San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Cleaning Systems Make for Gentler Pools

Remember the days of red eyes, irritated skin and green hair – unfortunate consequences of a dip in an overchlorinated pool? Well, those days are over, thanks to new technologies that allow pool owners to maintain crystal-clean water without all the harsh chemicals.

Innovative salt-chlorination systems and biodegradable products are among new water-treatment technologies available in Costa Rica, and experts are available to educate you about the best pick for your home pool.

Acuarium Piscinas & Spas, with stores in the western suburb of Escazú, the central Pacific community of Herradura and the northwestern province of Guanacaste, specializes in salt-chlorination systems, offering IntelliChlor and Auto Pilot Systems brands.

These systems use electricity to turn natural salt into chlorine that’s more natural and softer than the additive-containing chlorine tablets and grains traditionally used to kill bacteria and other living organisms in pool water, project manager Gabriele Salazar told The Tico Times during a recent visit to the Escazú store. This salt-produced chlorine also works to keep pH levels stable and gives the water a soft, silky feel, he said.

The electrolysis process of turning ordinary table salt into chlorine occurs inside a cell in a control panel near the pool. Small amounts of water are pumped to this cell through a tube until all the water in the pool has been chlorinated.

One of the beauties of the system is a sensor on the control panel that constantly measures chlorine levels and produces only the amount necessary, maintaining the water at about 1.5 to three parts per million, the maximum amount necessary for a small pool, Salazar said.

Digital buttons on the outside of the panel let pool owners assess salt levels, cell status and chlorine output whenever they choose.

The other beauty of using salt, a completely natural substance that does not contain chemical additives, is that once it has been turned into chlorine and killed bacteria, it morphs back into salt to be recycled through the control panel.

Less than one teaspoon of salt per gallon of pool water is all that’s necessary for a standard home pool measuring eight by four feet, 10 by five feet or 12 by six feet, Salazar said.

And yes, no more red eyes – salt-chlorinated water is friendlier on the body than traditional chlorine tablets and also friendlier to the environment, since it relies on 100% natural salt as its core component.

IntelliChlor and Auto Pilot control panel systems range from $1,200 to $2,000, and, for $100 to $150 a month, pool owners can have an Acuarium technician come once a week to check the water and make any necessary adjustments to the system.

For more information on Acuarium Piscinas & Spas, visit or call the office in Escazú at 201-7171; in Liberia, Guanacaste, at 667-0800; or in Playa Herradura at 637-7148. The company also has plans to open a store in the new GardenBoutiquePlaza in Tamarindo, on the northern Pacific coast.

Do It Yourself

Another option for maintaining a clean pool is using a line of natural, biodegradable products you can administer yourself.

“I always tell people a pool is like a sick person in intensive care; you always have to be attentive because there are so many variables that can change the characteristics of the water,” said Esteban Trejos, technical advisor at Corporación Font, a store in the northwestern San José district of La Uruca that sells a line of biodegradable pool treatment products.

He recommends that pool owners take samples of their water daily to measure chlorine and pH levels and gauge water clarity.

For water treatment, Corporación Font sells a line of Spin brand products made in Mexico, which are biodegradable and do not include chemical additives.

The main cleaning agent is a highly concentrated “tri-chlorine,” Trejos said. “It’s an excellent quality, pure chlorine designed especially for pools. Just a very small quantity does the trick.”

This chlorine comes in tablets or grains and is different from industrial chlorines that contain additives, making them harsh to the environment and swimmers.

The Spin line of products includes natural salts that can be used along with the chlorine to maintain an appropriate pH level in water and maintain softness to leave water comfortable and free of bacteria, fungi and other living organisms.

Corporación Font visits home pools to teach owners how to measure water and administer the appropriate amount of these products, which cost about $80 per month for small, home pools. Seminars are also offered periodically at the store.

For more information on biodegradable pool cleaning products, call Corporación Font at 296-9010.


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