How Do I Make My Pool Water Crystal Clear?
“How do I get clear swimming pool water?” The question has been around for decades. Answers vary from adding more chemicals—either to shock, “floc” or “clarify” the water—to swapping out filters. Does adding all that stuff really work? Keep reading for the answers!
Chlorine, flocculent, and clarifier help correct one issue, but their effectiveness can vary depending on pH, chloramines, temperature, phosphates, CYA and . . . well you get the idea. Maybe you can just keep dumping more chlorine! But that can lead to an endless loop of additives. So you are left wondering: what really works to get the pool water clear?
Does Chlorine Keep Pool Water Clear?
Chlorine serves a vital purpose in keeping swimming pool water clean and healthy. In theory, if you have a cloudy swimming pool, you can add chlorine to “shock it” and clear things up. Chlorine will get the job done. But, the amounts may vary and you may have to really pound the pool with chlorine to get the water totally clear.
The environment and weather can also play a factor in how chlorine affects water clarity. If you’ve got a lot of contaminants in the pool—debris, leaves, and buildup of hair, suntan lotions, etc.—the chlorine gets kept busy with all that junk instead of sanitizing.
And then it can get “tied up” by binding with other compounds in the water, creating chloramines and reducing free available chlorine. Essentially this means you now have less chlorine to keep the water clear and safe.
DIG EVEN DEEPER….
📖 Check out our online resource with helpful terms for talking about chlorine in swimming pools.
👾 Watch this video about the CDC update on Cryptosporidium.
What happens when chlorine is busy trying to oxidize so many contaminants? It may never make it to the more dangerous things in the pool water like cryptosporidium, E. coli, and Legionella. When chlorine levels dip or become “unavailable,” bacteria can survive in the water for longer periods.
The situation gets critical when swimmers are exposed to the harmful bacteria mentioned above. Just last year, Legionnaires disease was linked to four deaths at a North Carolina state fair hot tub display. So not only is the water not clear, it’s not even safe for swimmers!
Maintaining water balance in the pool is the first step to clear water. Chlorine plays an important role here and pH is also a key area to watch. Poor circulation and filter issues can also wreak havoc on pool water clarity. If the filter and circulation are working correctly, adding the proper amount of chlorine can clear a pool right up.
Check out our solutions to create a great pool system:
What Is The Best Chlorine For Swimming Pools?
Some common forms of chlorine used in swimming pools include Sodium Dichloro-S-Triazinetrione (dichlor), calcium hypochlorite (cal hypo), and salt chlorine generation. Upon contact with pool water, all these compounds release the active sanitizing agent we call hypochlorous acid (H•OCl).
Dichlor is probably the most familiar and trusted form of chlorine. It’s typically sold in granular form for convenient application. Dichlor is completely soluble in water and does not contribute to scaling, making it suitable for hard water. (https://aquamagazine.com/features/dichlor-the-sanitizing-stalwart.html)
Dichlor also contains cyanuric acid (CYA), a stabilizer that helps protect chlorine from direct sun exposure. However, with CYA you’re essentially trading one problem for another. Too much of a good thing can lead to water imbalance and a never-ending “boot loop” of corrective measures.
Calcium hypochlorite—”cal hypo”—is a concentrated source of chlorine in solid form. It’s also a convenient pool chlorination method and is widely used to disinfect pools. Cal hypo is versatile; it can sanitize, kill algae and be used to shock the pool.
It does not contain stabilizer, so you may have to add CYA separately. But this can also make CYA easier to control. Due to calcium content, cal hypo can cause pH, alkalinity and hardness of treated water to rise. (https://aquamagazine.com/retail/cal-hypo-the-facts.html)
You must take caution using and storing cal hypo. It’s highly combustible due to strong oxidizing properties and behaves like napalm when ignited! If you’re driving around with cal hypo in the back of the truck, please educate yourself. One false move and . . . BOOM goes the dynamite!
📕 This chemical safety alert from the EPA on safe storage and handling of swimming pool chemicals is a great resource.
If cal hypo excites you, consider salt chlorine generators. They come without the “price” of harsh odors or need to store harmful and dangerous chemicals. Salt chlorinated pools are gaining popularity and reportedly account for more than 35% of swimming pools in the US.
Well-maintained salt systems produce pure sodium hypochlorite (Na•OCl), the type of chlorine needed to kill bacteria and microorganisms. Pre-packaged forms of chlorine have additives and can lose potency during storage. Chlorine generated on the spot has less chance of degradation.
Powerclean Salt Ultra is your Friendly, Backyard Chlorine Generator. Find out how you can make the switch to Powerclean Salt.
Chlorine can be produced onsite using a salt chlorine generator through the chemical process called electrolysis. The “free” chlorine produced by this process is what makes saltwater pools so great! As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to use or store dangerous forms of chlorine when you’re producing it on-site.
Salt pools are chlorinated and are not an alternative to chlorine pools. Chlorine generated from salt creates a consistent “baseline” in the pool as opposed to the peaks and valleys of chlorine levels normally associated with traditional chlorine systems.
Better salt systems are out there now, and they make it easier than ever to make chlorine on site. Next-gen chlorinators like Powerclean Salt are among the best options. These newer models are designed to be durable, affordable and serviceable. The best systems provide feedback letting you know the system is working and might be compatible with ORP control systems.
Is Chlorine Alone Enough To Keep Pool Water Crystal Clear?
Chlorine is a type of Residual Sanitizer. That means it is good at keeping pool water actively safe 24/7, right in the water. It keeps sanitizing even when the pump is off. But what type of pool water is best? Chlorine is not enough on its own.
An “Advanced Sanitizer” can destroy what chlorine misses and some are extremely powerful oxidizers. More powerful than chlorine! Working together, a Residual Sanitizer and Advanced Sanitizer create a Complete Modern Pool® system that protects individuals, their families and pets.
Advanced Sanitizers include UV-C, Ozone and AOP (Advanced Oxidation Process). UV-C breaks down contaminants at the DNA level and works with chlorine to disinfect. Ozone and AOP actually destroy, or oxidize, contaminants. Both can greatly reduce the chlorine you may need to add to your pool to keep a safe residual. And the water will of course be more clear!
Especially with Ozone and AOP, the clarity can be unmatched. These systems help the “stuff” in the water collect together. This process is called “micro-flocculation.” Big word alert! These bigger clumps are easier for your filter to physically remove without chemicals. And the pool will sparkle like nothing you have seen before!
Technology has come a long way, and so have pool sanitizers. When looking at chlorine and chemical-free options, the answer isn’t always either/or. By combining the best available technologies, every pool can be crystal clear and absolutely safe.