Throughout the 1980's, Charles F. Heinig, Jr. an inventor from Providence RI, toiled with novel materials and methods for water purification. His patent application in 1993 lists 26 patent citations, earlier inventions that influenced his greatest creation.
And that is, pool mineral sanitation, using silver ions to neutralize bacteria and contaminants, to produce clearer and cleaner water. Abstract from the patent application: "the purification material is a silver catalyst that, when exposed to water in the presence of oxygen, forms an active oxidizer in the water and also releases silver ions into the water via an erosion process."
Now over 23 years old, Pool Mineral Sanitation can be said to have stood the test of time. it is estimated that 1 million mineral purifiers are installed on swimming pools and spas in the US.
Types of Pool Mineral Purifiers?
Electric mineral ionizers such as the Power Ionizer, use small amounts of electric power to cause ions to leap from copper or silver plates, and in the process are drawn away by the [pool] water passing through the chamber. Plates are replaced every 1-2 years.
Erosion mineral ionizers such as Nature2 or Frog do not require electric hook-up, the minerals are dissolved slowly by erosion from the passing pool water. The mineral cartridge is replaced every 6 months.
Solar mineral ionizers, such as the Floatron or the Eko Klor use solar panels on top of a floating mineral cartridge. Solar power energizes the metallic plates, encouraging metal ions to 'jump ship', which are swept 'out to sea' by surface currents in your pool. Replace the plates every 1-2 years.
What is Pool Mineral Treatment?
A pool mineral purifier uses silver and/or copper ions to remove contaminants from the water. Scientists have long known of the anti-bacterial properties of copper and silver, but finding a way to release the right amount of minerals was the challenge. Too much and the pool could stain, and too little and the effect is hardly noticeable.
Pool mineral treatment is not a stand-alone pool sanitizer, although it will kill bacteria and some types of algae. Known as 'Purifiers', mineral systems are used together with a low level of chlorine (05-1.0 ppm), to produce better looking water, with a lower chlorine level.
Are Pool Mineral Systems Chlorine Free?
As mentioned above, mineral systems are not intended to be stand-alone units, but designed to be used with a low level of chlorine, and regular pool shocking.
However, if you had a very effective large pool filter, and also used additional supplemental sanitizers, such as ozone treatment, along with regular oxidation with a non-chlorine pool shock, you could probably go mostly chlorine-free.
You may still need some chlorine shock, to initialize mineral cartridges, or for pool opening and closings for winter, and may need extra filtration, and/or use other supplemental chemicals such as algaecide, clarifier, or enzymes.
Are Copper and Silver Ions Safe?
Oh Sure, in fact, they are contained in many OTC vitamin supplements as an essential nutrient for humans. Swimming in normal levels of minerals, as produced by pool mineral systems, does not pose any health risk to humans or animals.
Will Mineral Purifiers Stain my Pool?
Nature2 and Frog systems - definitely not, in fact they offer a no-stain guarantee. I have seen many instances of staining (on plaster pools), due to overuse of floating or electric mineral ionizers. If left ON all the time, the pool can become 'overdosed' with minerals, which may precipitate out of the water and deposit themselves as teal (copper) or black (silver) stains. Use of a sequestering agent like Stain Away is recommended when using these systems, to keep minerals in solution.
Are Mineral Purifiers Here to Stay?
Yes! Many alternative sanitizers have come and gone in my 20 years in the pool business, but purifying the water with copper or silver minerals seems to have gained widespread acceptance by pool owners, pool builders and pool service companies. If it didn't work, it would have died out long ago (and I wouldn't be writing about it today!).
Benefits of Mineral Purifiers?
- Reduced chlorine costs
- Water that sparkles and shines
- Less chlorine smell or irritation
- Fewer leaves in the pool
OK, I'm stretching the truth with the last one, but if you want to use less chlorine, and have sparkling bright water, I'd recommend the Nature2 Express or the Pool Frog System for any pool up to 25000 gallons.
I have one on my own pool!
SPP Pool Expert