You really don't need to use chlorine if you don't want to, but that doesn't mean that you have to suffer swimming in a bacteria-contaminated pool! There are alternative sanitisers available in the market today that can do chlorine's job (sometimes even better) but are they really worth the money?
Ozone Generators are devices attached downstream / last leg of your filtration system that scrambles the molecules in your water and air to create ozone molecules. There are different types of Ozone Generators (one is known as a CD Ozone Generator and the other is a UV Ozonator) for simplicity's sake, we're just going to skip how they work and focus on the output. I mean, both of these types achieve the same endgoal, produce ozone to sanitise your pool!
Ozone Generator Pros
- Ozone generators work with any type of pool surface, size, and location. Meaning you can use this with spas, indoor pools, in-ground pools, any type of swimming pool!
- Ozone effectively kills and inactivates bacteria, parasites, and viruses!
- It even oxidises chloramines, so you won’t have to worry about “chlorine smell” that plagues many swimming pools.
- Reduces the need for other pool chemicals.
- Ozone generators can make your pool water feel “Soft” which means a more pleasurable swimming experience for everyone.
- Ozone Generators can reduce calcium scaling problems if you have it.
Ozone Generator Cons
- Ozone Generators are EXPENSIVE (yes, all-caps for emphasis)
- Ozone generators still need some chlorine (or bromine) to properly sanitise the pool as it is a supplemental sanitizer
- Maintenance can be expensive
- Probably the biggest problem for Ozone is that it is very dangerous and will need very strict monitoring and containing.
Mr Pool Man’s Verdict on Ozone Generators
Ozone generators aren’t true chlorine replacements but rather as a supplement so that you’ll use less chlorine. If you have the budget for an ozone generator and don’t mind the strict maintenance routines needed to keep ozone generators running safely then this can be a good choice.
Bromine / Brominating Tablets
Now this is a true chlorine substitute. What you’re essentially doing is swapping out one chemical for another. Bromine is very effective in sanitising your pool but they can be a little bit more expensive than chlorine.
- Simple to use and is much more milder than chlorine
- Perfect for use for people with chlorine sensitivity
- Excellent for use in indoor pools and spas
- Stable at higher temperatures
- Very little smell
- Stays in the water longer
- Easier to balance pH levels when using bromine
- Extremely sensitive to sunlight, so if you’re using it for an outdoor pool, you’ll have to use more
- Be prepared to spend twice or thrice the amount you’re currently spending on chlorine if you plan to use bromine in an outdoor pool that’s directly exposed to sunlight.
- Bromine can cause water cloudiness
Mr Pool Man’s Verdict on Bromine
We don’t recommend swapping out chlorine for bromine when it comes to outdoor pools simply because of the costs involved. But for spas and indoor pools, bromine is the way to go!
Pool Mineral Systems
Pool mineral systems are a passive addition to any pool that will reduce the use of chlorine. Again, this is not a true chlorine replacement as it will only supplement the chlorine that you use on your pool What mineral systems like the Zodiac Nature2 does is that it dispenses minerals and metals to your pool killing bacteria and algae through the use of silver and copper minerals.
Pool Mineral System Pros
- The water will feel softer
- Swimming will be a gentler experience overall. It’s milder on the skin, hair, and swimwear
- Pool equipment will benefit from the reduced chlorine content in the water.
- You will only need around 0.5ppm of chlorine to keep your pool water sanitized, allowing for those that are sensitive to chlorine (depending on their sensitivity) to enjoy the pool without breaking into hives
- Less “chlorine smell”
Pool Mineral System Cons
- Doesn’t eliminate the need for chlorine completely
- Depending on your area, the added minerals and metal ions to the water may cause some staining.
- You may need to monitor your water’s metal levels to prevent staining
- You will still need to regularly shock the pool
Mr Pool Man’s Verdict on Pool Mineral Systems
They’re in the “It’s great to have pile” when it comes to chlorine alternatives. They’re not really our “go-to” when it comes to replacing chlorine, but if you just want a better experience with less chlorine then you may want to give pool mineral systems like the Nature2 a second look.
While it may sound so exotic, biguanide sanitisers are actually a lot more common that you might imagine. Biguanide sanitisers are more commonly known as non-chlorine sanitisers! For Lo-Chlor, their biguanide sanitisers are called the Aquafresh (for swimming pools) and Aquaspa (for spas) respectively.
Biguanide / Non-Chlorine Sanitiser Pros
- Totally replaces chlorine! Unline mineral, ozone, or other sanitisers, biguanide sanitisers require absolutely ZERO chlorine or bromine in your pool.
- These are gentle on the skin, hair, and swimwear.
- Totally eliminates the fumes that come with chlorine or bromine.
- As effective or even more effective than chlorine
- It can be used as an alternative to chlorine if you’re using ozone generators or mineral systems.
- It’s non-foaming so you don’t have to worry about corrosion and scum lines.
Biguanide / Non-Chlorine Sanitiser Cons
- Over the years, biguanide-resistant microorganisms may develop. This can be fixed by shocking the water with a chlorine shock that will destroy the microorganisms as well as the biguanide in the pool.
- You may need to use specially-formulated algaecide that works with biguanide for extra algae protection.
- A little bit more expensive than chlorine
Mr Pool Man’s Verdict on Biguanide sanitisers
If you want to totally replace chlorine then biguanide sanitisers are the way to go! They’re only a little bit more expensive than chlorine and the added benefits of biguanide sanitisers more than offsets the additional cost!
P.S. While the article may be about chlorine-free and bromine-free spa, it works the same for pools! Albeit on a much larger scale.
Salt Water Chlorinators
We’ve covered salt water chlorinators many times already and the key takeaway is that while it’s a replacement for traditional chlorine, it’s not really a chlorine-free solution. In a nutshell, what it does is it creates chlorine ions from the salt in your water which effectively sanitises your pool!
Salt Water Chlorinator Pros
- Less handling of chlorine
- The pool water will be much gentler as the salt water chlorinator will keep the chlorine levels at their proper levels automatically
- No need to constantly monitor and adjust chlorine levels
- Far less maintenance and chemical balancing than traditional chlorine pools
- You’ll only need to top up the salt levels in your pool every year or so, and pool salt is very cheap
- Many salt water chlorinators like the Water TechniX Atomic can be converted into mineral chlorinators by simply swapping out the salt with magnesium minerals, giving you a magnesium mineral pool without the added costs of specialized equipment (Read more about magnesium pools here).
Salt water Chlorinator Cons
- They require a significant up front investment for the chlorinator.
- Some pool equipment may be sensitive to salt exposure so check with the manufacturers of your existing pool equipment, but most newer pool equipment should be fine.
- Salt cells may require replacement every couple of years, but the costs will be somewhat equal to what you spend on chlorine.
Mr Pool Man’s Verdict on Salt Water Chlorinators
A definite, 100% yes for salt water chlorinators! Although there is still a level of chlorine in the water, it’s still quite low and mild, meaning that many people who suffer from chlorine sensitivity will be able to tolerate swimming in a salt water pool. Not only that, since salt water pools automatically generate chlorine everytime the pump is running, you’ll always have a sanitised pool and you won’t have to worry about bacteria and other nasty stuff lurking in the pool.
No matter which chlorine alternative you choose, the best thing to remember is that as long as it works for your pool and keeps it sanitised then it’s well worth it! If you just want to remove the hassle of dealing with chlorine then a salt water chlorinator system is our top recommendation. For doing away with chlorine totally, then we recommend a biguanide sanitiser like the one from Lo-chlor! Everything else is just supplementation and they fall into the “nice to have” category.
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Happy swimming :)