It is reasonable for your pool to get cloudy occasionally, but how do you clear it up? There is a simple process to clarifying your pool, and you will find many useful products to choose from. The two primary solutions are pool clarifier and flocculant.
Not sure which one to use? In this article, I provide a detailed comparison between pool clarifier vs. flocculant, including my final recommendation.
- Pool clarifier condenses all of the little particles in your pool into bigger clumps so that your filter can clear it up.
- Flocculant binds the little particles in your pool and sinks them to the bottom, which will then need to be removed manually by a vacuum.
- Pool clarifier takes around 2-3 days to clear the pool, while pool floc clears the pool in just a couple of hours.
What Is Pool Clarifier?
When your pool is cloudy, it means there are many tiny particles that are too small to get picked up by the filter. Pool clarifier is a concentrated chemical mixture that condenses the little bacteria and particles in your pool into a bigger clump that can be swallowed up by the pool filter.
So, what qualifies as a pool clarifier? These products are packed with polymers utilized as coagulants on the foreign debris in your pool water. Because a pool clarifier brings a negative charge, they magnetically bind to the foreign particles with a negative charge. When they collect into bigger clumps, the filter goes to work, and your swimming pool will soon be clear again!
Clorox makes a good clarifier that I recommend for most pool owners trying to solve a cloudy pool problem.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Pool Clarifier
When you decide on the right solution for your cloudy pool, you need to understand the pros and cons of each product.
- Pool clarifier involves a simple and straightforward process that creates minimal work for you. All you need to do is pour the clarifier into the water and be patient for it to work for you.
- Pool clarifier is also an ideal solution for a slightly cloudy pool. When you are on the fence about whether it needs to be cleared, the clarifier usually provides you with the optimal solution to help get it back to normal.
- Pool clarifier also helps your filter operate much more efficiently, so you can save on water and not have to remove it.
- You can use clarifiers any time you want to help clear your pool.
- The process is somewhat slow and takes up to two or three days before you see 100% clarity in your swimming pool.
- You will need to clean the pool filter thoroughly afterward. After the clumps are formed from the clarifier’s duties, the filter will be gunky after doing its job.
How to Use Pool Clarifier
Although using pool clarifier is as easy as pouring it into the pool, there are a few steps you must follow.
Step One: Clean the Pool
Skim, brush, and vacuum the pool first. In doing so, you’ll ensure the clarifier works as efficiently as it can by clumping up the debris and contaminants that you cannot catch.
Step Two: Balance the Pool Water
When your water has high pH levels, it will allow dissolved solids to break away from its solution. When your water chemistry is weak, it will also limit chlorine from performing its regular duties of oxidizing dirty particles and contaminants. So, make sure everything is properly balanced before you proceed.
Step Three: Shock the Pool
Remember: Clarifier is not a replacement for pool shock! If you haven’t shocked your pool already, shock it to get rid of any potential bacteria or algae in the water that may be causing your pool to be cloudy. Make sure to run the pool for 24 hours afterward.
Step Four: Follow the Manufacturer’s Directions
The next step is to ensure you fully understand your pool clarifier’s directions. This step is crucial because different products have different instructions and processes. Different products have different dosage amounts, so you need to read the label to figure out exactly how much to use.
Step Five: Run the Filter
The last step before dumping the clarifier is to run your pool filter continuously. If you want to perform the most efficient pool clarifying process, you should keep it going 24/7.
Step Six: Pour the Clarifier
Simply pour the clarifier into the swimming pool’s outer edges. As the days go on, monitor the water’s chemical balance to ensure optimal clarification.
Step Seven: Monitor the Filter
Besides monitoring the water’s chemical balance, you should also monitor the filter by cleaning and backwashing your pool filter often to ensure nothing gets clogged.
What Is Pool Flocculant?
Flocculant, also known as pool floc, is another chemical to add to your pool when the other clarifier options are not working effectively.
First, let’s lay out the similarities and differences between flocculant and pool clarifier because they both have the same end goal: to clear up your pool. Each option works to bind the floating oils, debris, and particles floating in the water.
The main difference between the flocculant and pool clarifier is where the clumped particles go. Clarifier keeps the bounded matter at the top of the pool to be grabbed by the pool filter. Meanwhile, pool floc snags the particles, assembles them, and then sinks them to the bottom of the surface.
You can also leave the pool filter off overnight while the pool floc goes to work, which is one less thing to do.
Flocculant also works much faster than pool clarifier. So, if you do not want to wait a couple of days for the pool to become clear, pool floc is the way to go.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Flocculant
So, what are the major pros and cons of using flocculant?
- Pool floc works much faster, clumping the particles together in a matter of hours, not days.
- Flocculant is super effective, as the solution clumps the particles together and then keeps them grouped until you extract them from the pool.
- Flocculant also works with other diverse pool filters, such as diatomaceous earth (DE) and sand filters. These filters have multiport valves with a waste option, making it simple to bypass when removing the flocculant and grouped particles.
- Even though the overall process is much quicker, it requires more work. The clumps fall to the bottom of the pool within a couple of hours, but you will need to manually remove them with a pool vacuum, which takes some patience.
- You will waste some pool water in the process. When you perform the vacuuming duties, you will need to waste to bypass your filter. By the time you are finished, the water level will be lower, which will need to be replaced.
- Unless you have specific plumbing, you cannot use a pool floc with a cartridge pool filter.
How to Use Pool Flocculant
You may have extra labor to floc the pool, but the step-by-step process is straightforward.
Step One: Prepare the Water
First, you should raise the water level a little extra since you will lose pool water when the process is completed. Next, you should balance the pH level between 7.4 and 7.6. Flocculants can alter the pH level, so you need to keep this consistent so that it can work effectively.
Step Two: Dilute and Add the Flocculant
After diluting the flocculant and following the manufacturer’s instructions, you can add the product to the pool. Much like the pool clarifier, you can pour it around the edges of the swimming pool.
Step Three: Run the Filter on Recirculate
To spread the flocculant solution evenly around the pool, go ahead and run the pool filter for a couple of hours.
Important: Make sure the filter is on recirculate, not filter! If you do not do this, the clumped particles will block up your filtration system, which is the last thing you’ll want!
Step Four: Turn Off the Pump
After a couple of hours, you can shut the filter off overnight so the flocculant can officially perform the job. Leave the flocculant to work for at least 8 hours.
Step Five: Vacuum the Pool
After letting the water settle for about 8+ hours, set the filter to “waste.” You can then do the toughest part of the job and vacuum the bottom of the pool to get the clumps out. Work slowly to avoid the debris from stirring up and floating throughout the pool. Be patient; it may take you a couple of times before you can vacuum up all the clumps.
Step Six: Replace the Water
Check the water level; it should be halfway up the skimmer plate. If the water level is too low, top it up with a hose.
Step Seven: Rebalance the Pool
When the pool water is clear, test the pool once again and adjust the pH and alkalinity if necessary. Once those are balanced, test and adjust your chlorine levels as well.
Can You Use Floc and Clarifier Together?
Technically, there’s nothing really stopping you from using pool floc and clarifier together, but there are a few caveats:
- If you have a cartridge filter, you cannot use pool floc.
- You cannot add floc and clarifier at the same time, as clarifier requires the filter to be run 24/7, while flocculant needs the filter to be turned off.
- Make sure not to add too much of each, as your cloudy pool may not clear up.
So, if you use both, you’d have to add them separately at different times. For example, you could use flocculant if your pool is still cloudy after using clarifier. But make sure to wait a couple of days before you do so, and ensure you do not have a cartridge filter.
With that said, there’s no need to use both – either clarifier or flocculant should be sufficient to clear your cloudy pool.
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Which Is Better?
So, which of these options is better? It all depends on your timeframe and goals.
You should use flocculant if:
- You need a quick solution that clears up your pool for a party. It gets the job done in less than a day.
- You have a DE or sand filter.
- You don’t mind doing some extra work by vacuuming the pool afterward.
You should use clarifier if:
- You have more time and are clearing up a slightly cloudy pool.
- You have a cartridge filter.
- You want to clear the pool with as little work as possible.
That’s it! Questions? Shoot me a message, and I’ll be happy to help.