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The Difference Between Pool Clarifier and Flocculant

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At Swim University, we are really big fans of flocculant, which we use when we have to clear up our pools really fast. However, flocculants aren’t always the chemical of choice when it comes to clearing up a swimming pool.

We would like to explain the difference between your basic pool clarifiers and flocculants, and let you know when and how to use each one.

The Difference Between Pool Clarifier and Flocculant

What is a Swimming Pool Clarifier?

When it comes to clearing up a swimming pool, your filter is the best man for the job. However, it shouldn’t be the ONLY man on the job.

Clarifiers help your pool filter pick up those tiny, little particles that are making your water cloudy. They do this by (nerd alert) coagulation. Meaning they take those tiny, little particles and bring them together to form bigger particles so that your filter has a better chance of catching them. This makes your filter more effective in clearing your swimming pool.

Kem-Tek 326-6 Pool and Spa Ultra Clarifier, 1 Quart

Kem-Tek 326-6 Pool and Spa Ultra Clarifier, 1 Quart

List Price:  $18.78
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The chemical is really simple to use. All you need to do is add a few ounces (depending on how many gallons your pool is) directly to your pool water every couple of days until the water is clear.

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Since it helps your pool filter do it’s job, you need your pool filter to run. We suggest that if you have a cloudy pool and you decide to use a clarifier, to run your pool 24 hours a day until your pool is clear.

Also, since your filter is doing the bulk of the work, you need to help it by getting those particles into the filter. Here are some basic tips to help your clarifier and your pool filter clear your pool more efficiently:

  1. Turn your main drains on: If you have a main drain at the bottom of your pool, make sure it’s turned on to allow the pool water from the bottom to get into your filter.
  2. If you don’t have a main drain, you can use your manual vacuum. Just hook it up, as if you were going to vacuum, and leave it turned upside down at the bottom of your pool. Here’s how to set up your manual vacuum.
  3. Swim! Swimming helps kick up the particles off the bottom of the pool so that your skimmer can capture the cloudy water.
  4. If you have a sand filter, you can buy a filter enhancer, which allows sand filters to act like D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth) filters. This helps your sand filter to pick up smaller particles. I recommend using Bioguard’s Filter Enhancer called Sparkle Up. If you can’t find it, you can use a cup of plain D.E.. Just pour it into your skimmer and the D.E. will lay on top of your bed of sand helping to catch the smaller particles your sand filter might otherwise miss.

What is Swimming Pool Floc or Flocculant?

Pool floc or flocculant has become a fast favorite because…it’s fast!

The concept is simple. Floc takes all those particles that are making your water cloudy and sinks them to the bottom of your pool. Then, it will be YOUR job to vacuum them out. What’s great about this chemical is it acts fast, what sucks is, YOU have to do the work.

In The Swim Super Floc Pool Water Clarifier - 1 Quarts

In The Swim Super Floc Pool Water Clarifier - 1 Quarts

List Price:  $23.99
Price:  $23.99
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An excellent chemical that allows all the particles in your pool to settle to the bottom so you can vacuum them out.

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Simply add the floc directly to the pool water and let your pool run for 2 hours (if you have a sand filter with a multi-port valve, turn it to recirculate).

After the pool runs for those 2 hours and the chemical has a chance mix into the water, shut the pool filter off completely for the next 8 hours. Make sure you don’t have a timer set; the pool must sit still for 8 hours. I would recommend doing this overnight.

The next morning, you will wake up and see a cloud at the bottom of your swimming pool.

Your job now it to get that cloud out of your pool. To do that, you need to hook up your manual vacuum. You cannot use an automatic cleaner for this job. Also, you need to vacuum your pool on waste. Meaning, you’ll be vacuuming the water OUT of your pool, so keep a garden hose in it to fill it with fresh water while you vacuum.

It may take a couple of times vacuuming. If your pool completely clouds up from moving the vacuum around, take a break and allow the particles to settle back to the bottom before continuing to vacuum.  If you do this, you can expect to have your pool clear in no time at all.

When To Use A Clarifier or Flocculant

The big difference between these two pool clearing methods is time. If you want your pool clear for a pool party you’re throwing soon, we suggest floccing. It’s fast, but it’s work (elbow grease).

If you just opened your pool or it’s just a little cloudy and you don’t mind swimming in cloudy water (perfectly safe BTW), then you can use a clarifier.

Clarifiers take time to work, but they are a LOT less work (elbow grease) on your part. Also, since you don’t have to vacuum your pool to “waste,” you will also save money on replenishing chemicals such as chlorine and pH…oh and water.

Now that you know the difference between the two, next time your water is cloudy, you will have the knowledge to choose which method is right for you.

Happy Swimming!

Recommended Reading

How to Fix Cloudy Pool Water
Got cloudy pool water? We'll teach you a few methods on how to clear your cloudy swimming pool as quickly as possible.
How to Get Rid of Foam in a Pool
In this guide, we'll introduce some reasons on why you might have foam in a pool, how to prevent it from happening, and how to get rid of it.
What You Should Do to Your Pool After it Rains
What do you do with your pool after it rains? Rain can affect your pool chemistry. Follow this checklist to keep your pool clean after a heavy rainfall.
Tips to Keep Your Pool Clear While on Vacation
If you plan to go away on vacation this summer, but fear that your pool might turn cloudy or green, here are some tips to prevent it.

The Art of Pool Care

Frustrated by adding chemicals and trying to keep your pool clear all the time?

We cut out all the fluff and confusion of pool maintenance and stripped it down to the bare bones in this easy-to-read illustrated digital guide.

Click here to learn more

Last Updated: Monday, July 25th, 2011