Sand isn't the only material you can use in your swimming pool filter, and one of the most common alternatives is zeolite, a filter medium that could increase the filtration capacity of your pool filter. Let's explore the alternatives to standard pool sand and see how they could benefit you as a pool owner.
What Is Pool Sand?
The standard filter medium for a swimming pool filter is #20 grade silica sand, and each grain of pool sand is between 0.45 and 0.55 mm in size. These tiny grains can filter out particles that are as small as 20-40 microns in diameter, which is roughly half the width of a human hair.
What Is Zeolite?
Zeolite is a mineral that is found naturally in volcanic rock, and thanks to its complex honeycomb structure, the zeolite particle can trap unwanted particles as small as 2-5 microns in diameter. One popular brand of zeolite is called ZeoSand.
Benefits of Zeolite vs Pool Sand
Zeolite can filter out much smaller particles to result in potentially clearer pool water, and its structure also allows it to trap ammonium ions, which react with chlorine in the water to render it useless. Using zeolite instead of pool sand in your filter could therefore help keep your pool water clean, clear and safe. In addition, when you use a zeolite medium for your filter, you won't need to backwash it as often, which could be a useful time saving for you and your family.
Benefits of Pool Sand vs Zeolite
The main benefit of standard silica pool sand is that it is much cheaper than ZeoSand. You can expect to pay upward of $40 for a 50 lb bag of ZeoSand, whereas the same amount of silica sand could cost as little as $10. On the other hand, you can use approximately 50 percent less ZeoSand than silica sand in your filter, so your cost difference is less dramatic than it appears initially. ZeoSand also lasts longer than sand so you won't need to refill your pool filter as often.
What Should You Use in Your Pool Filter?
Zeolite and sand are both suitable mediums for a swimming pool filter, and although zeolite is more expensive, it can filter out smaller particles. This enhanced ability may result in a clearer pool; however, as most people with good eyesight can't see particles smaller than 30-40 microns in size, the effect may not be as noticeable. For many people, the main benefit of using zeolite is that its ability to remove ammonium ions from the water helps to keep more chlorine available, which means you don't need to shock your pool as often.
Caring for Your Pool Filter
Whether you choose to use zeolite or sand in your pool filter, you need to remember the importance of maintaining and cleaning the filter properly. Backwash the filter regularly to maintain a suitable pressure level, and ensure you use the right amount of filter medium for your pool.
There's no clear answer to the question "Should I use zeolite or sand in my pool filter?" because both materials can be suitable filter mediums for a backyard swimming pool. Zeolite definitely filters better than sand, but you can choose whatever works for you. If you find you need to shock your pool regularly to increase the chlorine content, you might want to try switching from sand to zeolite to see if it helps. However, many pool owners achieve very good results using standard silica sand; therefore, the right decision depends on your personal experiences as a pool owner.
Which do you prefer – sand or zeolite? Tell us why in the comments below.