April 15/2021

If you’re thinking, “Phosphates in my pool water?” then this article is for you. The truth is that there will always be some phosphates in your pool. The key is keeping them under control. Why?

Phosphates are one of the most abundant products on our planet. But you may be wondering, 'why are phosphates in my swimming pool?' Phosphates can be introduced to pool water in several ways, including: fertilizers, detergents, makeup, lotions, beauty products, tap water, vegetation (dirt, leaves, and organics) and even some pool chemicals. As a result, phosphates will almost always be in your water. The problem is that phosphates are great food for algae.

Phosphates are compounds of the nonmetallic element phosphorous and are a primary food source for aquatic plants, including all types of algae. Phosphate compounds are broken down into their simplest form, orthophosphates, in one of the following three ways:
1. Oxidation (converting compounds into oxides)
2. Hydrolysis (decomposition by water)
3. Enzymatic digestion

Regardless of how it happens, if phosphates are allowed to remain present in pool, spa, or pond water, they will be reduced to orthophosphates, which are the only form of phosphates that algae can digest.

Most pool stores can test your water for phosphates to determine whether they pose a threat or not. If your phosphate level is 1000 ppb (parts per billion) or less, then there is likely no immediate danger. (In some situations lowering the phosphate level below 200 ppb can help chlorine be more effective) It’s when phosphates exceed this level that algae can begin to grow at a rapid rate. High phosphate levels and low chlorine is the perfect storm for a cloudy or green pool. You don’t want to create an all-you-can-eat buffet for algae. This is when a phosphate remover can be added to the pool. But adding a phosphate remover will not on its own eliminate algae or clear up cloudy water. Its job is to eliminate algae’s food source, which is just the first step. Getting rid of algae requires balancing the alkalinity, pH, and shocking the pool with chlorine. Once you’ve gone from green to clean, you’re ready to jump in!

In short, if your pool water looks great and is problem free, you probably don’t have to worry about phosphates. Focus on the basics. For those of you who are struggling to maintain a proper chlorine level, clear up cloudy water, or battling an algae bloom, it may be wise to have your phosphate level tested by a professional. Above all else, maintain a balanced pool and make sure it is getting enough chlorine.

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