Today I'm sharing with you a simple recipe for something to make your summer a safer one -- an After Swim Chlorine Neutralizing Spray, aka a DIY After Swim Spray.
It works great, is easy to use, and when you make it yourself, it's super frugal too!
It's summer....and with that comes time at the beach -- and the pool.
And with the pool comes exposure to tons of chlorine, something that I am not a fan of.
Chlorine is a problem in so many arenas of our life. It's in our tap water, it's in bleach that so many use in household cleaning applications, and it's in use heavily in most swimming pools. If you have the privilege of frequenting a salt pool instead of a chlorine pool, your exposure to chlorine is much less, but it is still something to consider.
In any case, chlorine is a friend only in the sense that it kills bad stuff like bacteria and viruses.
Clearly, it has its place.
Who really wants to swim in a pool where some kid might have done something .... you know.....), and there are all kinds of things in our water that we don't want coming out of our taps.
However, chlorine in and of itself carries with it its own health concerns.
We all know how when you spend too much time in a chlorinated pool, you tend to have some seemingly harmless effects such as red eyes and maybe a rash.
However, the health implications go beyond that.
Health Concerns Related to Chlorine Exposure
Chlorine carries with it the following potential health risks. Chlorine can:
- dry out your hair
- cause breathing problems
- cause dental erosion
- dry out your skin
- cause still births
- cause bladder cancer
- lead to rectal cancer
- cause cardiovascular disease
- cause allergies through sensitization
I don't know about you, but after reading that list, I'm really really concerned about chlorine exposure -- more than I was before. Did you have any idea it could be that problematic?
I know for myself, I have a hard time walking by the swimming pool in a hotel. I just don't. want. to. be. there.
Simply way too much chlorine.
Anyhow, this past year we moved into a new (to us) home. One of the lovely things about our new place is that there is a community pool. I didn't think we'd love it since I'm no longer into sunning myself (I way overdid that in my teen years) and don't really like chlorine (probably is very similar to the chemical sensitivity that makes me react to artificial fragrances), but this year we have really enjoyed it -- especially my boys.
We pay a little extra for the boys to have swim lessons at the pool and one of the requirements is that they must shower after leaving the pool. I'm glad for that, but I don't want my boys using the toxic shampoo and such that is provided, so I send them with non-toxic options.
However, this year I really have noticed that the chlorine smell still lingers, even after their prolific use of the natural products I send with them (I can tell by how little is left after not that many trips to the pool!).
Turns out that normal shampoo and other cleaning products leave behind a chlorine film.
Besides the issues above with chlorine and health issues, my oldest has Asperger's Syndrome and we already know that he has detox issues, so I really don't want the extra toxic burden on his body. And with all of the toxins in our environment, it makes sense to additional ones as much as possible.
I want the chlorine to be gone!
Vitamin C Neutralizes Chlorine
Apparently what happens is that the vitamin C reacts with chlorine to form dehydroascorbic acid and hydrochloric acid.
Hydrochloric acid? That's stomach acid. And while I love it for helping out with digestion and it worked wonders on my rosacea, do you really want this on your skin?
Don't worry - - from what I have read, the amount produced here is not of concern.
What Kind of Vitamin C to Use for this DIY Swim Spray?
While either version of vitamin C - ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate - will work for this after swim spray, there are several reasons why sodium ascorbate is the better choice here.
First, ascorbic acid will lower pH, while sodium ascorbate will not. When you are spraying something on your skin, better to spray the non acidic item than the acidic one.
Secondly, sodium ascorbate dissolves much more readily than does ascorbic acid.
This spray is great because it's very inexpensive to make. You can, of course buy it pre-made, but this is the easy peasiest of the easy peasiest.
And it doesn't sting.
What kind of bottle to use for this Vitamin C Spray?
Use a high quality plastic bottle. Plastic of course to prevent any breakage around the pool area where bare feet could end up with painful slivers in them--high quality so that the optional essential oils and vitamin C won't or won't be likely to cause leaching of the plastic.
Notes: The essential oils in the spray are mostly for fragrance purposes, but they are nourishing to the skin so they have that added benefit as well.
You should notice that your hair and skin smell much better after using this spray than if you only showered using shampoo and soap.
Please note that there is no full spectrum preservative in this product so it might not have a very long shelf life. However, the commercial swim sprays don't either so the vitamin C itself might be enough. Use your best judgment.
Please also note that the essential oils are optional and you should use an essential oil emulsifier with them should you choose to use them. There is a lot of information on the internet that is incorrect about what is a good emulsifier and what isn't.
I hope to have more information on that in the future but in the meantime, do your own research and make your best judgement. Of course, by all means, leave out the essential oils if you like.
Where to Buy Sodium Ascorbate
After Swim Chlorine Neutralizing Spray
1/2 cup Filtered Water (see my recommendations on How to Filter Water here)
2.5 grams (1/2 tsp) powdered Sodium Ascorbate
Essential Oils (optional - see notes)
A quality Glass Bottle or quality Plastic Bottle
I recommend using
Using a funnel, add water to a glass bottle or stable plastic spray bottle.
Add the ascorbic acid.
Add essential oils (if using).
Put lid on bottle and shake to combine.
After swimming, spray the solution all over, including on hair.
Rub the vitamin c spray in, making sure to cover all of your skin. If the Vitamin C doesn't cover your skin, it won't protect it.
Shower as usual.
NOTE: You might want to use this solution within 1-2 days of making it as it might lose its effectiveness after that.
Don't Feel Like DIYing?
Do you and your family swim often?
Have you ever used an After Swim Spray to neutralize chlorine?