Bleach Shortage? Here’s How to Make Bleach from Pool Shock (and How to Purify Water With It)

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by Cassius K.

We’ve all seen photos of the empty shelves in stores across American, and one thing that has become increasingly difficult to find is bleach.

Typically, a bottle of bleach should contain between 6 and 8.25% sodium hypochlorite, a more dilute solution that one might expect, similar to an item such as peroxide. Unfortunately for people stockpiling bleach, the potency of your product may diminish fairly rapidly over time. The dilute solution of bleach held by many people could decrease in potency as much as 20% in one year, and that’s if it was stored in “perfect” conditions of at or below room temperature.

Not only is bleach important for cleaning during an outbreak of pandemic illness, but it can also be used to purify water.

You can make your own bleach with pool shock.

The good news is, you can make your own bleach with granular calcium hypochlorite, the primary component of typical pool shock. It’s essential to confirm that your pool shock is not contaminated by other chemicals, such as algicides. Only HTH is acceptable for purifying your water.

In other words, it’s a different chemical composition of bleach. The granular form of calcium hypochlorite can be used to substitute your typical bleach, sodium hypochlorite, in killing pathogens to purify water (not to remove chemical, non-biological toxins, of course).

A forum post that quotes an EPA website says that a 5 lb bottle of pool shock can produce around 649 gallons of “stock chlorine,” something resembling about 649 gallons of bleach. Every single gallon of stock chlorine is capable of disinfecting around 200 gallons of water. So, if 640 gallons of that are possible to produce with simple water and a 5 lb bottle of pool shock, that seems extremely useful.

Make bleach with pool shock.

For an easily understood equation, here’s something people can do.

The EPA recommends that your household bleach be used at a ratio of 8 drops per gallon of water to purify water, noting that the product must be free of adulterants essentially, or in their words, only products suitable for sanitization as shown on the label.

For use of pool shock, the ratio to purify water is around 1 part “chlorine solution” to 100 parts water.

First, take a heaping teaspoon, not tablespoon, of granular calcium hypochlorite and dissolve it in 2 gallons (8 liters) of water.

DO NOT DRINK THIS: this is the recipe for a “chlorine solution,” used at that ratio of 1 part chlorine solution to 100 parts water. This is your bleach. It can be used for cleaning or water purification.

How to purify water with bleach

It may seem strange or dangerous to prepare a solution like this and then add it to water you obtained from a creek, lake, river, or wherever else it’s obtained. However, once you get used to the concept and the bulletproof nature of the science, the strangeness will subside. Just as long as one utilizes the pure, proper form of granulated calcium hypochlorite, nothing scented or adulterated, it should work fine.

Chemicals that are harmful to the body, such as mercury, PCB’s or whatever else, may happen to be in the water of certain lakes, streams, or wherever you search, although certainly nowhere near every source of water is contaminated. One crucial layer of protection from contaminants in water can be added by the use of cheap, readily available granulated calcium hypochlorite.

Purification with bleach is a very simple process.

Once the teaspoon of pool shock has dissolved in the 2 gallons of water, you can mix it into the water you want to purify at the ratio of 1 part makeshift-chlorine to 100 parts water.

Before drinking the final batch of water, be sure to let the chlorine-water solution sit for at least 30 minutes before drinking. The pathogens you’re trying to kill take just about that long to become harmless.

Here are the instructions straight from the EPA website:

Disinfect water using household bleach, if you can’t boil water. Only use regular, unscented chlorine bleach products that are suitable for disinfection and sanitization as indicated on the label. The label may say that the active ingredient contains 6 or 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners. If water is cloudy, let it settle and filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter.

    • Locate a clean dropper from your medicine cabinet or emergency supply kit.
    • Locate a fresh liquid chlorine bleach or liquid chlorine bleach that is stored at room temperatures for less than one year.
    • Use the table below as a guide to decide the amount of bleach you should add to the water, for example, 8 drops of 6% bleach, or 6 drops of 8.25% bleach, to each gallon of water. Double the amount of bleach if the water is cloudy, colored, or very cold.
    • Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If it doesn’t, repeat the dosage and let stand for another 15 minutes before use.
    • If the chlorine taste is too strong, pour the water from one clean container to another and let it stand for a few hours before use. (source)
Volume of Water Amount of 6% Bleach to Add* Amount of 8.25% Bleach to Add*
1 quart/liter 2 drops 2 drops
1 gallon 8 drops 6 drops
2 gallons 16 drops (1/4 tsp) 12 drops (1/8 teaspoon)
4 gallons 1/3 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon
8 gallons 2/3 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon

*Bleach may contain 6 or 8.25% sodium hypochlorite.

Some of the benefits of using pool shock

The benefit of purifying water with granular calcium hypochlorite is that the solution of “chlorine” made with 1 teaspoon to 2 gallons, can be used for small batches of purified water, and that’s all that is needed at the time.

Bleach or makeshift chlorine solution both degrade and go bad fairly quickly, so if this is kept in granular form, it’s only necessary to make small batches at a time that won’t degrade and go to waste. You can store pool shock to make hundreds of gallons of bleach in a tiny area compared to the space you’d need to store a similar quantity of bleach.

You can find pool shock in a variety of places: any place that sells pools or jacuzzis will have it on hand. Even discount stores like Walmart will have pool shock during swimming pool season. You can also find it on Amazon for less than $20.

Even if you have plenty of bleach on hand, it never hurts to have some long-lasting pool shock in your emergency supplies.

About Cassius

Cassius K is a writer from North Highlands, California.

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