Chlorine Alternatives

CHLORINE ALTERNATIVES FOR SWIMMING POOLS

Most of you are already familiar with the types of chlorine used in swimming pools (calcium hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), lithium hypochlorite, dichlor, and trichlor). The first three are not stabilized. Meaning once exposed to the sunlight, it will quickly precipitate out of the pool. This is why dichlor and trichlor have become so popular since the stabilizer is added into the dry chlorine.

You are also probably familiar with a “salt pool,” or a salt water generator (SWG) which converts sodium chloride salt into chlorine. Yes, salt water pools are chlorinated pools. When the water chemistry is properly maintained, SWGs can drastically reduce the need to shock your swimming pool. The downside is that overtime, SWG pools can be corrosive to the coping and decking. If you have a vinyl liner pool, there is a chance that the frames can corrode which is a very expensive fix.

Today’s consumer is more sophisticated than that of the previous generation. There is also a growing segment that is concerned with the toxins in our environment and are living healthier lifestyles. Many suffer from chlorine allergies or being hypertensive to chlorine. There is also a decent amount of evidence on increased asthma in young athletes which are involved with competitive swimming in indoor chlorinated pool. There are just a few of the reasons why more consumers are seeking a chlorine alternative.

CHEMICAL OPTIONS

Bromine is in the same halogen family as chlorine. It does have its advantages and disadvantages. Unlike chlorine, it cannot be stabilized with a product such as cyanuric acid. This is a problem with outdoor pools since the sun will quickly burn off the bromine. Bromine would need to be constantly added which would become costly. Now is does have advantages over chlorine for indoor pools. Bromine with not produce a byproduct like chloramines. Chloramines are very irritating to the eyes and can cause a strong odor. Chloramines has also been linked to an increase in asthma for swimming athletes.

Baquacil, Aqua Silk, and Softswim use polyhexamethylenebiguanide (PHMB) as the active ingredient.

The main advantage PHMB has over chlorine is it is not an oxidizer and it is not significantly affected by sunlight. Therefore, PHMB residuals are much more stable in both pools and spas than chlorine. The disadvantage is that it is not an oxidizer and a 27% hydrogen peroxide shock treatment is necessary for clarity. These products do not irritate the eyes or skin. These products are by far the most expensive choice in maintaining your swimming pool. Expect to pay more than double to maintain biguanide pools.

PristineBlue has an active ingredient of copper sulfate pentahydrate. Copper is a very effective algaecide. Like the aforementioned products, it is not an oxidizer so you will need periodic shock. The problem is that anything that you need to maintain the pool, you should stick with its complementary and proprietary products.   This can get expensive but perhaps not quite as expensive as biguanide based products. Not all stores carry this product so one may spend a lot on gas trying to locate it.

NON-CHEMICAL OPTIONS

Non-chemical treatment would include ionization (copper, copper/silver, copper/zinc), mineralizers (Pool Frog, Nature 2),ozonation, and U/V Light. The last 3 items do not provide a “residual” for sanitation and the biocide component is short lived making it a poor choice as a primary sanitizer. Do not get me wrong, they do offer wonderful benefits. They all reduce the amount of chlorine that is necessary to maintain a pool. Ozone and U/V are becoming more popular with the combined use of chlorine to reduce the disinfection byproducts (DBP such as chloramines and thihalomethanes) and can reduce the frequency of utilizing shock treatments. Of these non-chemical alternatives, only ionization has a long lasting disinfection which makes it the most attractive option. Ionization can be used with anything listed above including chlorine or be used in a “chlorine free” pool.

Ozone is a very strong oxidizer and is used for many applications. Intec has used ozone quite a bit for treating high levels of iron, iron bacteria, as well as hydrogen sulfide. Intec has not historically endorsed ozone for swimming pools. It can reduce chlorine levels required for swimming pools and is effective a reducing chloramines which also reduces how often pone might need to shock a pool. The new DEL Ozone Solar Eclipse is in another league. It offers a new plasma gap technology that produces hydroxyl radicals and ozone. It is more expensive than competing technologies; however, if one must have an ozone to complement ionization, this would be our only recommendation.

UV or ultraviolet light is a concept that Intec does not endorse for the pool market. Intec does endorse UV light being used in a closed loop system such as point-of-entry for a home. In fact, Intec has sold quite a few of them. The sanitation takes place inside the quartz sleeve (a clear tube water flows through running parallel with the UV bulb). So if a pool recirculates every eight hours, you have once change to get the bacteria, virus, or algae spore. Bacteria and algae do replicate a lot faster than this. It is also being marketed as reducing chloramines. This Intec can understand to a point. However, calcium will scale over the quartz sleeve making it not as effective. It is just another widget being sold so more money can be made.

Ionization has been around for a couple of decades and there has been quite a bit of advancement. Ionization is the process in which a current is supplied to a sacrificial electrode made of various metals and subatomic particles, ions, are pulled off and pass through a stream of running water. The composition of metals include copper, copper/silver, or copper/zinc. These metals are toxic to many form of bacteria and algae. At recommended levels, it is totally safe for humans and animals. It is important that only high purity metals are being utilized. Otherwise impurities such as carbon can stain a pool. It is also important to go with a company that has been around a while. Many have entered the market place and have gone in just a couple of years which is a nightmare for warranty or replacement parts such as electrodes. If they have not been in business for at least 10 years, do not even consider them regardless of their technology or sales pitch. Also make sure you evaluate the replacement costs of the electrode. There are a few companies that offer $300 ionizers that have a replace electrode for $170. The life is only 3 months. That is an expensive system for owning a pool. Other systems may be more expensive upfront cost but have electrodes that lasts 2 or more years. The small systems or the solar units to not have enough power to treat a 20,000 gallon pool for example despite their claims. It does little good if one has to run an ionizer 8 hours a day every day to maintain copper levels. If algae is present, it would not have the power output to overcome the algae and supply an acceptable residual of ionic copper.

Intec is a manufacturer of premium ionizers and utilizes only high purity copper for its electrodes. You can place your trust in our 40 plus years of experience with the ionization technology.

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