Pool Info: Pool Ionizers

Swimming Pool Mineral Ionizers


An ion is an atom, or group of atoms that possess an electrical charge. Ions exist everywhere and your pool is full of ions. It was discovered long ago that copper ions behave as an algaestat, that is, they inhibit algae growth, while silver ions behave as a bactericide, that is, they kill bacteria.


A pool ionizer is a device that uses electricity to produce these metal ions right in the plumbing, so they are dispersed into the water to do their work. Copper and/or silver electrodes are energized with a low voltage, DC current supplied from the equipment sub panel. The voltage is applied to two metallic electrodes placed in close proximity to each other within the plumbing pipe. The electrical current causes atoms of the copper or silver electrode to lose an electron and become cations. These cations are drawn towards the opposite electrode, but are swept away by the rushing water passing by. After this introduction in the water, these ions float dissolved in water until they encounter a microorganism.


Pool Ionization is not a stand alone sanitizer. Pool ionizers cannot oxidize organic matter effectively, so additional chlorine or non-chlorine shock treatment is necessary. There also is the potential for staining of interior surfaces. Copper can deposit itself on these surfaces, giving a blue-green color, {which isn't too bad to look at, some pool people like the color}. Silver can react with sunlight, similar to the way photographs are produced, and create black stains on the plaster. Used properly, and not overused, electric pool ionizers won't stain. Use of a sequestering agent (Stain & Scale product) is recommended if you use one of these systems.

Electrical pool ionizers such as Caribbean Clear or Power Ionizer all operate essentially the same way. Copper and Silver ions reduce the amount of micro-contaminants in the pool water, which reduces your chlorine demand. Some folks use a pool ionizer continuously, and shock the pool weekly, eliminating the need for tablets. Frequent shocking however, may cause excess minerals to precipitate out of solution, depositing itself on pool surfaces.

TDS levels in a pool are recommended to be below 1000ppm, for a swimming pool mineral ionizer to work effectively. Hard water pools, with Calcium Hardness levels in excess of 500ppm may also need to clean the electrodes more often to remove scale deposits.

High water temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of the minerals to sanitize. When pool water temperatures exceed 80 degrees, more of a halogen sanitizer (i.e. Chlorine) may be needed to effectively maintain pool water clarity.

Ionizers can reduce reliance on traditional chemicals, or provide additional power to your sanitation program. Copper and Silver ions are not harmful, even if the pool water is being swallowed, in such low levels. Too much copper can turn your hair green, especially for blonde swimmers. Too much copper can also stain your plaster or white plastic surfaces.