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Thread: Copper and Boron, oh my!

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    Copper and Boron, oh my!

    ((The following is an excerpt from some PMs between Teapot and myself which ran from 8/14 to 8/16. I quickly found myself in WAY over my head, and asked teapot if I could move this info here for further examination by others. I have not had the time to paste all the PM's together until now.))

    This began as a PM in response to a remark teapot made about FPM's Frog experience

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mermaid Queen
    ...I think FPM would agree that she lacked knowledge about her pool, but you [seem to be] implying that there is nothing wrong with the Frog system.

    And BTW, copper IS forever, unless you drain your pool.
    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    yes FPM may agree she lacked the knowledge at the time, however that point has Never been put over until now. To FPM's credit she has gone on to explain the situation so that others may learn by it.

    Just like the Nature 2 the frog seems to be pretty useless at allowing the owner to regulate the copper which is absolutely paramount in this type of setup.

    I would like to know why you consider copper to be forever as I have to run my ioniser for a few hours each day to top up the copper level which gets depleted as any other chemical does fighting algae and bacteria. It may stick around longer than chlorine but forever is a long time.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Mermaid Queen
    My comment about copper: Metals, like salt, are not used up, nor do they evaporate or break down in the sunlight. Hence metals are always in the water. But the water is not always in the pool. Your copper levels fluctuate because you are losing water (and subsequently copper) through splashout or backwashing.

    I am glad you have a way to properly maintain your water sanitation. However, most folks here are looking to ditch the ionizers/N2/Frogs, because a) they have to add chlorine anyway, b) they eventually have trouble that the tabs and ionizers cannot fix (and many times they have caused), and c) the replacement cartridges are very pricey and they are looking for a cheaper way....
    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    Thanks TMQ,

    I can't disagree over the price of those units, way too high.

    Salt goes through a conversion process and is different chemistry.

    Here is a paragraph I er' borrowed from Lentech.

    How effective is copper-silver ionization?

    Copper-silver ionization can deactivate Legionella bacteria and other microorganisms in slow-running water and still water. Legionella bacteria are very susceptive to copper-silver ionization. Copper-silver ionization also takes care of bio film. Copper remains within the bio film, causing a residual effect.
    It appears that copper-silver ionization additon causes the number of Legionella bacteria to diminish. After a short period of time, however, the number of Legionella bacteria will rise again because they can also be found in the bio film. Copper that stays behind in the bio film takes care of these bacteria. When copper and silver ions are added to water constantly, the concentration of Legionella bacteria remains low.
    The deactivation rate of copper-silver ionization is lower than that of ozone or UV. A benefit of copper-silver ionization is that ions remain in the water for a long period of time. This causes long-term disinfection and protection from recomtamination. Copper and silver ions remain in the water untill they precipitate or absorb to bacteria or algae, and are removed from water by filtration after that.

    Once they are absorbed into bacteria and algae they are removed by the oxidiser and filtration.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Mermaid Queen
    Ok, I am admittedly way over my head here... I use chlorine exclusively and always will, and truly know very little about ionizers except what I have heard.

    May I move parts of these posts to "The Deep End" for further consideration by others? While we will probably continue to recommend chlorine only for sanitizing, it is always nice to have intelligent discussion of various other products available.
    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    It would probably be quicker to post it in "Agree to disagree" as I think that's where it will end up.
    I use chlorine too don't forget and I think on balance, reading some of the posts the KISS principle of BBB are great to straighten people out and give them a level of knowledge.

    I wonder what would happen if people found out that borates (boron) is a metal too? the good news is it doesn't seem to have the staining issues of copper....

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mermaid Queen
    You have some very good points, especially about boron being a metal... is it actually boron that is in borax? I don't know!

    I will move the pertinent parts of this discussion to the deep end....

    And while we are usually quick to jump on folks that use ionizers, it is always good to hear from folks that use them with positive results, so that we can all discuss benefits and drawbacks of all systems. Knowledge is power!

    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    Hi TMQ,
    A brief description borrowed from Wiki

    8200 gallon 20' x 48" round vinyl frame pool, manually chlorinated with 10% liquid, salt added to ~2000, 12" sand filter, 1600gph pump, TF100 test kit
    Handy Links: PoolMath, TF-100 Test Kit, Pool School, Chlorine/CYA Chart
    "Shock" is a process, not a product!

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    spishex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Hillsborough, NC

    Re: Copper and Boron, oh my!

    I wonder what would happen if people found out that borates (boron) is a metal too? the good news is it doesn't seem to have the staining issues of copper....
    Scientists everywhere would have to change their periodic tables. Because it's not.

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    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    San Rafael, CA USA

    Re: Copper and Boron, oh my!

    Boron is technically a semi-metal, but that's really not relevant. If the metal doesn't form compounds that stain (such as oxides/hydroxides or carbonates) or scale (calcium carbonate), then whether or not it's a metal doesn't really matter.

    As was noted, copper ions do not go away except from dilution (of from precipitation/staining). If there is an algae bloom, then copper taken up in algae could get caught along with that algae in the filter. So in general, one would not expect the copper level to drop much faster than other water parameters such as salt or borates (if used).

    In this post I give some references to copper kill times. Though it is true that Legionella pneumophila is slow-to-kill with chlorine, it is also slow-to-kill with copper such that they are roughly comparable unless the copper level is higher. For most pathogens, including the more common fecal bacteria, chlorine (even with CYA) kills much faster than copper. Copper isn't very good at inactivating viruses. Basically, copper is best, in practical terms for pools, at preventing algae growth, but requires levels that make staining a risk unless you make sure your pH and copper levels don't get too high.

    As for biofilms, it seems to be a mixed bag. As noted in this link, biofilms have been looked at as copper ion filters to remove copper from wastewater. This link describes how a combination of copper with a linear quat can kill bacteria in biofilms. However, the study was using concentrations of 8 mM Cu2+ which is 0.5 ppm for the fastest kills, though the lowest concentration tested, 1 mM Cu2+ which is 0.06 ppm still showed some killing effect. The Polycide concentration that was comparable was 200 ppm for the former and 25 ppm for the latter. Unfortunately this study didn't give detailed kill times so really just showed a synergestic relationship between copper and QAC (linear quat algaecide).

    It should be noted, however, that if one kills bacteria quickly enough in the bulk pool water where introduced, then biofilms won't form in the first place and that is yet another reason why proper pool water chemistry should be maintained at all times.

    If copper (or silver) didn't have staining and discoloration issues, it would be a fine persistent preventative and aid to keeping water more sanitary in conjunction with chlorine, but unfortunately it does have these side effects which make it risky to use. PolyQuat doesn't have such side effects (not even foaming as linear quats) so is one of only two supplements recommended on this forum, the other being borates whose only downside appears to be ingestion by dogs drinking cups of water every day from the pool. These supplements are optional, but if someone wants additional protection, then these are the ones with the least side effects.

    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    In the Industry

    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    London and France

    Re: Copper and Boron, oh my!

    Quote Originally Posted by spishex
    I wonder what would happen if people found out that borates (boron) is a metal too? the good news is it doesn't seem to have the staining issues of copper....
    Scientists everywhere would have to change their periodic tables. Because it's not.

    True Richard I was playing devils advocate about the metal, an in jest quote to TMQ via a PM, as you say as long as it doesn't stain then its good. Otherwise we could have serious problems with sodium

    I also have silver in the mix which is far better at dealing with bacteria and biofilm (and I don't mean in isolation, synergistically) but as stated staining could be an issue.

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