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Quick Guide to Swimming Pool Sanitization Methods

Pool Resolutions

Contributed by Paul Henry

Everyone wants to swim in a clean pool. Different methods exist for delivering that clean pool and whichever you choose depend on preference, maintenance level, and pool use. Read on for the different water sanitization methods that can be used in your pool.


Most of us are familiar with chlorine – the chemical most commonly used to help keep swimming pools and spas bacteria- and germ-free. Chlorine disinfects through a chemical reaction that oxidizes harmful microorganisms until they are destroyed. According to, you should maintain a free chlorine level of about 2-3 parts per million (ppm), and a combined chlorine level of 0ppm for proper sanitization. Chlorine is convenient, cost-effective, and can be stored for long periods of time. The disadvantages usually attributed to chlorine, including red eyes and strong smell, are really due to chloramines, the chemical byproducts that build up in the water when it's improperly treated with too little chlorine.

Salt Chlorine

Salt chlorine generators are installed on a pool's filtration system and produce chlorine from salt added to the pool. Rather than requiring that chlorine be added manually to the pool, salt chlorine generators produce the chlorine automatically via the salt that passes through it. This process happens again and again and doesn't require constant additions of chlorine (or salt) to the water. [Read more about the saltwater chlorine generator process here.] Salt systems are easy to use and reduce the need for as many chemicals to be used in the pool. Salt chlorine generators also require an upfront investment.


Bromine belongs to the same family as chlorine but generates different byproducts. Chlorine's byproducts are chloramines, while bromine's byproducts are bromamines, which are less likely to become airborne and have a strong smell. Bromamines also continue to sanitize the water after they're produced. Bromine dissolves slower than chlorine and warrants the use of special equipment in order to help bring it up to speed. Also, bromine is more susceptible to UV light exposure, which accelerates its degradation and therefore result in having to add the chemical more often in order to maintain effective working levels.


By dissolving ozone in water, an oxidation reaction occurs as soon as the ozone molecule contacts organic material. The byproduct of this reaction is harmless decomposed organic material (dirt), which is captured by the pool filter and removed from the water. Ozone's potency as an oxidizer is far greater than that of chlorine, and it is very effective at killing germs. Ozone has no effect on your pool water's pH so you don't have to adjust your pH levels that often compared to other alternatives. By using ozone, the chlorine lasts longer, and maintaining proper chlorine levels becomes easier, while adding less chlorine to the water.

However, ozone is ineffective against algae when used alone, and it is not sufficient as the only means of pool sanitization. It requires a water sanitizer such as chlorine.


Mineral sanitizers work by releasing ions of two different metals into the pool water. These metals are usually copper and silver. Copper is utilized as an algaecide while silver serves as the sanitizer. A benefit of mineral sanitization is that it could help reduce eye and skin discomfort that often results from chlorine's byproduct, chloramines. 

Mineral options aren't usually used as a stand-alone pool sanitizer and are required to be supplemented with chlorine for oxidizing purposes in order to be truly effective. pH levels are also an issue as they have to be monitored regularly or else metal staining might occur.

Whatever method you choose to sanitize your pool, the end result should be clean and sparkling water. For any questions or more information, be sure to ask your local pool professional.

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Includes all the latest information, tips, and expert advice from Zodiac Pool Systems, Inc. on owning the healthiest, safest, most enjoyable pool possible.


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