact with the skin can cause burns or rashes.
- Nausea: People with chlorine poisoning may experience nausea and stomach pain.
If you recognize any of these signs and symptoms, take immediate action. Those affected should:
- Leave the area where you suspect the leak occurred
- Remove all their clothes
- Take a hot shower with soap
- Carefully dab their face and eyes with clean water
If these symptoms persist or appear quite severe, take the affected person to a hospital or call the National Poison Control helpline at 1-800-222-1222.
In addition to dispersing fumes, ventilation also serves to control the temperature in a storage room. Keeping chemicals in an extremely cold or hot space can shorten their shelf life and possibly even make them hazardous.
Liquid chlorine expands in the heat, so leaving a container in a hot storage area with no cooling system could lead to the container bursting, ultimately causing a chlorine leak. We know how bad that would be.
This process wherein liquids expand in the heat is called volumetric expansion. Learn more about the thermal volumetric expansion of solids, liquids, and gases here.
Liquid chlorine is a potent chemical and requires:
- Proper storage in a cool dark place
- Placement away from other types of chemicals
- Placement away from heat sources
- Adequate ventilation to disperse potentially toxic fumes