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Thread: Ionisers vs Chlorine

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    Angry Ionisers vs Chlorine

    Hi - I am new to this forum. I live in Sydney Australia. I have been following the conversations along this topic for a good reason. I have been moved to post this as my family & I have moved into a newly built 'eco' community of approx 20 homes of varying sizes & types. The developer is a part time developer, part time 'greenie' but unfortunately has a passion for anything that doesn't use 'chemicals'. As part of the community facilities we are to have a pool built which is currently in 'construction' - fibreglass 11.8 m x 4m x 1.2-1.9 deep. He has selected an 'Enviroswim' ES3 Ioniser System as a sanitiser & combined with a basic cartridge filter. My fear is I can't find any believable scientific or practical evident to support the efficacy of this system used on its own without chlorine. None of the State Governments here support this system. In fact they see it at best as an algaecide only used in conjunction with chlorine. Unfortunately like the US the governments have no jurisdiction over private pools. He has quoted a test carried out by a NATA accredited laboratory in northern NSW but it seems to have some large 'gaps' & inconsistencies aside from the fact that it was commissioned by the manufacturer of the ES3. I would like some feed back if possible if for no other reason than just a sanity check as I have been attempting to highlight the shortcomings in his selection to our community to no avail. I do fear that the proposed pool will not be safe for my family & I to swim in with this system. Thanks for any feedback or assistance.

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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    You are correct. Ionizers are pretty much a waste of money and for your pool to be really safe, you will have to have chlorine.

    "Green" folks hate to hear that and often won't listen but it is the truth.

    Search this website and you will find hundreds of posts on this subject.
    Dave S.
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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    Actually in the U.S. the government doesn't have jurisdiction over private pools. It's similar to the difference between commercial kitchens and private ones. Where the government comes into play is with the EPA where there are rules for labeling of pesticides. The copper ion products cannot claim to kill public health bacteria or to disinfect.

    For a LOT of detail on Enviroswim, see the thread Fresh water pool? where you will note in particular that 1) the Enviroswim ES-3 is not listed in the Pubcris database of the APVMA and 2) the Enviroswim ES-1 is listed here as a "POOL ALGICIDE", NOT as a disinfectant and their use label is shown here and again requires the use of a sanitiser (i.e. chlorine).

    The good news about the system is that it uses both copper and silver ions because copper alone does not kill fecal bacteria (aka "public health bacteria), but even with silver the kill times are slow as shown in great detail in this post. The kill times may be fast enough to prevent uncontrolled bacterial growth, but not killing viruses nor protozoa (or their cysts) and in any event not fast enough to prevent person-to-person transmission of disease. This is why such products are not allowed without a registered disinfectant in any commercial/public swimming pool in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and many countries in Europe.

    It is one thing to use such alternative systems in a private pool since the risks are lower since you generally are swimming mostly with your family, but for a community center pool such as yours, one sick person can infect dozens of others. This risk is not just theoretical, but real as noted in numerous Morbidity and Mortality Reports from the CDC listed in the link Surveillance Reports for Recreational Water-associated Disease & Outbreaks.
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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    Welcome Shyn, hope you enjoy the forum.

    Do you mean to say that the developer will give you difficulty about using Chlorine in the new pool? You are right to be skeptical about that proposal. I certainly would not trust my family, or friends health to any such system.
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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    The developer has complete say & control over the installation. I get the feeling it is more for show than safe swimming as he invites other 'eco' communities to inspect our community facilities. 'Chemical free' pool is apparently a good 'eco' measure!! I have attempted to present to the community all the great material from all the very responses on this forum however no action to date. I will keep trying - thanks to all for your advice & support.

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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    My wife is very "Eco". I am too, but not quite as much as her. The pool is a funny thing. Almost like she doesn't want to admit that there is chlorine in it. My plant makes chlorine, and she understands the dangers of it, so it's a real wrestle for her to have something so dangerous protecting our family in our pool. Ultimately all the other stuff is snake oil. Chlorine is what you need to use.


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    Angry Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    Quote Originally Posted by Shyn1010 View Post
    The developer has complete say & control over the installation. I get the feeling it is more for show than safe swimming as he invites other 'eco' communities to inspect our community facilities. 'Chemical free' pool is apparently a good 'eco' measure!! I have attempted to present to the community all the great material from all the very responses on this forum however no action to date. I will keep trying - thanks to all for your advice & support.
    The developer submitted as evidence of the ioniser's effectiveness a couple of laboratory test reports not surprisingly commissioned by Enviroswim & carried 2001 & 2004. They compared the ioniser to chlorine. They in fact only indicated that this system has some effect in killing micro-organisms however the results for chlorine were ok also. I spoke to the person at the lab who carried out the tests - yes he can still remember that far back !! - who confirmed this. I questioned him re the test procedure & he advised the test were done with ES1 which requires addition of chlorine not the current ES3 model. He also added that the ES1 system appeared to produce chlorine - levels not specified. I said this may be an electrolytic effect of breaking down the minerals in the water used by the electrodes & that it would be location specific dependant on the type & ratio of mineral salts in the municipal water supply in that region. I still haven't found ANY hard data or evidence to support this ES3 system's effectiveness in swimming pool sanitiser applications.

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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    Quote Originally Posted by Shyn1010 View Post
    I still haven't found ANY hard data or evidence to support this ES3 system's effectiveness in swimming pool sanitizer applications.
    And I doubt you will
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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    For people who won't listed to reason it takes someone getting sick and starting or threatening to start legal action to pull their head out of their rear. It's sad but true.
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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    Quote Originally Posted by Shyn1010 View Post
    He also added that the ES1 system appeared to produce chlorine - levels not specified. I said this may be an electrolytic effect of breaking down the minerals in the water used by the electrodes & that it would be location specific dependant on the type & ratio of mineral salts in the municipal water supply in that region.
    The link I gave to you earlier has an explanation for this in this post. At not too low salt levels (Watertech recommends 1000 ppm) the electrolytic generator that mostly produces oxygen gas (and hydrogen gas) does produce a small amount of chlorine, but the way the lab did the ES-3 test in a relatively small volume of spa water (and with 500 ppm TDS) it's enough for chlorine to be present during the test. That is not, however, the same sizing of the system for a pool where the relative chlorine amount would be much lower and where there is also chlorine loss from sunlight.
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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    Well the day came when the pool was filled with water & 'handed over' to the developer with a demonstration of maintenance of the pool, cartridge filter & the ionizer/'sanitizer'.
    Prior to this I witnessed the pool guy dumping bags of pool salt into the skimmer box - may be 2 bags of 20 kilograms each. I questioned the reason for this to him during the the handover demo.
    He advised quite openly that the ionizer produces free chlorine. I asked what level of chlorine he would expect to be in the pool at optimum condition. He answered without any hesitation, "3 ppm" !! I was totally astonished !!
    So in fact this wonderful new technology 'ionizer' unit was merely a salt chlorination system in disguise. I guess on one hand I am relieved if this is the case that a more proven primary sanitizer is being used in our pool.
    BUT I am not convinced it will maintain a safe consistent 3 ppm with heavy bio-loads in high traffic periods at those parts of the pool furthest from the inflow point to the pool from the pump/sanitizer. This is supposedly the ES3 Enviroswim System we have installed.
    I would be interested if anyone has had a similar experience.

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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    Your pool is roughly 73,000 liters so 40 kilograms of sodium chloride salt in it would be around 550 mg/L so not that much -- not even the 1000 ppm Watertech recommends. I would be surprised that a saltwater chlorine generator would be able to generate sufficient chlorine with only 1000 ppm salt. Let us know what you find out with your testing for Free Chlorine (FC).
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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    With 20 households (and friends) sharing the pool it's hard to believe the system would maintain a constant anything. If you were curious enough it would be interesting to see what hourly FC levels you come up with starting in the morning with no bathers and through a hot weekend day where there are a lot of people in there. I'd buy a cheap kit and test it yourself before letting my family in as I'm just guessing it's going to be dropping to zero FC when you get a number of people in there. You never know if the other 19 households of people are going to shower before jumping in, get out to pee and then there are the guests and there are accidents too.
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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    Our Pool has had an extensive work out over the Christmas/New Year period with many bodies (not my family's) & with air temps max around 35 deg C. I purchased a Hach Test Kit & used my conductivity meter to measure salt levels. Free Cl2 is < 0.5 ppm at the end of the day. Conductivity is 2900 u/S (1700 ppm), pH is 7.8-8.0, T/Alk is 180 ppm, Total Hardness is 100ppm. Pool water temp would be approx 23-25 deg C. These samples were taken at the most optimum location in favour of the ES3, i.e at the outlet end. I think we have some work to do to get the Community to recognise the potential problem. I didn't have the test equipment to measure silver & copper but I don't think that is a high priority compared to the very low levels of a genuine oxidiser in the pool. Let me know your thoughts - although I think I can already guess !!

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    Re: Ionisers vs Chlorine

    The effectiveness of any of the FC you have is directly related to CYA level. Did you measure that?
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