Pool Filter Sand Alternatives

By now, I think most pool owners are familiar with traditional sand filters. Sand filters have been around since forever. Okay, technically not forever, but they have been around for a very long time. In fact, the first documented use of a sand filter dates back to 1804. Although sand is the most traditional type of filter, it isn’t the most efficient. There are other filter types that leave your water cleaner but at a higher price point, of course. The love-hate relationship with sand prompted pool owners to seek alternatives to pool filter sand, but one that also works with their existing sand filter. If you’re one of those pool owners who loves their sand filter but not their sand, you’re in the right place.

Before throwing out a perfectly good sand filter, we recommend you consider the alternatives to sand. Together, let’s explore the alternatives to pool filter sand and their benefits to replacing sand in your filter. 

Traditional Filter Sand

When you look through backyards today, sand filters prove to be the most popular type of pool filter. Compared to D.E. and cartridge filters, sand filters are the least expensive and 1-p1070093some argue that it is the easiest to maintain. One of the reasons why is because of the sand found inside the filter. For the most part, pool owners use a #20 silica sand for their filters. Each grain of sand is approximately 0.45mm-0.55 mm in size and filters around 20-40 microns. If you need a point of clarification, the diameter of a strand of human hair is approximately 60-80 microns. That’s not bad, but it certainly isn’t the best. Technically, it’s the worst.

The most common complaint we hear about traditional sand filters is that it does not leave the pool as clear as they’d like and the sand always seems to find its way back into the pool. Those two things alone would frustrate any pool owner. As a result, pool owners and pool experts actively sought a suitable replacement for the sand. Pool owners don’t have issues with the performance of the filter itself, just with the medium inside.

What is ZeoSand?

ZeoSand, or ZeoBest, isn’t really sand at all. In fact, it is comprised of 100% natural zeolites. You typically find zeolites in volcanic rocks, which is pretty cool. ZeoSand is the zeo25-lonly medium that uses the ion-exchanging property of attraction to attract contaminants chemically. The shape of the ZeoSand looks like a 3D honeycomb, making it very low in density and 100 times the surface area of traditional filter sand. Because ZeoSand lays closer together than sand does, pool owners actually use less ZeoSand in their filters than traditional sand.

ZeoSand also filters out contaminants as small as 2-5 microns. That’s almost 10 times smaller than sand. It also traps ammonium ions responsible for chloramine formations, reducing eye irritation and odor. [clickToTweet tweet=”Not only do you use less, ZeoSand also lasts longer than sand.” quote=”Not only do you use less, ZeoSand also lasts longer than sand.” theme=”style1″] It reduces the need to backwash frequently and in turns saves you money on water consumption. ZeoSand is all- natural and environmentally friendly, too. Regular use of ZeoSand removes oils and debris, washing every grain of sand clean.

Filter Glass

Filter glass is another viable replacement for the sand in your sand filter. But what exactly is filtering glass? If you smash old pieces of recycled glass into finely crushed pieces, big-glass-filter-media-500x375you have filter glass. Each piece is smooth to touch and uniquely shaped. The shape of each piece prohibits the glass from channeling within the filter. Each filter glass has a slight negative charge. This negative charge holds onto the positively charged particles like iron and magnesium, making it excellent at removing metals.

Like ZeoSand, filter glass filters down to 2-5 microns and is superior in removing skin, blood cells, and 70% of all bacteria. Ultimately, pool owners save money by purchasing filter glass because not only does it require 20% less than traditional filter sand but you also backwash your filter less, saving you water and chemicals.

Filter glass is also compatible with all sanitizers, clarifiers, and metal removals.

What Are Polyballs?

Of the suggested replacement filter media, polyballs are the newest and most radical. Polyballs, or polyester balls, are used in place of sand to filter your dirty pool water. 6Much like ZeoSand and filter glass, the number of polyballs you use with your filter is considerably lower than the amount of sand. Think about it, 1 lb of polyballs is equivalent to 75 punds of #20 silica sand. That’s a huge difference. Additionally, polyballs make your filter a little bit safer by providing a lower working filter tank pressure. Pool owners usually see 45% greater flow rate, as well.

Polyballs help your sand filter catch debris down to 5 microns. When water passes through your filter tank, the polyballs compress into a flat filter bed. They only separate once you backwash, releasing all of the dirt and debris. Polyballs are 100% recyclable and chemical resistant.

Choosing Your Alternative

If you’re a pool owner who’s tired of using traditional sand in your sand filter, don’t fret because you have options of different filter media you can replace it with. Over the last few years, I’ve seen pool owners become more interested in replacing their sand with ZeoSand, filter glass, and polyballs. Pool owners are finding success in the clarity of their pool water after switching from traditional sand. Before selecting a sand alternative, we recommend you research all three before choosing. One may be more suitable for your pool than the other. No matter what you choose, your pool is bound to see and feel the difference.

36 thoughts on “Pool Filter Sand Alternatives

  1. I just purchased a intex 18x32x52 with sand/salt water system cause I use the balls in place of sand?

  2. Just setup our new Intex 14″ Sand filter with Salt Water System. We used the HTH Filter Sand. We had a big wind 3 weeks ago. I have vacuumed the pool 4 different times. After ever vacuum, the pool looks great. The minute I turn the filter on, there is sand in the pool again. I did a backwash and rinse, but that did not seem to make a difference. I didn’t think it was sand from the filter because the sand looks dark and not white like the media. Our back yard is all sand. I cannot see it coming out of the return. I tried putting a nylon sock on but cannot attach it. Being so new, I can’t imaging the inside of the pump having to be replaced already. Any suggestions?

    1. As filter sand gets used, it will have a darker appearance. Its purpose is to collect dirt, and though backwashing cleans most of the debris from the filter, it can’t purge all of it.

      If the flow of sand is constant while the pump is running, then I’d suspect there is a cracked lateral or some other internal piece. On the other hand, if the sand is filthy, you may be experiencing channeling, which is caused by the sand being so caked with dirt, it creates crevices through which debris can bypass the filter media and directly back to the pool.

    2. I have the same problem with the intex 1500g\h sand filter pump thatcame with my pool , everyday i have to vacuum the pool because of fine sand that comes through into the pool from the sand filter, Did you find an alternative that works? please i need to sort this issue too
      Thank you

      1. Have you checked to see if there are cracks in the filter’s laterals (or other internal parts?) Old filter media can clump, creating channeling; the channels provide a straight path for dirt to bypass the filter media and end up back in the pool.

  3. Our sand filter kept dumping sand back into our pool. Nothing we did corrected this and several expert pool techs couldn’t identify the problem. We switched to filter balls last year. Best thing we did for our pool. No more sand in the pool and the water was the clearest it had ever been!!

  4. Do you have any current feedback or statistics on how well your alternative sand filter media, glass, poly balls, etc?

  5. Hi. When filling the filter with the glass material how high do I fill? About halfway? Or use about half the amount of recommended sand amount? Then I put water on top? Or put water first before I pour the glass in?

    1. First fill about 1/3 with water. Fill glass media 1/2 way. You use 20% less glass by recommend weight. You should also consider pea gravel around the lateral assembly.

  6. Can you tell me what the pressure should be on a 300 lb sand filter filled with the equivalent pokeballs? We have a 1 1!8 hp motor pump and a 20k gallon pool.

    1. That is not something we could tell you because it is going to vary because of filter size, media age, pump size, feet of head. Basically, you should note the PSI reading when you put in fresh sand or whatever alternative to sand you choose. That initial reading is the “clean” reading that subsequent PSI checks are measured against to determine if the filter needs cleaning

      1. Ok good to know. It is a new filter with new polyballs and it reads between .5 and 10 psi.
        It just seemed low. Thanks for your help

    1. I guess you could try it and tell us how it works out. It seems like it would be a really expensive choice when there are plenty of other options. Also, having a calcium hardness below 150 is not good for the pool either. To me it seems, if you have the water constantly filtering through the resin, it would keep stripping the calcium out of the water until there is nothing left. In a real water softener, the water would only be sifted through the resin once.

  7. What do you think of polyester fiber? The one use for filling of pillows and cushions? I saw a video of a guy making a home made filter and he used polyester fiber to make the water crystal clear.

    1. Too bad there are not more people talking about this. We filled a 5 gallon bucket with pillow stuffing from Walmart and it cleaned our pool tremendously better than any cartridge filter. When it gets dirty, I simply dump it out on a piece of granite or a clean surface and spray it with my hose. We have hard well water. Itt is simple and cheap to replace the pillow stuffing. A friend was struggling with cleaning her water in an 18′ diameter, 54″ deep pool, she put the bucket/stuffing to work and within 24 hours the pool was clean. Definately been a life saver for us.

    1. The TA100-D has a 600-pound sand capacity. To find a filter’s capacity can be found in the owner’s manual, the filter’s tank tag, or talk to your best friend Google.

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