When you think about sanitizing your pool, chemicals like chlorine and bromine may come to mind, but those aren’t the only game in town for keeping your pool clean. Just as vitamins and minerals are necessary for a healthy human body, certain minerals can keep a pool happy and healthy too.
A pool mineral system can do just that, offering pool owners an alternative method to keeping their pools clean and sparkling without using as much chlorine. They have some serious benefits and a few downsides, though, so make sure to read on before making the switch.
Pool Mineral Systems: Demystified
Using minerals rather than chlorine to clean your pool sounds fantastic, right? But how does it all work?
The short answer is that a mineral system is just an alternative to regular sanitizers like chlorine and bromine (although, a bit of chlorine will still turn up on occasion). The minerals that can keep your pool water clean are silver, copper, and (sometimes) zinc.
These two minerals are also metals on the Periodic Table of Elements and have been used throughout history for their cleansing (and even healing) properties. Silver was first used for its therapeutic effects in medicine as early as 3,500 years ago in Han Dynasty, China.
Throughout the ages, plates and eating utensils were made from silver due to their antimicrobial properties. Copper is an effective algaecide and can be found in many algae-preventing products for pools and spas on the market today.
Similarly, zinc is a common additive in antibacterial products and has been used over the years as an antibiotic.
Occasionally, limestone is included as an ingredient in pool mineral systems to absorb chlorine acid, thus stabilizing the water’s overall pH.
Benefits of Using a Mineral Pool System
The main benefit of minerals is simply ridding yourself of the disadvantages of chlorine.
If you or anyone in your family has sensitive skin, chlorine may be a huge drawback to having a relaxing pool day.
Chlorine (and its byproduct chloramines) can do some serious damage to swimmers’ skin, hair, and bathing suits. You’ve probably experienced noticeably drier skin, crunchy hair, and faded colors on your swimsuits after swimming in a chlorine-only pool.
Using a mineral sanitizing system actually makes your pool water softer, alleviating the discomforts caused by chlorine. When you get out of a mineral-sanitized pool, you’ll be sure to notice a smoother, silkier feel to your skin and hair afterward.
Happier pool equipment
Just as chlorine and chloramines wreak havoc on the skin and hair of swimmers, you’ll probably notice its effects on your pool equipment too. Longterm exposure to chlorine causes pipes, hoses, and plastic parts to break down more quickly, deteriorating under the constant exposure to chlorinated water.
Pool mineral systems will soften the water for your equipment too. Just as the softer water helps to alleviate the harmful effects of chlorine and its byproducts on humans, so too will the mineralized water protect your pool equipment, helping it to last longer and saving you money.
Less sanitizer needed
Another serious benefit to pool mineral systems is the decreased amount of chlorine that you’ll need to use over time. That’s right, you do still need to use chlorine with these sanitizing systems, but it will be far less than with a chlorine-only sanitizing regimen.
Disadvantages of Using a Mineral Pool System
Mineral pool systems are pretty amazing contraptions. By using natural metallic minerals to sanitize your pool water, your skin, pool equipment, and wallet will be a lot happier all around.
There are really no dealbreakers here when it comes to not making the switch, but there are some particulars that you should be aware of before deciding on a pool mineral system.
They won’t completely replace the need for sanitizing chemicals
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll still need to use some kind of sanitizer with a mineral system. Despite all of the benefits, a mineral system isn’t enough to prevent and destroy all bacteria or algae that might find its way into your pool.
The addition of some sanitizer is necessary, however, it will be far less often (and much less) than without the mineral system at all.
They might cost more over time
The good news is that mineral pool systems are typically less expensive than using chlorine or bromine alone. The bad news is, minerals are not potent enough to disinfect everything themselves. Unfortunately, this means you’ll have to buy extra sanitizer to finish the job.
While using two products to sanitize your pool may seem like a pain, in actuality, you may actually end up still spending less than you would on traditional sanitizers like chlorine and bromine. The final calculation really comes down to personal factors like usage, weather, and the size of your pool.
Watch for oxidation stains
One of the biggest downsides of a mineral system is the potential for oxidation stains in your pool. So, you know how the Statue of Liberty is a kind of greenish color? Well, the entire statue is made of copper and when copper oxidizes, it turns green.
Using copper to prevent algae in your pool works great but it does come with the unfortunate disadvantage of some greenish stains in your pool. Don’t worry, though, it’s not the end of the world. You can either accept it and pretend your pool is the Statue of Liberty or…
- Use a hose filter when filling up your pool to prevent even more copper from getting in.
- Clean the stains and then use a metal sequestrant additive to prevent future stains.
Types of Pool Mineral Systems
Now that you are aware of both of the upsides and the downsides of a mineral pool system, you can make an educated decision as to whether or not making the switch is right for you. If you do decide to go minerals, here are the best options for how to integrate a mineral system into your pool.
One of the easiest options is a skimmer basket. The process is simple: all you need to do is put the mineral dispenser into the skimmer basket and you’re done! As the pool water flows over the skimmer basket, the minerals are released into the water to do their work.
This model works with pools up to 25,000 gallons and some dispensers can last up to 6 months.
The other (nearly) effortless option is a floating dispenser. Just like a pool floater that holds chlorine tablets and doles out chlorine throughout your pool, you can get a mineral dispenser that works the exact same way.
All you have to do to set it up is to connect a chlorine and mineral cartridge to the floater and set it free in your pool. It will float around, working its magic until all of the minerals are used up. Conveniently, when its payload is empty, the floating dispenser will actually flip over to let you know it’s time to refill one or both of the cartridges.
Using the inline system method of mineral disbursement is a bit more involved but still very doable. Inline mineral systems can be installed into your existing pool plumbing without having to replace any of your current parts.
If you fancy yourself a DIY guru, you can definitely install the system yourself but it’s also not a bad idea to hire a professional to make sure everything is exactly where it needs to be. No matter which way you decide to go, make sure that the mineral cartridge is accessible so that you can replace it when needed.
How to Use a Mineral Pool System (Step by Step)
Making the switch to minerals is a very simple process. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that the chlorine or bromine levels in your pool need to drop down a bit before you can add minerals to the mix.
If you currently use chlorine to sanitize your pool, wait until the chlorine levels reach 0.5 parts per million (ppm) and if you use bromine, 1 ppm. When your current sanitizer is at the correct levels, simply follow these simple steps to get started.
Step #1: Always Use a Hose Filter
We always recommend using a hose filter when filling your pool to reduce excess minerals and metals from getting in there uninvited. It’s even more important to do so, however, when using a mineral system.
So, if you’re filling your pool up for the first time or just need to top up once in a while, make sure to use a hose filter to only ensure you only add the minerals you want to your pool water.
Step #2: Test for Metals
Since minerals are also metals, you’ll need to see what level of metals your pool water currently contains before you jump into a mineral system. The best option is to take a sample of your pool water to your local pool store to get an accurate measurement.
If the metal levels are high (especially copper, which can cause staining), use a metal sequestrant first to get the levels where they need to be.
Step #3: Balance the Water
You do this once a week anyway, right? So this should be old hat by now. Test and balance your water until you achieve the following optimal levels:
- Total Alkalinity: 100-150 ppm (125 ppm is the goal)
- pH: 7.4-7.6 (aim for 7.5)
- Calcium Hardness: For a concrete/plaster pool, aim for 200-275 ppm. All other types of pool, the goal should be 175-225 ppm.
Step #4: Add the Minerals
Whichever mineral method you decide to use, whether skimmer basket, floating dispenser, or inline system, always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when using their product. (Including promptly changing the cartridges when necessary.)
Step #5: Supplement with Sanitizer
When using a mineral system it’s important to keep your alternative sanitizer levels in the right place, just like you would normally with a chlorine or bromine-sanitized pool.
Chlorine levels should always be at 0.5ppm and bromine at 1ppm. When balancing, make sure to add a little bit at a time and retest to get it right.
Sanitizing with Minerals
One of the best parts about using a mineral system is that you can easily try it and also easily revert back to your old system if it doesn’t work for you. The best way to find out if a mineral pool system is right for you is to give it a try! Starting with a skimmer basket or floating dispenser offers an easy and inexpensive way to try it on for size.
Beyond that, mineral systems eliminate the yucky effects chlorine has on your hair, skin, and swimwear, improving the overall quality of your time spent in the pool.