Any pool can be cloudy. But what makes great water clarity?
It is important to make the distinction between clean water and clear water. While it is ideal to have both, it is very possible to have one without the other. Clean water (i.e. healthy water) is characterized by effective disinfection and sanitation, and usually a high oxidation reduction potential (ORP). Clean water is balanced water, with a residual of free available chlorine around 1.5-2.5 ppm, though not necessarily crystal clear.
Water clarity, however, is not necessarily the same as healthy or clean…though it looks clean. Also referred to as turbidity, water clarity mostly has to do with total dissolved solids (TDS), organic load, and filtration. It is possible for clear water to be out of balance. For example, one way to make water look great is to lower the pH below 7, so that chlorine becomes more effective. Sure, the water will look fantastic and clear, but at the cost of acidic water that can cause eye and skin irritation.
Formula for world class water clarity
- Effective filtration
- Control/removal of organic waste
- Low total dissolved solids (TDS)
Pools mostly use cartridge, pressure sand, vacuum sand or DE filtration. Regardless of which type is on your pool, effective filtration occurs when your filter has a good flow rate and pressure. The most common enemy of filters is organic waste. Organic waste tends to be sticky, which creates a ‘slimy gunk’ (that’s a scientific term). Slimy gunk attracts more particulates and gets gunkier and slimier. Conventional wisdom in the pool industry agrees that the vast majority of disease and bacteria lives in the filter itself…not the pool. That means even when clean water passes through the dirty, gunky filter, it’s touching the worst stuff in the system.
Control/Removal of organic waste
Organic waste (the key ingredient of slimy gunk) is introduced to the water by bathers or outside factors. This means that organic waste not only gets stuck in the filter, it also lurks in the pool itself. It’s hard to get rid of, because chlorine is not designed to eliminate it. Sure, it will oxidize it as well as it can, but organic waste is complex, when chlorine is designed to kill simple organisms (like bacteria). It takes a lot more chlorine to oxidize organic waste than to sanitize bacteria.
Since organics are constantly being introduced by bathers, their presence is inevitable. When chlorine gets used up trying to oxidize it (and fails), disinfectant byproducts are created, measured as combined chlorine. This is part of a natural chemistry process, and the byproducts are inevitable. The partially burned up organic waste is still organic waste, and still contributes to the slimy gunk in the filter. Unfortunately, super-chlorination (shocking) is largely ineffective at finishing off organic waste. Remember, chlorine is not designed to control organics. Adding more of it doesn’t change that.
Low total dissolved solids (TDS)
TDS is a measurement of the total dissolved particulates in the water. This includes every chemical, mineral, metal and waste that is present. Everything that isn’t pure water counts toward TDS. Generally speaking, the more stuff you put in your pool, the higher TDS will be. For example, if you are having trouble maintaining your pH and total alkalinity, the muriatic acid or sodium bicarb you put in the pool counts toward your TDS. Low on calcium? Adding calcium adds to your TDS. You get the point.
Some of the best pool operators we have met are minimalists. They maintain excellent balance in their pools without overdoing it. The idea that “some is good, therefore more is better” is fundamentally wrong most of the time. Minimalist pool operators tend to have very low TDS, and therefore better water clarity.
The case for enzymes
Want help achieving world class water clarity? Orenda enzymes can help. If the formula for clear water is effective filtration, control/removal of non-living organic waste and low TDS, enzymes are the perfect fit. They are a natural chemical that can break down and digest carbon waste (all organic waste has carbon in it). Once digested, the byproducts are carbon dioxide, inert molecules, and water. That means the non-living organic waste that enzymes touch will cease to interfere in a short amount of time.
Think about that. How much harder is it for chlorine to disinfect germs if organic waste is blocking the way? Try this: coat your hand in grease or vegetable oil, and dip it in tap water for 10 minutes. How “clean” does your hand feel? If the chlorine residual in the tap water (usually around 0.5-1.0 ppm) could eliminate organic waste well, why is your hand still greasy?
But what if that oily gunk was removed by enzymes? That would clear the path for chlorine to disinfect germs (because enzymes don’t disinfect anything). Effective chlorine means cleaner, healthier water.
So enzymes help with effective filtration and removal of non-livingorganic waste…but what about TDS?
Enzymes alone will not directly reduce TDS; it is up to the pool operator. With less organic waste (which could mean less chlorine demand), enzymes can make an operator’s job easier. When chlorine is efficient and ORP is high, managing water chemistry is an easier task. In your pool, can it mean less chemicals and minerals in your water? If so, enzymes can help you attain world class water clarity.
For more information about cloudy pool water, we have an article about it.