Well after telling you last week how special my C3Cl3N3O3 formulation is, I’m here today to discuss alternatives to using chlorine tablets in a pool. Hello, I’m Dr. Pool, resident chemist here at In The Swim.
Not too many true “Alternatives” to chlorine exist in the market today. There are many “Supplements” to chlorine tablets that can reduce your usage by 40-70%, but few stand-alone systems that can maintain water purity without using a halogen like chlorine.
Biguanide Pool Treatment
Polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB) is a polymeric sanitizer, effective against a wide variety of microorganisms and waterborne pathogens. Unlike my beloved chlorine, Biguanides like Aqua Silk are not affected by sunlight, water temperature, or pH fluctuations. It also has no odor, and is easy on swimmer’s hair, skin and eyes. Because of the stability of biguanides, treatment is needed only every 1-2 weeks.
Biguanides represent the only true and complete non-chlorine pool care system. They can be used in residential pools, but most large commercial pools are restricted to using a chlorine sanitation method that can be measured by their local health dept.
Users of Splashes say that it’s easier than chlorine to use. After the initial treatment, a booster treatment of sanitizer each week. You will still need to maintain correct water balance, and also use a few accessory chemicals like the Oxidizer, Algaecide and Filter Cleaner product. For more information see our Aqua Silk Chlorine-Free page.
Salt Chlorine Generators
Although not an alternative to chlorine, using a Salt System to chlorinate your pool will free you from having to buy, store and handle chlorine.
Salt chlorinators are fascinating machines! By adding NaOCl (table salt) to your pool water, and pumping your water through the salt cell, which consists of metallic, electrically charged plates, a form of liquid chlorine is created.
Salt water that is placed under electrolysis will separate into Sodium Hydroxide, Hydrogen gas and Chlorine gas.
When the chlorine gas enters the water, Hypochlorous acid is produced, plus a small amount of Hydrochloric Acid.
The Hydrochloric Acid reacts with the Sodium Hydroxide from Step 1, they combine to form water and salt, and the process begins anew.
There are some leftover hydroxides in the process, which may raise your pH slightly over time. Salts in the pool can also attack some surfaces, such as a chrome ladder rail or light ring bezel. Using a sacrificial zinc anode in the pool, or plumbed inline, can attract the ions away from your shiny metal pool parts.
Users of salt chlorinators report an easier management of daily chlorine levels and regular shocking tasks. The water is said to have a softer quality; gentler on the skin and with no more burning eyes from chloramine formation.
These are systems which are not stand alone sanitizers, but are effective in killing bacteria and pathogens, and purifying the water with natural methods. Some call these Alternative Sanitizers, but since they are not completely replacing the need for a halogen sanitizer, only reducing the amount needed, I am terming them as “Supplements” to my beloved chlorine tablets and granular pool shock formulas.
Nature2 is termed a mineral purifier. Almost a sanitizer, but not quite. The 6 month cartridge uses silver and copper minerals to aid in the removal of algae and bacteria. Inside the chamber, a cationic process purifies the water of contaminants. Nature2 units reduce your chlorine usage by 50% or more.
Del Ozonators for pools maintains a constant supply of Ozone, the world’s most powerful sanitizer. Getting it in contact with 100% of the pool water proves difficult however, but ozone is a strong supplement to any chlorine program, and indispensable on spas and hot tubs. Using the Del Eclipse ozonator, you can reduce chlorine usage by 50% or more.
Like the Nature2 unit, the Power Ionizer uses silver and copper ions as a bacteristat and an algaestat, as a supplement to your regular chlorine program. Plumb the unit inline and plug the cord into a standard outlet, and metal ions are released as water rushes through the chamber. Reduces chlorine usage by about 40%.
Other ways to supplement a chlorine based program include the use of enzyme treatments, phosphate removers and clarifiers. Proper filtration and circulation is important as well, and if your water is a bit over-filtered, you can expect the water to require a bit less sanitizer.
Well, that’s all for now! I do want to point out, that while all of these pool water sanitation options are nifty, nothing quite beats the power and effectiveness of good ‘ol Trichloro-S-Triazinetrione! Don’t you agree?
I guess I have a soft spot in my heart for our chlorine tabs. By the way, have you seen my new Triple Action Super Skimmer Tabs?
‘Til Next Time!