Do You Know What you Are Adding to Your Pool? Take Clorox Xtra Blue For Example – Copper!

It is always good to know what is in the chemical you are adding to your pool or spa. The ingredients are usually displayed on the side of and if you are curious about the exact makeup and possible hazards you can always Google the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). The MSDS will let you know the safety issues presented by the chemical and list the ingredients.

Once in a while, you will see an ingredient marked as a “Trade Secret” or as a “Proprietary blend” and then things can become a head-scratcher. Take Clorox Xtra Blue 3” Tablets for example. Here is the chemical make up according to the MSDS:

Hazardous components Component / CAS-No. Weight percent
Trichloro-s-triazinetrione 87-90-1: 94.05 %
Trade secret 002: 3 – 8 %
Boron salt less than 2 %

From the name Clorox Blue you kinda get the idea that the little blue specs in the tablets are the 3-8% “Trade Secret” ingredient. If you do a little research you will find that the little blue specs are some form of copper that Clorox puts into the tablets. I think the reason it is a “Trade Secret” is only that it is in a form that they cannot disclose for fear of being copied and of course that would cost them money if someone can make the same exact 3” tablet with blue specs of copper in them.

For a “Trade Secret” the rules are as follows:
Ingredients can be claimed as trade secret based on the definition in the Uniform Trade
Secrets Act (UTSA). The UTSA defines a trade secret as “information, including a
the formula, pattern, compilation, program device, method, technique, or process, that: (i)
derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally
known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who
can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and (ii) is the subject of efforts
that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”

But from some reports of copper staining in their pool and other adverse side effects of Clorox Xtra Blue Tablets we can safely guess the 3=8% is some form of copper. The Xtra Blue shock actually lists copper as an ingredient so it would be no surprise then that the Xtra Blue tablets contain copper in a “Trade Secret” form.

The danger here of course is that you are using a product that has copper in it but the copper ingredient is not listed on the product. So if you are using a copper algaecide, a PoolRx or another mineral system or Solar Pool Ionizer you could potentially be overloading your pool with copper. This can cause staining of course and other issues like blonde hair turning green and the purple dusting formed by high CYA levels in a pool and high levels of copper.

It is up to you as the pool pro or homeowner to know what you are putting into your pool. You should also note that 50-60% of each tablet is Cyanuric Acid. This means that if you use the entire 35 lbs. bucket you are adding about 18 to 20 lbs. of Cyanuric Acid to the pool. And this goes with any brand of 3” Tri-Chlor tablets, not just Clorox. Adding that much Cyanuric Acid to a pool will bring it well above the 30-50 ppm recommend.

Bottom line, if you are adding something to your pool or spa you should know what is in it. You wouldn’t eat or drink something without reading the label or at least I don’t. But in any event, it is easy to find out about a product’s ingredients with a little research and the MSDS forms available online and at your suppliers.

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