When it comes to pool sanitation systems, the two options people tend to think of first are traditional chlorine systems or saltwater systems. (Read our comparison here.) But what they often do not realize is that these are both chlorine systems, and both rely on having a free chlorine level in the 2-5 PPM range. The only difference is that in a salt water pool, the chlorine is "automatically" generated through a reaction between your salt chlorinator cell and the salt in the water, instead of by directly adding chlorine to the pool.
For those looking for an alternative requiring less chlorine, a mineral system offers quite a few benefits, such as:
- less "chlorine smell"
- less wear and tear on components
- less fading of liners and swimsuits
- and water that is usually deemed as "a lot more comfortable"
Unlike traditional chlorine or saltwater systems, mineral systems rely on a combination of minerals and a low level of chlorine to keep the pool water free from bacterial or other growth. Because of these added minerals doing work for you, a pool with a mineral system requires a much lower amount of free chlorine - generally in the 0.5-1.0 PPM range ...that's less than half the levels you'll find in none mineral pools!
But how hard is it to add a mineral system? And how much will it cost?
The good news is mineral sanitation systems are both extremely easy to add, and relatively inexpensive (particularly compared to something like a salt water chlorine generator).
What's Required for a Pool Mineral System?
The main item you'll need to add a mineral system to your pool is the mineral system itself. This generally works as an in-line component you'll add to your filtration system, between the filter and the return jets in your pool.
Multiple options exist for mineral systems, but the one's we'll focus on here are the Pool Frog systems by King Technologies. Pool Frogs are available for both inground and above ground pools, with a few different options available. Each of these includes both a space for their mineral reservoir as well as their chlorine "Bac Pacs."
A mineral reservoir will last roughly six months or one full season between replacements, and the chlorine packs will last several weeks or possibly longer, depending on your pool's chlorine needs. What's great about these "bac pacs" is that as they are self-contained, you won't ever have to touch chlorine. Just pop a new one in when the old one is running low and you're good to go!
Note that you are not required to use the chlorine "bac pacs" and can add chlorine to your pool the usual way (such as through tablets or liquid) - though using the Frog's "set it and forget it" system is a much easier solution.
How Do I Install My Mineral System?
Mineral systems come with multiple different installation options, though most of them are designed for "inline" use—meaning you connect it as an additional component directly "inline" with the rest of your equipment, generally after your filter (or heater). (If you would like to install one for "offline" you can check out the Pool Frog 5490.)
Unlike salt systems which require additional wiring, adding a mineral system is as simple as cutting into your existing plumbing and inserting the system between your filter (or heater/heat pump if you have one) and the pool. It should be the last item in your equipment that the water flows through before reentering the pool.
Once you have it installed, levels are managed through a simple adjustable knob. No extra electricity required!
For specific installation instructions for your system, follow the instructions included in your manual.
How Do I Start Up My Mineral System?
Just like with any change to your filtration or sanitation systems, the first step to starting up your mineral system is to test the water. The preferred levels for your specific system should be included with the instruction manual. Test your water and balance the levels to within the recommended parameters.
For example, on the Pool Frog System, the recommended parameters are:
- pH: 7.2-7.8
- Total Alkalinity: 80-120 PPM
- Calcium Hardness: 200-400
- Total Dissolved Solids: <1500
- Stabilizer: 20-80 PPM
- Free Chlorine: 0.5 - 1.0 PPM
After everything's all set, you'll need to shock your pool with a traditional chlorine shock to set a residual level of chlorine.
Then you just insert your mineral pack and set the system to the recommended setting, and your mineral system is up and running!
After your chlorine levels drop down to about 1 PPM (this may take a few days after your initial shock), add a chlorine pack to your cycler and adjust the chlorinator knob to the recommended number for your pool size and pump combination. Note that while this is optional and you can add chlorine in other ways, using this inline chlorinator option makes life much easier.
How Do I Maintain My Mineral System?
Like any pool system, they key to proper maintenance and crystal clear water requires keeping your pool chemical levels within the recommended parameters and keeping your filter and skimmer clean.
The mineral system itself will require little to no interaction each season. Just pop out the old cartridge when it's empty (about six months on a Frog system) and put in a new one.
If you're using the inline chlorinator "bac pacs" those should just be replaced as needed. As long as you set your chlorinator to the right setting, your chlorine levels should remain fairly constant and require very little maintenance. And if you need some extra help managing algae, just grab a bottle of Frog BAM and add it to the system!
You'll also still want to shock the pool every other week, or as needed. Ideally use a non-chlorine shock as the goal of your mineral system is to keep the chlorine levels low, though a chlorine shock is usually okay.
Clean, Comfortable Mineral Water Really Is That Easy!
To recap, adding a mineral system to your swimming pool is a fairly simple process. All it takes is the mineral system and the required mineral cartridges (and chlorine packs if you choose to use them). Then add it to your existing pool plumbing after your heater or filter, key it in to the appropriate setting, and you're set!
Soon you'll be enjoying some of the best-feeling pool water you've ever experienced, spending considerably less time maintaining your pool's chemicals, and free from the smells and itchiness that highly chlorinated pools can cause.