Chorine has been the primary pool sanitizer option for many decades now. But, while it does a good job keeping your pool clean and safe, it has many shortcomings, and so it might not always work well for you.
The good news is that several pool chlorine alternatives out there address most of the drawbacks of chorine while still cleaning pool water effectively. If you are looking for a good chlorine alternative, this post looks at 10 that will still provide a high level of sanitization.
The Drawbacks of Using Chlorine
As you use more and more chlorine on your pool, it binds with body excretions like sweat and urine to create chloramines. The chloramines give the pool water that strong chlorine smell and pose a significant health risk to swimmers.
Chlorine has other adverse effects, such as irritating and drying the eyes, hair, nail cuticles, and skin. Some people are sensitive to chlorine and can develop issues like breathlessness and nausea when swimming.
Given how harsh chlorine tends to be, it will often bleach and oxidize different swimming pool fixtures like linings forcing you to keep repairing or replacing them.
10 Pool Chlorine Alternatives
If you do not use chlorine on your pool, the chances are you use bromine as it is the most common alternative. For most pool owners, the sanitizer choice is often between chlorine and bromine.
Bromine is a halogenic compound like chlorine and is typically in seawater in the form of potassium bromide or sodium bromide.
What makes it a good chlorine alternative is that it is less harsh on the skin and eyes. Also, bromide works well even at high temperatures as it can remain effective at a water temperature of up to 58.8 °C (chlorine only works well up to 32 °C).
Bromine does not have a strong odor like chlorine and will not bind to contaminants and create chloramines. Additionally, it comes in easy-to-use tablets that you can apply automatically with a dispenser.
However, bromine is more expensive than chlorine and less stable under the sun as it does not work well with cyanuric acid.
- Works well for high-temperature water
- Less harsh on the skin and eyes
- Does not have a strong odor
- Comes in easy to use tablets
- More expensive than chlorine
- Has to be used with other additives
Read more: Bromine vs. Chlorine
2. Salt System
Salt systems provide a more natural way of cleaning your pool. Instead of adding chlorine, you add salt granules into the pool water, which breaks down to releases chlorine (hypochlorous acid), which then cleans and sanitizes the pool water.
Unlike regular chlorine, saltwater systems will clean the water through electrolysis, whereby the saltwater is passed through a salt cell to produce chlorine. The salinity of the saltwater is much lower than seawater, and the amount of chlorine releases is also low to ensure it will not be harsh on the skin or eyes.
Besides being gentler on the swimmers’ skin and eyes, saltwater pools are also cheaper to maintain in the long run, given that salt is much cheaper than chlorine. However, saltwater systems require a high initial investment.
Read More: Saltwater Pool vs. Chlorine Pool
- More natural way of sanitizing swimming pools
- Does not dry out the skin
- Salt is cheaper than chlorine
- Saltwater systems can be expensive to install
- Still cleans the pool using chlorine
3. Mineral System
Mineral systems are cartridge-based pool water purifiers that use minerals like borates, potassium chloride, and magnesium chloride.
The minerals work by deactivating the microorganisms as the pool water flows through the system. Mineral systems will reduce the need to use chlorine by up to 50% and require very little maintenance.
These systems are super easy to use, and in most instances, you will only need to attach them to the pool’s PVC pipes. Also, they produce one of the highest water quality and are less harsh on pool surfaces and clothing.
These systems still use chlorine, which is a significant demerit as it means you cannot have an entirely chlorine-free pool. Also, the cartridges can be quite expensive to replace.
- Easy to use
- Low maintenance required
- Produces one of the highest water qualities
- Non-corrosive and will not damage surfaces
- Replacement cartridges can be expensive
- Chlorine is still required
Ionizers are pretty similar to mineral systems, given that they also use silver and copper ions when disinfecting the pool. However, ionizers will not add borates, potassium chloride, or other minerals to the water as mineral systems do.
An ionizer will use a low voltage current to add metallic ions to the pool water. The negatively charged bacteria and other contaminants will attract these ions, which destroy their cell membranes.
The process repeats as the water recirculates through the ionizer, which helps keep the pool water clean and sanitized. Also, ionizers will cause minimum wear and tear to the pool equipment
However, ionizers are not very effective on organic matter, meaning you still need to add some chlorine for this.
- System is relatively easy to setup
- Minimal wear and tear
- Gives the water a softer feel
- Not very effective on organic matter
- Initial installation is pricey
Biguanide or PHMB (polyhexamethylene biguanide) is a sanitizing liquid that can allow you to have a completely chlorine-free pool.
Although it is an effective sanitizer, it has to work with other things like algaecide and oxidizer to ensure maximum effectiveness. Hence it is often part of a 3-step cleaning system as these other compounds are required to remove things like algae and keep the water clear as biguanide cannot help with that.
There are no chloramines produced when using biguanide to clean your pool, and it will be a more stable compound, meaning you do not need a pool stabilizer. Also, it is less harsh on the skin and does not bleach pool fixtures.
However, this sanitizing agent is more expensive than chlorine, and some microorganisms tend to develop resistance against it in the long run.
- Does not produce any chloramines
- Less harsh in the skin and eyes
- More stable compound
- Does not bleach pool surfaces
- Not as effective at sanitizing as chlorine
- Some microorganisms develop resistance against it over time
- More expensive than chlorine
An ozone generator can help reduce the amount of chlorine you use in your pool and also helps with degrading then organic contaminants. However, it is not an independent pool cleaner, and so you still need to use it together with other sanitizer types.
Ozone generators will work by adding ozone gas to your pool water. This gas then reacts with contaminants and breaks them down. Additionally, it helps soften the pool water, given that it is a pH-neutral product.
The low levels of ozone gas added to the pool make the water safe for swimmers and pool fixtures.
The biggest shortcoming of using ozone generators is the high initial investment you need to make. Also, these systems only work with PVC and stainless steel piping and often result in increased energy bills.
- Safe for both the pool and the swimmers
- Minimizes chlorine usage
- Helps soften pool water
- High initial investment
- Leads to high electricity bills
- Works with stainless steel or PVC pipes only
7. Non-Chlorine Shock
Non-chlorine shock or potassium monopersulfate works by oxidizing common pool contaminants like body oil and the organic matter in the water. Also, it allows chlorine to focus more on sanitizing the water and hence making it more effective.
Although chlorine is effective at both cleaning and sanitizing, having to do both jobs means you have to use too much of it, which can be expensive and leads to the formation of more chloramines.
Its potent oxidation properties make non-chlorine shock effective at clearing up cloudy pool water by oxidizing the pollutants that make your water dull. Also, when using non-chlorine shock, the pool water should be ready to use in just 15 minutes.
Non-chlorine shock is not very stable and hence not the best choice for outdoor pools, and many pool owners dislike the fact they still need to use lots of chlorine.
- Increases the effectiveness of chlorine
- Clears up a cloudy pool quickly
- Helps deal with chloramines
- Pool is safe to use in just 15 minutes
- Still requires chlorine
- Not very ideal for outdoor pools
8. Copper Ionization
Copper ionization is an effective solution for those that want a chlorine-free pool. This system consists of an electronic control unit, copper electrode, and test kits, and it works by releasing some positively charged metallic ions.
The positively charged copper ions attract the negatively charged algae, bacteria, and other contaminant ions. The copper ions then penetrate their cell membrane walls and destroy them. As the water circulates through the pool, more copper ions are released to clean the pool water.
There is no residue chemical produced when using copper ionization, and so the pool water is gentle on your skin and eyes. Also, copper ionizers are pH neutral, making pH maintenance easy. Moreover, this system is super easy to install.
The only drawbacks with this system are the higher initial cost you have to incur and the fact that they can increase your electricity bill significantly.
- Allows you to have a chlorine-free pool
- No residue chemicals
- Copper ions will not be affected by UV rays
- Easy pH maintenance
- System is easy to install
- High initial investment
- Increases your energy bills
Ultrafiltration cleans your pool water using a fine sieve that filters out the tiniest microbes in the water. The filters on this system have very thin membranes and will pick out bacteria, organic matter, and suspended particles from the water.
While you might still need to chlorinate the water, this system reduces the amount of chlorine you need to use. Also, besides the sanitizer, this system will not require you to use any other chemical.
Ultrafiltration works well for both indoor and outdoor pools as there is nothing that will degrade under the sun’s UV rays. However, it is a costly system to set up, but it should get more affordable as it becomes more common.
- No chemical used
- Filters out most contaminant types
- Works for both indoor and outdoor pools
- Costly technology
10. UV Light
UV light works in combination with chlorine, and so it will not give you a chlorine-free pool. In this setup, you have even cleaner, and safer water as the UV light will kill all the bacteria, viruses, and germs, while chlorine deals with organic matter.
Using a UV light increases the efficiency of chlorine and reduces the amount that you need to use to clean your pool. Also, it is pretty effective at dealing with chloramines. However, you need to use the right size for your pool to see good results.
UV light will not have any sanitation residual, which means it is not very useful if you do not add any chlorine to the pool. Also, some of the contaminants reproduce faster than the water can circulate through the UV light.
- Reduces the quantity of chlorine you need
- Effective at removing chloramines
- Destroys bacteria and viruses
- Does not provide any sanitation residual
- Some bacteria reproduce faster than UV light can kill them
You do not have to rely on chlorine when cleaning and sanitizing your pool, as there are many other alternatives out there.
The options range from those requiring you to use small amounts of chlorine like UV light and mineral systems to the completely chlorine-free ones like biguanide and bromine. All you need to do is determine what will work best for your particular situation.