Scaling and Etching of your Swimming Pool Plaster: Causes and Cures

A rough to the feel pool surface is a real issue that many pool owners face. The plaster may feel like very rough sandpaper and may even cut your hands and feet when you go swimming. But there are technically two different situations that can cause this, scale and etching. Each of these conditions will leave the plaster feeling rough to the touch, but each is a very different condition.

Scale is formed when the water becomes scale forming and calcium will build up on the surface. Using the LSI (Langelier Saturation Index) is one way to tell if your pool water is scale forming or corrosive (etching). If the water is scale forming a product that removes the scale would be something that can be used to reverse the rough plaster surface.
SC-1000 Scale and Metal Control

“SC-1000 is one of the original Orenda Products and was originally used in industrial cooling towers and water treatment facilities.

SC-1000 contains no phosphates, unlike most metal control products available. This is meaningful because those same products (many of which are phosphate-based) would directly conflict with phosphate removal efforts…but SC-1000 will not. Combined with Orenda’s PR-10,000 phosphate remover, the two products work in harmony.
When applied as directed, SC-1000 controls metal staining and scale while being fully compatible with the materials of pool & spa construction and other treatment chemicals. It can also do wonders for removing existing scale in pool heaters, salt chlorine generators, and other equipment.

SC-1000′s formulation was awarded the Environmental Protection Agency’s Presidential Green Chemistry Award for its implementation of environment-friendly chemical technology.”

Here is more about the difference between scale and etching from Orenda Technologies:
“Scale (calcium carbonate) is formed when too much calcium is in solution in the water, and it falls out of solution and hardens on surfaces. It will be evident on the face of the tile, inside pipes and heat exchangers, salt cells, etc. The hotter the water, the more likely scale will occur. It occurs due to an LSI violation of being above +0.30 on the LSI.

Calcite Crystals occur when not enough calcium is present in the water, and the water stays cold for a prolonged period of time. The water is aggressive because it is hungry for more calcium…it seeks equilibrium and wants to be properly saturated. It will extract calcium from wherever it can. The most available source? Plaster and grout. Crystallized calcium is usually some form of calcite that grows out of the plaster surface and hardens. We know of at least 4 different types of calcite crystals. SC-1000 can help soften some of the types, but not all. Unfortunately, some types of crystals require physically grinding them away.

SC-1000 is not a replacement for balancing your water. It also cannot reverse etching already done. Because of this, if you’re going to stray from the LSI safe zone, err to the high side, because the scale is treatable. The etching is permanent.”

If your pool has scale it can be treated and slowly reversed but like Orenda Technologies states, etching is permanent so it is very important to check your LSI or get the LSI checked so you know if you have scale or etching in the pool since both feel very much the same to the touch.

For the complete podcast series with Orenda:
Orenda Technologies Water Quality Issues Series Part 1 of 6: Virtual Classroom and App (Episode 325):
Orenda Technologies Water Quality Issues Series Part 2 of 6: Phosphates (Episode 326):
Orenda Technologies Water Quality Issues Series Part 3 of 6: Enzyme Treatment (Episode 327):
Orenda Technologies Water Quality Issues Series Part 4 of 6: High CYA (Episode 328):
Orenda Technologies Water Quality Issues Series Part 5 of 6: Balancing the LSI (Episode 329):
Orenda Technologies Water Quality Issues Series Part 6 of 6: Scaling & Etching (Episode 330):

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