Check out these great alternatives to traditional chlorine. A Pool Alternative sanitizer is the most popular way to sanitize your swimming pool while reducing or even eliminating the use of traditional chemical chlorine. If you're wondering why you would want to limit the use of chlorine, there are a few answers to that question. First of all, traditional chlorine adds an unpleasant smell, taste and even feel to pool water. It contains chloramines which are the component of chlorine that cause red eyes and irritated skin. Chlorine is also infamous for fading bathing suits and pool liners, and turning blonde hair to a lovely shade of green. Aside from these issues, there are increasing health concerns regarding exposure to chlorine and many pool owners are looking for alternative methods of sanitizing their pools.
So which pool alternative sanitizer is the best? It depends on the goal you have in mind. We'll discuss four types below - salt chlorine generators, ozonators, ionizers and mineral purifiers.
Salt Chlorine GeneratorsOne Pool Alternative Sanitizer is the Salt Chlorine Generator. Chlorine can be produced in a softer, more natural form by using a salt chlorine generator. This purer form of chlorine does not have the smell or irritants normally associated with traditional chlorine. Salt chlorine generators essentially manufacture chlorine for your pool using fine solar salt. This salt is added to the pool water in a quantity that is far below the human ability to taste it. The salt water then passes through what's known as the cell of the generator. The cell unit, which is plumbed inline between the filter and the pool, contains coated blades which create a small electrical charge as the salt water comes into contact with them. This creates chlorine which is then returned to your pool.
Salt chlorine generators feature a power supply unit that is installed at the electrical source for your pool equipment. The power supply features an LED or digital display that shows your salt and chlorine levels and helps you monitor your water. This unit can be used to "shock" or super-chlorinate your pool if needed. A salt chlorine generator will produce all of the chlorine you need to keep your pool properly sanitized, thus eliminating the need to repeatedly purchase pool chemicals.
Your initial investment for a salt chlorine system is the generator and the salt. Since salt does not evaporate, you will rarely need to add more salt unless heavy rains dilute your pool water or significant water is lost from excessive splashing. The salt cell will eventually need to be replaced as the coating on the blades wears off over time. Cells last about 4 -7 years depending on the manufacturer and how much coating they put on the blades. The cell is not an inexpensive part to replace however, as chlorine prices increase, you will lik ely save money even if you need to purchase a new cell every four years. And it is difficult to put a price on soft, silky water that just feels, smells and tastes better.
OzonatorsAnother choice for a pool alternative snaitizer is the Ozonator. Ozone is a natural purifier created in nature by the combination of oxygen in air and the ultraviolet rays of the sun, or by the corona discharge during a lightning storm. Ozone is the clean, fresh scent noticed after a rainstorm. As a natural sanitizer, ozone destroys bacteria, viruses, mold, and mildew and eliminates spores, cysts, yeast, and fungus. Due to its purifying capability, ozone can be used to keep pool water clean and sparkling, providing an alternative to traditional chemicals such as chlorine and bromine.
In the quantities needed for water purification, ozone has no noticeable odor, taste or color. It is not irritating to humans and will not damage pool equipment. Ozone purifies water and air very quickly and efficiently, 3,000 times faster than chlorine, and leaves no by-products except pure oxygen. For over 65 years, ozone has been used to sanitize pools and spas all over the world. Since 1984, all Olympic Games competition pools have been purified with ozone.
Pool ozonators and spa ozonators generate and inject ozone into the water, reducing the need for chlorine or bromine by 60 - 90%. Some residual of traditional chemical is still recommended for complete sanitization but the common complaints of red eyes, irritated skin and harsh odors are eliminated with the use of an ozonator. Some homeowners do use ozonators alone as residential pools are not required to use chlorine. While ozonators represent an upfront investment, they greatly reduce the amount of money spent on chlorine and other chemicals. As concerns increase regarding traditional chemical use, alternative sanitizers such as ozonators are an investment in your family's health and safety well worth considering.
Common replacement parts for ozonators are corona discharge (CD) chips or UV lamps (depending on the model), check valves and tubing. CD chips and UV lamps are both rated for 9,000 hours of operation. Although you can wait for the unit to completely fail before replacing the ozone components, it is better to replace them annually to insure water quality. CD chips have an easily detectable glow indicating that ozone is actually being created. This glow will fade or disappear when ozone output has been diminished. On the other hand, UV lamps will continue to light up for years after the ozone capability has been diminished so the light is not a true indicator. This is why regular replacement is recommended. When a chip or lamp is replaced, it is also a good time to replace the check valve and tubing. Kits are available which contain all of the parts for easy maintenance.
IonizersAnother choice for a pool alternative sanitizer is an Electrolytic mineral ion systems, such as copper-silver ionization, are a proven, effective, non-chemical method to help control bacteria, algae and viruses. The principal of using metals for water purification dates back hundreds of years but the technology really began to develop in the 1960's when the Johnson Space Center conducted a research aimed at the development of a water purifier that required minimal power and no human monitoring. This program produced an electrolytic silver ion generator used to sanitize the potable water supply and waste water system of a spacecraft. NASA released the design information to the industry and ionization has since been used for pools, spas, cooling towers and other applications.
Pool Ionizers typically consist of two electrodes, one anode and one cathode made of a proportion of copper and silver. These are placed in a chamber that is mounted in the existing water recirculation system. An electronic controller sends low-voltage, DC current to the electrodes. This voltage causes some of the outer atoms of the electrodes to lose an electron, turning these into positive ions. These ions attempt to flow from one electrode to another but instead, are carried to the pool or spa by the flow of water. Since both copper and silver have algaecidal and anti-bacterial properties, these ions sanitize the water while posing no threat to human health.
Advantages of ionization include improved water quality, effective algae and bacteria control, reduced chemical usage, automated operation and an environmentally friendly method of water sanitation. As with the ozonators, a low level of chlorine is also recommended with the use of an ion system. Together, chlorine and an ionizer sanitize better than either method will by itself. When used in conjunction, the chlorine level is basically unnoticeable at less than .5ppm and the ion system is much more effective due to the presence of a low level of halogen which provides constant oxidation. Ionizers are somewhat less expensive than ozonators and salt chlorine generators and offer a good value in alternative sanitizers. In addition, ionizers do not require hundreds of pounds of salt, as with salt chlorine generators, which further reduces expense.
Mineral Purifiers (Nature2)
One more choice for a pool alternative sanitizer is a Nature2 Purifier. Nature2 products use natural minerals to trap bacteria and algae, reducing the need for harsh chemicals to keep your pool or spa water balanced. Nature2 purifiers can reduce chlorine usage by 50 - 80%. As with other alternative sanitizers, a small residual of chlorine is recommended to keep the water properly balanced and sanitized. While Nature2 does trap bacteria and algae, it does not replace your pool filter which is necessary to collect larger particles and debris. Nature2 systems are available for both inground and above ground pools as well as spas.
Another innovative option from Nature2 is the Swimpure cartridge which fits inside the core of many of the common Hayward filter cartridges. As water flows through your filter, it also passes through the Nature2 cartridge to trap bacteria and debris.
The Nature2 systems use a mineral cartridge that eventually needs to be replaced. Under normal operating conditions, the cartridge will last six months and should be changed in a timely manner as the low chlorine residual alone is not enough to properly sanitize water.
Go to our PoolAnswers section for Alternative Sanitizer Questions