For 31 years, the voice of the pool and spa service professional.

Switching the focus to ammonia & ammonium levels

If chlorine demand is high, it is not because

of high levels of phosphates or nitrates

By Marcelle Dibrell

In a recent conversation with a pool pro, the topic of nitrate and phosphate removers came up.  “I never use them,” he said, adding, “It‘s all snake oil.”

When asked if he ever had a problem with algae, what he would do about it, he said, “I don’t have algae problems.  I stay ahead of it with chlorine and good circulation.”

He said he uses liquid chlorine, maintains 50 ppm cyanuric acid, and that seems to work just fine.  If he had an algae problem, he supposed he might use a copper-based algaecide and he would also shock the pool.

While he is certainly no water chemist or marine biologist, he has been a pool service professional for almost 10 years.  His philosophy is to “do one thing, and do it well,” and he lives up to his promise to keep his pools pristine. That shouldn’t be dismissed.

His attitude about algae made us wonder about all the hype surrounding nitrates and phosphates and algae problems.  Algaecides and algestats comprise a major component of swimming pool chemicals, and the latest craze is phosphate removers.  Short of draining the pool, there doesn’t yet seem to be a popular method for nitrate removal, though we can be sure that the chemists are looking.

So what’s the deal?  What problem are these phosphate removers trying to address?  What problem do nitrates pose for your swimming pool?  How do phosphates and nitrates get into your pool in the first place?  Do we really need to get them out of our pools?  What about phosphate removers-do they really work?  And why aren’t there any popular chemical or physical methods for removing nitrates, short of draining the pool?

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