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Thread: Barley Straw in a pool?

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    Barley Straw in a pool?

    After reading countless articles on algae control, I have come across several POND based solutions that mention using Barley straw to control algae in ponds. I am curious if this would work at all in a pool. Normally one would think putting anything organic in a pool would lead to a serious algae problem but Barley Straw actually inhibits algae growth so it would seem to be safe in that regard. Im curious though if the chlorine and other chemicals would render the straw useless or if some other sort of problem might develop. Little bits of straw wouldnt be a problem with a tightly packed bale and would just add a few straws here and there which the skimmer would pick up. Has anyone ever tried anything like this in a pool? I may try this next year myself if noone seems to have any input explaining why it could be a bad thing to do.
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Barley Straw in a pool?

    Aside from being a mess in the water, it is unnecessary. If the pool is sanitized properly, you won't get algae. If you get algae, it is a sign that you aren't properly sanitizing the pool, and you have a pool that is unsafe for swimmers.
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    Re: Barley Straw in a pool?

    Its more for the before / after swimming period and during closing. While the pool is open obviously there is no algae due to the chemicals being in proper balance. I am referring to times such as right now mid-fall where it is too cold to swim yet the water temp is not yet consistently below 62* to inhibit algae growth. It is too early to close without it turning green before winter yet it is too cold and no one will be swimming in it anymore this year. The mess wouldn't be much of a problem. A tightly packed bale would only shed small amounts initially which this time of year would pale in comparison to the number of leaves the skimmers are already dealing with. Also I'm thinking if a pool is closed with a bale in it, it would hold off algae growth throughout the early summer prior to opening. Which generally by the time it is consistently warm enough to open (mid-may) it has usually gone green for about a month due to temps being within algae tolerance but still too cold to fully open.

    Admittedly this could mask problems in the open season but i have an automated chlorinator that keeps my chems balanced just fine. I probably should have mentioned that in the OP. Algae isn't a problem when its open season. The straw is for keeping algae in check during the off season when the pumps are offline and it is essentially a pond. The only problems I can think of is some loose straw initially (not a problem skimmers will catch it). Or some sort of other organic problem besides algae that I am overlooking.

    Perhaps not setting the bale directly on the pool floor surface and on some sort of mat may be necessary? I would think that organics may eat through the lining or most probably leave a stain. Organic solutions to everyday problems is en vogue at the moment. I have a feeling noone has tried this yet. Unless I get a compelling reason not to I will probably do it anyway and report on my results.
    18,800 Gal In-ground Pool (Made in '94)
    Plaster, painted "Viking Blue", Haywood Sand Filter,
    SQ1152 Square flange pool filter motor 1.5 hp.

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    Re: Barley Straw in a pool?

    This paper says that barley straw decomposes releasing chemicals that inhibit algae growth. The first problem for pool use is that decomposition and as the paper notes that means bacterial growth and such bacteria could readily break down Cyanuric Acid into ammonia which could create a huge chlorine demand. Also note that the soluble compounds in the straw give the water a brown color. They note that the decomposition results in a mixture of fulvic and humic acids which are chemicals that chlorine will react with upon spring opening and tend to produce a lot of trihalomethanes (THMs). Some of the fulvic and humic acids when exposed to sunshine form hydrogen peroxide and it is thought that this inhibits the algae growth.

    The bottom line problem with this method for pools is that while it might prevent algae growth, you'll likely end up with a huge chlorine demand upon opening. That's not a whole lot different than opening up to algae, except that the chlorine demand will be from the barley straw decomposition products and possibly from ammonia from the breakdown of CYA.

    It would seem far easier to just close late with cold water temperature, add Polyquat 60 and chlorine, and open early when the water was still cold.
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    Re: Barley Straw in a pool?

    It would probably only work well in a "natural" pool

    http://inspirationgreen.com/natural-poo ... ponds.html
    -Kevin
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    Re: Barley Straw in a pool?

    Hmm, Yeah this is a "compelling reason not to" I was looking for. That paper is very informative chem geek! Thanks! I knew there had to be some other organic issue aside from algae. I am not too familliar with THMs and what problems that may cause. I will have to check in to that. I do however have a serious problem with high CYA by the end of the swimming season due to using tri-chlor tabs so the hay may even kill two birds with one stone by killing my CYA and Algae but also causing a few other issues as you noted. That I would have the same chlorine load at open is not too discouraging if it means I can shut off my pumps and close it with a straw bale a month or so early before normal closing. Any further input is greatly appreciated. If I do go through with it I will report my success/failure. Still on the fence though I may just do it anyway... FOR SCIENCE!
    18,800 Gal In-ground Pool (Made in '94)
    Plaster, painted "Viking Blue", Haywood Sand Filter,
    SQ1152 Square flange pool filter motor 1.5 hp.

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    Re: Barley Straw in a pool?

    It sounds like you are trying to prevent/cure one problem, by adding more problems. When instead, you should look at dealing with the source of the initial problem and eradicating it at the root.

    IE. Stop using pucks and switch to liquid CL.
    I can't imagine all of the potential chemical balance problems that would occur from using a straw bale, not to mention rotting your liner/pool surface, spacer or no.

    Quote Originally Posted by X-PertPool
    It would probably only work well in a "natural" pool

    http://inspirationgreen.com/natural-poo ... ponds.html
    COOOOLLLLLL!!!!!! But they're still green, clear-ish, but green. Which means they do have algae in them.
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    Re: Barley Straw in a pool?

    Somebody try it and let us know how it works.
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