Chlorine and its alternatives   

by Pool Builders on 11-09-2011 in Articles

Chlorine has garnered some concerns by some pool owners. If you are considering whether to use chlorine or a chlorine alternative, there are certainly pros and cons to each.

Compared to alternatives, chlorine is low cost, has a track record for effectiveness, and is easy to administer. There are a few cons to chlorine that make pool owners look to alternatives. In some swimmers, it can cause breathing problems or skin irritation. Some just find the smell irritating. Technically speaking, it is not usually the chlorine that swimmers react adversely to, but what results when chlorine reacts with contaminants. There are alternatives available, but keep in mind that many alternatives require the use of chlorine in addition to the alternative.

Salt water systems don't have that chemical smell and the water tends to look clearer. It is generally better for your skin. Salt systems create their own chlorine naturally. One disadvantage is that switching to a salt water system requires the pool owner to master a whole new system of pool maintenance. Concerning the effects on your pool, there can be problems of calcium buildup. Also, salt is a corrosive substance, and so it can cause some deterioration of the pool surface or metal objects like handrails. Installing a saltwater system is expensive, although it could be argued that the money saved from not buying chemicals could make it worth the installation.

Bromine is a common chemical alternative to chlorine, and some swimmers are relieved of skin irritations that chlorine causes, but it is still a chemical that can cause irritation. It is not as an effective oxidizer as chlorine, but it works well in high temperatures.

Ionizers charges copper and silver into the pool to clean it. The problem here is that these chemicals only sanitize. You will need to oxidize and use algaecide in addition to this. Ionizers don't reduce the use of chlorine by much, so if you have strong distaste for chlorine, maybe consider a different alternative.

An ozone system is composed of an ozonator that puts ozone gas, a form of oxygen, into the pool. This is very effective at killing pathogens, especially since a little chorine is used in conjunction. One thing to consider is the cost of keeping this machine running and pumping all day and night, which can get expensive.

The biggest pro of PHMB is that no chlorine is needed in addition to this chemical compound. The drawback to this is that you will have to use an oxidizer and algaecide with PHMB. It is also more expensive than chlorine.

These are just a few things to consider when deciding on which pool and spa supplies to use. One of the main concerns with chlorine is that it is not natural. The fact is, however, that your swimming pool isn't naturally occurring, either. Natural ponds and lake can maintain homeostasis on their own, but your pool needs help to achieve that balance.

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