Traditionally, the most popular pool water sanitizer used in residential swimming pools has been chlorine – and for good reason. Chlorine is cheap, readily available, effective and relatively easy to use. But lately, chlorine’s been losing ground to alternative sanitizers because increasingly, pool owners are dissatisfied with some of the negative effects traditionally associated with chlorine, including: • strong chlorine odor • hair, eye & skin irritation • ecological concerns with chlorine production • bleached liners, towels & swimsuits • potential for equipment corrosion • storage & handling concerns
In this blog post, we’ll review the range of options that can either replace, or significantly reduce the need for traditional chlorine in your aboveground pool. There are several ways to accomplish this. Some require improved filtration –how and when you operate your filter system, & what type & size you have for your aboveground pool. Other options are true “alternative sanitizers”, with specialized equipment & chemicals effective at controlling bacteria and other contaminants in swimming pool water – without the need for high levels of chlorine.
The short (& happy!) story is that these days, every pool owner can choose their preferred method of maintaining healthy, sparkling clear pool water all season long, with a minimum of effort – and without chlorine, if they so choose.
Let your Filter System Help
Your swimming pool filter system is a required piece of equipment that works to filter out particulates and organic material from your pool water. The Filter System is comprised of the Pool Filter (available in D.E., Cartridge or Sand models) and the Pool Pump (which circulates your pool water & forces it through the filter).
Your choice of pool equipment can, all by itself, impact the amount of chlorine you need to maintain clean, healthy water. For example, having a D.E. filter (which uses Diatomaceous Earth as the filter media) will help reduce the need for chlorine because DE filters trap the absolute smallest particles – down to 3 or 4 microns – so your chlorine doesn’t have to work as hard. And the larger the DE filter, the better - as far as reducing chlorine use is concerned. That’s because a bigger filter has more surface area, which means it can trap more dirt and bacteria than smaller filters.
For an aboveground pool in the range of 10,000 - 20,000 gallons, consider using an inground DE filter of 60 sq. ft. For smaller aboveground pools & spas (5,000 - 10,000 gallons or less), choose a 48 sq. ft. model - if you want to reduce your chlorine demand. You'll enjoy longer filter cycles and faster, more efficient filtering – and less need for chlorine. The Hayward Perflex EC-75 is also a good sized filter for most aboveground pools.
In addition to using a large DE filter, running your pool pump more frequently (12-18 hours per day) can allow your free chlorine to focus more on sanitizing bacteria and less on those particles that your filter can remove. This isn’t necessarily a cost-effective tip, since more pump running time means a higher electrical cost – but you can mitigate that with a high-efficiency, 2-speed or variable speed pool pump.
Alternatives (Substitutes) to Traditional Chlorine
Pool Salt Systems
Originally designed for inground pools, pool salt systems (also known as salt-chlorine generators) are now also available for aboveground pools. A salt system is a piece of swimming pool equipment that uses ordinary salt to produce pure chlorine in your pool water, naturally & automatically.
Pool salt systems utilize an electrolytic process to generate pure chlorine. The salt concentration is very low (less than a teaspoon per gallon of pool water), so you won’t taste or notice it in the water, but it's sufficient to create enough free chlorine to sanitize your pool, naturally! Salt chlorine generators continuously kill algae, bacteria & contaminants. The benefits of a pool salt system are numerous: • Safe and easy to use • Fast and easy to install • Sparkling clean water without the need to frequently monitor & adjust your chlorine level • Water is silky soft, and has none of the odor or irritating qualities of traditional chlorine • Safe for use in all pool surfaces - including fiberglass, vinyl, plaster, and concrete swimming pools
Biguanide Pool Chemicals
Biguanide-based pool chemicals (like Aqua Silk®) feature powerful, non-chlorine formulas that effectively sanitize your pool water with minimal maintenance time & zero chlorine. These formulations sanitize your pool water using a concentration of hydrogen peroxide – which has been used for sanitation purposes in other industries, for decades.
The Biguanide (by-gwa-nyde) system gives you all the chemicals you'll need for clean, clear & swimmer-friendly pool water this season, without harsh chlorine. You do need to be careful about what other chemicals you use in combination with a Biguanide as some chemicals are simply not compatible with Biguanides (our Pool Experts can help with that!). This powerful water maintenance program has several benefits: • No impact on pH or other levels • Completely eliminates the need for chlorine • No chemical odor and no eye or skin irritation • Effectively sanitizes & oxidizes, removing organic compounds • Ideal for pools in hot climates, Biguanides won't dissipate in high heat like chlorine
Alternatives that Significantly Reduce the Need for Chlorine
Mineral Purifiers, (like Frog® or Nature2®) use a combination of minerals such as silver & copper, to sanitize and control bacteria and algae in your swimming pool. Mineral purifiers offer softer, sparkling water with significantly less use of traditional chlorine. They work automatically, and a single mineral cartridge will last up to 6 months, reducing time spent on water maintenance.
We recommend up-sizing (meaning, purchasing an extra unit if your pool size is on the borderline “gallonage” of what a single unit can handle). Mineral systems will not completely eliminate the need for chlorine, but you can reduce its use by 50% - 80%! Mineral systems have other advantages too: • No moving parts, for minimal maintenance & optimal performance • Unaffected by heavy use, hot weather and water temperature • Easy to install - installs in minutes • Reduces Chlorine usage by up to 80% • Water becomes crystal clear, softer & silkier
Enzyme-Based Pool Chemicals
Natural Chemistry® is a brand of pool & spa chemicals that use natural enzymes to help reduce the need for traditional sanitizers like chlorine or bromine. They are 100% biodegradable, non-toxic and safe for people, pets, and landscaping. Our customers who use Natural Chemistry give them rave reviews, due to their effectiveness & eco-friendly ingredients. • Compatible with chlorine and all water balance parameters • Enzymes digest oils and scum to decrease sanitizer demand • Easy to use, just read the label, and pour it in the pool • Phos-Free removes phosphates from your pool to prevent algae • Enzymes also work inside of your filter, to help improve filtration
Power Pool Ionizers
Power Pool Ionizers use ionization (a completely safe electrical process) to release precise levels of copper and silver ions into your pool water. These ions then effectively kill algae, bacteria and viruses in your pool water. An ionizer is a fully automatic sanitation method, so you’ll spend more time enjoying your pool and less time fussing with it.
The cost can be higher than other forms of sanitation, but our customers who opt to use an ionizer report excellent results – in fact, they are some of the highest-rated products on our website! With a pool ionizer, you’ll enjoy: • Reduced use of traditional sanitizers & algaecides • Low operating cost - less than 2¢ per day • Simple to install, ready to use • Won't affect pH & total alkalinity levels • Plugs into standard 110V outlet
Corona Discharge Ozone Generators
Pool Ozonators (like Del Eclipse®) are in their relative infancy in the U.S., but have been very popular in European pools. An Ozonator produces Ozone gas (a naturally occurring and safe purifier and oxidizer) to effectively sanitize pool and spa water. Ozone generators will reduce your need for chlorine and super-disinfect your pool or spa water.
Pool Ozonators are installed in-line with your filter system. You cannot create a residual of ozone gas in the water (as you can with chlorine or bromine), so the system is only disinfecting the water while it is running. You'll notice drastic reductions in chlorine / bromine use, and an operating cost of only pennies per day. Some other benefits of ozone include: • Reduce traditional sanitizers & algaecides • Low cost to run - less than 3¢ per day • Simple to install, ready to use • pH & total alkalinity neutral • Plugs into any 110V outlet
For details on how to put any of the above technologies to work on your aboveground pool, contact our Pool Experts at 1-800-983-7665. They can answer your product questions and help you determine which method is best for your aboveground pool, your situation – and help you reduce or even completely eliminate your use of traditional chlorine.
From all of us at SPP, Happy Swimming!