Cyanuric Acid (cy*an*uric acid) Benefits and Misconceptions

Most residential and service professionals who maintain outdoor pools have Cyanuric Acid (CYA) in their toolboxes when servicing swimming pools. But what is it and what’s it’s purpose?

What is Cyanuric Acid?

By definition, CYA is a crystalline weak acid C3H3N3O3 used especially in swimming pools to protect the available chlorine from dissipation by sunlight.

CYA is sold as a stand alone product or can be purchased as a convenient additive in chlorine tablets. It dissolves in water, has little overall effect on pH, alkalinity or water hardness.

It ABSORBS UV light and protects chlorine from the sun until it’s consumed for oxidation or disinfection of material in the pool.

According to a really great magazine article written in the Pool & Spa News titled, “What to Know About Cyanuric Acid” by Rancis, we found that since it’s invention in 1829 CYA has been revered as invaluable and essential to keeping chlorinated pools clean and sanitary.

But it’s overuse in swimming pools can lead to serious pool maintenance issues.

Inconsistency with Health Inspectors

To further complicate the issue, some health inspectors insist on the use of CYA while others restrict its use in public pools.

Mmmm …. let’s dig deeper shall we?

Water's Choice about Cyanuric Acid
Water's Choice about Cyanuric Acid

Unfortunately the misconception of “if some is good, that more should be better” cannot be further from the truth. Consequences of high CYA levels actually DIMINISH the effectiveness of chlorine!

According to the same magazine article, there is a clear correlation between increased levels of CYA and the time it takes to effectively kill bacteria present in the swimming pool water.

Furthermore, when levels of CYA are too high, chlorine is rendered ineffective in killing the most dangerous microorganisms in swimming pool water.

Moving Forward

Poolside kits coupled with testing strips that can accurately test for CYA are readily available and we at Waters Choice recommend you use them regularly. Additionally, educating yourselves on the benefits and misuse of CYA is critical.

Help! My CYA Level Is Too High!

Finally, what happens when CYA levels are too high in your pool water? The only reliable method for removing CYA is to simply drain your swimming pool and re-fill it all while still balancing your pool water; keeping in mind the lessons learned.

Water's Choice about Cyanuric Acid
Water's Choice about Cyanuric Acid

Looking for more information regarding your swimming pool? Check out these links to previous blog posts and our FAQ page from our website.

Pool FAQ

Showering Before You Swim

Overcome Your Fear of Enzymes

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Editors Note: Rancis holds a Bachelor of Science in microbiology.