This article looks at the pros and cons of a pool ionizers.

Everyone wants less chemicals in their pool. There are several ‘alternative sanitizers’ on the market that can help you achieve that and the pool ionizer offers the best value over the alternatives. However, it’s not all roses and it’s important to be aware of the areas where pool ionizers don’t work on their own.

Pro: Algae Control

With a backyard swimming pool, the biggest battle you face when it comes to keeping your water clean and clear is against algae. Algae comes in many forms and colors and depending on where you live, might be a huge challenge when it comes to keeping your pool fresh.

Pool ionizers are probably the most effective way to control algae of all types. The ClearBlue Ionizer in particular uses a combination of silver, copper and zinc, all known for years to battle various types of algae.

So if you have a properly ionized pool, you will never need to add algaecide and will need much less chlorine to keep the water clear. Plus, ionizers use natural minerals with no additives, so they are a very clean and healthy way to control algae.

Con: Oxidization

One of the primary functions of the chlorine, bromine or other pool sanitizer is to oxidize organic matter. Copper and silver-copper ionizers are great at fighting bacteria and algae, but they do not break down sweat, lotions, makeup, etc. So, all pool ionizers need some form of oxidizer for a complete system. The most common one is chlorine or bromine at a reduced level.

Some pool ionizer manufacturers claim that they use oxygen or ozone to take care of the organic matter. This is true to some extent. Ozone is a powerful oxidizer and does break down lotions and other organics. However, ozone has a short life. It bubbles through the water and instantly dissipates.

The other problem with ozone is that it doesn’t build up in the water. It only works where the ozone bubbles are released. This means organic matter must pass through the bubbles to get oxidized and that might take a while in a large pool. It also means you should run your pump a lot which costs money.

Pro: Pool Ionizers Allow Chlorine Reduction to Drinking Water Level

If you’ve ever drank tap water, you’ve consumed chlorine. There are some who have an extreme sensitivity to chlorine, but for most people, there is no harm from drinking chlorinated water. Most health agencies agree that the risks of ingesting harmful bacteria in untreated drinking water far outweigh the risks of consuming a small amount of chlorine used to kill that bacteria.

Most pool ionizers recommend maintaining a residual of 0.5 – 0.6ppm of chlorine, vs. 1-3ppm with chlorine alone. This is a 40%-50% reduction of chlorine in the water which reduces the smell and the effect of drying skin and fading bathing suits. If the chlorine level is safe enough for drinking water, you can be sure it’s safe to swim in.

Con: There is a Replaceable Cell

Pool ionizers use a mineral cell to build up minerals in the water. These cells have a lifespan that ranges from 3 months to 3 years and when it runs out, the ionizer stops working.

Replacement cells range from $70 to $200+, so you need to account for this when you are budgeting your pool maintenance. However, since the chlorine, algaecide and pH balancing chemicals are reduced, you should recover all or most of this additional cost.

Pro: Great Value

When you’re looking to reduce the chlorine requirement in your swimming pool, there are several ‘alternative sanitizers’ that help you achieve this. The most common ones are UV and ozone, and there are some newer solutions as well. At the end of the day, each of these solutions allows you to reduce the chlorine requirement down to a minimum of 0.5ppm, according to NSF, EPA and other governing bodies. While they all take a different approach to get to this reduction, the net reduction is the same and no combination of systems will allow you to safely reduce chlorine lower than this.

In general, the cost of pool ionizer is less than UV and ozone systems, both in terms of up front cost and long term cost. So you are spending less money to get to the same result.

ALSO: Learn about pool ionizers vs. salt water pools.