Pool sanitisation is a must for every pool owner. There is no way around it, even if you regularly clean your pool. Sanitisation is simply the process where you make sure the water is in a healthy condition. When properly sanitised, water is clean, clear, and free from waterborne diseases that are mostly infectious.

Contaminants come from the environment and swimmers. They affect outdoor swimming pools more than their indoor counterparts. Outdoor pools are exposed to windblown debris and dirt, rain, and even bird droppings. Swimmers also affect the water quality through their body oils, sweat, saliva, and cosmetics.

According to research, there is an average of 30 to 80 mL of urine in swimming pools. We’re sure that is enough reason to sanitise!

There are two main methods of sanitising pool water. The first one involves various chemicals, such as chlorine, while the second method is through the use of a filtration system. Regardless of the way you choose to sanitise, the process itself will kill bacteria and stop the growth of contaminants, such as algae and viruses.

 

Sanitising Your Pool Using Chemicals

First, let’s talk about sanitisation using chemicals. You have three options here, which are:

 

1.) Chlorine

Chlorine is probably the most popular of all chemicals for sanitising your pool. It is widely used because the product works quite well. Plus, it is affordable. For something so cheap, it can easily take care of viruses, bacteria, and algae. And if your pool water keeps going green, chlorine does not just remove algae but also prevents them from growing back in your pool.

So how does chlorine work to sanitise your pool? Chlorine oxidises contaminants, which takes place when it goes into the molecules of bacteria and viruses. Then, it breaks them apart from the inside out.

But with the advantages come a few disadvantages. The biggest problem with the chemical is its by-product, which is known as chloramine. When chlorine kills bacteria or any contaminant in the pool, it creates chloramines. When your eyes turn red, you should blame the chloramines, not chlorine itself. This by-product is harmful to the health of the swimmers because they not only cause swollen, red eyes but can also enter the lungs.

The good news is that you can take care of these chloramines. The secret lies in shocking your pool. So, if you’re going to use chlorine to sanitise your pool, you can oxidise chloramines by shocking your pool.

How to use chlorine for pool water sanitisation: Maintain one to three parts per million, ideally at the maximum to really benefit from chlorine. You can achieve this level by adding chlorine tablets (also known as pucks, granules, and stabilisers).

 

Chlorine tablets for your pool
Chlorine tablets are readily available from any pool care shop.

 

2.) Bromine

Bromine is a popular sanitiser for those with an indoor pool or hot tub mainly because it does not give off that chlorine smell. If you have an outdoor pool, you can also use this chemical. Bromine is closely related to chlorine, which is why it is the perfect alternative to the latter.

When you use bromine to sanitise your pool, you let it ionise contaminants in the pool. When we speak of ionising, it means that it breaks the molecule bonds apart, which effectively destroys the pollutants.

One massive advantage that bromine has over chlorine is that it does not break down as quickly and efficiently as chlorine does. Therefore, it remains active for a more extended period, which is useful if you have an outdoor pool. Just like chlorine, however, bromine creates a by-product as well. But the good news is that these by-products are not as irritating as chloramines. To get rid of the derivative, what you need to do is to shock the pool water.

How to use bromine for pool sanitisation: Maintain 3PPM to 5PPM, ideally the maximum level.

 

3.) Biguanide

If you are not a fan of both bromine and chlorine, a good alternative is biguanide. It is often the top choice for those who are sensitive to the other two chemicals. As mentioned above, bromine and chlorine work by breaking molecule bonds of the contaminants. But biguanide works differently. It binds contaminants together, enlarging them so that the pool filter will simply get rid of them for you.

One of the best reasons to use biguanide is that it does not produce any by-product. There are no irritants whatsoever. Also, it does not harm the skin and hair. So, if you have blonde hair, you do not have to worry about it turning green, which sometimes happens with chlorine sanitisers. Another benefit is that biguanide does not burn off even when exposed to the sun or UV rays.

But it has its downsides, too. Biguanide, compared to chlorine and even bromine, is expensive. Also, it is not as effective as the other two sanitisers. Many users have also noted how biguanide can turn the water cloudy.

How to use biguanide for pool sanitisation: Just like other sanitisers, you need to make sure the pH and alkalinity of the water are correct. Biguanide does not work on its own. You should have a balanced pool first. Check that the water has a balanced pH of around 7.4 to 7.6 and alkalinity between 100 and 150 PPM. When using biguanide, maintain it at 30 to 50 PPM, ideally around 40 PPM.

 

Filtration Systems

Now, let us talk about filtration systems for sanitising pool water. There are two primary options:

 

1.) Mineral System

A mineral system is also known as an ioniser, which uses different minerals, along with chlorine. However, it does not need as much of the chemical compared with manual chlorine sanitisation.

The system, technically, uses minerals, which are commonly silver and copper, to sanitise water. It works by releasing positively charged ions to destroy negatively charged ions. But it is important to remember that the ioniser or mineral system is not a complete solution. You need a backup of chlorine to make sure it kills everything. The recommended reading is 0.75 PPM to 1 PPM for the backup chlorine.

 

2.) Saltwater System

The second filtration method is a saltwater system. The main advantage of this system is that it is easy to use. However, it is quite expensive because it requires certain supplies, which should be installed, such as the chlorine generator. This generator should be connected to the pool with correct plumbing.

Once you have everything installed, though, it is relatively cheap. The system only requires regular table salt to the water for it to create chlorine. The water with salt will pass through the generator, which converts salt into chlorine. That’s when the chlorinated water gets pushed back to the pool.

So, when you have a saltwater pool, it means you also have a chlorine or chlorinated pool. Therefore, the same thing applies where you have to keep chlorine at three parts per million at all times. Meanwhile, the recommended salt level for pools is 2700 to 3400 PPM, ideally 3200 PPM.

 

Testing the water balance
Testing the water balance in a saltwater pool.

 

One good thing about having a saltwater pool is that you do not have to keep adding pucks or chlorine manually. Instead, what you need to do is to maintain the correct salinity in PPM of the water. Then, you can leave it because the pool will naturally generate the chlorine it requires.

 

Good Water Balance

The key to proper water sanitisation is water balance. It is what makes the sanitiser effective – regardless of what sanitiser you choose.

Above, we have talked about how shocking your pool can get rid of chlorine and bromine by-products. Shocking is as crucial as sanitisation, which is why you need to shock your pool at least every week. Even if you chlorinate your pool, some bacteria and viruses can resist the chemical. Through shocking, you can completely remove the resilient contaminants.

We suggest that you shock your pool at the same time and day every week. As much as possible, you should do this process in the evening. This way, the shock levels will be normal the next day, and you can use the pool. Run the filter for an hour or more right after shocking.

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