This sampling of FAQs should help with some basic salt water pool information and troubleshooting issues. As always, visiting our store and meeting with us is always your best bet. Have more questions? Contact us today.
Do salt pools have chlorine in them?
Yes. The basis of the Mineral Springs system is the formation of hypochlorous acid (free available chlorine) through the electrolysis of salt in water. Electrolysis occurs through a device called an electrolytic chlorine generator (ECG) that is installed on your pools system. Salt pools are chlorine pools and an ECG is the equipment through which salt is converted into chlorine. Proper free available chlorine residual should be maintained at all times for adequate sanitation.
Is all pool salt the same?
No. When it comes to the quality of salt, there are significant differences. Some “pool salt” can contain impurities such as iron or organic material. Even though these impurities may be present in only trace amounts, once enough salt is added to reach the recommended level, these impurities can build up enough to cause a problem. BioGuard®’s Mineral Springs® Beginnings® is formulated with ultra pure salt. BioGuard has performed rigorous testing on the salt that goes into Beginnings to be sure that it is of highest quality and will not add unwanted “extras” to the pool water.
Is salt all I need for a saline pool?
Pools equipped with a chlorine generator MUST be balanced just as any other pool. The electrolytic chlorine generator (ECG) produces chlorine but does not provide any other means of balancing the water. In fact, the by-products produced during electrolytic chlorine generation can cause the pH to rise. High pH in pool water can contribute to cloudy water, scaling and decreased chlorine efficiency. This pH drift will need to be offset in order to keep the pH in the proper range. That’s why BioGuard Mineral Springs Renewal® includes a pH decreaser. When applied weekly per label directions, Renewal will help offset the pH drift and keep the water balanced.
In addition, the chlorine produced by the ECG is unstabilized. Especially in outdoor pools, stabilizer (cyanuric acid) is required to prevent chlorine degradation by sunlight so that it lasts longer in your pool. Both Mineral Springs Beginnings® and Convert contain cyanuric acid (stabilizer) to protect the chlorine being produced by the ECG from sunlight degradation. Most ECG manufacturers recommend a level of 60-80 ppm stabilizer.
Also, the chlorine generator does not produce any ancillary products that may improve the water balance, clarity and softness. In addition to stabilizer, Mineral Springs Beginnings and Renewal contain a water softener (to improve the feel of the water beyond that of regular salt pools) and a scale inhibitor (to protect the chlorine generator cell plates). Renewal also contains a filter aid which will help keep the water sparkling clear.
So you can see the advantages of using the Mineral Springs system far outweigh straight “pool salt”.
My pool is equipped with a chlorine generator. Does it require any other source of chlorine?
There are some instances where the chlorine generator may not be able to produce enough chlorine to overcome the contaminant burden in the pool. Pools equipped with an ECG can often struggle with chlorine demand just as any other chlorine pool might. In these instances, a larger than normal amount of chlorine may be required for treatment.
If a chlorine demand is suspected, the water can be tested by us on the Accu-Demand30® test and treated per instructions from the computerized analysis, ALEX. Also, keep in mind that these pools require routine oxidation or “shocking” just as any other chlorine pool does. Many times this can be accomplished by using a boost setting on the chlorine generator itself. Alternatively, a chlorinating product such as Super Soluble may be applied. And, as with any pool, additional oxidation will be needed after heavy bather loads, rain or if contamination is suspected.
Will phosphate in my pool's water affect the ability of chlorine generator cells to work properly?
It is possible for phosphate in the water to combine with calcium to form calcium phosphate scale. If calcium phosphate (or any other type of scale) accumulates on the ECG cell plates, then chlorine production will be compromised. However, it is important to keep calcium phosphate in perspective. In analyzing types of scale typically found on chlorine generator cell plates, BioGuard has found that a vast majority of the scale is actually calcium carbonate (followed by a significantly smaller amount of calcium phosphate and an even smaller amount of calcium sulfate). So while it is possible for calcium phosphate scale to form, BioGuard has learned that targeting the biggest scale contributor is a better way to go.
Mineral Springs Stain and Scale is very effective at preventing calcium carbonate scale formation. Its specialized structure allows it to act both as a sequestering agent (keeping calcium carbonate in solution) and as a dispersant (improving the separation of particles and preventing settling). This is important as some products are only dispersants and have very little sequestering capability. This means that they only do half the job that Mineral Springs Stain and Scale does. The effectiveness of this product has been proven through ten years of testing and many happy pool owners.
Can I use products for a traditional chlorine pool with my chlorine generator?
Some ancillary products that are used in traditional chlorine pools may not be as effective in pools equipped with a chlorine generator because they may not be able to withstand the harsh environment that exists within the chlorine generator cell. Scale inhibitors are a good example of this. Some scale inhibitor products are somewhat sensitive to chlorine. While these products are effective when used in traditional chlorine pools, they may not stand up to the harsh environment that exists inside the cell. Mineral Springs Stain and Scale was chosen because of its ability to better withstand this harsh environment. It is important to note that Mineral Springs Stain and Scale is not the same formula as Pool Magnet® Plus or Scale Inhibitor.
While some scale inhibitor products are fine for traditional pools but less effective in chlorine generator pools, there are other scale inhibitor products that would not be appropriate to use in any type of chlorine pool. These compounds are extremely chlorine sensitive and offer no benefit when used in any type of chlorinated environment. In fact, some can lead to the formation of chloramine; so not only would you get no benefit from the product, but it could cause additional problems in your pool.
Other ancillary products such as water softeners (Optimizer Plus®), water clarifiers (Polysheen® Blue) and filter aids (Sparkle Up®) are appropriate to use in both traditional chlorine pools and those equipped with a chlorine generator. Water balancing products (Balance Pak® 100, 200, 300 and Lo ‘N Slo®) may also be used in both types of pools. Stabilizer (cyanuric acid) is necessary in any outdoor chlorine pool (traditional or salt-water) to protect the hypochlorous acid from sunlight degradation.
Can sulfate based pH adjusters be used in pools equipped with a chlorine generator?
As mentioned above, calcium sulfate scale is possible; however, it is the least likely type of scale to form. The formation of this type of scale is not pH driven as it is with calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate. It is driven by the concentration of calcium and sulfate in the water. When Mineral Springs® products are used per label directions, the sulfate level in the pool typically does not reach the amount needed to force the formation of this type of scale. In addition, scientists use parameters like solubility constants for specific compounds to predict which compounds are likely to stay in solution and which are not. Looking at the solubility constant for calcium sulfate tells us that this compound is more likely to stay in solution than calcium carbonate or calcium phosphate…which confirms that this will be the last type of scale to form. These theories were also confirmed through research and testing as there was very little calcium sulfate present on scaled cell plates tested by BioGuard. For this reason, BioGuard continues to offer a safer alternative for pH adjustment in pools equipped with a chlorine generator.
In the event that calcium sulfate scale were to form, it can be more difficult to remove. Mineral Springs Cell Cleaner will remove calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate and calcium sulfate based scale. The acid in Mineral Springs Cell Cleaner is at the appropriate concentration for scale removal and no dilution is needed. Note that cell cleaning with dilute muriatic acid may not be as effective in removing calcium sulfate scale.
Can copper based algicides be used in pools equipped with a chlorine generator?
It depends on the product. Many copper based algaecides contain copper triethanolamine. Triethanolamine is a nitrogen containing compound which is not very chlorine tolerant. Therefore, once inside the chlorine generator cell, this compound will break down resulting in free copper which has the potential to stain. This condition can result in copper based scale on the chlorine generator cell plates. In addition, because triethanolamine contains nitrogen, as it breaks down it has the potential to contribute to chloramine formation. Just as with certain sequestering agents, the use of these types of compounds will cause the active ingredient to be destroyed and could result in problematic compounds being formed.
On the other hand, Banish® does not contain triethanolamine. Banish contains polyacrylate which is extremely chlorine tolerant. This product has been tested with a high level of free chlorine with no product degradation and no staining.