The answer to” Can you drink pool water?” has always been no, but as you will read later in this blog using sanitisers in modern chemical free swimming pools this is now possible. Not only this drinking water possible if you really need to drink, it but with electrolysis in some pool systems using a back wash onto gardens, plants and even to enable animals to drink water from the pool. In fact, in our swimming pool in Queensland we have animals caught on night camera drinking pool water from possums to Kangaroos drink our pool water!
Don’t drink the pool water as a norm.
Sometimes it’s inevitable that when you are enjoying your swim you will gulp a good old mouth full of swimming pool water, we all do it. Just as you are relaxing either floating on your back, on a lie low, or an inflatable unicorn you go under and down it goes! It may be only a little swallowed and you are in the pool trying to spit it all out, some have gone up your nose but it’s too late you have digested some pool water. Seems funny but drinking swimming pool water can make you sick and unless you have a chlorine free swimming pool you will have not only bacteria and parasites entering you gut but chlorine!
Now contrary to belief adding an amount of chlorine to a pool does not instantly kill germs and bacteria. Actually, it takes several minutes to even a couple of days to kill off all the germs in a pool. Cryptosporidium is one of the most bacteria and does take time to kill.
However, some tests carried out on the QUEST water sanitiser shows using ionisation, oxidisation kills Cryptosporidium up to ten time faster than chlorine. A copy of this can be obtained via our office. Cryptosporidium can cause many side effects such as diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. One of the key methods in killing these bacteria and other is to use chlorine, so you need to use the correct level of chorine otherwise it too can cause adverse side effects in swallowing or even inhaling.
Chemicals to sanitise your swimming pool water.
Chlorine in the pool.
If you are using chlorine in a pool where you anticipate accidents especially with young children think twice about using chlorine. Urine, sweat and body oils react with the chlorine and produce chloramines. These gases can be very harmful if inhaled in large amounts. One of the gases produced by this chemical reaction is trichloramine. You can take these two basic precautions if you are insistent in using Chlorine as it is easily available and affordable. but has a negative impact on the environment and your health.
- Shower. Before you get into the pool and out of the pool where possible shower in clean water and wash any sun cream and oils from your skin.
- Go to the toilet. If you have a local toilet, go before you get into the pool or if you need to go when you are in the pool, get out go and jump back into the pool. (In a public swimming pool, it has been reported than it contains on average twenty gallons of urine. Residential pools on average contain around two gallons.)
This is an alternative chemical to use than chlorine, it’s a good sanitiser and cleaner for pools. This is also harmful if swallowed in the pool water.
Ammonia in swimming pools comes mainly from the bather’s bodily fluid, mainly from urine and sweat, decaying phosphates such as twigs, leaves, or garden chemicals and fertilisers that have fallen into the pool by accident. Ammonia is an irritant to the skin and again if very harmful is swallowed.
Cyanuric acid is also known as a swimming pool conditioner. It’s used mainly in outdoor pools to destabilize the effects of ultraviolet light than can reduce the effectiveness of chlorine and other chemical based pool sanitizers. This is very harmful if swallowed neat and also harmful if swallow in the pool water.
Saltwater,granules, salt water chlorinators
Don’t be fooled in thinking that swallowing swimming pool water with a saltwater sanitizing system in your pool will be ok. These sanitizers need what we call a secondary sanitizer normally another chemical and besides they convert the salt into chlorine. Even though the saltwater chlorinators produce a ratio of around 1 /10th of seawater, we strongly advise don’t drink the water.
Another sanitizer is a system that uses Ozone gas. This system injects ozone gas and this gas then oxidizes the contaminants in the water. The disadvantages of this system are that it can only oxidize smaller pools and working on their own are not very powerful. For this reason, most ozone systems then use a secondary sanitizer such as chlorine. This again will cause you to be sick if you accidentally drink the swimming pool water.
Other foreign bodies in your pool.
We also have other factors besides other sanitisers that will affect the quality of your swimming pool water making it not advisable to drink.
Some of you with outdoor pools will be more susceptible to debris more so than people with indoor pools. Branches, twigs, leaves just about anything you can think of will more than likely end up in your pool. Storms are worse as you will have a mix of more debris and rainwater meaning you will need to shock your pool.
Algae and insects
Any pools left standing for long periods of time without maintenance will have algae end up growing, even in an indoor pool. After a while you will be attracting , flies , mosquitos all sorts of insects.
Pets and animal waste
Animal waste is another very big reason not to attempt drinking swimming pool water. It can enter the pool on bathers feet, one good precaution as we mentioned earlier is to shower before you enter a swimming pool. Again, most of this is aimed at the outdoor pool, however, we have had issues in the past with indoor pools having animal waste from cats and other pets such as birds. This obviously is more common outside with flocks of bird’s excrement into the pool. Dogs are an obvious issue not only when rover wants to go to the toilet but also on a hot day lapping up the swimming pool water. Not good for him or her to drink pool water unless it’s a chemical free swimming pool that uses electrolysis.
Using a swimming pool water filter
Even if you are about to accidentally swallow a whole load of swimming pool water you should filter it first. A good water filter will be able to help filter out bacteria, parasites, phosphates and debris. This combined with a very good sanitiser system won’t make drinking swimming pool water safe but less harmful.
Electrolysis and Ionisation
There are some systems that are now available on today’s market making it actually possible to drink swimming pool water. One of the most affordable and compact is the system from Queensland Semiconductor Technologies called the Quest Q1. This is a chemical free swimming pool system using electrolysis.
The system using a combination of copper and silver materials melted into two rods. These are then set into a chamber and water is passed through the chamber where a low dc voltage current causes some of the outer atoms of the electrode to become positive ions. These ions fly off into the water and the ions attack and kill the algae. In conjunction with this, the water is then processed through another chamber where the water is then oxidized.
Oxidising or also known as ORP is a process that carries out in the second chamber. The swimming pool water gains an electron whilst the contaminant loses an electron. So basically the oxidization takes away possible harmful contaminants in the swimming pool water and makes them harmless. This makes the pool water sanitized and if needed possible to drink without harmful side effects.
Copper is a very powerful algaecide that has been used for centuries and silver is a very powerful biocide, examples found in modern-day wound dressings. When these two metals are combined and introduced in the swimming pool water using electrolysis they become an awesome sanitizer. The required residual level of the copper and silver ions in the pool is well below the required drinking water standards globally making the pool water safe to drink. Please note that we don’t suggest you drink the pool water, however, for animals, it’s one of the best watering holes that are man-made! This is very good for the environment as the water can be used for irrigation for plants, flowers, and vegetables by using the backwash facility from your swimming pool system. Plus it’s a chemical free swimming pool.