Phosphate & Nitrates
What they are & what they do?
Phosphates & Nitrogen are 2 naturally occurring elements in nature.
Phosphorous is a mineral & nitrogen is a gas. In nature, they don't cause or contribute to pool problems. However when they are "added" to the pool water, problems can arise - especially in a poorly maintained situation.
The two most significant problems are moderate to severe algae blooms and chlorine demand. Both elements are essentially set up as a buffet table for any algae to just come, eat & thrive.
Phosphates typically come into the pool from lawn care products; fertilizers, sprays, etc. Phosphates can also come from dead skin cells, body fats and oils. (Therefore, another good reason to shower before entering the pool.)
Lawn care products can be brought in from people walking on freshly treated areas where they are literally walked into the pool. They can also "drift" in when sprayed or just due to a windy day. Remember, phosphates can come from your yard, your neighbour’s yard or even from someone you don't even know who lives 3 blocks away.
Phosphates (or forms of phosphorous) are often added directly into pools (yes!) in the form of "metal removers" and "stain control" chemicals – most pool sequestering or chelating products contain phosphorous.
Nitrogen can also come into your pool from lawn care products, but more typical, it's a case of sweat (shower before using the pool), urine (use the facilities before going into the pool) or other types of ammonia (ammonia is comprised of Nitrogen & Hydrogen - NH4).
Algae loves both nitrogen AND phosphates (phosphorous).
Here's the typical scenario with Nitrogen. Nitrogen enters the water & combines with oxygen to form Nitrites (NO2). The nitrogen will typically take the oxygen from the HOCl (hypochlorous acid - the form of chlorine that kills bacteria & algae) thereby causing a Chlorine Demand. You will have a difficult time maintaining chlorine, algae will thrive, the water will become cloudy, etc. Once the nitrites have taken on more oxygen & become Nitrates (NO3), they are there to stay.
The only way to remove Nitrates from the water is to drain & refill with fresh water that is hopefully not contaminated with Nitrites. Shocking & oxidizing will help to a certain degree. Nitrates (NO3) you can live with, Nitrites (NO or NO2) are the problem causers.
Fortunately with phosphates there are options available to remove this contaminant from the water.
Why use Lo-Chlor Starver® Pool Maintenance?
Lo-Chlor Starver® Pool Maintenance is a patented product that leads the way in phosphate removal globally. It is the original phosphate remover and one that others have tried to replicate but have failed to succeed.
Lo-Chlor Starver® Pool Maintenance prevents algae growth by removing the phosphate in the water and allowing it to be filtered out.
Phosphate in pool water provides an abundance of food for algae to feed off and grow (similar to fertilising the lawn prior to rain).
Remember that algae are plants and need phosphate as their food source. Lo-Chlor Starver® Pool Maintenance removes phosphate from the pool water. No phosphate limits the opportunity for algae to grow and allows Chlorine and other chemicals to keep algae in check.
Generally high phosphate levels are a sign of the underlying cause as to why your pool has consistent outbreaks of green algae even though your Chlorine is at an acceptable level.
Phosphate is introduced into pool water by people (especially kids peeing in the pool, fruit bats or ducks, as well as decomposing leaf litter, grass clippings, mulch, windblown dust and dirt, garden soil, water runoff from the garden, any fertilisers and bore water).
It is quite common to get a high phosphate reading after rain because rainwater has washed all the dust and dirt off surrounding trees into your pool or especially if you are using a rain water diverter. This is particularly evident in older rural areas which due to the increase in population are now being populated as suburbs of the city. These areas were previous farming ground and have been heavily fertilised over the years and now with new building and dry weather the top soil dust caused by new development will increase your phosphate level over a period of time. It is important to understand that the building development may not be directly near your pool but several kilometres away to have an impact on your pool phosphate levels.
Starver® Pool Maintenance removes phosphate by absorbing it into the filter. Small doses are added to the skimmer box every three days until the phosphate has gone. Testing is then done every three weeks to see if a maintenance dose of Lo-Chlor Starver® Pool Maintenance needs to be added.
Starver® was developed by the CSIRO to combat blue /green algae outbreaks in dam/creeks etc and similarly combats the same affect now experienced in pools due to the dry weather and increased use of phosphates in garden and lawn use and in washing detergents.
Excessively high levels of Phosphate (4.0 ppm) can be reduced quickly by using Lo-Chlor Bulk Starver® then using regular Lo-Chlor Starver® Pool Maintenance.
Remember No Phosphate = No Algae
Did you know?
- 2.5 Litres of Lo-Chlor Starver® Pool Maintenance will remove 1.2 PPM of Phosphate in a 50,000 Litre pool. You can work out exactly how much Starver® you will need by testing the Phosphate level and knowing the size of the pool.
- If the Phosphate level shows dark blue, i.e. more than 1.0 PPM, then dilute the pool water sample with tap water 50:50 and re-test. Multiply the result by 2. If this test still shows dark blue, dilute the pool water 1:4 with tap water and re-test. Multiply this answer by 5.
- If the Phosphate level is 4.0 PPM or more it is possible to remove large levels of Phosphate by using Lo-Chlor BulkStarver®. This will get the Phosphate down to about 1.0 PPM which can then be removed by a regular Starver treatment.
- If the Phosphate level is more than 0.5 PPM it is faster to add the whole dose of Starver®, via the skimmer box on recirculate, than by adding 500 Ml doses directly into the filter every 3 days, ; as per instructions on the bottle.
- This will make the pool cloudy for a while until the pump switches off, when the insoluble Phosphate will settle to the bottom and may be vacuumed into the filter or to waste. If the pump runs 24 hours the pool will be cloudy for 24 hours or more.
- If the Phosphate level is below 0.5 PPM adding 500 Ml of Starver® directly to the skimmer box will remove the Phosphate without the pool going cloudy. Do not add 500 Ml more often than every 3 days
- People contribute the most Phosphate to a pool, especially kids who pee in the pool. Average Phosphate levels in a backyard pool are 0.5 PPM. The highest levels of Phosphate are found in swim schools and caravan parks.
- The hotter the weather, the more people swim, the higher the Phosphate levels. Phosphate also comes from leaves left for 3 days in the pool, ducks, fruit bats, grass clippings, bark chips, dirt washed in after a storm and fertiliser inadvertently thrown in the pool.
- Phosphate levels of 5.0 PPM or more are usually the result of an accident rather than just people.
- No Phosphate is ideal. No blue colour in the test kit, no Phosphate.
- After Starver® treatment, when the Phosphate level returns to 0.2 PPM, it is time for a maintenance dose of 500 Ml per 50,000 Litres. In an average pool this is about every 3 weeks.
- The Phosphate test kit supplied by Lo-Chlor has a shelf life of 6 months! Replace it regularly.
- Starver® removes Phosphate which algae need to grow. The lower the Phosphate the slower the algae can grow. Black spot needs more Phosphate than green algae so Starver is more effective against black spot.
- Starver® is only available from pool shops whereas other company’s algaecides and other phosphate removers are available from supermarkets, hardware stores, irrigation supply shops, produce merchants etc.
- It makes sense to sell Starver®.