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Chlorine Shortage 2022: U.S. Production of Chlorine Tabs Still Not Back to Normal

Published by Matt Fichera on 02/17/2022

Chlorine Shortage 2022: U.S. Production of Chlorine Tabs Still Not Back to Normal

Chlorine Tablet Sale

The past couple pool seasons have been far from ordinary and 2022 is shaping up to be no different.

In August of 2020 one of the nation’s largest producers of chlorine, located in Louisiana, was devastated by Hurricane Laura as it barreled into local coastal areas. This storm caused a major fire and completely burned the KIK / BioLab chlorine factory to the ground. During the fire, around  40% of the entire nation’s chlorine was destroyed, sending a shockwave through the pool industry and setting up supply issues going into 2021. Now, as the industry prepares for pool season 2022, this very important factory has yet to be completely rebuilt and is still not producing chlorine. With this in mind, pool owners should be on the lookout for another dreaded chlorine shortage in 2022.

Chlorine Tab Factory Status

What is going on with the availability of swimming pool chlorine?

As the calendar turned to a new year, there was definitely a positive outlook and lots of hope that this incoming summer and pool season was going to bring welcomed relief to the American chlorine shortage. Unfortunately, given the way things currently stand, it is appearing that this will not be the case and chlorine will be scarce yet again.

The chlorine factory that was destroyed by fire was grandfathered in and didn’t have to meet many of the newer rigid safety criteria that current buildings, warehouses, and plants are subject to. This is a normal part of building codes and no big surprise. Now however, labeled as new construction, and as a producer of hazardous chemicals, there will certainly be challenges in getting the building online. Tasks such as adhering to safety guidelines, updating

equipment, running environmental impact studies, finding staff, and providing appropriate training are some examples of the hurdles to get through.

Governmental agencies such as OSHA and the EPA are sure to be involved thus ensuring everything falls in line with regulations. Chemical storage would also be very important in this scenario so that if the area is ever struck by a hurricane again, that there is no repeat of the terrible events that happened in  late August 2020.

Chlorine Market & Background

So where does this leave the United States chlorine market for 2022?

There is expected to be a continued shortage of chlorine tabs while this factory remains offline. In the past, when it was up and running, this plant produced 115 million pounds of “trichlor” and “dichlor” per year. This number is equivalent to 40% of the nation’s entire chlorine supply. Such a large number is just simply too much to be completely removed from the equation without its absence being felt in the form of a shortage.

Maybe you are asking “With advanced notice going into the year, why can’t other manufacturer’s make up the difference?” or “Why can we not import foreign chlorine for the time being?” You may actually be surprised at the answers to these questions.

In the United States there really are only 3 major domestic manufacturers of chlorine and two that are actively producing. The two that are up and running have not commented on any increase in productivity, although it is likely they have done so as regulations / pandemic / materials / staffing constraints allow. There are also a number of smaller sized pool chlorine plants within the country and while they produce great products, none of this is enough to really cut into a missing 40% of the market. One of these plants actually had a fire of their own in January of 2022 but it does appear that most chemicals products were unscathed.

It just so happens that right before the pandemic hit, these 3 major chlorine manufacturers also successfully lobbied for higher tariffs on imported chlorine products and eliminated a good deal of the international competition in the process. During the spring and summer of 2020, these American companies were struggling to meet COVID-19 demand but by the early fall, had significantly caught up just as the factory fire occurred. While it is still currently possible to import chlorine, between the tariffs, dealing with the EPA, U.S. Customs, and other organizations, it may not be economically viable for any business to do so.

Chlorine Shortage Forecast for 2022 & Beyond

So where does all of this leave you, the pool and/or spa owner?

Many of the same problems experienced in 2021 are predicted to continue into the 2022 pool season. You may also see other types of chlorine being hard to come by such as liquid chlorine or calcium hypochlorite if consumers decide to rely on these more heavily. Once consumers realize that chlorine will be in short supply again this year, they will look to stockpile tabs where they can, switch to chlorine alternatives such as salt systems, and adopt ways to lower chlorine use such as utilizing enzymes and minerals. Toward the end of 2021, most chlorine tabs were out of stock. Where you could get them, prices had increased significantly across the board.

Our Chlorine Tab Suggestion

What do you suggest for chlorine and alternatives to chlorine?

We will be partnering with the OnGuard brand and selling their 1” chlorine tabs when available in 1.5 lb containers and 5 lb. buckets. We are also selling their 3” tablets in 5 lb. & 10 lb. buckets. In past seasons, we have also sold Kem-Tek chlorine tab products but these are currently unavailable within the market. OnGuard is a more economical substitution for Kem-Tek while also having more of the active “trichlor” ingredient (99% vs. 95%). You can visit our product pages or also read our comparison blog for additional information.

Salt systems are the number one way to get around the chlorine shortage. Salt systems are chlorine generators for your pool and rely on a chemical reaction to create chlorine disinfectant to keep your pool healthy and safe. Feel free to read our additional salt system resources or shop our available salt system products.

Our team at E-Z Test Pool Supplies would be happy to help answer any questions you may have as well as make suggestions on available chlorine or products that would reduce your pool’s need for chlorine. Be sure to check out our additional articles on the ongoing chlorine shortage and chlorine alternatives.

For more information and resources, read our previous blogs on the chlorine shortage:

New Jersey Chlorine Warehouse Fire

Chlorine Prices 2022

The Pool Industry’s Perfect Storm

How to Lower Chlorine Use

Chlorine Alternatives

2021 Supply May Be Impacted by Hurricane Laura