What is "Clarifier" and is it a good or a bad thing?

kblgrl

Member
Jun 23, 2012
10
Near Chesapeake Bay
I've been fighting SLIGHTLY cloudy water all summer. Everyone said the water looked "clean" and that there is no chlorine smell but I could tell that it wasn't quite right. I have a new pool and I'm new to the forum so I have been reading intently but this is my first post.

Anyway getting back to the SLIGHTLY cloudy water issue... I've brushed and vacuumed and vacuumed and brushed. I'm obsessive about checking my levels, sometimes 3 times a day. I have CYA at 60 ppm and I've been keeping my chlorine around 7-8 ppm. My CC is usually 0 and my overnight loss is about 0.5. Trying everything, I kept running the filter longer and longer about 14-16 hours. The filter pressure never varies much so I thought maybe my sand was channeled. I backwashed a couple of times while cursing and wishing I went with a cartridge filter. Finally, last night in desperation, I added 3 oz of clarifier, brushed the pool down one more time and let the filter run for a couple of hours. Then today all of a sudden when I came home from work … SHAZAM … sparklypoolitis… I’m ecstatic but waz up wit that???
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
Sand filters are the "worst" filters ... meaning, they do not grab particles as small as cartridge or DE filters. Additionally, if the sand gets channeled, where the water is finding a "shortcut" through the sand it will not grab the dirt. So, it is good to thoroughly clean your sand once a year to reset the sand bed (open the top and run a hose in and through the sand and let all the dirt/gunk flow out of the top).

What a clarifier does is make the particles in the water clump together so they are larger and get grabbed by the sand. If you KNOW that the cloudiness is not due to active algae bloom, then the clarifier sometimes helps. Another alternative (and likely cheaper) is to add a little bit of DE to the sand filter so that the smaller particles are captured. Here is info about that: pool-school/add_de_to_a_sand_filter
 

MoreSparkle

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 18, 2012
91
NW FL
edited due to ignorance and education and re-education here!!! :hammer:

what I thought was a clarifier was a flocculant... and I will have to say, although I understand why dh uses clarifiers at work ( commercial winemaker), when it comes to pools...... you are sooooooooo much better off not needing either, keep it balanced and the chlorine up, of course, if you are in the position of thinking you have to use either to clean up a mess, think twice, read and research, and be sure you understand what the result will be...

I used a "natural" chitosan clarifier at the end of the season last year, before draining the pool, wiping it dry, and storing. And since opening this year, I am seeing whatever residue that was left behind showing up in my brand new water ...... :roll: sigh...... just don't go there....take my word for it....

of course if you are reading this, you more than likely have a problem, just keep up with the chlorine nd filtering.... really...

good luck
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
I think MoreSparkle is talking about flocculant products where they get everything to fall to the floor and it can be gunky and not something you want in the filter ... clarifiers do not necessarily work that way and do not require vacuuming.

At least this is my understanding as I have never used either.
 

MoreSparkle

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 18, 2012
91
NW FL
Okay, read some pros and cons.... I think my issue is all the crud in the air and rain that we have gotten over the past several weeks.... Not algae... No CCs....

Here's something from chemgeek... Off to read more.....


chem geek said:
The AquaEZ Clean Sweep product is shown here. A similar product, that's more expensive but some people swear by it, is OMNI Liquid Floc Plus. Clarifiers and flocculants are not needed if one has a working filter, maintains shock chlorine levels, and has patience, but these products can make the process of clearing a pool go a little faster.
 

dattia

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 12, 2008
520
West Chester, PA
I also used a clarifier this year when my filter (having issues) was not bringing my sparkle on fast enough for me. I had great success with it, but adhered to the instructions very carefully, using under just three ounces and resisted the 'more must be better' temptation.
 

MoreSparkle

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 18, 2012
91
NW FL
Fascinating!!!!! Must be a geek or nerd at heart because I love reading this stuff!!! This post also dealt with old sand vs. new sand...

But the floc / clar info was interesting.... Even more interesting was the experiment Richard did in his own pool... (link contained in the "in this post"). Talk about brave ... And all for the sake of science and a tfp!!!! Check it out if you like reading this stuff too!


chem geek said:
[quote="Alaska Mike":23ynhsoi]Removing algae from a pool is a two step process. First you have to kill the algae. The next step is to remove the dead algae from the water. A sand filter will not catch the really fine particles of an algae bloom. That is why you add a clarifier to the water to help those algae particles clump together so the sand filter can catch it. The other option is to floc the pool, turn off the pump, and let the floc carry everything to the bottom. Then vacuum to waste and get rid of the dead algae.

Using a clarifier will take 4 to 5 days. Using a floc will take 24-36 hours. A quart of floc sells for $21.95, a quart of clarifier costs $21.95. Take your choice.
It is true that sand filters do not clear a pool as quickly of finer particles as a cartridge or especially a DE filter. However, using a clarifier is not the only way to speed up the process. One can also Add DE to a Sand Filter to improve its filtration. Normally, though, we just recommend shocking with chlorine and filtration which works most of the time without any need for additional chemicals. Shocking will oxidize some of the algae chemicals, break apart the algae, and make some of its less complex chemical contents (amino acids) more soluble while other more complex chemicals (proteins, DNA, polysaccharides, etc.) that are generally insoluble get some charge/polarity to induce microflocculation so clump together more to be able to get filtered. We also recommend skimmer socks that work well to remove pollen and other particles that tend to float on the surface (at least for a while).

A good clarifier can clear a pool that is only somewhat cloudy in 24 hours if the pump is run continuously. In my own pool, with a cartridge filter, I used a phosphate remover in an experiment (the manufacturer came over to try out their product as described in this post) and severely clouded the pool. Lanthanum phosphate is a very fine precipitate so would normally not clear quickly on its own. I used GLB Clear Blue and within 24 hours the pool was completely clear. However, I was willing to pay the price of the clarifier because my wife wanted to swim the next day so I was in a hurry.

If a pool store recommends a good clarifier and it works to clear the pool quickly, then that is a cost/convenience tradeoff that is reasonable. However, if you read many posts on this forum you will find that clarifiers and flocculants are recommended far too often and that they do not always work to clear the pool. A lot of the time it's because the pool isn't sufficiently shocked with chlorine to completely kill off the algae so it continues to grow while other times it's because inferior products are recommended or the source of cloudiness is not due to particles that a clarifier will consolidate.

The biggest problem in most pool stores is a complete lack of understanding of the relationship between chlorine and Cyanuric Acid where many think that CYA levels don't matter. The other big issue is that many don't do proper testing, most especially for the CYA level.[/quote:23ynhsoi]
 

MoreSparkle

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 18, 2012
91
NW FL
Okay, if anyone is still reading along at home.... Here is some sage advice from Jason....

I gotta stop after this or I will be up all night reading!!!


JasonLion said:
The obvious case would be live algae in the pool. Floc can't take care of live algae. All of the algae needs to be dead before you try to use floc. There are some other situations where floc might not work completely the first time, but they are far less common. The most common of the uncommon cases is probably not using enough floc.

By and large I discourage the use of floc. One of our general principals of pool care is to never use a product that isn't necessary. Using products that aren't required means more money, more effort, and the risk of negative side effects. The point of floc is to clear the water more quickly. If everything is working correctly and the floc would have worked, then the pool will clear without floc, just more slowly. By and large floc doesn't have any significant negative side effects, but it does take time and money and can sometimes distract you from finding and fixing the actual problem.

Thanks everyone for the ever-continuing education....
 

kblgrl

Member
Jun 23, 2012
10
Near Chesapeake Bay
Interesting... Like I said, I had been fighting slightly cloudy water since I installed the pools in June. Now it is crystal clear and summer is almost over. :cry:

I had clarifier left over from years ago and hesitated to use it. Last ditch type of thing. Only 3 ounces. But I'm mad that my filter couldn't handle the fine particles. Maybe because we are surrounded by soybean and corn fields. Oh well, live and learn. Unfortunately now I can see dirt on the floor of the pool but I've gotten quite good at vacuuming and brushing. :lol:

Thanks JBLIZZLE for the post pointing to info about DE. Next year I'll try the DE after I clean and reset my sand.
 

Pointyhead

Well-known member
May 17, 2012
113
Central Georgia
I had slightly cloudy water too, just like you. It was good, but not what I thought it should be. I used the DE trick and kept the pump running straight for 72 hours and it cleaned it up till it's crystal clear now.

The first time I tried the DE in the filter, once the pressure got up to 20 from its normal 15 which was only a few hours after I added the DE, I backwashed it. This time I left it in for 3 days (I kept an eye on the pressure and it never got above the 20 mark) and that, I think, made the difference.
 

MoreSparkle

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 18, 2012
91
NW FL
Figured out why hadn't seen much sparkle..... NO SUN!!! But it did come out today, yay!
Sparkle! Able to brush and do a little paddlin around..... Just in time for a HURRICANE ..... grrrr.... Nothing like being in the dead center of "the Cone of Uncertainity"...... Da - da - daaaaaaa

Fwiw, I found what I thought was clarifier in the garage.... It IS actually floc..... Looks like aluminum chlorohydrate.... I bought some "Natural Clarifier" - which I believe is chitosan - just for grins.... Got an experiment going with two samples of pool water.... Will report back later before we lose power Mon or Tues.... :roll:

Btw....does anyone know if chitosan in the pool water could cause any prob for someone allergic to shellfish?
 

kblgrl

Member
Jun 23, 2012
10
Near Chesapeake Bay
Yeah, pool still looks awesome. I just got a solar blanket but I don't know which is worse: cool water or loosing the ability to just jump in for 5 or 10 minutes. I seem to have a pet frog that likes to sit on the steps everyday. Yesterday I found a black widow spider on the solar blanket. Last week I had a red velvet wasp in my skimmer basket and "Cicada killers" like my new landscaping. I guess everybody is drawn to an oasis.

So do you loose DE when you backwash?
 

UnderWaterVanya

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 14, 2012
2,589
Mint Hill, NC
Yes you lose the DE added to sand filter when you backwash.

Cicada killers are scary looking but are usually totally non-aggressive the other critters... Not so much!
 

MoreSparkle

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 18, 2012
91
NW FL
I did pull some pool water aside for a test run of the chitosan clarifier last year, and the samples looked reasonable, so I tried a little because of all the micro-junk that came in with all the rain we got, fwiw, didn't like it large scale and won't use it again. Happy this year, so far with jut BBB ... haven't addd my salt yet, but will this weekend. good luck everybody
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,083
San Rafael, CA USA
One thing I forgot to write in the post you quoted about my use of a clarifier is that it really mucks up the filter. I had timed the phosphate removal experiment at a time when I knew I would soon be cleaning the cartridge filter since it's a 4-cart monster that's a PITA to clean, but due to it's size I only need to clean it once a year. Anyway, the clarifier creates this stickier gooey mess in the filter though fortunately it was still able to be cleaned out with a water spray and then soaked in detergent as usual. Normally without the clarifier, I just have a lot of suntan lotion coating the filter plus some miscellaneous debris (plant material).

So use of a clarifier is probably easier to handle if one has a sand filter since backwashing it pretty easy. In some ways, it's like adding DE to a sand filter except it coagulates in the bulk pool water first rather than just acting as finer filtration.

As for a flocculant where you turn off the pump, let things settle, then vacuum-to-waste, that requires the ability to do that last step and many pools with cartridge filters don't have multi-way valves that let one vacuum-to-waste -- that's my situation, for example.

So not only are there the issues about whether such products are needed and whether they work, but also what happens when they are used and what needs to be done to remove their resulting coagulated junk. Like a lot of what we don't recommend on this forum, it's not that it's "bad", but that it's complicated in terms of best use, it's extra cost, and it's not normally necessary.