Up to 8 million pool noodles are sold each year in the US alone, making the inventor, Steve Hartman, a very rich man. But what are they?
A pool noodle is a long cylinder of flexible foam, usually made of polyethylene, which is up to 6 feet in length and 3 inches in diameter. They are quite buoyant, which makes them ideal to use as fun flotation devices in swimming pools, that can be used by children and adults alike.
Some pool noodles are solid while others have a hole through the center, which can be used to thread a small piece of rope through to join some together. Pool noodles do not become waterlogged as polyethylene foam is a closed-cell foam.
How long is the average pool noodle?
Although pool noodles can come in various lengths the average length is between 52-63 inches (132-160 centimeters). If you need one to be shorter it is very easy to cut them into small lengths. You can also join them together using special joints or using rope through those with a hole through the center.
How much weight can a pool noodle hold?
Without doing an experiment it is hard to give a precise answer. I have seen widely varying opinions from 15 lbs to 300 lbs!
It is sufficient to say that, if used correctly, a pool noodle can certainly support a child in the water and even some adults. Some people are simply naturally more buoyant than others so while one person might be completely supported by a noodle another will sink.
Is it OK to leave pool noodles in the pool?
If the pool noodles are left in the pool occasionally then no harm is likely to come to them or the pool itself. If you were to leave them in the pool for a long time then they would probably degrade and may start to break up. If that happens then it could cause problems in your filter system.
What can pool noodles be used for?
As well as using them as a flotation device, children can come up with all sorts of games to play with pool noodles in a swimming pool as often their imaginations know no bounds. They can be used together with some of the accessories listed further down the article to have even more fun with them.
But apart from using them to play with they can be used for all manner of other things. These are just a few that I have used:
On car roofs
They make very good padding items. For example, if you wanted to tie a surf or paddle board to the roof of a car without a roof rack.
The surf board can be placed on a few pool noodles to cushion it and strapped down which will not only prevent the roof being scratched but it will also stop the board from slipping.
On race cars
For a while I used some blue pool noodles on the roll cage of my race car to act as a cushion should my helmet hit it in an accident.
I just split them along their length with a knife and slipped them over the roll cage tubing and then taped them up. They worked well until the regulations required using “approved” padding – which cost 10 times the price of course!
When my dog Oscar had a sore patch on his rear end the vet gave him a “cone of shame” to wear to stop him licking it. Just like most dogs he hated it. I cut out a section of pool noodle and put some string through it and tied the two ends together. I slipped this over his head and it restricted his movement just enough to allow him to reach the sore part to lick it.
Are pool noodles dangerous?
Just like anything, they can have their dangers, but used correctly they are perfectly safe. The potential dangers are:
- If being used as a swimming aid by a non-swimmer, particularly a child, then they should not be left unattended in case they get into difficulty and need help. Obviously you should never leave children unattended when they are in the pool anyway.
- A very young child may bite into a pool noodle and swallow pieces which could make them choke. If they swallow a few small pieces it shouldn’t do any harm but it may be wise to seek some medical reassurance should that happen.
Do pool noodles melt?
Pool noodles can melt but it takes significantly more heat than they will be exposed to in the sun. They could melt if kept next to a fire or a stove though.
Are pool noodles the same as pipe insulation?
Although pool noodles and pipe insulation are similar, and can both be made of polyethylene, but they are not the same, even the pool noodles with the hole through the center. Pipe insulation generally has a larger diameter hole in the center and also it has a slit along the edge to allow the insulation to be slipped over the pipe.
Popular types of pool noodles
Pool noodle accessories
S&S Worldwide Noodle Connectors Set (Set of 4)
Great for kids to join pool noodles together to make rafts
My top 3 pool cleaning tools
These are the pool cleaning tools I have found the most useful since I have had my pool.
Step and corner vacuum brush
This is a really useful tool for getting into the areas that a standard vacuum head simply cannot reach. Aquatix Pro Pool Step & Corner Vacuum Brush
Leaf rake net
If, like me, you get plenty of leaves at the bottom of your pool then a good leaf rake/net is a must. The Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net gets under the leaves easily.
Robotic pool cleaner
These are quite expensive and it was a number of years before I bit the bullet and bought one. I have never regretted it. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is the most recommended pool cleaning robot on all of the pool forums. It not only cleans the bottom of the pool but also the sides and the waterline.