Pool retailers warn of extremely low supply of chlorine tablets

August hurricane in Louisiana impacted major US manufacturer of chlorine product
Pool at Gary Pools and Spas. February 1, 2021
Pool at Gary Pools and Spas. February 1, 2021 Photo credit WBEN/Mike Baggerman

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Though jumping into a pool may on a hot, summer day may be the last thing on your mind in early-February, pool retailers are warning of a low supply of chlorine tablets this season.

“The early bird gets the worm,” Todd Schupbach, owner of Gary Pools and Leisure, said.  “That’s the best way to describe things. We saw the run on toilet paper in 2020 and I certainly hope the chlorine run is not the same way. However, the sooner you get it and it’s in your home, the greater the chance is that you’re going to have it when you need it.”

The tablets are widely used to clean pools each year.

Why is there a shortage? In August, Hurricane Laura in Louisiana damaged the BioLab plant, a manufacturer of the chlorine tablets for 40% of the United States. The fire destroyed the plant.

A message to its parent company was not returned.

Coronavirus has also played a factor. Schupbach said the increased demand for household disinfectant wipes has diverted resources from other manufacturers who have made the tablet.

The supply issues arguably could not have come at a worse time. Because of various travel restrictions due to the pandemic, more people stayed home in 2020. While it led to one of the best years in pool sales, there’s now fewer of the tablets than ever and a higher demand for the product.

Chlorine tablet at Gary Pools and Leisure. February 1, 2021
Chlorine tablet at Gary Pools and Leisure. February 1, 2021 Photo credit WBEN/Mike Baggerman

But there is a solution.

“A lot of people are automating their pool,” Schupbach said.
“They’re installing a chlorine generator. The chlorine generator, commonly referred to a salt pool, will allow you to add salt to the water. That water has a device that will split the salt into chlorine, in essence making your own chlorine for you.”

Charlie West, the retail sales manager at Colley’s Pools and Spas in Hamburg, said liquid chlorine is still available.

“There is calcium-based chlorine as well, which is mined from a salt mine,” he said. “Not everything fits every pool situation either.”

While there is limited stock of the tablets at both stores, there’s no ability for them to order more.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” Schupbach said. “We’ve got more coming in. We have huge buying power so we will have supply but it will run out this year.”