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Thread: Ionization alternative

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    Ionization alternative

    II've been using Clearwater's ionization system since 2006 in my 20x40 vinyl pool. I find it to be far superior to chlorine economically and functionally. Anyone with questions can ask away. I would never switch back. The only downside is you have to learn about it yourself. I haven't found a pool store around Long Island that knows anything about them. Not a real big problem though because they are easy to maintain and operate.

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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Welcome to the forum.

    We don't advocate this type of treatment for pools because it does not address pathogens in the bulk water. It is not a viable or safe alrernative to a properly chlorinated pool. Relying on such equipment leaves bathers suceptible to infection from pathogens that might never make it through the ion chamber. If it works for you in your pool that's great, but we cannot endorse it because of my stated reasons. Personally, I would never swim in a pool that was not properly sanitized or disinfected.
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Welcome to TFP!

    The real downside is that they are unsafe and can't legally be marketed as an alternative to chlorine. You are using an algaecide to keep your water clear without a sanitizer to keep it safe.

    Remember: If it doesn't have an EPA pesticide number, it's not a sanitizer.
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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Not to mention that your water will become loaded up with Cu, Ag and Zn metal ions in solution that can potentially scale and stain your liner. The only way around that is to either use LOTS of sequestrant to keep the metals in check or to do frequent water exchanges. My family is from that area of Long Island and I know the swim season there is short so partial draining and refilling every season is a way of life. Many pool owners live in areas of the country where water is expensive and you can't just dump your pool every time you need to bring you metal levels down.

    Thanks but no thanks. I'll stick with chlorine and keep my pool sparkling and sanitary.

    From their Sales Literature -

    HOW ECONOMICAL IS THE CAREFREE CLEARWATER SYSTEM?
    It actually saves you money. It operates on less than a penny a day electricity. And the savings continue as long as you own your pool. When you consider your high level chemical costs (chlorine, bromine or polymeric biguanide, stabilizers, algicides and clarifiers) and your indirect costs (premature aging of the pool equipment and pool surfaces a new liner or replastering; bleached swim wear and destruction of plants, your skin, eyes and hair etc.), it pays for itself quickly and from there on it saves you thousands.
    There is so much wrong with those statements, but where to start?

    First, if it costs "less than a penny a day" (depends on where you live and your electric rates) it's not "saving you money". You are spending money to run the unit. They then go on to assume that you're going to throw all those chemicals listed into your pool. Well, if you follow the TFPC Methods then the only chemicals you need on that list is chlorine and stabilizer. Neither of those are particularly expensive (except for the initial startup costs) and, if your pool uses an SWCG, you're not buying those chemicals in any large quantities. Then, they go on to claim that chlorine causes "premature aging"....um, not if you follow the TFPC Method maintain your pool water chemistry properly.

    But what I really love with all these sales documents is the fear-factor - "bleached swim wear and destruction of plants, your skin, eyes and hair etc." The only plants that you have to worry about with chlorine are grasses and few types of flowering perrenials and so if you drain pool water don't water your grass and planter boxes with it. Most chlorine will react and dissipate in the first few inches of soil. As for skin and eye, this is pure fear tactics. This POST is one of the best responses I have ever read to the fear tactic.

    As for the "thousands you will save"....well, all it takes is one algae outbreak in your mineral pool and you'll be blowing through cash on all kinds of crazy chemicals and/or dumping out your pool to fix it. At that point, all of your "savings" will evaporate.
    Matt
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    This is in the perfect forum - Agree to Disagree.

    Easy does not = safe - its that simple....
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Let me try to put all that a different way, there are multiple things that try to grow in pools, primarily those things are algae, bacteria and to a degree viruses, of the 3 only algae is visible to the human eye. Since Chlorine kills all 3 of them, we use the presence of algae as an indicator that something is wrong. Mineral / ion systems like yours do a good job at killing algae, but does little to kill the bacteria and viruses, so while algae is ugly, it is usually not the real danger in a pool, and all you have done is kill our indicator that something may be wrong, without sanitizing the pool.
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac-1 View Post
    Let me try to put all that a different way, there are multiple things that try to grow in pools, primarily those things are algae, bacteria and to a degree viruses, of the 3 only algae is visible to the human eye. Since Chlorine kills all 3 of them, we use the presence of algae as an indicator that something is wrong. Mineral / ion systems like yours do a good job at killing algae, but does little to kill the bacteria and viruses, so while algae is ugly, it is usually not the real danger in a pool, and all you have done is kill our indicator that something may be wrong, without sanitizing the pool.
    +1
    GREAT POST!

    Also, what about bather-waste, the primary component being urea from sweat? Do these ionizer-only systems then build up ammonia in the water? I don't see mineral systems providing any effective oxidation and removal of bather waste which would then require the use of a secondary oxidizer such as peroxide or MPS non-chlorine shock? That ups the cost of the mineral system as both of those are more expensive than simple chlorine bleach.
    Matt
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    My closing thought on this is of the "thousands" you will save, how much does it cost to go to the Dr for tests to treat an unknown bacterial pathogen? Lost time and wages from sickness, etc. Not to mention the possible liability of keeping an unsanitary pool. No thanks, ill keep spending "thousands" on chlorine...
    Randy H.

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    Re: Ionization alternative

    You can see comparative kill times for chlorine at a 10% FC/CYA ratio compared to copper at 0.4 ppm (400 ppb) and silver at 20 ppb in this post. The good news with the Clearwater system is that it has both copper and silver ions compared to some other systems that are copper only and do nothing to kill fecal bacteria. The bad news is that even with copper and silver the kill times are slow so do not address person-to-person transmission of disease and in particular such metal ion systems are not effective against many viruses and protozoas or their cysts.

    Copper is an algaecide so the greatest effectiveness is in preventing algae growth.

    And as was pointed out above in the previous post, you will essentially be soaking in your own sweat and urine since the Clearwater system does not provide any oxidation of bather waste. It's like taking a bath using the same water over and over again except that a pool is of course much larger so it takes longer to build up such waste. If you were to add an ozonator to the system, then that would start to approach something more reasonable as a chlorine-free disinfection/oxidation system, at least for vinyl pools, though it would still not have anywhere near the same level of protection of person-to-person transmission of disease, though that is usually less of a concern in a residential pool.

    Fortunately you have a vinyl pool since that is far less susceptible to metal staining that plagues metal ion systems. Plaster pools tend to have higher pH at the plaster surface and tend to get metal staining their. Copper and silver staining is much much harder to deal with than the more common iron stains from iron in well water.
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Wow, you folks really don't like Ionization systems. I'm not surprised. At least one of you has alluded to the fact that I might be in the business of selling these systems. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm a retired civil servant and have no interest in working for anybody or selling anything. I will state that the same could be said of you folks though. The main beneficiaries of chlorine/bromine systems are the pool stores that sell those products. Any of you own a pool store?

    I wish to clear up a few misconceptions that a few of you seem to have. OK here goes

    "If you were to add an ozonator to the system, then that would start to approach something more reasonable as a chlorine-free disinfection/oxidation system, at least for vinyl pools,"

    Of course you have to have an oxidizer. The people that sell/install them will tell you that up front. I use a 3" chlorine tab in the skimmer about once a week or so. You can use a non chlorine oxidizer like Fresh & Clear or just pour a gallon of household bleach in once a week. Probably a few other ways to do it also but the fact is you need a oxidizer.

    "Not to mention that your water will become loaded up with Cu, Ag and Zn metal ions in solution that can potentially scale and stain your liner."

    Just like chlorine based pools you have to check the water regularly. The Copper levels should be between 2 and 3 PPM. That is a very small amount and will not stain anything.

    "It is not a viable or safe alrernative to a properly chlorinated pool."

    Oh I don't know about that. Perhaps you should ask the CDC or some of these other folks that use ionization systems and seem to think they are pretty safe. YMCA facilities throughout the country, and at many major university indoor/outdoor pools, including University of Virginia, the University of Texas, Purdue University, and Wake Forest University. Decorative fountains at Disney World, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and Kellogg’s Cereal City in Battle Creek, Michigan. Oh and don't forget the guys and girls at NASA. They came up with this system so the shuttle astronauts could have good clean, safe reusable drinking water.

    Look guys, we can go back and forth about the merits of this or that system forever. The reason I came to your website was to get some info on how to clear up a cloudy pool. After reading a bit I realized that all your solutions revolved around chlorine use. When I did a search for ions I found a thread and posted on it hoping that somebody with an Ion pool would point me in the right direction. Instead I was pilloried by a few "experts" who seem to have very little knowledge of ionization systems. How about providing a section for ion pool systems? It doesn't have to bleed over to the chlorine side but you have to admit that while a lot of folks switch from chlorine to ions I've never heard of anyone switching from ions to chlorine.

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    Re: Ionization alternative



    Sitting back with popcorn eagerly waiting to watch you get your rear-end handed to you......

    But I will say this - there is a WORLD of difference between commercial, indoor swimming pools with huge bather loads and no need for stabilizer and outdoor residential pools. As well, my pool is not a decorative fountain and so none of those examples even remotely apply to residential swimming pools.

    Sorry friend. The EPA only recognizes 3 methods of sanitation for swimming pools - Chlorine, Bromine and PHMB (Baquacil). Thankfully for you, the EPA only regulates commercial swimming pools or else your "ionizer" doohickey would go straight into the trash....
    Matt
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by jimf41 View Post
    Wow, you folks really don't like Ionization systems. I'm not surprised. At least one of you has alluded to the fact that I might be in the business of selling these systems. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm a retired civil servant and have no interest in working for anybody or selling anything. I will state that the same could be said of you folks though. The main beneficiaries of chlorine/bromine systems are the pool stores that sell those products. Any of you own a pool store?

    I wish to clear up a few misconceptions that a few of you seem to have. OK here goes

    "If you were to add an ozonator to the system, then that would start to approach something more reasonable as a chlorine-free disinfection/oxidation system, at least for vinyl pools,"

    Of course you have to have an oxidizer. The people that sell/install them will tell you that up front. I use a 3" chlorine tab in the skimmer about once a week or so. You can use a non chlorine oxidizer like Fresh & Clear or just pour a gallon of household bleach in once a week. Probably a few other ways to do it also but the fact is you need a oxidizer.

    "Not to mention that your water will become loaded up with Cu, Ag and Zn metal ions in solution that can potentially scale and stain your liner."

    Just like chlorine based pools you have to check the water regularly. The Copper levels should be between 2 and 3 PPM. That is a very small amount and will not stain anything.

    "It is not a viable or safe alrernative to a properly chlorinated pool."

    Oh I don't know about that. Perhaps you should ask the CDC or some of these other folks that use ionization systems and seem to think they are pretty safe. YMCA facilities throughout the country, and at many major university indoor/outdoor pools, including University of Virginia, the University of Texas, Purdue University, and Wake Forest University. Decorative fountains at Disney World, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and Kellogg’s Cereal City in Battle Creek, Michigan. Oh and don't forget the guys and girls at NASA. They came up with this system so the shuttle astronauts could have good clean, safe reusable drinking water.

    Look guys, we can go back and forth about the merits of this or that system forever. The reason I came to your website was to get some info on how to clear up a cloudy pool. After reading a bit I realized that all your solutions revolved around chlorine use. When I did a search for ions I found a thread and posted on it hoping that somebody with an Ion pool would point me in the right direction. Instead I was pilloried by a few "experts" who seem to have very little knowledge of ionization systems. How about providing a section for ion pool systems? It doesn't have to bleed over to the chlorine side but you have to admit that while a lot of folks switch from chlorine to ions I've never heard of anyone switching from ions to chlorine.
    No EPA pesticide registration number means they are not approved for use as a sanitizer in the US, and adding a single chlorine tab a week does not change that fact. We won't provide sections for the discussion of things that are dangerous and illegal.

    You don't have to ask the CDC what they think. They've published it:

    "The scientific data available on efficacy of these systems is predominantly for bacterial inactivation
    and always includes FREE AVAILABLE CHLORINE. (their emphasis, not mine)

    There is insufficient scientific literature that documents the efficacy of these systems on viruses and parasites."
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Well, you use what ever system you want. My pool uses chlorine is is crystal clear. Yours uses ions and is apparently cloudy (that is why you are here, right?)

    The day TFP has a section for ion systems is the day I leave it. They offer no advantage over the TFPC method, none. Name dropping organization that supposedly use it, saying NASA invented it, none of that changes the fact that it does not offer any advantage over a properly balanced and chlorinated pool. Frankly it sounds like you are copy-pasting straight out of the sales brochure.

    Oh, I'm pretty sure none of us own pool stores, they tend to not like us TFP members. After all, we don't usually get our chlorine from pool stores nor do we buy their magic potions any more than we buy magic ions. I know chem geek doesn't own a pool store, I believe he is a chemical engineer but I could be wrong. Just seems with all the peer reviewed papers and scientific literature he reads I would personally consider him an expert in this field. Not sure if you would, but I do.

    Finally, if you think people don't switch from ions to chlorine, you haven't spent much time on this site. You might consider spending a bit more time here, it really is an eye opener. If your water is cloudy try SLAMing it, you might just be surprised.
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    Re: Ionization alternative



    If I owned a pool store, I'd only own a Trouble Free Pool store
    Matt
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post


    If I owned a pool store, I'd only own a Trouble Free Pool store
    And you would go out of business because no one would be buying anything with a high mark up ... we are too savvy for that
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Of course you have to have an oxidizer. The people that sell/install them will tell you that up front. I use a 3" chlorine tab in the skimmer about once a week or so. You can use a non chlorine oxidizer like Fresh & Clear or just pour a gallon of household bleach in once a week. Probably a few other ways to do it also but the fact is you need a oxidizer.
    This is a very telling statement. So, if the manufacturers of these systems admit up-front that you still need chlorine or expensive oxidizers to operate a properly disinfected pool, then why buy the system in the first place. Just use chlorine and save yourself the hassle.

    The bottle of bleach, without any stabilizer, will last probably about 12 hours before the sunlight completely destroys all of the chlorine and so it's ability to oxidize organics for any meaningful length of time will be limited. MPS shock (that is what Clean 'N Clear is) is like 2x more expensive than chlorine-based shocks. And as for sticking a puck in the skimmer, that's just a very bad idea. When the pump stops running, the acidity & chlorine levels of the water in skimmer can potentially cause lots of damage.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    And you would go out of business because no one would be buying anything with a high mark up ... we are to savvy for that
    Since I would be performing a public good by helping all the poor shleps of the world break free from pool store nonsense, it would be operated as a non-profit....better tax advantages too
    Matt
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    I don't use the internet to pick fights. I use it to get information generally and usually discount the posts of those who sit behind a monitor and troll for arguments. So long folks. You have a pretty decent site here and a lot of my friends use chlorine so I'll recommend it to them. I do wonder though why you all seem to think that if it's not a registered pesticide with the EPA it's not good for your pool. Don't bother answering that and you can delete this thread, it's of no value to anyone.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    I am sorry ... I fail to see where anyone tried to start an argument. We are simply stating the facts that we know which happen to disagree with what you believe.

    As many have said, happy things are working for you (with the exception of now having a cloudy pool ... not many of our members have that problem). But, we will not allow false information to be propagated on this forum.
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    In case any newbies amble along to read this one day, in addition to the plethora of good info re: ionization being ineffective (independently) at adequate standards for public health and safety, this additional comment requires clarification:
    Just like chlorine based pools you have to check the water regularly. The Copper levels should be between 2 and 3 PPM. That is a very small amount and will not stain anything.
    Copper and silver can in fact cause staining on any pool surface in quantities as "small" as .3 ppm, let alone a full 2-3 ppm, particularly if ph is not well-controlled, or during oxidization if adequate metal sequestrant is not used. Not to mention green tint to blond hair...as a friend of men quickly discovered

    The first part of the comment about testing regularly whatever type of sanitation you use, however, is very true
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    Re: Ionization alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by jimf41 View Post
    I don't use the internet to pick fights. I use it to get information generally and usually discount the posts of those who sit behind a monitor and troll for arguments. So long folks. You have a pretty decent site here and a lot of my friends use chlorine so I'll recommend it to them. I do wonder though why you all seem to think that if it's not a registered pesticide with the EPA it's not good for your pool. Don't bother answering that and you can delete this thread, it's of no value to anyone.
    I don't sit behind a computer, I use Tapatalk so I can be outside caring for my pool with chlorine, watching my kids swim in sparkly water AND commenting on TFP....HAT-TRICK!!!

    Oh, and I'll be happy to answer your rhetorical question - Because the EPA and CDC have done extensive scientific analyses and meta-studies of all the available literature on the sanitizing power and oxidation strength of chlorine and it's related compounds relative to all known pathogens and waterborne flora & fauna. The results of those extensive studies have shown that only chlorine (and to a lesser extent, bromine and PHMB) can offer REAL and ACTUAL protection against disease-causing pathogens.

    So my question to you is this - what evidence can the manufacturers of the "ionizer" system produce that shows that their products work as effectively and broadly on the same spectrum of pathogens that the CDC and EPA have studied? If they have peer-reviewed, scientific literature to support the assertions they make in their sales literature, then any of us will be more than happy to look at it and compare it to what we know to be true.

    Don't worry, I'm happy to wait for your response...i'll be out by my pool....
    Matt
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