Since my childhood, I have always been interested in how things work. I was a curious child and would often be seen taking things apart and rebuilding them, much to my mother’s frustration at times. When we moved to Florida, I found myself fascinated with the filters in the indoor pool of our new home. This curiosity gradually took shape of a career choice and this is how I launched Pool Cleaner Expert, one of the most successful sites for information about all pool cleaning issues.

Cloudy waters are a common problem for all pool owners. It can be a headache to change the water and the filters so frequently. After all, nobody wants to swim in cloudy and murky waters. Thankfully, there are coagulating agents like clarifiers and flocculants that help clear out your pool and save you the trouble of draining your pool and replacing the water so frequently. While the two coagulating agents have similar characteristics and effects, there are some basic differences which you ought to know as a pool owner. In the following article, I will go over these differences and provide you with the knowledge of when to use which coagulant. To begin with, let us go over some basics.

What Is a Coagulant?

A coagulant, to put it simply, is an element that causes coagulation. Often, your pool water may be becoming cloudy because of small particles of dirt, algae and dust. When you introduce a coagulant into the water, all the smaller particles combine to become larger chunks, making it easier for your pool filters to catch them. Most coagulants, in effect, make your pool filters more effective. So if both pool clarifiers and flocculants are coagulants, what makes them different from each other?

What Is a Clarifier?

A clarifier is a polymer that attracts all the suspended particles in the pool into larger chunks that can be caught by the filter easily.

How Does It Work?

The chemistry of clarifiers is such that they release positively charged ions into the water which attract the negatively charged suspended particles. Through this process of attraction of opposites, a larger particle, which can be detected and trapped by the filter is formed.

How Long Does It Take to Work?

Pool clarifiers take a few days to work so if you have a pool party coming up and you want to get your pool ready, you may want to treat the water at least a week in advance. It also requires that you run the pump and filter for 24 hours at least through the first few days of the treatment or as often as possible. This will help your pool to clear out sooner.

Clarifiers work well with all kinds of filters — sand, cartridge or DE (diatomaceous earth) filter.

Things to Know

  • Be careful not to overdose the pool with clarifiers. Overdosing could change the charge of the suspended particles to positive, leading to your pool water becoming even more turbid.
  • If your pool water is cloudy because of an algae problem, kill the algae before carrying out the clarifier treatment. This may require you to shock your pool.
  • As mentioned earlier, keep the water circulation going by turning on the pump and filter during the course of the treatment.
  • Maintain your pool readings once the treatment has been done.

What Is a Flocculant?

A flocculant is also a coagulant that works in similar ways to a clarifier. But the amount of time taken to clear the water is the main difference.

How Does It Work?

Flocculants work by compelling suspended particles in the water to combine together to form ‘flocs’. Instead of passing through the filter, however, these combined particles become so heavy that they sink to the bottom of the pool. Once this happens, it is your job to vacuum the particles out from the floor of the pool. You will need to turn on the pool filter for the first two hours of the treatment to ensure the water is being circulated and the chemical can mix with the water. After that, shut the filter off completely for at least the next eight hours.

How Long Does It Take to Work?

The beauty of flocculants is that they work fast. Your pool can be cleaned in 24 hours, whereas with a clarifier, it takes a few days for the filter to do its job. The drawback, however, is that you have to vacuum the dirt out from the pool floor by yourself. This also means that you will have to vacuum to waste. In other words, you will be vacuuming the water out of the pool. This leads to a fair amount of wastage too.

Things to Know

  • Prevent the flocculant from coming in contact with your filter media.
  • Flocculants do not work with cartridge filters unless there is a bypass.
  • You may want to put a garden hose into the pool to add fresh water while you vacuum to waste.
  • If the pool does not clear out after the first few vacuum attempts, take a break and allow the particles to settle at the bottom again.

Final Thoughts

While both clarifiers and flocculants are effective, flocculants do work much faster. If you have the patience and stamina to vacuum the pool after the treatment, it’s a great way to get a quick clean. So if you’re pressed for time, a flocculant is a good option. If you can spare a few days, a clarifier is surely a better option since it requires minimal effort on your part. The filters will take care of it all! But be careful that neither becomes a regular routine. If your pool needs such frequent cleaning, that is an indication of some other underlying problem. Check your filters and the chemical readings in your pool. If you maintain a balance of sanitizer and pH in your pool, you will not encounter cloudy waters so frequently. If it’s only every now and then, choose the coagulant according to your convenience!

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