- are devices that use a process of electrolysis (passing electric current through an electrolyte) to create metallic ions in water

Most ionizers can handle algae and bacteria adequately; however filtration, water balance and the disposal of organics (oxidation) must be handled separately with low concentrations of Chlorine or by periodic Superchlorination

Depending on the system the electrodes might be: -

Two copper electrodes (producing copper ions only)

One copper and one silver electrode, or two bi-metallic electrodes which produce both silver and copper ions. We’ll take a look at each system independently below

Copper and Silver ions are both very effective at killing water-borne bacteria

  • 2 metallic electrodes (anode and cathode) are placed in line with the circulation system, often before the filter
  • A copper cathode will produce copper ions (Cu2+) and copper plus a silver, or Bi-metallic, cathodes will produce both copper and silver ions
  • A low DC current, passed across the electrodes, produces metal ions
  • The water-flow through the Ionizer causes some of the outermost atoms of the electrodes to lose electrons, which try to cross the space between the electrodes
  • Some of the ions are swept away by the flow of water and enter the pool water, sanitising the volume of water in which they are produced and remaining in the pool to continue sanitizing the rest of the water

Note: - Lime-scale should be removed from pool walls/floor prior to the installation of an ionizer

All-Copper Systems

All-copper systems utilise a copper test kit to monitor ion levels in the pool water

Copper ions can control both bacteria and algae on their own; eliminating the problems of silver ions reacting with sunlight, which can cause a black precipitate to form on pool walls and equipment

All-copper systems rely on copper ions alone for bacteria and algae control and therefore a higher level of copper ions is recommended

Aim for 0.25-0.30 ppm in the off-season and 0.30-0.50 ppm when the pool is in use, whilst keeping the pH of 7.2-7.4 and Total Alkalinity (TA) of 80-120 ppm

Once an all-copper system is operating correctly there is no need to add further sanitizing chemicals other than the periodic use of a flocculant if the water becomes cloudy, but note that if Jolly Gel is used the water will not become cloudy

Organic pollution is partly oxidised in the Ion chamber, where the current flowing between the 2 electrodes breaks down pool water by electrolysis, producing hydrogen and oxygen

There may be insufficient oxygen produced in the Ion chamber, however, so maintain a Chlorine level of 1-1.5 ppm by regular Superchlorination 

Other than when the system is first installed no separate oxidiser is required

Copper ions are can also be introduced to the pool by adding copper sulphate or a copper based algaecide to the pool water and can control both bacteria and algae

Copper / Silver Ioniser Systems

Both copper and silver ions are being produced at the same time, thus is only necessary to check for the presence of one to know that the other is
also present

Copper ions can be measured with a copper test kit or test-strips to indicate ion levels in the pool water. The rate of ion creation is proportional to the ratio of copper and silver in the electrode. pH of 7.2 - 7.4, a total buffering of 80 - 100 ppm and a copper level of around 0.15 - 0.20 ppm is recommended

Production of ions is controlled by varying the current flow across the electrodes. There is normally a manual dial on the control unit


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Ken Walker - MyPoolGuru©