Chemical suppliers have raised the price of muriatic acid by 15- to 20 percent, prompting companies throughout the industry to adjust their own prices to compensate.
Retailers and service companies received word of the price hike during the final week of September.
“As far as I can tell, all the suppliers are making this increase,” said Johnny Garcia, director of pool chemical sales at distributor PoolCorp in Covington, La. “We’re certainly seeing it from our vendors.”
Most chemical producers put the increase into effect during the first week of October.
“Our suppliers informed us that demand has just skyrocketed, while supply has not,” said Diane Carlson, owner of Blue Sky Pool Supply in Los Gatos, Calif. “So, as a result, their muriatic acid prices have gone up across the board.”
For the time being, muriatic acid appears to be the only chemical whose prices have jumped so sharply. This cost increase marks the latest of several recent upticks in the price of this widely used pH adjuster and cleaning agent. But whereas those earlier price hikes largely fell below the 10 percent mark and were absorbed by many retailers in an effort to keep their prices competitive, this greater rise in cost already has begun to affect aftermarket prices.
“For the last couple of years, I was charging my customers less that what we really should’ve been charging,” Carlson said. “But now I’m going to have to mark it up. I don’t have a choice.”
The roots of this heightened demand lie in the oil business, where muriatic acid is used in the process of hydraulic fracturing — commonly known as “fracking” — a controversial practice whose use is nonetheless on the rise, particularly in the northern United States and Canada. The technique uses pressurized liquids, including muriatic acid, to fracture rock layers, releasing petroleum, natural gas and other substances.
Though manufacturers have emphasized that muriatic acid supplies remain plentiful, the current price increase is likely to remain in place as long as demand holds at this level — and further cost hikes could potentially lie on the horizon.