Twenty-first century swimming pools owners have an array of choices when it comes to sanitizing pool water. Traditional chlorine is still extremely popular, but alternatives such as saline or mineral water are also available. Regardless of the means, the goal is the same: Safe and sanitary water for swimming. All three means of swimming pool disinfection will require regular monitoring and maintenance to be truly effective.
Swimming pools with saline water are also known as saltwater pools, and are about as salty as a human teardrop. Saline pools are not chlorine-free, however, as they use a salt chlorine generator to generate very low levels of chlorine. Typically, chlorine levels in a saline pool are maintained at 0.5 parts per million (ppm), which is a very low level. Also, a saline pool's pH and other chemical levels still require regular balancing.
Mineral water swimming pools rely on the disinfecting properties of the minerals put into them by an attached ionization unit. Mineral water pools are truly chlorine-free, and use ionized copper and silver to accomplish sanitation. Copper is effective at preventing pool algae contamination while silver destroys bacteria. Swimming pool water is passed over a set of charged electrodes which create copper and silver ions. If desired, a very low level of chlorine can also be used in a mineral water pool.
By far, the most common method of swimming pool sanitation uses chlorine. Chlorine is added at about 2 parts per million (ppm). Chlorine is also added to a swimming pool as needed to attack and destroy algae or other organic matter such as fecal material. Chlorinated water in a swimming pool is also heavily reliant on proper balancing of pH to ensure a comfortable swimming experience.
No swimming pool is completely maintenance free. For example, pH levels in saline, mineral and chlorinated water pools should be between 7.4 to 7.6. In addition, outdoor saline and chlorinated water swimming pools will need a chlorine conditioner like cyanuric acid (CYA) added to stabilize the chlorine and protect it from sunlight.
A saline pool's chlorine can be elevated by increasing the chlorine creation in its salt chlorine generator. pH in all swimming pools is raised by adding sodium carbonate (soda ash). pH in a swimming pool is usually lowered by adding muriatic acid (MA). Even mineral water pools, though, require occasional high doses of chlorine, which is known as shocking a pool, along with regular pH monitoring.