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Thread: Best alternative to chlorine

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    Best alternative to chlorine

    I'm searching for the best alternative to chlorine for an indoor pool. We just moved to a home with one and would like to switch to a non- or low-chlorine system due to the health issues related to chlorine (also I think I'm particularly sensitive to the chlorine smell). My husband just purchased E-Z Pool online, but I have read that copper sulfate shouldn't be used in a pool. Does anyone have information on this product: pros and cons? I would like to have a saltwater pool if possible, but I don't know if we would be able to do everything that is involved since we are renting the home.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    SW Indiana

    Re: Best alternative to chlorine

    If you can smell the chlorine, you have a chemistry problem. The "chlorine smell" is actually chloramines, and indicates the need for more chlorine. Most of the problems people have with chlorine isn't the chlorine at all. Get a good test kit, either the Taylor K-2006 or the TF-100 at

    A salt water pool generates chlorine in the water, so the only difference is the "dispensing" method.

    Copper sulfate is an excellent algaecide, but does little to control bacteria and viruses. In an indoor pool, you won't have algae nearly like an outdoor pool because of the lack of sunlight. Copper in the water can turn blond hair and fingernails green, and can deposit on pool surfaces.
    TFP Moderator
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    In the Industry

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Knippa, Texas

    Re: Best alternative to chlorine

    I'd suggest you spend some time reading in this forum, especially the "Pool School" area.

    Many people who THINK they have a problem with chlorine actually do NOT; it may be you have a sensitivity to by-products of poorly-maintained chlorine pools. A well-maintained chlorine pool does not have any strong odor of chlorine.

    Of course it is entirely possible that the chlorine IS your problem; true chlorine allergy/sensitivity is rare but does exist. If that is the case, bromine would be a viable option for your pool. It's more expensive than chlorine and doesn't come in a liquid form; also it can't be stabilized against sunlight. However, with an indoor pool that's not a problem.

    Stay away from biguanide (marketed as Baquacil or Soft Swim). See the Baquacil use and conversion topic if you need convincing!

    A "saltwater pool" is actually a chlorine pool. I don't know a lot about SWG's, just that they contain a cell that converts salt (sodium chloride) to chlorine. Very nice in the automation capability; doesn't add any unneeded stabilizer. BUT as you mentioned, it would mean an addition/alteration to the pool equipment. Perhaps you could talk your landlord into installing one by presenting your research with persuasive arguments about the SWG's advantages. . .

    Definitely do not add any copper to your pool! That can cause staining of pool surfaces and swimmers' hair. Chlorine is not the culprit in the "green hair" cases--it's copper!

    Welcome and good luck with your pool!

    My pool: INDOOR 13x27 rectangular fiberglass, built ~2001, BBB, TA-60 sand filter, Hayward two speed pump (1 hp/0.33 hp), 3/4 hp booster pump for solar heater
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    In the Industry

    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Re: Best alternative to chlorine

    Chlorine is a very good choice for an indoor pool. The objectionable smell does not come from free chlorine. It comes from insufficient levels of chlorine combining with various swimmer wastes, like ammonia, that form chloramines.

    Any time you smell chloramines it does not mean that the chlorine is too high. It means that the levels of swimmer wastes are overpowering the chlorine to form chloramines. Swimmer wastes come from sweat, urine, body oils, lotions etc.

    When there is sufficient chlorine to oxidize all swimmer wastes there are no problems. Usually, in a private home, there are not enough swimmer waste products to cause the formation of chloramines as long as a steady level of free chlorine (Usually 1 to 3 ppm) is maintained.

    There are several things that can be done to manage chloramines in a high use situation.
    1) Use ozone with the chlorine. (Ozone must be off gassed using special equipment.)
    2) Use a non-chlorine shock.
    3) Add 48.68 grams of sodium bromide to 10,000 gallons of water to provide 1 ppm of bromide ions. This will allow part of the chlorine to be converted to bromine while still keeping part of the sanitizer as chlorine. Fully oxidized, 1 ppm of bromide ions will provide 2 ppm of Bromine (as measured). To maintain a 1 ppm level of bromide ions add 4.868 grams of sodium bromide per 1,000 gallons of fill water.

    Ideally you would want 1.0 to 2.0 ppm of bromine and 1 to 2 ppm of chlorine (a total Br + Cl level of 1 to 3 ppm) at all times. Bromine works similarly to chlorine. Bromine can form bromamines, but they are actually good sanitizers and they do not smell like chloramines.

    A good chlorine choice for an indoor pool is liquid chlorine. Liquid chlorine is 12 % sodium hypochlorite. Regular unscented Clorox bleach is exactly the same thing as liquid chlorine, only it is 6 % sodium hypochlorite instead of 12%; so you would just use twice as much. Regular unscented bleach or liquid chlorine from the pool store are very good choices for an indoor pool.

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    Re: Best alternative to chlorine

    Most of the health issues related to indoor chlorine pools are due to the volatile disinfection byproducts that can form. Bromine also has a similar problems with disinfection byproducts but does not have the chloramine problem (bromamines are effective santizers but do impart a 'fishy' smell that can be removed by shocking).
    There are only 3 EPA approved sanitizers: Chlorine, Bromine, and Biguanide (Baqua, SoftSwim, etc.) so the best solution would be to make sure you have an excellent air handling system in your indoor pool area and avoid biguanide UNLESS you are TRULY allergic to halogens (rare but it happens). The air handling system is one area NOT to cut costs on.

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    cubbybeave08's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Northwest Indiana

    Re: Best alternative to chlorine


    These people know what they are talking about...I am brand new pool owner this summer and knew nothing about pools. Go to Pool on the forum...Everything you even wanted or needed to know about caring for a pool is there...Honestly...Chlorine IMHO is the best sanitizer and all you will ever need...Unless of course you are allergic to it. You should not have any problem with Chlorine smell ever if you test daily, and keep Chlorine at the appropriate level. My biggest problem this year with my pool was finding enough time to enjoy the Crystal Clear Water of my brand new pool... My 10 year old daughter cried the day I put the winter cover on. She can't wait til spring!!! Just in case I haven't said it enough, the folks here at TFP are the best...they know what they are talking about...I stand outside my pool store and ask people what did you spend all that money on pool chemicals for? Well I have this or that...I tell them next time go to and you won't spend hundreds of $$$$ on chemicals...I spent hundreds of $$$ this summer at the poolstore...And it was not on chemicals...It was on toys, and accessories...I can't wait til I open my pool!!!
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    In the Industry

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Re: Best alternative to chlorine

    I think you have gotten some great advice here. If I were you I would try using chlorine as directed by this forum and if you are uncomforable with your results after maintaining a perfectly balanced pool for a few months, then talk about alternatives. The customer satisfaction rate with chlorine alternatives is very low.
    Involved in the pool and spa industry
    Pittsburgh, PA

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