What is the Difference Between Liquid Chlorine and Powdered Shock?

Have you ever been in this scenario? You need chlorine for your pool, so you come into the store and see hundreds of products. You see people walking out with chlorine in jugs, but also in small packages and even buckets! If you are from Texas, you may have never even seen chlorine in liquid form. What’s the difference? Which one should you use? Let’s sort out this tangled mess once and for all.

A quick disclaimer: The word “chlorine” is often used inappropriately, but has become the generic term for the world’s most common sanitizer. Real chlorine is only available in gaseous form. Pool chlorine is derived from this form and mixed with various chemicals to make it a solid or liquid. 

To clarify, the real difference does not lie in the form that it comes in, but from the difference between unstabilized and stabilized chlorine. Liquid chlorine and powdered shock have the same active chemical that sanitizes your pool, what changes is the strength and the way you use it. With that in mind, let’s dive into more detail.

Pool chlorine shock

Stabilized vs Unstabilized Chlorine.

Stabilized chlorine is used in automatic chlorinators. It is the best for daily sanitizing because it lasts longer. This type comes in tabs or in granular form and can be distributed in a variety of ways. Floating chlorinators use tabs and distribute the chlorine over time. An automated chlorinator works in a similar way, allowing the chlorine to mix with the pool water slowly and deliberately. This type generally comes in a large bucket. 

Unstabilized chlorine is used for weekly shocking. In addition, it is used to give your pool a large dose of chlorine to sanitize the water quickly after heavy use. Unstabilized chlorine provides a quick, high chlorine concentration, killing bacteria. It is also helpful in controlling algae, destroying organic contaminants and restoring clarity. Even though the chlorine levels will be high after the initial shocking, it will be safe to use within a day.

Using these two types of chlorine in conjunction with one another will keep your pool clean, clear and sparkling!


Liquid Chlorine vs Powdered Shock

Liquid Chlorine vs. Powdered shock

Now that we know the difference between stabilized and unstabilized, let’s look at the differences between liquid chlorine and powdered shock (aka granular shock). Both of these types of chlorine are considered unstabilized. However, there are some major similarities and differences.


  • Higher concentration of available chlorine than those used in daily chlorination
  • Kills nearly all living microorganisms, bacteria, and contaminants
  • Clear cloudy pool water fast and help control algae


Liquid chlorine…

  • Is generally 60-80% less costly than granular shock
  • Comes in refillable containers, whereas granular shock is a one-time use
  • Does not need to dissolve in water since it is already a liquid
  • Is non-scaling and leaves no residue

Some powdered shock can be poured directly into the pool, but most must be mixed in water to prevent staining. Make sure to read the instructions carefully. If there are any grains left at the bottom of the pool, make sure to sweep them out quickly. Some people prefer the smaller packages because they transport easily. Most of our customers prefer liquid shock for its refillable qualities. It’s also nicer on the wallet. Your local Pinch A Penny store associates will fill your jugs for you. They will also provide trays for your car so you don’t have to worry about a mess!

The Final Word on Chlorine Use

In the end, all types of chlorine will sanitize your pool. The type that you use for weekly shocking is largely up to you. Many factors can affect your decision, such as budget, pool size, and climate. It is best to talk to the experts at your local Pinch A Penny store for expert advice and friendly service!

Also, check your levels weekly, as some shock products may affect pH. For your convenience, Pinch A Penny offers FREE water testing. 

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Safety Warning:

No matter which product you choose, do not mix shock products together. Chlorine is a hazardous material. Always handle with care and take proper safety precautions, such as wearing gloves and goggles, before handling and when using.


Pinch A Penny recommends:

For regularly chlorinated pools: Suncoast Gold Liquid Chlorinating Shock or Super Shock 4 Way Granular Chlorinating Shock

For salt pools: Salinity Surge Shock or Oxidizing Shock -allows your pool to be used in 15 minutes.

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