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How Do I Choose the Best Pool Sanitizer?

By Jeremy Laukkonen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Selecting the best pool sanitizer can require you to examine the needs of the people who use the pool, the level of sanitizing that needs to be done, and your budgetary constraints. Chlorine is the most cost effective way to sanitize a pool, but it is also a harsh chemical that can irritate sensitive skin and damage hair. If you want to use a pool sanitizer that is easier on skin and hair, then bromine is an option. Biguanide is another chemical that will typically not damage hair or irritate skin, though it can be substantially more expensive than bromine or chlorine. There are a number of other options you may want to try, such as ionizers and ozone generators, which are best used together with chlorine or bromine treatments.

Pool water can be a breeding ground for algae and harmful bacteria, so choosing the right pool sanitizer is an important task. The first step in the selection process is to determine whether or not anyone who will be using the pool has a history of adverse reactions to common sanitizers. Chlorine is typically the best option due to low cost and ease of use, though it has a strong chemical smell, and can be damaging to the skin and hair of some people. It can be especially hard on hair that has been chemically treated, and some people are also allergic to it.

Bromine is a good substitute for chlorine, as it can be easier on skin and hair. This chemical tends to cost more than chlorine, though it is sometimes possible to use less of it. If you are looking for a sanitizer for your hot tub, then the heat resistant qualities of bromine can make it a good choice. Bromine is known to cause adverse reactions in people who have chlorine allergies though, so that can be important to keep in mind when making your choice.

Another chemical pool sanitizer that you might want to consider using is biguanide. It is typically more expensive than either chlorine or bromine, but it is less likely to cause skin irritation, hair damage, or allergic reactions. Biguanide is not compatible with other supplemental pool sanitizing methods though, as they are typically designed for use with chlorine or bromine.

Depending on the quality of your water, and how clean you would like it to be, you may want to consider using some type of supplemental pool sanitizer. Methods such as ozone generation, ionizers, and mineral filters can all help purify the water in your pool, though they are not considered to be primary methods of sanitizing pool water. These methods may reduce the necessary amounts of chlorine or bromine though, which in turn can lower the risk of skin irritation and hair damage.

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Discussion Comments
By glenns — On Dec 22, 2011

I just wanted to add that there is an added benefit in using a secondary (non-chemical) sanitizer like ozone. Chlorine has been shown to generate hazardous byproducts in the presence of organic materials like sweat, urine, dander and so forth.

In indoor pools, these chemical byproducts (like chloramines) are known to produce asthma and other health-related physical changes in swimmers. While this is not as much of a problem in outdoor pools, a sanitation routine of, for example, chlorine plus ozone is a good way to go.

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