Chlorine Alternatives

The sharp scent of chlorine spells summer for a lot of us, but it’s possible to keep your pool clean without it, and your skin and hair would benefit.

Chlorine is popular because it handles the three main jobs to guarantee swimming pool cleanliness: It kills bacteria and germs, controls organic debris and deters algae. Alternatives to chlorine include bromine, salt, ionizers, and ozonators, though you’ll still have to use some chorine with these. PHMB (polyhexamethylene biguanide)does not require any chlorine. All five alternatives have drawbacks.

Bromine can be a good alternative to chlorine for those with allergies, but it doesn’t oxidize as well as chlorine, so many people use a hybrid version. Though the bromine mixes are less irritating than chlorine alone, they still have an odor and cost about twice as much as just chlorine.

Ionizers rely on two dissimilar metals, often copper and silver, which are sent charged into the water. You will still need a small amount of chlorine to act as an oxidizer in this method. A low-voltage DC current sends the metals into the water, and the positive charge attracts bacteria, germs, and algae that are then carried out through the filtration system. Heavily polluted air can also be too much for ionizers, which makes them a bad choice in Louisville.

There are two types of ozone generators: ultraviolet light and corona discharge. In a UV light system, special low-pressure vapor lamps installed on the water kill pathogens as they float by. Corona discharge generators rely on an electrical arc to create ozone outside the generator.

Ozone generators can reduce chlorine usage by 90%, and they use the same amount of energy as a 60-watt light bulb. Ozonators combined with a tiny bit of chlorine are effective, but the they work best in a dry climate. Humidity makes them less effective.

To eliminate chlorine completely, you need to switch to PHMB. This chemical disinfects by penetrating cell walls, causing them to burst from within. Those particles are then wrapped in a heavy gel, which sinks to the bottom of the pool where the vacuum can get to it. Because PHMB does not oxidize, you’ll need to use hydrogen peroxide and use a separate algaecide. Your pool filters will need to be cleaned every four to six weeks.

PHMB is kinder to skin and hair, and does not require as much attention as other chemicals. It is important that you completely drain the pool before switching from chlorine to PHMB, and wash every bathing suit. Even trace elements of chlorine will react with PHMB and cause a yellowish vapor that will radiate from your bathing suit, a cool special effect you may want to avoid.  Click here for more.

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