How to Open a Pool Without Chlorine

It’s the middle of April, which means a good portion of us not lucky enough to live in an area that enjoys year-round warmth and sun are now thinking about or preparing to open up our swimming pools. And with Earth Day being next week, I thought it would be prudent, and perhaps interesting, to discuss ways of opening a pool without the use of pool chlorine.

Honestly, a pool doesn’t use that much chlorine, but you will be hard pressed to find a pool owner who says they love the idea of handling and using chlorine no matter if it’s liquid, granular or tablets. You also will not find many swimmers who will tell you they miss that chlorine smell and how it burns their eyes and bleaches their hair. No one really likes the stuff, but it’s the most popular pool sanitizer used today, possibly due to pool owners not knowing any other way.

chlorine-free-pool-shockGoing chlorine-free isn’t necessarily easy, especially if your pool opens green. Non-chlorine shock has trouble killing algae, and although it oxidizes most contaminants, it is not a disinfectant, so it can’t remove all bacteria or other pathogens.

The most complete way to reduce your conspicuous chlorine consumption is by installing a salt chlorine generator. Chlorine generators convert ordinary table salt into pure hypochlorous acid, the killing form of chlorine found in pool chlorine tablets, granules or liquid.

Making your own ‘natural chlorine‘ has many benefits for pool owners. First and foremost, you won’t have to buy, handle or guess how much chlorine to use at any given time since the chlorine generator is doing all the work. It also means your pool water is less likely to get cloudy or develop algae when you don’t have to check chlorine levels daily – especially in hot, sunny climates – because the chlorine generator does all of this automatically.

Plus, your swimmers will no longer complain about irritated skin, burning eyes, faded bathing suits or bleached hair. Instead they will comment on how soft their skin feels after getting out of the pool.

Yes, salt chlorine generators can be expensive, and on average salt cells only last 5 years, but a 50-pound bag of pool salt is considerably cheaper than the same amount of chlorine. The saltwater can also dull shiny finishes on some pool equipment, mainly in-pool products like pool ladders and pool lights, that have shiny chrome metal in constant contact with the (salty) water. There is an easy solution to ‘galvanic corrosion’ however, just use a sacrificial anode.

I know you’re about to ask… I thought this is about opening your pool without using chlorine? Well, if you really want to do that – but you also want to be sure the water is safe for swimmers and doesn’t harbor any germs…

How to Open or Operate a Pool without Chlorine

  1. Install a solid safety cover (without drain panels) to keep the water fresh
  2. Install an oversized D.E. filter, or Cartridge filter with Microban cartridges
  3. Install a Variable Speed pool pump, to circulate water 24/7
  4. Install a Mineral Purifier and/or a UV Generator
  5. Shock the pool weekly with non-chlorine shock
  6. Maintain a clean pool with precise water balance
  7. Specialty chemicals as needed; Enzymes, Clarifiers, Algaecides

The truth is – it can be hard to open a pool without chlorine – you can operate a pool without chlorine, but for opening pools, you really need the power of chlorine to kill the algae, bacteria and other gross stuff that has developed over winter.

That is why our closing kits contain non-chlorine shock, but our spring opening kits, or start-up kits contain chlorine pool shock. Shock the pool hard when opening, and then turn on the salt chlorine generator, or use a Nature 2 or Pool Frog mineral sanitizer to cut your chlorine use in half.

But opening the pool without chlorine? That’s more difficult – if you’ve found a way to do it on your pool, please share a comment below!


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger




How to Open a Pool Without Chlorine — 4 Comments

  1. I am replacing my liner because my pool went down 2 feet over the winter and the previous owner left it sitting for years. When I took off the liner I found rust on the walls. above the water line. I sanded the walls and will paint. My question, should i get pool foam and a pad.

    • Hi John – if the rust was not too crusty and bubbly, but light surface rust, what you did should suffice. If severe though, wall foam is a good barrier to install, and not too expensive. Applies with the use of spray foam.

    • Hi, no chlorine reading in the pool, but your salt level is good, and your salt cell indicator light is “ON”, and turned up to produce chlorine, and you are adding 4in1 HTH shock? OK could be…
      1. Bad test strips or dirty vial or other testing issues
      2. Salt cell is not producing chlorine, due to low water flow, cold water temps, or cell problems.
      3. No cyanuric stabilizer in the water, and chlorine is dissipating fast in the sun without it.
      4. Chlorine demand is higher than chlorine supply. Not enough chlorine added for pool size or amount of particulates that need to be eliminated.
      5. Bad water balance, high pH especially, which can kill half your chlorine immediately.

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