Chlorine has long been thought the standard in swimming pool sanitation. Many will remember that cloying chlorine smell that follows you home from public swimming pools and is a nuisance to blond haired swimmers. There are a few alternatives to chlorine that you can use in your own swimming pool. Some have minimal amounts of chlorine as an active ingredient and some have no chlorine at all.
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There are two main considerations when dealing with chlorine alternatives. The first is allergy. Are you using a chlorine alternative because someone who will be using the pool is allergic to chlorine, or merely sensitive to it? If the person in genuinely allergic to chlorine, than the only option is a peroxide based system or a silver based system. If the individual is merely sensitive to chlorine, you have more options available. The second consideration is cost, which is highly variable. Be sure to investigate all additional costs, such as upkeep, startup procedures, and possible pool drainage before committing to switch systems.
For a truly chlorine-free pool there is a peroxide based chlorine alternative under the brand name Baquacil or Splashes. There are also silver and copper ion generators that can be added to the pool for sanitary purposes. These are the only options for those with a chlorine allergy. A saltwater system uses minimal amounts of chlorine, and is good for people with a chlorine irritation. Mineral systems are also available, and usually work alongside minimal chlorine pools to sanitize. Ozone generators also work with minimal chlorine addition.The final option is bromine, which has the most active chlorine of the alternatives.
The biggest misconception is that chlorine alternatives do not contain any chlorine. While this is true for the peroxide based systems, all the other systems do have some amount of chlorine as an active ingredient. The second most common misconception is that all pool chemicals, such as algaecides, will work with all systems. It is neccessary to read your manual when it comes to additional chemicals. The third, and most costly, misconception is that switching systems is easy. Switching from chlorine to peroxide, for instance, calls for the draining of the pool and scrubbing all available pool surfaces. Check with your pool supplier for directions before switching systems.
A chlorine alternative pool can have many benefits, depending on the type of system you choose. Many people find saltwater systems better for the skin and more economical after initial setup. Peroxide systems are supposed to be the gentlest on eyes and good for the skin, as well as the best for light hair and vinyl liners.
Your doctor is the only one who would be able to gauge if someone is allergic or sensitive to chlorine. If you believe someone who uses the pool is allergic to chlorine, do not take the chance that it is just a sensitivity, and get a test.
Always read the accompanying safety information on your pool chemicals. Many of these systems have different storage requirements and varying levels of toxicity that may be unfamiliar to someone just switching over from chlorine.