Recreational water illnesses that can be contracted by exposure to unclean pool water include diarrhea, swimmer’s ear and various skin infections. It goes without saying that pool water must be sanitized to help control germs. When pools are properly maintained through chemical treatment and filtration, you and your family are protected against any substance that can reduce water quality and make you sick.
Chlorine is, by far, the most common way to sanitize your swimming pool, but it’s not the only method and you may be wondering if your swimming pool can be sanitized without the use of chemicals.
Common Pool Sanitizers
Common pool sanitizers include:
- Stabilized chlorine
- Unstabilized chlorine
- Halohydantoins and sodium bromide
- Copper and silver ions
- UV light
You can sanitize a pool by adding chemicals or by subjecting pool water to ultra-violet light (UV). UV systems work by circulating pool water past UV lamps where the germs are destroyed, but there is a lag time between the time in which germs are added to the pool and the time they will be exposed to the UV light.
Salt Water Pools
In salt water pools, chlorine is released by applying electricity to salt. The water in a pool sanitized using salt will feel “silky” because of the presence of sodium in the water.
Chlorine and Bromine
Chlorine or bromine-based sanitizers must be used with UV light, which is effective against germs, including chlorine-resistant parasites, but it must be used with chlorine or bromine for lasting protection.
Copper and Silver Ions
Copper and silver ions work cooperatively with chlorine to enhance the destruction of germs but, on their own, copper and silver ions are slow acting and don’t provide a reliable lasting effect.
All of the above sanitizers destroy germs, but only chlorine- and bromine-based sanitizers have the ability to last, providing a reliable, fast-acting residual that results in a continuous effective germ control that endures past the time of application. That’s very important, as the swimmers themselves bring an unpredictable amount of germs and impurities, such as deodorants and body oils, with them into the water.
That’s why alternative pool sanitizers like ozone, metal ions (minerals) and UV still need a secondary degree of protection, most often chlorine-based sanitizers.
All of that means that, in order to maintain a healthy environment for swimming, your pool can’t go completely chemical-treatment free.