Saturday, May 4, 2013

Make you own Full Strength Bleach from Pool Shock

If after a disaster event and there’s no safe drinking water available, no one would dispute the need for bleach used for Water Disinfecting, Clean Clothing and General Surface Sanitation. The down side of long term storing typical unscented type liquid bleach is it has a short shelf life. After 6 months of sitting on the shelf even unopened it’s been losing up to half its strength and continues to degrade and eventually become so weak it’s useless.
The long term option is the other bleach, ‘Pool Shock’ dry granulated bleach. It has a full strength shelf life of 10+ years. “Granular Calcium Hypochlorite” is commonly sold as swimming pool ‘Pool Shock’ treatment and it’s available where ever pool supplies are sold. Purchase Pool Shock that contains “Calcium Hypochlorite” in a 60% to 73% concentration range with the rest being inert ingredients. 68% is very common on the retail web and is what I use.

Here’s how to do it:
Caution; do not breathe the pool shock dust and wear glasses to protect your eyes.

Here’s the box of 12, 1 lb. bags I received mail order. This 12 lb. is for my long term storage and this amount will make about 15 gallons of household strength bleach.
If after a disaster event and there’s no safe drinking water available, no one would dispute the need for bleach used for Water Disinfecting, Clean Clothing and General Surface Sanitation. The down side of long term storing typical unscented type liquid bleach is it has a short shelf life. After 6 months of sitting on the shelf even unopened it’s been losing up to half its strength and continues to degrade and eventually become so weak it’s useless.
The long term option is the other bleach, ‘Pool Shock’ dry granulated bleach. It has a full strength shelf life of 10+ years. “Granular Calcium Hypochlorite” is commonly sold as swimming pool ‘Pool Shock’ treatment and it’s available where ever pool supplies are sold. Purchase Pool Shock that contains “Calcium Hypochlorite” in a 60% to 73% concentration range with the rest being inert ingredients. 68% is very common on the retail web and is what I use.
Here’s how to do it:
Caution; do not breathe the pool shock dust and wear glasses to protect your eyes.

Here’s the box of 12, 1 lb. bags I received mail order. This 12 lb. is for my long term storage and this amount will make 15 gallons of household strength bleach.


The label should read like this one. Just two ingredients in the make-up of the pool shock, Calcium Hypochlorite and inert or other ingredients.


The measuring tools used; Cups, spoons and a scale.


The gallon of plain tap water I started with.



One gallon of 6% liquid bleach just mixed. The inert ingredients make the freshly mixed granular chlorine look like milk.


The same one gallon of clear water after about 3 hours settling out of the inert ingredients of the pool shock. You can see the inert ingredients have settled to the bottom and the bleach has the similar amber/green color of liquid bleach you’d buy at the supermarket. I did wait overnight for more to settle out then poured off the clear bleach into another container and discard the settled inert ingredient. Note be very careful where you discard the settled material because it will kill everything it comes in contact with including animals.



How to test the strength of the bleach you’ve just made:

Chlorine Test Strips
Chlorine test strips are an inexpensive and easy method for testing bleach. Dozens of companies manufacture chlorine test strips. Most are intended to test swimming pools and municipal water supplies. Many of these test strips are not suitable for testing household bleach.

Test strips suitable for testing bleach should test for FAC. No single test strips can test for FAC over all possible concentration ranges. Most can only test for chlorine within a fairly narrow range.

Chlorine test strip manufacturers state the effective range of their strips in units of parts per million (ppm). Typical ranges for test strips are 0-100 ppm, 0-1000 ppm, or 1000-10,000 ppm.

A problem arises in that a 6-percent hypochlorite solution, such as household bleach, translates to a concentration of 60,000 ppm, far in excess of what a swimming pool test strips can effectively test for. You will need to purchase FAC test strips that can test to concentrations up to 10,000 ppm.


Testing Your Home Made Bleach’s Actual Strength

To effectively test the chlorine in household bleach with the strips, the bleach must first be diluted. This means that the bleach must be measured and mixed with water before it is tested.

In this case, the concentration of the hypochlorite in bleach 52,000ppm to 60,000ppm must be brought under 10,000 ppm.
Carry out the dilution in a standard kitchen measuring cup by filling the cup to exactly 1 oz. of bleach and then adding water until the cup contains 8oz total. This dilution will bring the hypochlorite concentration to (60,000ppm / 8 = 7500 ppm) which is well within the range of a 10,000ppm test strip.

Stir the bleach solution in the measuring cup and then dip the test strip into the solution. The test strip will come with a correlation chart that will relate the color of the strip to the FAC level.

Remember, that the concentration given by the test strip must now be multiplied by 8 to give the concentration of the original bleach before it was diluted. Thus, if the test strip indicated a FAC level of 6,500ppm, then the original undiluted bleach solution would actually contain 6,500 x 8 = 52,000ppm.
(6,500ppm or 52,000ppm is 5¼% bleach)
(7,500ppm or 60,000ppm is 6% bleach).


The measuring cup used. I like this 1½ cup size because it is small in diameter which makes the graduations further apart and therefore more accurate compared to the typical large diameter measuring cups.



Here are the results of my home made bleach. It turned out to be a little better than 7,500 ppm (7,500 x 8 = 60,000 which is 6% bleach concentration)


Testing old bleach:
This same test is also useful for testing bleach you've had in stock for a while and you’re not sure what the strength is. If the test showed that it is only 3% strength due to its age then you would know to double the dosing compared to full strength bleach.


To simplify making the full strength bleach I'm posting just one recipe that uses one entire 1lb bag of chlorine.
Recipe for using an entire 1 lb. Bag of Pool Shock to make 6% liquid bleach:
  • 5 quarts plus 1/2 pint of water.
  • Add the entire 1 lb. bag of 68% Pool Shock.
  • Mix until dissolved.
  • Wait 2-3 hours for the inert ingredients to settle out, test it and then use.
Use test strips after making the bleach. Depending on your pool shock strength you may have to use less or more water to make 6% strength bleach

Pool Shock Storage:
Granular Calcium Hypochlorite is the only choice for long term storage compared to liquid bleach because it will retain full strength over its shelf life of 10+ years! Just store it like you would any long term food; sealed in plastic jars or in heat sealed Mylar bags and keep it at room temperature.

Caution:
Do not purchase Pool Shock that includes any additives such as algaecide’s, anti-fungal’s or clarifiers. All you want is “Calcium Hypochlorite” and the rest being “Inert Ingredients”.

Caution:
There are a number of other very common Pool Shocks on the market today that are not “Calcium Hypochlorite”. Those should not be used to make your own bleach. “Chlorine Free” is another one of these pool shock treatments that contain Potassium Monopersulfate, this type should also not be used. Read the label carefully when buying pool shock!

The safest drinking water:

Boiling Your Drinking Water is Always Best!

Bleach will destroy most ‘but not all’ disease causing organisms in water. Boiling is the surest method to make water safe to drink and kill all disease causing microorganisms like Giardia, Lamblia and Cryptosporidium, which are frequently found in rivers and lakes. These disease-causing organisms are less likely to occur in well water as long as it has not been affected by flood waters. If not treated properly and neutralized, Giardia may cause diarrhea, fatigue, and cramps after ingestion. Cryptosporidium is highly resistant to ‘disinfection’. It may cause diarrhea, nausea and/or stomach cramps. People with severely weakened immune systems are likely to have more severe and more persistent symptoms than healthy individuals. So boil your drinking water if you are one of these people!


Clorox:
This is the most complete bleach water information I’ve found. Download and save!

19 comments:

  1. Your posts never cease to amaze me. I admit, I've "stocked" up on bleach before, but now I won't bother if it has such a poor shelf life.

    PS - you need to put all your informative/how-to/storage food recipe posts in a binder and sell it! Or .pdf it, or whatever they call it. Did you ever think of offering it in a pdf version for download (and maybe even get a bit of $$ for them). I like coming to your blog when I run into something here on the homestead and then think, "Oh! I think Mike did that!!" and search through the blog.

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  2. Hi Carolyn,
    Years back I also stocked up on bleach until I researched it and found that it has a very short shelf life. Who would have thought bleach has a short life! I guess it was because bleach has no expiration date on the jug and people just assumed it was indefinite.

    I noticed the other week that Clorox is selling “Concentrated” bleach that they claim uses less bleach than the standard version for the same load size. Reading the label I see the “Concentrated” version has 8.25% Hypochlorite (25% stronger) in place of the 5¼%-6% of the standard version. So pay attention to the bleach strength you’re using or you could have Paul dressing like a tie-dyed hippie! 

    As for selling this information, yes I do plan on doing so. I have planned for 11 topics so far in 30-45 page booklets in downloadable PDF’s and will sell them through Amazon for $1.99 to $3.99 each.

    What I need now is a copy editor, someone who can help with the re-writing, re-assembly, corrections and especially the grammar. It will be a lot of work. Know anyone who would be interested?

    Also, open the Clorox link and look at all the farm/animal uses Clorox has detailed, I think you will find many of them useful and interesting.

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  3. Wow, I would have thought that bleach would last for years. Nice to know for sure!

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  4. Hiya Mike!

    I remember reading, perhaps ready.gov, that bleach breaks down much faster for each 10 degrees over 60. When summer temps run near 100 in Missouri, other means had to be found. Enter pool shock.

    I made super chlorinated, which I then made into 10% bleach, which was then added into my tanks. Very quickly I found that I was able to add 3 tablespoons of 60% (all I could find in my area) directly to the tanks as I was refilling them. Normally, a single bag would treat more than 1000 gallons, and I would have enough left over to make several gallons of bleach.

    Lessons that I learned:

    *Bleach degrades rapidly, even in appropriate bottles, when stored in summer time temperatures. The key is to ensure chlorine gas pressurizes the container and cannot escape. An equilibrium is reached eventually, but still degrades.

    *If the sealed pool shock pouches are exposed to higher temps, then chlorine gas forms and the bags then fill.

    *Once a pool shock pouch is opened, the chlorine begins to gas quickly. Even if the bag is folded over, placed into a ziplock, then placed into mason jars, it still degrades quickly due to exposure to oxygen and moisture.

    *ALWAYS* open the granular containers pointed away from your face, gas is quickly able to form. This goes same for bottles of bleach as well that may have become pressurized with chlorine gas.

    *Store the pool shock pouches as low in temperature as you can. I kept mine in a small bucket that was in the freezer. Note that this is a bad practice as this product should be kept out of the living space of people and animals. My freezer was located in the shed with the water tanks, battery bank, washing machine, etc.

    *Buy as small a package of pool shock that you can as it helps prevents waste and storage. Avoid the bulk container.

    *Speaking of bulk, try to avoid buying pool shock late in summer when it has to be trucked in hot containers to the warm warehouse and then to the store. It may not be the labeled % by the time you get it during warm months. Be aware of date codes. That being said, I found some fantastic deals at the 'orange clearance stores' on small packages of shock for the temporary pools. Just watch date codes.

    *Always mix your shock and water in an open area, preferably with a breeze blowing. Remember chlorine used to be used as a chemical weapon.

    *Watch your exposure from over chlorinating your water. Studies have indicated that excess chlorine can cause breathing problems (Duh), irritability, loss of smell, throat irritation, etc. You won't get much exposure at the kitchen sink, but you may in the shower.

    *If you are using pumps, consider what the seals are made of. Butyl or nitrile rubber seals are damaged by Chlorine gas, viton is what you should be using. Problem compounds at summer time temps. Anything metal in the pumps / lines / fixtures / waterheaters / etc may also corrode faster if chlorine levels are higher.

    Pool shock is great for prepping, but make sure that you use common sense. Eye/Nose/Mouth protection at a minimum, then add chemical gloves and old clothes that you dont mind turning white just from the gas in the air. As long as you treat it as if it were acid, you should be okay, and remember to always add it to water, never water to it.


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  5. Great info...so, from the 6% point we will then use 8 drops/gallon (or 16 drops/gallon for cloudy water) to purify if we are not able to boil?

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  6. Great info except for the caption by the picture. You can make WAAAAYYY more than 15 bottles of bleach with that much pool shock. Maybe like 1,500. Either way it's all good. I like the cups, Tbsp, etc, recipe method instead of grams and liters. Thanks for your post. Great info.

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  7. Thanks for life saving info. I like the us measuring standards instead of grams and liters. Your recipe is easy to follow. One thing. Your pool shock will make one HECK of alot more than 15 gallons of bleach. Looking at the caption near the box of pool shock. I think you left off a couple 00s as in 1500 bottles of bleach (or more).

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  8. Tom, I have spent too many hours researching this topic and testing this formula. I posted the procedure step by step, picture by picture and even show the final test strip results verifying the strength. I am confident it is accurate and when needed will save my life and the lives of people who trust what I post.

    It is very unfortunate but there is so much garbage posted on the internet along with so many people who believe what they read never challenging what they read by proving it one way or the other themselves, but accepts it as fact. What makes this the worst case possible is they re-post the bad information elsewhere and it propagates into massive web based misinformation.

    Your comment that I “can make WAAAAYYY more than 15 bottles of bleach” is simply wrong. This formula can only produce 15 gallons of 6% bleach concentration from 12 pounds of 68% pool shock. I strongly recommend you make a batch and test and prove it for yourself because you have been woefully misinformed by others.

    As for using the US Measuring Standard, I do it out of thoughtless habit and need to include the conversion to metric in all my recipes because if you look at the “Map of Visitors” in the side bar this blog is read by a lot of people globally and I should include metrics in my posts.

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  9. Sheldon,
    All good points, thanks!

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  10. One thing I didn't find is how you determine how much pool shock to use. Given you have 12lbs. and it makes 15 gallons of bleach, do you mean you use 12/15ths (4/5ths) of a pound (12.8oz. by weight) in each gallon?

    Is there a formula you used to determine this? Dealing with water by gallon and pool shock by pound seems to indicate that you came up with this ratio by trial-and-error. That's fine, but it would be good to know.

    Fortunately, I found 65% pool shock also in 1 lb. bags, otherwise the measurement would be more complicated.

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  11. Anon 11:58am
    Thanks for your comments. This topic has had a lot of questions so I have simplified the formula or recipe to use one entire 1 lb. bag of pool shock added to 5 quarts plus 1/2 pint of water. Check the percentage strength with test strips.
    5 quarts times 12 (bags) will give you 15 gallons.

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  12. So 12 pounds makes 15 gallons? Not too economical... Given that these calcs are so much different than the EPA's recommendations, I just wonder if what you are discarding is a significant amount of undissolved chlorine versus just "inert" ingredients?

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  13. Anon 12:55
    The purpose of making bleach from pool shock is not about saving money its about the long term storing of bleach. Liquid bleach does not store well at all, it's almost not worth the effort.
    I don't understand your EPA comment? Please clarify, send me an email because if I'm in error I need to correct it.

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  14. Great article on water sanitation with a helpful mix of text and pictures. I especially like your recommendation to actually test the end product for desired results. High end test strips range approximating 10,000 ppm) are more expensive than chlorine strips for common pool testing. Any idea of how long they will last and ways to optimize storage?

    Storage of “Granular Calcium Hypochlorite” can be problematic due to the
    off-gassing. Would sealing in mylar bags be helpful?

    Thanks.

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  15. Chasuezoo, Yes the test 10,000 strips are expensive but since I've taken the time to use them and verify the results there's no need for you to buy them. Also they have a year or less shelf life.
    So if your dry granules are less than five years old then simply mix 5 quarts of water and a 1 lb bag of granules and you should be good to go to make 5 quarts of 6% bleach.

    As long as you keep the 1 lb. bags factory sealed you will not have a problem with off gassing. If you must open and use part of the granules then re-heat seal the factory bag.

    Hope this helps.

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  16. HOW DO YOU MAKE IT? WHERE'S THE RECIPE?
    YOU SAID, "This 12 lb. is for my long term storage and this amount will make about 15 gallons of household strength bleach."
    15 gallons? This should make hundreds of gallons.

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    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. mkmason,
      It is all clearly spelled out in the post and no it can't make hundreds of gallons.

      Delete

Your thoughts are welcome!