Water treatment for swimming pools, for the most part, has historically been dependent on the use of chlorine. Since chlorine was first used in U.S. pools in around 1930, it has been the sanitizer of choice for most pools. Chlorine has been marketed in many forms for the pool industry—gas, liquid, tablets, sticks, and granular.
Over the past 20 to 25 years the pool industry has been looking for alternatives to chlorine. It is our opinion that in the majority of pools, chlorine is still the most cost effective sanitizer, but other sanitizers are coming on strong.
Saltwater Chlorine Generators have become very popular in recent years due to their effectiveness. This method is based on electrolysis breaking apart salt compounds and forming active chlorine molecules. It is a system that produces chlorine from a small amount of salt that is added to your pool water. The chlorine that is generated then converts back to salt to be used over and over again. This salt is added initially and then occasionally on a maintenance basis to form the chlorine.
Biquanide, available in Baquacil, Softswim, as well as other brands, is a commonly used alternative to chlorine. The product is a disinfectant that destroys bacterial cell membranes, and depends heavily on the filter to maintain a clear pool. This product can be effective in the right situation but is slightly more expensive than chlorine.
Mineralization is another method that has come on strong in the last few years, although it only lessens the amount of chlorine needed instead of replacing chlorine. The most popular brand is Nature II. The product is usually a plastic container of silver and copper ions, which inhibit algae growth and attacks bacteria.
Ozone began being marketed as a pool sanitizer in the mid-1970’s. It was originally promoted by manufacturers as a stand-alone sanitizer, but it was soon determined that in warmer climates an additional sanitizer must be used. Proponents of ozone pool water treatment have been persistent, and as long as it is used in conjunction with chlorine, it is an effective way of sanitizing pools.
There will continually be new products that claim to be the new product that will replace chlorine as the number one sanitizer. Simplicity is the key word in trying to determine what the product to replace chlorine will be—pool companies require it and pool owner’s demand it. Manufacturers are continually striving for it and the one that does it will hit the jackpot if they can ever find the water treatment product that is simple and cost-effective.