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April 6, 2021

Enzyme Use in Pools and Hot Tubs

Enzyme Use in Pools and Hot Tubs

Enzymes such as Spa Perfect or Pool Perfect are used to keep the water in bathing environments clean, clear, fresh, and safe for users, by allowing sanitizers such as chlorine/salt or bromine to work faster and more efficiently. When chemicals work more efficiently you can use less of them, reducing nasty-smelling water and skin or eye irritation. 

Enzymes are biological catalyzers that cause or accelerate a chemical reaction. They are proteins that, when paired with other chemicals such as sanitizers, help keep the water clean. Enzymes are protein molecules that cause specific chemical reactions. For pools and spas, enzymes are formulated to work with sanitizers. Enzymes carry a  positive charge, so they bind to oil, organic particles, and unwanted byproducts in your water, then dissolve and digest them to be filtered out of the water. 

Enzymes destroy or decompose organic molecules, but do not adversely affect living organisms. Enzymes are not sanitizers or disinfectants. They do not kill bacteria, mold,  fungus, yeast, single-celled microorganisms, or anything living in your spa water, pipes, or filter. They do not affect or irritate bathers and their use helps improve the bathing experience. 

Most of the contaminants in spas and many of the contaminants in pools originate from our own bodies. When we use a spa or pool the water takes on grease and oils from our skin or hair, as well as from products like creams and lotions we use. These oils form scum rings along the waterline of your pool or spa. Over time these products build up and can clog up your filters. They also tie up and demand a large percentage of the chemical sanitizers we use to make the water safe. In other words, instead of being able to use a very small amount of chlorine to kill harmful bacteria, without enzymes, we need to use a lot of chlorine because the chlorine is “attacking” your child’s AXE body wash. 

Enzymes act aggressively upon non-living organic matter, decomposing contaminants into small molecules. These small molecules are more easily destroyed by chlorine or bromine. Organic wastes include a wide range of things, sweat, body oils, saliva,  mucous, dead skin, cosmetic residues, sunscreens, perfumes, hair, leaves and windblown debris, and, unfortunately, other forms of natural human wastes. Some of these contaminants are readily destroyed, by normal levels of chlorine, while others may be slow to react or simply deplete the chlorine or bromine efficacy levels.

Enzymes make the task of sanitizing simpler and easier. More chlorine or bromine is available to sanitize and protect against the microorganisms that cannot be killed by just an enzyme. By helping to degrade organic wastes, less chlorine or bromine is required to maintain a safe sanitizing level. Enzymes cannot eliminate the need for chlorine or bromine, but they can contribute towards a significantly reduced chemical demand. 

Urine and other nitrogenous organic wastes deplete the free chlorine level very rapidly and increase the presence of combined chlorine or chloramines. Chloramines are the  “smelly” element in pools and spas, that produce the blast of nasty odor you get when lifting a hot tub cover or walking into a well-used indoor pool. Chloramines (found in 

chlorine or salt pools and spas, or Bromamines in a bromine body of water) are also irritating to skin and eyes and are ineffective as sanitizers. The presence of enzymes reduces nitrogen, chloramine formation is thus reduced, and the chlorine consumption is also reduced.  

The more enzymes available to decompose nitrogenous organic wastes, the lower the need to super-chlorinate. Occasional shock treatments are required to get rid of chloramines and prevent the development of sanitizer-resistant microorganisms, but when enzymes are used regularly, the frequency and amount of shock is significantly reduced. 

Body oils, creams, lotions such as moisturizers, and sunscreens tend to be water repellent, while chlorine and bromine are water-soluble. Oils repel water resulting in less contact between wastes and sanitizers. As oils are degraded by enzymes, chlorine and bromine work more efficiently to eliminate them. Pool and hot tub enzymes have surfactants or wetting agents to speed the elimination of organic wastes. 

Residue from body oils, soap, and conditioner affect the alkalinity of the pool and spa water. These elements cause the water, especially in hot tubs, to start foaming. The foam itself is unlikely to have sanitizer and therefore supports higher levels of microbial growth than the water. To assure proper sanitization, the water must be defoamed on a  regular basis. Enzyme products contain a non-foaming agent to prevents the water from foaming and causing rings. The enzyme should keep more of the chlorine and bromine available for daily, routine sanitation. 

Enzymes preserve the chlorine or bromine for actual sanitizing, so that less chemicals must be added. The chemical savings are real, but the greater benefits are more efficient sanitation and a better, safer, more natural water experience. Organic waste products are eliminated more efficiently, so that more chlorine or bromine will be available for actual sanitation work.  

Customer feedback and consumption are often the best way to measure how effective enzymes are. For the last decade, Purewater use Pool Perfect + PhosFree in every swimming pool we service weekly. With less chlorine or bromine required to maintain a safe sanitizer level, the odours associated with combined chlorine formation are reduced and super-chlorination treatments are required less often, resulting in cleaner pools and happier clients. Enzymes are an incredibly cost-effective way to enhance the bathing experience, as they save on sanitizers, oxidizers, defoamers, and other  elements. Enzyme treatments can pay for themselves through not using as much of  these other, more harsh products, while making the use of the pool or spa more  pleasant.

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