Chlorine Alternatives for Swimming Pools

Chlorine Alternatives

Chlorine is the most common sanitizing choice for pool owners, but is it the best? Chlorine has long been thought of as the cause of red eyes and skin irritation for swimmers, motivating pool owners to look elsewhere for sanitation. Running into this question a lot, we wanted to discover the best Chlorine Alternatives for pool owners around the country.

Here is what we found:

Salt Chlorine Generator

Salt has become very popular as an alternative way to generate and maintain chlorine levels that provide a much healthier and enjoyable swimming experience. Pool Salt Systems use salt to generate chlorine. This technique will not irritate your eyes, dry out your skin or create that “chlorine smell”. Salt passes through a salt cell where it receives an electric charge, breaking it down to chlorine. It does this consistently to keep Free Chlorine level steady and chloramines low. Free chlorine is what keeps your water clean, clear and sanitized. 

High chloramine levels are the real reason you hear about skin irritation and the “chlorine smell”. If your pool “smells like chlorine”, there’s a good chance that it actually needs MORE chlorine. This is what makes salt water pools so desirable. Low chloramine levels with a balanced salinity level will provide comfortable water that does not irritate or smell. Salt is usually cheaper than other pool chemicals. But keep in mind, salt cells need occasional cleaning to prevent calcium buildup, and do not last forever. Expect to replace your salt cell about every 5 years.

salt chlorine generator

More information:

  • Powerful water sanitation
  • Creates soft-feeling water
  • No more buckets of chlorine
  • High initial investment, low maintenance cost
  • Salt Cell will need replaced every 3 - 5 years

Ozone Pool System

Ozone systems provide clean, clear and safe water for your pool, while significantly reducing chlorine requirements by 60-90%. Ozone also removes eye and skin irritants from pool water. Sounds like a safe bet to us! Ozone generators are designed with a highly reliable cell that can last up to 5 years before replacement is needed. If you are looking for the most scientifically advanced pool water sanitation, an Ozone sanitizer system is the optimal choice for residential pools. 

pool ozone system

More information:

  • Powerful water sanitation
  • Creates soft-feeling water
  • Reduces the amount of chemicals
  • Prevents calcium scaling on surfaces and equipment
  • pH neutral
  • High initial investment
  • Used in combination with a residual sanitizer

Mineral Pool System

Mineral Pool Water Systems are very easy to maintain and reduce chlorine use by up to 50%. Mineral sanitizer systems automatically feed small amounts of copper or silver into the pool to create soft and clean water. Maintenance is simple with the pre-filled cartridges. Not all mineral purifiers use electrically-charged ions, so there is no potential staining on your pool surfaces. 

Mineral Systems have a lower initial investment than a salt chlorination systems, but the replacement mineral cartridges require more frequent replacement - about every 6 months. They also require some residual chlorine in the water, about 0.5-0.6 ppm, to help with organic material in the pool.

pool mineral sanitizer

More information:

  • Very low maintenance
  • Creates soft-feeling water
  • Cuts chlorine use up to 50%
  • Controls algae and bacteria
  • May have a high initial investment, depending on system

Bromine Tablets

Bromine is typically used in spas and indoor pools. This is because bromine does not include CYA, which protects chlorine against “burning-off” from UV rays. Since indoor pools and spas are often covered from sunlight, CYA is not as important. Bromine can be more costly for outdoor pool owners, potentially raising the cost of chemicals since they are more expensive than chlorine and needed more often. 

The good news is that bromine is more stable than chlorine in warmer temperatures, again making this sanitizer the premiere option for spa owners. Pools that are sanitized with bromine do not require as much testing, allowing the water to stay balanced for a longer period of time.

bromine tablets

More information:

  • Great for hot tubs, spas and indoor pools
  • More stable than chlorine in high temperatures
  • More expensive than chlorine tablets
  • Reduces skin irritation and red eyes
  • Not stabilized against UV rays

Non-Chlorine Shock

Non-Chlorine Shock treatment is great for oxidizing organic pollutants, such as body oil, sunscreen and urine. Unfortunately, non-chlorine pool shock can’t sanitize the water on its own. Non-chlorine shock needs an additional sanitation method, such as chlorine, to sanitize a pool.

Oxidizing the organic pollutants will help keep chloramine levels low, so free chlorine can work effectively. Non-chlorine shock is great for indoor pools or pools with high bather load. 

Sunlight will help oxidize organic pollutants naturally, so non-chlorine shock is popular for indoor pools (that have little-to-no sunlight). Non-chlorine shock is also used in hot tubs to oxidize (burn up) dead organic matter. This allows the sanitizer to destroy harmful microorganisms like bacteria and algae.

leslie's fresh 'n clear non-chlorine shock

More information:

  • Great for hot tubs and indoor pools
  • Safe to swim immediately
  • Requires a residual sanitizer
  • Higher price than chlorine shock
  • Safe to use with chlorine, bromine and mineral systems