Are "Mineral" Swimming Pool Additives a Scam*?

In today's swimming pool market "mineral" = "copper" or sometimes "copper + silver" or rarely "copper + zinc". In ordinary English, a mineral is something "mined", or derivatively, "a naturally occurring, homogeneous inorganic solid substance having a definite chemical composition and characteristic crystalline structure, color, and hardness." (Free Dictionary) So, why the different definition in the swimming pool business?

It's just another marketing weird-ity -- the same sort of nonsense that impelled StarBUCK$ to call a "small" coffee, "large" and a large coffee, a "grande", or that makes women's dress sizes DECREASE as the cost of the dress INCREASES.

 In this case, the sales sharks are trying to use your media driven fear of chemicals, like dihydrogen oxide**, against you. After all, you wouldn't really put *chemicals* in your pool, would you? How awful? Doesn't that kill things, like maybe you? Wouldn't you be better off using . . . some nice minerals?

You see how it works?

Of course, it's not quite honest, any more than a small "large" cup of coffee or a size 6 dress on a size 12 lady. Unlike borax or natron (salt), copper ions aren't minerals, in the original "they dug it out of the ground" sense. But it's a harmless deception, right?

Not quite.

The copper ionizer / copper additive / mineral swimming pool business has a history of having to go to court because companies and sales agents made false claims, usually that you could safely operate a chlorine free pool by using their product. (I've got a bunch of archived docs -- I'll put links up once I get caught up.) The companies have pretty much quit that, though some like "Chlor-Free" continued until recently. But even ChlorFree is now apparently "EZ Chlor". (which I don't understand since that's an old pool biz brand trademark.)
Copper kills algae. But, copper kills bacteria . . . v-e-r-y _ s--l--o--w--l--y. And, for the most part, copper does not kill viruses at all. Since diseases are transmitted by both those slowly killed bacteria and those not-killed-at-all viruses, that's a problem.

So "mineral" products tend to turn into a scam when sales people talk them up. The temptation to describe them as "chemical free" or non-chlorine just gets the better of them. Copper is not a sanitizer, because it does not kill viruses and is too slow at killing bacteria. When people claim you can run a safe chlorine-free pool with "minerals", they ARE scamming you. The companies themselves have stopped doing this, though only after several got hauled into court! But apparently, a lot of sales reps still make those claims, because I keep hearing them from people here.

The savings claims are somewhat bogus, too.

In average pools (ie, non-PoolForum or BBB method pools) 50% or more of the chemical use in a typical season goes to cleaning up algae messes. PoolForum pools don't usually have algae messes, and when they do, they usually get cleaned up quickly.

My point?  

A typical pool with a lot of copper is less likely to have an algae bloom than one with no copper. So, yes if you used a "mineral" system faithfully, your use of chlorine would be reduced, maybe even 50%, but ONLY compared to a TYPICAL pool -- you know, the way your pool was BEFORE you found the PoolForum. So, I wouldn't call it a scam, not quite.

BUT, if you are a BBB method user, you've already reduced your chlorine use MORE than 50% . . . and without staining your pool blue-green or your hair green. (Copper, not chlorine, causes green hair.) So that "will save 50%" doesn't apply to you, at all.

So, there's no savings for a BBB method user, just more expense and more stains.

Ben / PoolDoc

* This is an expansion of this thread on the PoolForum, entitled "Mineral pool additives another scam? (King Technologies pool frog)".

I'm not certain, but I think this page, first published around 1997, may have been the first reference on the Internet to water by one of its 'chemical' names. The "" website was registered the following year. See the Wiki article for a fuller account:


Here's a sampling of bogus quotes from MINERAL pool products:

"Unlike all other copper sulfate water treatment products available today, the copper in EarthTec® is already fully dissolved . . .", 14Apr2011, (archived)
Yeah, right. All that copper in those copper algecides, or in Pristine Blue (below) is NOT dissolved and is just bouncing around at the bottom of all those bottles.

"PRISTINE BLUE "NEW" Chlorine/Baquacil Alternative" (page title), 14Apr2011, (archived)
See how close they come? They say that it's an alternative to chlorine, but they don't say in what WAY it's an alternative. If they claimed it was an alternative pool SANITIZER, they'd get in trouble.

"EZ POOLâ„¢ is like swimming in natural spring water!", 14Apr2011, (archived)
don't know how it is where you live, but none of the springs around here have copper in the water coming from them. Calcium maybe. No copper.

"What takes chlorine 15 minutes to eliminate, like ecoli bacteria, PoolRx can kill these same bacteria in 15 seconds. PoolRx is over 1000 times more effective in killing bacteria than chlorine." 14Apr2011 (archived)
This one may cross the line -- if anyone of you has a connection in the EPA pesticide department, you might want to ask them to take a look. If not, I'll try to do it later in the season.

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