Chlorine remains one of the most popular ways to keep pool water clean and free of unwanted microorganisms. This popularity stems from the highly effective disinfecting powers of chlorine. Unfortunately, the strength of chlorine can also make it highly irritating for the eyes and skin. For certain individuals, it may even trigger asthma problems.
For those reasons, many homeowners have begun to explore alternatives to traditional chlorine pools. A surprising diversity of chlorine-free options exist in the pool world today. If you would like to learn more about gentler ways to keep your pool water safe for swimming, keep reading. This article explores three alternatives to traditional chlorine pools.
1. Salt Water
Strictly speaking, salt water pools still contain chlorine. However, these pool systems generate their chlorine by a natural process known as electrolysis. Electrolysis uses a special generator to break salt down into its constituent elements - sodium and chloride. These elements then recombine into sanitizing molecules of sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid.
These chemicals perform the exact same job as the chlorine in a normal pool. Yet they do so without many of the unwanted side-effects, most of which stem from the presence of chloramines. Chloramines play a large role in skin irritation, as well as the typical smell of a chlorine pool.
Because salt water pools have notably lower chloramine levels, you likely won't notice such unwanted sideeffects occurring. In order to provide effective results, salt levels must remain between 2800 and 4200 parts per million. Additional salt must be added periodically and agitated with a brush until fully dissolved.
2. Mineral Purification
Mineral purifications systems have a slightly misleading name, since the sanitizing power actually comes from from metal ions - usually copper and silver. When present in high enough concentrations, silver ions effectively destroy bacteria. Copper ions, on the other hand, excel at destroying algae.
Pool owners should be aware that mineral systems cannot completely replace the role of chlorine. Neither silver nor copper can act as an all-around oxidizer or sanitizer. In other words, they will have little to no effect when it comes to breaking down organic matter that ends up in your pool.
For this reason, homeowners often install mineral purification systems as a way to reduce their pool's chlorine intake, without eliminating it altogether. If nothing else, your pool will still require periodic chlorine shocks. You should also be aware that if metal concentrations in your pool rise too high, they may end up causing stains to form on the pool walls.
3. Ozone Generators
Ozone is a type of gas that can be created artificially using the oxygen naturally present in air. When released into a pool's water, this otherwise harmless gas effectively kills microorganisms like bacteria and algae. In addition, and unlike mineral systems, ozone can can also destroy both organic and inorganic contaminants.
In fact, ozone's oxidizing powers greatly outstrip those of chlorine - to the extent that ozone will actually break down any chloramines present in your pool. Yet ozone generators rarely replace chlorine altogether. Like mineral systems, ozone generators work best in conjunction with lower levels of chlorine.
A properly sized ozone generated can reduce the amount of chlorine needed in your pool by up to 90 percent. Better yet, the chlorine needed can often be supplied by a salt water generator, meaning you can forgo the practice of dumping raw chlorine into your pool. For best results, you should also consider installing a low-flow pump system to maximize the exposure of your water to the ozone molecules.
Numerous alternatives now exist to traditional chlorine pools. For more information about what type of pool sanitation system can best meet your needs, please contact the pool pros at Pate's Pool Service and Supply.