Which NON Chlorine system?

Jul 23, 2007
7
Jacksonville, FL
#1
I am looking to get a pool chemical system that doesn't use chlorine (if there is such a beast) or that uses it sparingly. It must be reliable, from a company that will stand behind its product, and be somewhat easy to use. I know I am asking for the world... Thanks in advance.

Brad

My inground diamondbrite pool is about 18,000 gals. I use Pentair Whisperflo 1 HP pump and Pentair Clean and Clear 150 Cartridge
 

JohnT

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Apr 4, 2007
9,461
SW Indiana
#2
No such thing. A well maintained chlorine pool is the safest way to go, and has the least objectionable side-effects like odor and eye discomfort of any sanitation system. The ionizers or mineral systems still require chlorine, and the biguanide systems are expensive and usually have white mold problems after three to five years. Ozonators and UV systems are supplements that don't stand alone as a sanitizer.
 
G
#3
There are only 3 EPA approved sanitzers--chlorine, bromine, and biguanide (Baqua, SoftSwim, Revacil, etc.) ALL OTHER sytems are supplimental and MUST be used with a residual sanitizer (usually chlorine or bromine).

As far as biguanide, it has more drawbacks than advantages and most people that use it end up converting to chlorine after a few years once the pink slime and white water mold takes hold. It can also attack and destroy certain plastics and at least one major spa manufacuter is now telling it's customers not to use it for this reason.

Bromine has no advantages for an outdoor pool since it cannot be stabilized againt UV light like chlorine can. It is also a known sensitizer and many people develop an allergic reaction to it. It does have some usefulness in indoor pools and in spas that do not receive sunlight.

That leaves chlorine, which is the best choice for an outdoor pool.

There are supplimental systems that claim they can reduce the amount of residual chlorine in the water. Most are metal based (copper, silver, and zinc). However, the low residual chlorine levels (usually .5 ppm) are NOT enough to insure that the water is sanitized. They will prevent algae growth but the kill times fo metals are very slow and a minimum 2 ppm free chlorine should really be used with these systems, IMHO. One of the biggest drawbacks to these systems is staining of pools and people (copper is what causes green hair). Many of them need to be run at a much lower pH than is commonly used to help prevent the staining but this can be aggresive to the plaster finish of a pool.

Ozone and UV light provide NO residual sanitation and must be used with a residual santizer. Ozone and chlorine tend to destroy each other so chlorine usage is usually higher in a system that also uses ozone. Ozone tends to work better with bromine but does cause bromates to form in the water. Bromates are a suspected carcinogen in drinking water.

There are some companies that make some very dubious claims about their products that just don't stand up under scientific scrutiny such as breaking water apart into 'radicals', etc. This is pure snake oil!

Getting back to metals--they are often marketed as 'mineral' systems. If you consider copper sulfate and silver nitrate minerals then perhaps they are. Minerals sound more spa like and healtly than metals, don't they? It is interesting that in Canada these systems can only be registered as algaecides and not as sanitizers and in Australia they are required to be used with normal and not reduced sanitizer levels to provide quick kill times and proper sanitation. If only our own EPA was so dilligent at protecting our welfare (but that's a whole other can of worms, isn't it?)

There is a lot of negative press about chlorine but much of it has to do with chlorine used to santize drinking water. Some of it IS applicable to chlorine in INDOOR pools since some of the disinfection byproducts such as the TMHs do collect in the air but this is not really a problem for OUTDOOR pools since UV light breaks them down and they cannot concentrate in the air as they do in an enclosed indoor pool.


Hydrogen Peroxide, Potassium Monopersulfate and Sodium Percarbonate are oxidizers and NOT sanitizers and will not keep the water sanitized by themselves. They are usefule when used in conjucntion with one of the three EPA approved sanitizers as an oxidizer but they do present their own sets of problems.

Where does this leave us---with chlorine!

I am curious why you are looking for a low chlorine system. If you have a true chlorine allergy then biguanide is your only real alternative and you will have to live with it's shortcomings.

Chorine is actually the safest and easiest santizer to use in an outdoor pool. If you have an indoor pool it does present a few problems but they can be overcome (such as using potassium monopersulfate as an oxidizer instead of 'shocking' with chlorine) or bromine is also a viable alternative.
 
Jul 10, 2007
17
Arizona
#5
I'm also curious to know what your reason's are for wanting a non-chlorine pool?

Chlorine tends to get an undeserved bad rap. Most of the "negative stuff" usually associated with chlorine pools are usually the result of chemical imbalance or other factors that are incorrectly associated with chlorine.

Have you considered a salt water generator (SWG)? With a properly functioning SWG the only time you need to add chlorine is when you need want to shock your pool. With proper maintenance and regular testing shocking should be a rare occurance. SWG work by adding salt to the water. The SWG will generate chlorine from the salt that is in the water. Chlorine will still be the active agent that is sanitizing your pool. In addition to less handling of chemicals, owners of salt pools claim the water feels better and is less irritating to skin and eyes because the salinity of the water is closer in line with the natural salinity of the body.

Depending on your reasons for wanting a non-chlorine pool, a SWG might be what you're looking for. I'm sure there are plenty of more knowledgeable people than me who would be happy to answer any questions you might have about them.
 
Jul 29, 2007
8
#6
I was thinking of doing the same and kind of gave up. Mainly because I wanted to use a copper heat exchanger in the attic w/ the existing thermostatically controlled fans vs. solar panels. And also just to be "healthy" w/o chlorine. But it does not seam very feasible with a company I trust. Likely going salt system now, not sure if that is compatible with typical copper tube radiators? Also may drop any UV-C now since not much need for it on an outdoor pool. Good for indoor to reduce chlorine byproducts in the air. As for a heat exchanger, I may do a closed loop system since this would use a lot less electric as my roof is about 45 ft. at the peak near the 2 fans. Then it would just use a circulation pump. Working on ideas for the heat exchanger at pool level. Some titanium ones exist but likely expensive. Maybe tubes w/i the gunite would work to heat the shell. Have not done calcs on that yet. Ideas appreciated!
 
Jul 23, 2007
7
Jacksonville, FL
#7
THANKS

Thanks you for all the advice and information.

I had no real reason to want to avoid chlorine other than I read some stuff about it and they made chlorine sound horrible. I am in the process of upgrading my pool and was thinking that I might do something state-of-the-art. Thanks to your post I find out that chlorine is not that bad after all.
 

Strannik

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 24, 2007
874
Brisbane, Australia
#8
Re: THANKS

brcl2 said:
Thanks you for all the advice and information.

I had no real reason to want to avoid chlorine other than I read some stuff about it and they made chlorine sound horrible. I am in the process of upgrading my pool and was thinking that I might do something state-of-the-art. Thanks to your post I find out that chlorine is not that bad after all.
essentially it depends on who you ask

if you ask people who sell chlorine related stuff, they will always be telling you that chlorine is good and the rest is bad, if you ask people who sell non-chlorine sanitation methods they will always bag chlorine :)

truth is - chlorine is the most effective sanitizer, but it is dangerous to handle
that's why people should use SWG's ;)
 

KurtV

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 29, 2007
270
SE Louisiana
#12
Strannik said:
errr... it's poisonous
people die from it

they used to use chlorine gas during WWI as a chemical weapon
Chlorine has probably also saved more human lives than any other single thing in the history of the planet (water sanitation). Sure it can kill in some forms and in sufficient quantities, but so can water and many other seemingly innocuous substances.

There may be a very small number of people who are very sensitive to chlorine exposure at very low levels, but most of those who think they have extreme chlorine sensitivity in relation to pools are probably reacting to insufficient rather than excess chlorination.
 

Strannik

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Jul 24, 2007
874
Brisbane, Australia
#13
The Mermaid Queen said:
but we are not using chlorine GAS in our pools.

If you ingest enough salt, you could also get very sick or die...

just thought I'd stir the pot...
Yeah but if you spill liquid chlorine somewhere and then breath in the fumes you will get poisoned too. The severity will depend on how much you breath in. I'm not saying chlorine is evil, it just should be handled with care.
 

Strannik

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Jul 24, 2007
874
Brisbane, Australia
#14
KurtV said:
Strannik said:
errr... it's poisonous
people die from it

they used to use chlorine gas during WWI as a chemical weapon
Chlorine has probably also saved more human lives than any other single thing in the history of the planet (water sanitation). Sure it can kill in some forms and in sufficient quantities, but so can water and many other seemingly innocuous substances.

There may be a very small number of people who are very sensitive to chlorine exposure at very low levels, but most of those who think they have extreme chlorine sensitivity in relation to pools are probably reacting to insufficient rather than excess chlorination.
that's true it did save many lives. As above i'm not saying chlorine is evil.

People are usually not sensitive to chlorine by itself, they are sensitive to other chemicals which are added into prepackaged chlorine.

Most people find that when they are using SWG's they don't have allergies, even though the chlorine level is the same.
 

The Mermaid Queen

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Mar 28, 2007
2,522
Northern KY
#15
Strannik said:
People are usually not sensitive to chlorine by itself, they are sensitive to other chemicals which are added into prepackaged chlorine.
The only other 'chemicals' in liquid chlorine or bleach are salt and water...

ETA I am all for SWGs. I think they are great. They save a lot of jug-lugging, they make water maintenance simpler, and you don't have to figure out what to do with all the empty jugs. But I think you maybe need to do a bit more research about good ol' bleach before you start needlessly (and erroneously) slamming it.
 

chem geek

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Mar 28, 2007
12,082
San Rafael, CA USA
#16
Strannik,

The only way you are going to inhale enough chlorine to die or even to get sick (hurt lungs) is to inhale concentrated chlorine directly as with putting your nose right over the bottle and taking strong breaths which would be very, very hard to do given how strong it smells. Most of the gas that is released from concentrated chlorine isn't even chlorine gas, but rather gaseous hypochlorous acid. Spilling it isn't going to produce chlorine gas unless you mix the chlorine with an acid. Also, chlorine is not odorless (the concentrated gas is green and has a very strong odor) so your body knows where it is and you can move away from any gas cloud (if chlorine was mixed with acid to produce such a cloud).

Chlorine gas was used in warfare only because dumping a huge amount of it in one place (from cylinders of compressed gas) made a very large gas cloud that made it impossible to run away from and would therefore kill or disable soldiers. In practice, it wasn't a very good weapon (simply covering one's face with a damp cloth minimized damage) and the French developed phosgene and the Germans switched to using mustard gas (in WW I) which was odorless and more lethal. However, gas proved to be very unreliable as a weapon because gas drifted wherever the wind went and the wind could shift, even back towards the troops who were using the gas as a weapon!

Also keep in mind that the quantities of gas used in warfare for a single attack is measured in TONS whereas an entire gallon of 12.5% chlorinating liquid is about 9 pounds of which the chlorine gas equivalent is only around 1 pound.

I don't want to minimize the toxicity of chlorine -- it isn't a benign chemical -- but the amount of disinfecting chlorine in an outdoor pool is effectively only 0.1 ppm when one has a Free Chlorine (FC) level of around 11.5% of the Cyanuric Acid (CYA) level is we typically recommend. ALL of the reports of asthma and respiratory problems with competitive swimmers and small children in chlorine pools have been with INDOOR pools and such pools do not use CYA so the 1-2 ppm FC that they have is 10-20 times as much chlorine as in outdoor pools exposed to sunlight. That fact along with poor air circulation and no sunlight to breakdown combined chlorines is why indoor pools are relatively unhealthy. Using a small amount of CYA would likely significantly reduce the rate of production of disinfection by-products by a factor of 10-20, but because the manufacturers of Trichlor and Dichlor claim that only FC matters and that CYA doesn't matter, I'm having a hard time convincing the aquatic organizations to try this out (though I'm still trying).

Richard
 

Strannik

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Jul 24, 2007
874
Brisbane, Australia
#18
Looks like somebody here needs to re-read what i said ;)

I never said that the chlorine in a pool is causing problems. I said that before it gets to the pool it has a potential to cause problems. If you close all the windows, go around the house splashing chlorine everywhere, and then sit there, you are quite likely to feel unwell.
 

Strannik

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Jul 24, 2007
874
Brisbane, Australia
#19
The Mermaid Queen said:
Strannik said:
People are usually not sensitive to chlorine by itself, they are sensitive to other chemicals which are added into prepackaged chlorine.
The only other 'chemicals' in liquid chlorine or bleach are salt and water...

ETA I am all for SWGs. I think they are great. They save a lot of jug-lugging, they make water maintenance simpler, and you don't have to figure out what to do with all the empty jugs. But I think you maybe need to do a bit more research about good ol' bleach before you start needlessly (and erroneously) slamming it.
I'm talking about tablets and powders that you put into dispensers, not the bleach itself.
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
#20
Around here we generally recommend bleach as a chlorine source. Bleach has some risks, but is a common household chemical that most people are quite familiar with handling and don't generally have problems with. For the most part people don't have problems with trichlor tablets/pucks/sticks either as casual skin contact hardly ever has any effect.

Comparing commonly used pool chlorine sources to chlorine gas used in World War I is misleading. The risks are not the same nor even similar. Cal-hypo can be a very serious problem if you have a fire, and dichlor and trichlor also though not as dramatically. But other than that they are reasonably safe and the precautions required are minimal. Chlorine gas is a whole different issue with any kind of leakage causing serious health hazards.