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Alternative Swimming Pool Sanitizers

By Dan Kellogg, Product Manager, Zodiac Pool Systems, Inc.

swimmers underwaterAs a growing number of pool owners realize the negative environmental impact and side effects of using traditional chlorine to sanitize their pool, more attention than ever is being paid to alternative sanitizers. Traditional chlorine comes in many forms: liquid, tablets and granular products. All are toxic, hazardous products that must be handled with care. They also are loaded with impurities and have packaging that must be disposed of properly.

If you can find a suitable alternative, using less traditional chlorine is a good thing for the planet and good for your family. There are many choices in the market today for alternative sanitizers; some replace chlorine and some supplement it so less chlorine is used.

One of the most common alternatives to traditional chlorine is a salt water chlorinator (SWC). An SWC uses ordinary salt and a process called electrolysis to create ionic chlorine. This is essentially pure chlorine at the molecular level with no impurities. Since it is made on-site in the pool plumbing, there is no transporting of dangerous chemicals, no packaging to throw away, and none of the added impurities that traditional chlorine adds to the water. The result is silky-smooth feeling water, with no red eyes, no chlorine smell, and a consistently lower chlorine level. While the initial expense to add this device can cost up to $1,500, the investment is mostly recouped after a short time by saving money on chlorine purchases.

Another option to replace chlorine completely is using products that contain compounds called Biguanides. These man-made chemicals are an excellent sanitizer and will leave your pool looking and smelling great. The trade off, however, is that you are simply replacing chlorine with another chemical. In addition, Biguanide products (there are many on the market) can be an expensive alternative at $50-$100 a month.

One alternative that acts as a chlorine supplement are mineral sanitizers. These systems use silver (Ag) and copper (Cu) ions to kill algae and bacteria so chlorine doesn't have to, resulting in significantly reduced chlorine use. Mineral sanitizers typically have a small tank that is plumbed into the pool filtration system and contain a plastic cartridge that houses a mineral substrate that the water flows over. As the water contacts the minerals, there is an ion exchange that occurs with the organisms, destroying them. This is a very effective way to keep the water fresh, clean, algae-free and totally safe for the family. Prices range from $30-$50 for portable spa systems up to $200-$700 for pool systems.

Another alternative sanitizer that has been around for many years is ozone (O3). This naturally-occurring oxygen compound is found in the upper atmosphere and protects the Earth from harmful rays. In a swimming pool, ozone is created by passing air over a UV lamp or a corona-discharge electrode, and then injecting it into the circulation system. Ozone is an extremely fast and efficient oxidizer, so less chlorine is used in the pool. Ozone systems can cost as little as $100-$200 for a portable spa or $800-$1200 for a swimming pool.

There has been a recent surge in popularity of UV sanitizers for pools as a supplement to chlorine. This simple process involves exposing the circulating pool water to a specific wavelength of UV, killing bacteria and other contaminants. While this process is environmentally friendly, it can be costly to install at $1500-$2000. Also, investment payback is non-existent with UV, since chlorine is still required because UV is not a complete sanitizer.
If alternative sanitizers interest you, talk to your local swimming pool professional; regional differences in water quality and climate can affect the way these products work. While no system is perfect, you do have choices. Join the alternative sanitizer movement today and make the world a little less harsh.

This article was provided by Zodiac Pool Systems Inc.

About Zodiac Pool Systems: Zodiac offers a complete family of brands, including Polaris®, Jandy®, Nature2®, and Baracuda®. With our rich heritage of innovation excellence, we develop technologically-advanced, energy-efficient, reliable products that afford our customers a better life. Through our best-in-class consumer products and our industry-leading dealer loyalty program, Zodiac is the provider of choice for millions of pool owners and professionals worldwide.

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