A Chlorine Free Pool ~ is it possible?


by Rob Cox, June 02, 2010

A Chlorine Free Pool ~ is it possible?

Many of our customers have asked - " How can I operate my swimming pool without using Chlorine?" Those that pose the question have some concerns with the environmental effects of Chlorine production, which produces harsh by-products in the manufacture of Chlorine compounds as well as the waste produced in the packaging, transport and storage of Chlorine tablets and other forms of this very effective sanitizing chemical.

To play the advocate of the devil - without Chlorine in our daily lives, the impact of Cholera and Dysentery and other bacteria borne illnesses would rob our planet of an estimated 500,000 lives annually. Chlorine can be said to be one of the greatest inventions of the twentieth century. It has allowed us potable drinking water -and- fresh swimming pool water.

But Chlorine does have it's downside. Chlorine is a highly reactive and dangerous chemical. Without proper handling and storage - it can quickly overcome even the strongest of individuals. I have a story of my pool service truck catching fire because of an accidental mixture of granular Chlorine and Poly 60 algaecide. It took only drops of a foreign substance to cause a 100 lb drum of Calcium Hypochlorite to turn into a raging inferno.

And who can forget the Bio-Lab fire of the early 90's? The entire chemical plant burned to the ground in a matter of hours, due to careless management of this extremely volatile compound. This is the primary reason that I won't allow Chorine compounds inside our warehouses.

But I digress ~ is it indeed possible to operate a swimming pool without the use of Chlorine? It is possible, but difficult. As I am known to say, if you had a filter as big as a house, you wouldn't need Chlorine at all. Or if you had a pump as big as a small car, you wouldn't need Chlorine either. This is why a rushing stream grows no algae, but a stagnant pond does. But neither is very practical. In today's swimming pools, we use a combination of Circulation, Sanitation and Filtration to keep our pool water clean and clear. If you were to eliminate one of these three, you would need to increase the other two. Likewise, if you simply poured in 5 gallons of bleach into your unfiltered and uncirculated pool every day, you can be sure that it would remain blue.

But again, I digress. How can you operate a pool without Chlorine? Is it possible? It can be done with Biguanides. These are a peroxide based sanitizer, sold under the brand names of Baquacil or SoftSwim. But these compounds have their own drawbacks and are not exactly environmentally friendly, per se. They can be troublesome to manage, and expensive to use.

If you are interested in going Chlorine-Free, here is my recipe for success.

1. Install the largest DE pool filter money can buy, and run the pump nearly 24/7. Overfiltering the water and over-circulating the water will serve to compensate for the lack of a halogen sanitizer in the pool water.

2. Install a Nature2 purifier and an Ozone purification system. These two systems, working in conjunction, will kill most contaminants that enter the pool water. Another good alternative system is the PoolNaturally system, using Sphagnum Moss as a water conditioner.

3. Use a maintenance dosage of a quality algaecide, like a Poly 60 - not a cheap 10% quaternary ammonium compound. Using an Enzyme product will also reduce the amount of organic matter in the pool that needs to be eliminated. You may also find useful a natural clarifier like Sea-Klear to bind together suspended materials for easier filtering.

4. Shock the pool every other week with a non-chlorine shock compound like Potassium-Oxymonopersulfate.

Another option to reduce your use of manufactured Chlorine is to install a Salt Water Chlorine Generator. You are still using Chlorine, but you are making it yourself, and reducing the demand for manufactured chlorine. This method is simpler to be sure, but if you are really interested in going completely Chlorine-Free, following the recommendations above will get you as close to Chlorine-Free as you can be.

You could also just let it go natural, baby! Just let the algae grow, put in some plants, and get over the idea that pools need to be blue! Not very palatable for most pool owners, but for some pool owners who want to create a natural swimming pool, this can be a viable alternative.

So, yes, it is possible to operate a swimming pool without Chlorine (unless you operate a public pool ~ the Health Dept. will frown upon your endeavors). It is not without cost or extra effort, but it can be done!