Biguanide based sanitizers (such as Baquacil or SoftSwim) are a relatively new system of pool chemicals, which has been becoming more popular in the last few years. The main reason the pool chemicals are growing in popularity is because they have almost no affect on swimmers. Chlorine can irritate swimmer's eyes and skin, and many people have developed allergies to chlorine-based sanitizers. Follow this link to purchase chlorine free pool chemicals from our preferred online pool supply retailer. Biguanide sanitizers are much softer on swimmers and can effectively kill bacteria, however Biguanides cannot oxidize and destroy harmful organic contamination the way that chlorine does. In addition to the Biguanide based sanitizer, a highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide solution must be added on a regular basis to remove the harmful organics. This hydrogen peroxide solution is actually more dangerous than any form of chlorine, and because it is a liquid there may be a higher potential for accidents.
Because Biguanide based sanitizers cannot control organic contamination, microorganisms growing in the pool water will eventually become resistant to the chemicals. Like an evolving virus, these organisms become immune to the Biguanides and grow in pool water as an ugly slime or water mold. This slime can only be killed with a strong dose of chlorine-based pool shock. When chlorine is added to a pool using the Biguanide chemical system the chlorine will oxidize any harmful organics in the water, but chlorine will also destroy the Biguanide sanitizer in the water. This results in very cloudy water and terrible water conditions lasting for days or weeks. It is suggested that once you use the chlorine, you should continue adding chlorine rather than going back to the Biguanide system because the organic contamination may quickly grow back.
Another way to significantly reduce the amount of chlorine needed in a pool is through the use of an Ionizer, or an Ozonator (or both!). An Ionizer releases copper & silver ions into pool water, similar to a mineral purifier. Rather than using the circulating pool water to erode the copper & silver, an Ionizer uses a small current of electricity passed between copper & silver electrodes to release the minerals into the water. The suggested amount of chlorine used with an Ionizer seems to vary (or isn’t given) from one Ionizer manufacturer to another, but 1 ppm would be best. As with a mineral purifier, shock will still need to be added to a swimming pool to oxidize and remove the contaminants.
An Ozonator is an excellent concept, however Ozonators are most commonly found on spas/hot tubs and in larger commercial applications. There are two different kinds of Ozonator designs on the market today, using either UV or Corona discharge to convert oxygen in the air into ozone. UV Ozonators pass air over a UV bulb to generate ozone. Corona discharge Ozonators use an electric spark to produce ozone, and are capable of producing much larger quantities of ozone. Ozone is a form of oxygen with strong oxidizing properties. The oxidizing properties are harnessed to burn up bacteria and organic contaminants in pool water. Ozone does not build up a residual in pool water, and is only actually working to clean the water while the unit is turned on & pool water is flowing through the circulation system. Because Ozonators stop working as soon as the filtration system is shut down, chlorine or another sanitizer is still required in the pool water at all times. Because and Ozonator performs the same function as pool shock (oxidizes contaminants in pool water), an Ozonator can almost completely eliminate the need to “shock” a pool.
Although it is not suggested that chlorine be completely eliminated from a pool (unless necessary, due to severe allergies) there are many products on the market that can be added to a sanitizing system to very significantly reduce the amount of chlorine that needs to be added to pool water. One such product is a mineral purifier. A widely recognized mineral purifier is the Nature2 system. When chlorine is the only sanitizer being used, the chlorine level of a swimming pool must be maintained between 1-3 ppm to keep the water free of bacteria and other contaminants. The Nature2 mineral purifier has recently been qualified by the EPA as a pool sanitizer, when used with only 0.5 ppm of chlorine. The difference between 0.5 ppm of chlorine in the water & 2-3 ppm makes a huge difference to swimmers with chlorine allergies or sensitive skin.
Mineral purifiers work to sanitize pool water by slowly releasing small amounts of copper and silver into the water. The copper works to destroy algae and other organics (in the same way most liquid “algaecides” work), and the silver released into the water kills any bacteria that may be present. Most mineral purifiers are easily plumbed in-line in the existing pool filter system, using easy to replace cartridges, which last (on average) one year. Much less chlorine is required (resulting in lower pool maintenance costs), however chlorine shock will still need to be added. The copper & silver released by a mineral purifier will work to kill algae and bacteria, but these minerals cannot oxidize and remove the dead contaminants. Shocking will be required on a regular basis, but less frequently, and should still be added any time the pool water is cloudy, dull or if there is algae present.