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Safe Way to Clear Pool Water


QUESTION: The chlorine chemicals for my swimming pool and hot tub water are expensive and irritate my eyes and skin. Are ionization (no-chemical) purifiers effective and expensive to operate?

ANSWER: Natural ionization water purification (copper and silver ions) has been used for centuries. The settlers in the 1800s tossed silver and copper coins in their water barrels. Notice how wishing wells are crystal clear due to the pennies and dimes.

Harsh purification chemicals, often chlorine and bromine, are an irritant to many people--stinging eyes, drying skin and hair, bleaching bathing suits and having a medicinal smell.

Using an electric or solar-powered ionization purifier can reduce chlorine chemical usage by up to 80%. Many systems have been tested and are now approved by the National Sanitation Foundation.

Solar-powered models operate for free. Electric (120-volt) ion purifiers use only about 20 watts--about as much electricity as a small night-light.

An ionizer produces very low levels of copper and silver ions in the water. These low ion levels (0.2 parts copper per million parts of water) are safe for people and animals, but are lethal to algae, bacteria and viruses.

The simplest ionizer, Floatron, is a solar-powered model. It is one-foot in diameter and floats on the water. A built-in solar panel on the top converts the sun's rays into a low-voltage electric charge to power it.

Another solar-powered model, Solarcide, mounts on the side of the pool. It uses a small solar panel and the purifying electrode hangs in the strainer. As the water flows through the copper/silver electrode, ions are given off.

The electric-powered models create a safe low voltage between two copper/silver electrodes. The electrodes are mounted in the filter plumbing where the water picks up the ions and carries them into the pool or spa.

New electronic models are simple to install and use. Some have a digital readout to indicate how fast ions are being produced. Other options include a pH sensor/readout and electronic water conditioners.

Unlike chlorine or bromine, which evaporate relatively fast, copper and silver ions tend to maintain a safe residual purifying level in the water.

Using a simple test kit, the copper ion level is checked frequently at first until it reaches the proper level. Then the electronic control is set to maintain that level automatically with less frequent checks.

To write for Update Bulletin No. 953, a list of 17 electric and solar purifying ionizers, pool/spa purifying capacities, features and prices, send $2 and a business-size self-addressed stamped envelope to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

Opening a Window on What's Cooking

Q: The window in our oven is so dirty that we have to open the door to see how the foods are baking, which wastes heat. What is the best way to thoroughly clean an oven window?

A: You should be able to clean the window with common spray oven cleaner just like the rest of the oven interior. Although I do not bake a lot, I use oven cleaner on my glass fireplace doors. It cuts the soot fast.

If you want to clean the interior glass surfaces (all are double pane) you must remove the oven door and disassemble it. Be sure to mark the inside and outside glass panes. They are made of different types of glass.

Letters and questions to Dulley, a Cincinnati-based engineering consultant, may be sent to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244. To read 150 previous columns, e-mail Dulley at

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