What Causes Phosphates In Salt Water Pool? [Fact Checked!]

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You enjoy spending time in your pool. Perhaps you enjoy swimming, relaxing, or just getting away from the crowds. Regardless of the reasons behind your pool addition, one thing is for sure – you need to understand what causes phosphates in salt water pools!

You may be familiar with phosphates from the chemical standpoint, as they are compounds of phosphorus and oxygen. You’ll often see phosphates listed among the major minerals in swimming pool water, but that’s only because it is one of the most common compounds found in nature. When it comes to your pool, the presence of phosphates doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. Even so, higher than usual levels of phosphate can be problematic, particularly if they stay in the pool for an extended period of time.

Why Are Phosphates Bad For Pools?

The compound found in highest amounts in swimming pools is dissolved aluminum hydroxide. This chemical is an integral part of concrete and is often added to soils as a fertilizer to promote plant growth. When hydrated, aluminum will bind to phosphate and keep it from harming living creatures in the pool. It also prevents the phosphate from settling to the bottom of the pool, which would eventually become food for algae and other underwater plants.

The aluminum hydroxide will become inactive over time, however, so it’s important to add more of it as needed. When that happens, the phosphate will begin to accumulate on the pool floor and walls, causing those parts of the pool to become covered in a thin layer of white powder. This is why it is essential to get your pool tested and monitored on a regular basis. Knowing the exact level of phosphates present in your pool will allow you to determine when it is time to add more aluminum hydroxide.

How Do You Get Phosphates In Your Pool?

Phosphate is not intentionally added to swimming pools, but it is nonetheless present in most shared public pools thanks to a number of factors. The most common source of phosphate is the air, which is why open-air pools are particularly susceptible to buildup. When dry, air is composed of about 78.3% nitrogen, 20% oxygen, and only 0.7% phosphate. When this same air is present in a swimming pool, it can cause the same problems as water containing more than 0.1 ppm of phosphate. That’s a lot of air!

Whether you have a private or public pool, it’s critical to maintain a healthy balance of nutrients present in the water. For this reason, it is important to understand how your pool gets contaminated in the first place. One way is through the use of chemicals for cleaning the pool, such as chlorine and bromine. When these chemicals react with organic matter in the water, they produce byproducts that are harmful to the pool ecosystem. The good news is there are natural alternatives that can be used to maintain a clean and healthy pool environment. For example, magnesium citrate can be used to deodorize the water and remove algae. Instead of using chemicals, consider using a water purifying system that is safe for the environment.

Where Do You Get Your Pool Equipment?

There are many different brands that make excellent swimming pools, so finding the right equipment is important. When shopping for pool gear, make sure you get something that will be easy to use and won’t require extensive maintenance. With the proper equipment in place, it is much easier to keep your pool clean and appealing. Consider the size of your pool when choosing the right equipment. If you have a small pool, you may want to get a smaller pool ladder. Having a small pool also makes it easier to get in and out of the water without struggling. If you have a larger pool, a larger pool ladder may be needed. The same goes for your diving board. A small one may be adequate for a child’s pool, but a larger one will be needed for an adult pool.

Monitoring Phosphates In Your Pool

It is a good idea to monitor the level of phosphate in your pool on a regular basis to determine if it needs to be adjusted. Checking for high levels of aluminum and phosphate can be done with a simple dip test. For this test, you will need a glass jar (to hold the sample) and a plastic stick. Simply dip the end of the stick into the water and allow it to soak in for 30 minutes. When removing the stick, dry it thoroughly by wrapping it in some cloth and hanging it up to air dry.

After wrapping it in a clean cloth, take the jar and place it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Once cooled, pull the jar and screw the lid on tightly. You can then label the jar and store it in a safe place for your records. The presence of aluminum and phosphate in your drinking water is dangerous, so be careful where you get your samples!

Knowing the source of your water is also vital for proper treatment. If you don’t know where your water comes from, you cannot ensure it is safe to drink. In some cases, well water may contain high levels of aluminum and phosphate that are already present in the water before you even start using it for your pool. The same goes for rainwater that collects in containers that are not properly cleaned before refilling. In these situations, you will need to either purchase or build a treatment system that will reduce the levels of aluminum and phosphate present in your pool. Some municipal water systems provide convenient treatment for free, so it’s always better to get your water this way. Otherwise, a few hundred dollars should be well worth it.

To avoid all of this from happening in the first place, make sure you test for and remove all sources of contamination as soon as possible. In some situations, this may mean getting a portable water filtration system that you can take with you wherever you go. It is also a good idea to get a water purifier that can treat water for you at home. If you suspect your water is contaminated, it will be much easier to treat it yourself than to hunt down the source and remove it yourself. In some cases, this may mean boiling the water for several minutes or using a water softener. There are a variety of methods available to get your pool clean once and for all.

Final Takeaway

Phosphates are not an issue per se; it’s how much of them are in your pool that matters. It is not uncommon for a pool to become contaminated through improper cleaning methods, or through water used for other purposes. If you follow these guidelines, you should be able to keep your pool contamination to a minimum. Proper testing and monitoring will help ensure this.

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