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Our days of springing into action, seeking clarity but barely breaking the surface


After taking a look beneath the surface, it’s become crystal clear that the pool-care market is a ruse, writes Michael Blucher

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October. At last. Only a few more months before we can finally sneeze goodbye to the fustercluck that is 2020.

Important month, October. Represents a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

To many, it’s the footy finals, particularly this year, given all the disruption and chaos across the normal home and away season.

For others, October is “Oc-sober.” And full marks to those brave people, but I’m guessing they don’t have small children.

When I think October, my mind immediately defaults to the swimming pool. Re-engaging after a long, cold winter of neglect. Eradicating whatever foreign cultures and bodies are living on the bottom, and re-invigorating the water for summer consumption.

It’s not an easy gig, looking after a pool these days. A dual degree in chemistry and microbiology mightn’t be a prerequisite, but it certainly helps.

I enjoyed the more simple times when you just had two ingredients, chlorine that you sprinkled into the pool every few days and diatomaceous earth – the soft floury white stuff you shoved into the filter every six months.

These days, diatomaceous earth is listed as a dietary supplement. You don’t shove it in the filter, you shove in your mouth. We’ve come along way, haven’t we?

While we might have lost diatomaceous earth from the “critical pool chemical” list, we’ve more than made up for it with new, more sophisticated products.

Take a good look around a pool shop – the walls and walls of chemicals, stacked up like boxes of beer at a brewery.

We’ve got sunscreen, we’ve got sunblock, we’ve got water clarifiers, water softeners, water hardeners, water vitalisers, water crystallisers. And that’s just the bottom shelf. Let’s not get started on the algicides and the acids.

You might not know what you need, but you’ll definitely need something. There are seven words that you’ll never hear uttered in a pool shop – “Mate, your pool water is just fine”. There’s always something that needs to be added or subtracted.

Take a peek in the carpark, and see what sort of car the pool shop bloke is driving. Quite a few kilos of water clarifier tied up in the Audi Q7.

I know I’m not alone in dealing with this chemical conundrum.

Last Saturday, commencing the process of pool water re-engagement, I was standing in the pool shop with my murky olive green-coloured sample, waiting to be heavily admonished by The Audi Driver, when I hear the Indian gentleman in front of me seeking clarification about salt levels.

He explained he’d added the whole container but it hadn’t made any difference. As evidence, the customer pulled the red and white Saxa Salt bottle out of his bag. “See? Empty.”

The Audi Driver patiently and politely explained that Saxa was perfect for curries, not so good for pools. “You might want to grab 10 bags of the salt over here …”

With newfound assurance that I was nowhere near the most clueless pool owner /operator/ carer on the eastern seaboard of Australia, I got to thinking. “Bugger The Audi Driver. I’m going it alone”. This summer I’m adopting a minimalistic approach because I’m now convinced; pool care – it’s all a ruse. A scam.

Here’s how I think it works. You start by sprinkling in a bit of chemical A to keep the pool blue. But with A comes the build-up of B, so you need to add 4kg of chemical C to counteract B. However the combination of B and C severely reduces the level of D so to fix that, you need to fling in half a kilo of chemical E. No need to guess what happens with the addition of E. You get a proliferation of F. And the only way of breaking that down? You guessed it – chemical A.

So summing up, in between all the expensive crap in the middle – you’ve got F and you’ve got A. And most of us know what FA stands for.

That’s how many hardeners and softeners and clarifiers and crystallisers I’ll be adding to my pool water this summer.


And with the money I save, I’m going to buy an Audi. And perhaps some diatomaceous earth to help my swimming.

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