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Ionization-Oxidation Pool Sanitizers

An alternative pool water sanitizer, born of the space-age.
The Pool and Spa Informational Website

Hybrid Pool Water Purification Systems.


Scroll down to browse through some archived SWIMMING POOL questions and answers.  Please click the Pool Topics Link, on top of every page, to access a complete listing of Pool Problem subjects, an alphabetized Website Table of Contents, Pool Equipment Information, About Alan Biographic Material and a Pool Glossary. Use the other links to access additional subject information. More information about some new and unique products, for pools and spas, can be found by visiting The Website Store. You'll never know what you'll find and that's always fun. Be better prepared and avoid costly problems!

Card On Guard, Solar UV Sanitizer, for pools and spas. Solar-Powered Mineralizer for pools.
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How to use Ionization-Oxidation, as an alternative spa, swim spa or hot tub sanitizer? Ionization-Oxidation Systems are hybrid water purification devices that supply a dual stream of sanitizing metallic ions to the pool water: usually copper and zinc. The copper ions function primarily as an algaecide and the zinc ions function as a bactericide. Used properly, the ions are maintained at very low levels, avoiding the possibility of staining or discoloration. What makes Ionization-Oxidation a hybrid product and sets it apart from simple ionizers is another set of electrodes that produces various forms of active oxygen. The ability to both sanitize and oxidize wastes and organic byproducts makes this a very effective system, especially with a low chemical presence. It is this dual functionality that makes this product more versatile than ionizers or mineral sanitizers. When used in conjunction with a very low level of chlorine or salt chlorine generator, Ionization-Oxidation produces better and more consistent results with minimal chemical usage.  If problems arise, refer to the Pool Problems Page, as a source of problem-solving information, broken down into various categories.  Scroll down the page and click on the linked keywords, catch phrases or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product.

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▼     Helpful, Problem-Solving Information, in a question and answer format.     ▼

What is Ionization-Oxidation?

A friend has a pool that uses something called Ionization-Oxidation. He seemed very happy with it and I must admit there was no heavy chlorine smell. It sounded too good to be true, but I didn't want to press him on the details. Can you fill in the blanks?

Jerry N., Darien, GA, 6/23/2018

Ionization-Oxidation is a hybrid method for purifying water. The technology was actually used in the space program to purify water on many manned space missions. In the better units, electrodes release controllable amounts of copper and zinc ions, to act as sanitizers. In addition, other electrodesSaltron Reliant salt chlorine generator, for pools. produce forms of active oxygen to destroy organic matter, algae and waste products. The Ionization-Oxidation unit is operated for a preset time and carries the sanitizing load, with a minimal chemical presence. Frequently, it is touted as 100% chlorine free. In the real world, better and more consistent results are gotten, by also maintaining a very low level of chlorine.  It requires very little chlorine and there should be little or no sense of this being a chlorine pool. However, the oxygenation leaves the water quickly, after turning off the unit,  and many users make the mistake of increasing the copper level.  When the copper level goes above 0.3 PPM or the pH too far above 7.2, copper staining becomes a possibility. The chlorine just helps bridge the gap between the shutting off of the unit and its restart the next day. If you are interested in a pool that uses a minimum of chemicals, you might consider a salt chlorine generator.  It is the better way to do chlorine and avoids the buildup of unwanted byproducts and does not contribute to the possibility of copper staining.  I hope that this information proves to be helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/24/2018

Too Much Copper?

Seasons Greetings Alan! I have a copper ionized pool, using an ionization-oxidation unit, with alow level liquid chlorine (~1ppm). 1. Is it OK to use cyanuric acid as a sunscreen to prolong the chlorine? (some ionizer manufacturers say no). 2. What is the best system to measure copper ion levels in a pool? 3. What is the simplest method to reduce copper ion levels? (when I over do it - the wife's hair started to go green!) Appreciate your advice! Regards.

Rod, 12/20/2017

You can and should use chlorine stabilizer. Manufacturers that say, otherwise, are probably trying to obscure the fact, that using chlorine, with their equipment, produces better results. They are too intent on down playing the value of adding chlorine.
ColorQ all-digital water analyzers, for pools and spas.
A ColorQ PRO 7-Plus provides all the testing, that you should require.

You can use a MetalTrap Filter and a small submersible pump to recirculate water, the cartridge-like filter. As water passes through the MetalTrap, the copper will be removed. Once the pool copper content has dropped to safe level (under 0.3 PPM), you can stop the recirculation. High levels of copper can cause green hair.  High pH makes it even worse.

I hope that the information provided was helpful.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 12/20/2017

A Safer Choice?

One of my clients wishes to use H
2O2 as a sanitizing agent instead of chlorine for their pool. What they've come up with is a 35% solution. How can this be administered safely and what are safe concentration levels for swimming pool water? Is H2O2 the same as biguanide? They may also be interested in using another sanitizer in conjunction with the H2O2. What are the pros and cons of this? Thanks.

Jim, 7/13/2013

Card On Guard, Solar UV Sanitizer, for pools and spas.
Hydrogen peroxide (H
2O2) is used as an oxidizer with biguanide sanitized pools and spas. It is not biguanide, nor is it recognized as a pool or spa sanitizer. It is just an oxidizer and a dangerous material to handle. It would have to used with another method for sanitizing, in order to assure proper conditions.  If the goal is to avoid the harsher conditions and odors associated with most chlorine pools and to reduce the overall chemical presence, an Ozone Generator and a Solar-Powered Dual-Ion Purifier-Mineralizer would be an feasible choice. With that, you would need to maintain a minimal amount of chlorine or bromine: just enough to maintain a 1 PPM level.  The addition of a Solar UV Sanitizer will increase the possibilities of success and decrease chemical usage. I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/14/2013

Wants To Be Enviro-Friendlier?

I have a small pool, with a waterfall feature. The dogs drink from there as well. I live in the mountains and do not want chemicals to clean the pool. I am on a solar energy system. any hints? There is an ultra violet light in the system already. I prefer a "green" enviro-friendlier approach.

Melinda, 7/21/2015

Relaiant salt chlorine generators, 3-models, for all types of pools, up to 40,000 gallons.
An Ultraviolet Sterilizer will not be enough, but it will make it a lot easier and will reduce overall chemical usage. You must have oxidation, in order to destroy wastes and organic byproducts. I suggest looking into using a salt chlorine generator. Depending on the dogs, use of the pool, you will still need to maintain a suitable free chlorine level. The salt chlorine generator allows for better control and results.  You will have the ability to dial the free chlorine level, up or down, as best suits your needs.  It adds no unwanted byproducts.   Poor circulation and dead spots can make sanitizing more challenging. THE POOL CIRCULATOR is a device that greatly improves circulation and improves sanitation. It installs in the return fitting, quite easily. I hope that this information is "green" enough for you and helpful, as well.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/21/2015

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Dear Alan, your fame spreads far and wide! Another couple of questions from the other side of the pond (U.K.) I am considering fitting an ioniser, several manufacturers out there, some use copper electrodes, some copper and silver, some use copper, silver and zinc. from my own studies of bacterial research via the web it appears that there is a synergy between copper and silver which provides a kill rate at 4ppm which can only be matched by copper alone at 8ppm therefore am I correct that the life of the electrodes (copper and silver) will be longer due to the amount of ions required and also the electricity required will be less saving the planet a bit more not too mention that staining should be less? Second question, You do not seem to mention that some manufacturers include a second pair of electrodes (titanium or platinum) that are used to provide oxygen to burn up those impurities normally carried out via chlorine, thus eliminating chlorine completely. What are your thoughts? I have also found a German company that has made diamond surfaced plates that produce 100% more oxygen than platinum plates. Kind regards.

John W., U.K., 4/10/2015

I will always have fond memories of the UK and the pool business, having attended a trade show in Brighton, many years ago. Ionizers, sanitize by
releasing metallic ions: copper, silver and zinc. As far as concentration is concerned, 4 or 8 PPM, is far too high, as that would likelyUnltravioloet (UV) sterilizers, for all ypes of residential pools and spas. result in staining and discoloration problems. Levels in the tenths of a PPM would be more appropriate, in a swimming pool. While an ionizer helps sanitize the water, it is not a complete system. Oxidation will still be required.  Towards that end, an ozonator or ionization-oxidation unit could be used to provide the needed oxidation. Because the oxygenation and ozone are so fleeting, perhaps lasting only 20 minutes, it can be challenging to totally eliminate chlorine, as its presence on a persistent basis provides both sanitizing and oxidizing. This might be required, occasionally, if the bather loads are high or conditions warrant. The maintenance of a minimal level of chlorine or bromine, helps to confirm that the sanitizing and oxidizing needs are being met. For those that want to totally eliminate chlorine. adding high efficiency filtration, The Pool Circulator for improved circulation or a UV Sterilizer will make success more likely. If you want to minimize the use of chlorine, a combination of systems may be the best answer.  A salt chlorine generator is still chlorine, but it is the better water to utilize chlorine.  I hope that this information proves useful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/10/2015

Amazing Reappearing "Rusty" Stains?

I live in South Florida. I recently acid washed my inground pool, which uses a copper oxidation electrode system rather than chlorine. The surface looked great and I refilled and balanced the pool; and then about 4-5 days later small rust stains began to appear only on the shallow end. I was told that it may be rust leaching from impurities in the marcite surface, but I don't know if this is true. I can scrub them out manually with a scrubber stone but they come back. Is there anything I can do to remove them permanently?   I was thinking of spot painting over them because I don't want to resurface the pool. None of the pool centers know how to handle this because of the copper mineralizer system I have. I really need and would appreciate your advice. Thank You!

Mike F., Florida, 5/3/2013

Solar Pur Solar-Powered Pool Mineralizer
There are problems with dark spots on plaster finishes, but this doesn't sound like that. It sounds like fertilizer granules. Is it possible? The problem the dealer is having is that if you use a metal treatment, it may compromise the copper electrode function. The only way to treat the metals is to add a metal treatment. That will negate the copper algaecidal function, unless a suitable metal treatment is used. To provide algaecidal activity, you could use a polymer based algaecide for a few months, while the copper becomes re-established. This is one of the limitations in dealing with Solar-Powered Dual-Ion Purifier-Mineralizers or ionizers, that utilize copper, and having a heavy metal problem. There are metal treatment products that are safe to use, so be sure to check with the dealer.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/3/2013

The algaecide treatment and shock treatment, combined with chlorine tabs on each spot, successfully removed the stains. I also pressure washed to clear the top of the screen enclosure of debris. The problem is, after the pool looked great, when I went to bed. This morning new spots appeared, about 50 of them, in the same areas, but not the same spots. I have no idea what's going on, but I'm frustrated as hell. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks.

Mike, 5/5/2013

The stains are not copper or another metal or else the chlorine would not have removed them. The plaster spot problem that has been widely reported does not respond to chlorine. That only leaves algae or some organic type of stain. Have you ever added a metal treatment?  Is your pool overhung by a tree, such as a live oak or black olive?  If chlorine was the solution, it seems that the oxidation function is inadequate, on a 24-hour basis. Perhaps, you should simply maintain the pool on a very low level of chlorine, so that there is always some present, for those times with active oxygen is not being produced. Using bromine would be even better, as it seems more effective against certain problem types of algae. It would be safe to assume that the copper is not able to control the problem, possibly due to the addition of metal treatments. Add a polymer algaecide and continue for a few months. I suggest that you shock the pool, raising the free chlorine level to 5-10 PPM. Use the brush and improvement should be forthcoming, in a day or so. Good luck.

Alan, 5/7/2013

Yes! There is a live oak above that area of the pool. Has that been known to cause this or similar problems? No, I have not used a metal treatment because the manufacturer of the copper system said not to. I agree it must be something organic, but damned if I know what it is, particularly since the stains show up so quickly.

Mike, 5/8/2013

Blame it all on the tree. As far as I am concerned the best live oak tree is a dead one. The same for black olive trees. I have a live oak in front of my
Blue Diamond Robotic Pool Cleaner RC house. It makes a mess of the lawn and stains the driveway. The state of Florida makes it difficult to take this native tree down. Certain times of the year the problems are worse. If you can legally take it down, I would do it. Your problem is this. The oxidation function produces forms of active oxygen that last only for a short time, after the unit is shut off. Leaves, seeds and bits of debris from that tree will leach tannins. Without an oxidizer or chlorine present, the tannins appear as rust colored stains. It has nothing to do with "iron rust" and it is not a metal stain. Tannins can be destroyed by chlorine and other oxidizers. You have several options. Get rid of the tree. Use a very low level chlorine as a backup sanitizer/oxidizer. Lastly, a robotic pool cleaner can micro filter and vacuum up the bottom.  It operates independently of the pool pump and filter. This way there is little or no debris to cause staining. This does explain why the stains keep reappearing! 

Alan, 5/9/2013

Alan, hi! This is great because at least now I know what I'm dealing with. Before it was a crap shoot. The tree is a neighbor's tree but branches hang over my pool and (with some difficulty I fear) I'm going to find a way to cut them back. I do use an automatic pool cleaner already and the tannin stains did only seem to appear, in the six hours the motor was off at night. I'm grateful that at least we were able to diagnose the cause. Now for a solution! Thanks again!

Mike, 5/9/2013

Hi Alan, I followed your advice and had the tree cut back away from the screen enclosure. Shocked the pool, and the stains disappeared permanently! I plan on keeping a little chlorine present, just as a backup. Thanks so much for your patience and help. You have a great website!

Mike, 6/4/2013

Editors Note. In the final analysis it was simply a matter of there being no chlorine or oxidizer present during the overnight period. The problem was not attributable to copper staining. It was simply a matter of fine particles of live oak tree debris falling into the pool and leaching tannins, after the pool was shut off at night. The solution: maintain a low level of chlorine, while using this copper-oxidation unit.

Alan, 5/10/2013

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