open menu

Are there other pool sanitizers available besides chlorine? / How should I sanitize my pool?

Yes! There are a few different chemical options for keeping your pool healthy and clean:
– chlorine
– bromine
– saltwater
– bio-filtration

The purpose of a pool sanitation system is to reduce the levels of micro-organisms to safe levels. A sanitiser which eliminates 99.9% of micro-organisms it is said to have reduced the micro-organisms to safe levels. Failure to sanitize your pool can result in algael blooms, cloudy water, and the chance that accidental ingestion of pool water could cause sickness.

If implemented properly, chlorine, bromine, salt water and bio-filtration systems all achieve proper sanitation . Chlorine and bromine are often outfitted with other chemicals that serve a secondary purpose. In addition to killing micro-organisms, they also oxidize organic material in the water (oxidizing can be thought of as similar to burning, at a microscopic level). Some targeted organic material includes, body oils, sunscreen, sweat and urine.

Four different sanitizers are outlined below. Not sure which is best for you? Give Sunnyview a call and we’d be happy to help you.

Chlorine is the most common. It’s readily available, it’s cheap and boy is it ever easy to use. It comes most often in solid form (small pucks) and can be bought at your local pool company as well as most big box stores that have an outdoors section. Put a few chlorine pucks into a slotted floater and they dissolve on their own. Replace as necessary. Of course you still have to monitor the pool to make sure you’ve put the right amount in for the size of pool you have, but other than that, chlorine is a great way to go. There are two downsides to chlorine: (1) after a while your bathing suits will need to be replaced, as chlorine will slowly eat away at the elastic bits, (2) the by-products of chlorine mixing with organics in your pool (called chloramines) can cause eye and skin irritations. It’s best not to open your eyes under water, if you want to see underwater, wear a mask or goggles.

Bromine is similar to, but more effective than, chlorine. Bromine is more stable at higher temperatures, more potent at higher pH’s and produce by-products with fewer odour issues. When bromine reacts with organics, bromamine is produced. Bromamine is a stronger sanitizer than chloramine, and it also produces a softer odour than chloramines. A few drawbacks: bromine is not as readily available as chlorine and it is roughly 40% more expensive.

Saltwater is also a smart option, though less common. Saltwater pools are not chlorine-free. Salt actually works to produce chlorine! The salt (NaCl) and the pool water (H2O) pass through the electrolysis cell and form two compounds: HClO and NaClO. The HClO (Hypochlourous Acid) reacts to produce HCl (Hydrochloric Acid), whic is the sanitising agent and the NaClO reacts to form NaOH (sodium hydroxide) and is converted back into salt. Salt levels in a salt water pool are much less than that of the ocean. Salt pools have levels around 3,000 parts per million (this means that there is 3,000 portions of salt for every 1,000,000 portions of water), in other words, roughly a 1:330 ratio of salt to water. The concentration of salt in the oceans is around 35,000 ppm (or 1:30 ratio of salt to water), much more concentrated.

Salt is added to the pool and mixed in with a large pool broom until it dissolves. It is important not to over-salt the pool, as it reduces the effectiveness of the chlorinator cell.

UV disinfection systems can be added to salt water pools to help with the sanitation process, as well as adding acids to neutralize pool alkalinity. Cyanuric acid or sulphuric acid can be used for this.

In general, salt water pools require less maintenance than other pools, but will have a higher capital cost due to the installation of the chlorine generator cell, and a high cost should the cell require replacing. One drawback to saltwater pools is the corrosive nature of salt. Should the salt concentration become higher than 6,000 ppm, it will start to corrode any metals or poorly sealed rocks, and breakdown handrails, liners and lights.