Alternative Sanitizers

Alternative Sanitizers To Chlorine & Bromine

In a hot tub or swimming pool a sanitizer is required to kill bacteria and digest organic material that gets deposited in the water by bathers and by external factors such as trees dropping material in the water. This is a multiple step process that requires a dynamic chemical that can perform multiple functions.

a) Sanitizer
b) Oxidizer
c) Algaecide
d) Build Residual

Chlorine, bromine and chlorine or bromine produced as a result of a salt water perform all of these functions. While there are many forms of alternative sanitizers and other products that claim to safely perform the function of a replacement to chlorine and bromine, there are none recognized by health care regulating bodies in North America. Each of the alternative sanitizers are missing at least one of the 4 required characteristics needed for safe maintenance of hot tub water.

Peroxide, MPS & Non Chlorine Shock

While oxidizing is an important part of hot tub water maintenance, none of these alternative sanitizers actually have sanitizing properties. As a result there is increased risk in using these products as a sanitizer alternative in the water. These can hold residual content in the water and are excellent oxidizers.

Silver Ions For Sanitizing Hot Tub Water

Widely used in the USA and Europe but not approved by Health Canada there is much data to support using silver in swimming pool water as a possible replacement for chlorine or an alternative that allows chlorine levels to be vastly reduced due t the bactericide properties of silver systems.

Silver nitrate and silver ionizer systems are particularly adept at reducing the harmful legionelle bacteria in water sources. In combination with the natural algaecide properties of copper sulphate or copper ionizers there is serious potential for systems that run with little to no chlorine though it is still recommended to use at least 0.2ppm of chlorine to be certain that the water is free of dangerous bacteria, fungus, viruses or parasites.

Do Silver Ions Work As A Sanitizer

The limitations of copper and silver based systems is that they have no capacity with which to chemically remove organic material in the water such as leaves, skin, hair and urine. For this reason either low levels of sanitizer like chlorine or oxidizer like peroxide or potassium monopersulfate must be used to oxidize the organic contaminents in the water.

While silver in pool and spa water is specifically adept at destroying the legionella bacteria there is some evidence showing bacteria becoming resistant to the silver requiring chemical sanitizer to resolve. This tends to happen in older pool and spa water and supports cycling of the water but is also an indication of an area of concern when using alternative sanitizers.

There is some evidence that repeated contact with metals in water contribute to elevated levels of these persistent substances in the human body. These elevated mineral levels are being potentially tied to health concerns like altheimers disease so caution should be used when choosing what you put into your hot tub and pool water.

Copper & Copper Sulfate In Pools & Spas

While copper is better than silver in pool and hot tub water, it is not a safe and recognized replacement for traditional water sanitizers. The copper does serve as an algaecide and does build residual however it is neither a sanitizer nor an oxidizer. Copper also has the negative function in water of causing staining on surfaces and contributing to the loss of free chlorine levels when used as an algaecide.

UV Pool & Spa Water Treatment

Ultra violet light systems are effective as a sanitizer as well as being used as an algaecide. The light however provides no oxidizing properties and can not build a residual level so if the light fails there is immediately no protection in the water. UV based systems also have a short life span and require bulb replacement as much as a couple of times per year.

Ozone Systems As Alternative To Sanitizers

Using ozone instead of chlorine or bromine is the only effective and safe method alternative. It does satisfy the four criteria required for a sanitizer to safely be used to disinfect bacteria in hot tub and spa water.

Read more about chlorine and bromine sanitizers in this section

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