For at least 1200 years silver can be traced for its ability to kill
bacteria. The Greeks used silver to keep water and other liquids fresh. The
Roman Empire stocked wine in silver urns to avoid spoilage. During the Middle
Ages, the wealthy used silver to help protect them from the plague. Pioneers
trudging across the American West placed silver and copper coins in their water
to help keep water safe from bacteria, algae and diseases.
Pool Ionization Technology
In the 1800's western scientists rejuvenated silver as a fierce, antibacterial
agent. Through the years medical silver then developed and silver became
universally used as a medicine. Then by 1940 roughly four-dozen different silver
based medicines were on the market being used to treat every known infectious
disease. However, in 1938 the Food & Drug Administration was formed and
Penicillin was introduced. Silver as a superior infection-fighting agent was
replaced by synthetically manufactured drugs. The profits and the ease of
production of this modern medicine quickly pushed more expensive silver in to
the background of contemporary medicine due. Some medical uses of silver luckily
survived. Doctors use Dilute Silver Nitrate to protect newborn babies from
infection. 70% of American burn wards use Silver Sulfadiazine to kill infection.
A silver based bandage has recently been approved by the FDA and licensed for
sale. Silver water purification filters are used by many national and
international airlines to avoid growth of algae and bacteria.
Copper has played an important role in improving health. It's anti-virus
properties guard against infections. Copper pipes are used in plumbing and can
help preserve the purity of drinking water. These copper pipes prevent
water-borne microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, algae, and infectious
parasites that reside in your plumbing. These microorganisms include
Legionnaire's Disease, E. coli, and polio. Copper surfaces in food preparation
reduce the risk of microbial food poisoning. In fact, Escherichia coli O157
strain, a very lethal strain of the E. coli bacterium, dies after just a few
hours on a copper surface, even under the worst conditions. However, the deadly
bacterium can live for over a month on stainless steel, which is an extremely
common surface in food processing. Most hospitals and clinics use copper-based
paint on walls and install copper doorknobs and fittings on doors to help
prevent the spread of bacteria through out the building.
In the 1960's NASA scientists needed a way to supply pure drinking water for the
crew on their long missions. Because chlorine was too toxic of a chemical to
take into space they had to develop an ionization system to recycle the water in
the Apollo Lunar Landing Program. The aim was to provide clean drinking water
for a three-man Apollo mission lasting up to two weeks. Water wastes were
recycled in Shuttle flights and silver's first job was to treat
hydrogen-saturated water coming from the Shuttle fuel cells. By establishing 100
ppb of silver in the water NASA eliminated the need for 1,000 to 1,500 ppb of
chlorine to purify the water. NASA scientists reported silver to eliminate
bacteria, including Pseudomonas A and Type IIIA bacteria. NASA's new
purification system doubled the production of pure water and it even lowered the
risk of corrosion. The unit provides Shuttle crews with 32 gallons of pure water
daily for all uses inside and outside the Shuttle. The new unit eliminated the
need for mixing, metering and testing water while in flight.
Russian scientists that worked on water recycling and purification problems for
the Soviet space ship and orbiting station program decided on silver as the best
sanitizing agent. By researching the problems of water storage over periods of
several months, as well as purification for immediate use, they determined that
ionized silver provides the safest and longest lasting method of transforming
polluted waste into drinkable water.
Not space travel but a little closer to home, half of the world's airlines use
silver water filters to defend water borne diseases. This is also true in over
1,000 passenger ships. Soft drink, beer, liquor, wine and other beverages are
drinkable due to silver in over 70 countries.
by Peter Crawford, Environmental Assistance Director
Vermont Small Business Development Center
Alternative Sanitizers for
Swimming Pools There is now a viable alternative to using chlorine or
bromine as a swimming pool sanitizer. Copper/silver ionization is a proven
technology used to sanitize water in many different applications. It is
used for drinking water, cooling towers, fountains, fish ponds, zoo water
features, industrial waste water, industrial process water and of course
for swimming pools. Its most notable use is by NASA as the treatment
method of choice to purify drinking water aboard their spacecraft. This
technology has not been approved in VT for commercial spas yet.
Copper is a well known
algaecide and bactericide and silver is also well known for its ability to
kill bacteria and viruses. Pool ionization eliminates the constant need
for chlorine, though ionized pools still need a regular shock routine,
this can be accomplished with a non-chlorine shock, if you want to totally
eliminate chlorine from your pool. In the long run this reduces overall
chemical costs, not to mention the pleasure of no chlorine smells and
associated bleaching. You and your guests will really notice the
difference, especially for an indoor pool. There is also the Nature
2 mineral cartridge option which uses no electricity.
Ionizers run from $200-$1500
depending on the size of your pool and the features of the ionizer (you
definitely want one which automatically switches between copper and silver
electrodes), and are very easy to install in your existing system
(electrode PVC Tee just needs inserted into the PVC line after the filter,
and hooked up to power). Electrodes usually last 2-3 years for seasonal
pools, and replacement tends to cost <$100. Since ionization uses low
voltage, it costs very little to run, and is safe.
Copper and silver ion problems
Pool water problem - ions of copper and silver
Ion generators or ionizers use D.C. electricity to "erode"
electrodes composed of copper, silver and sometimes zinc. The result is free
ions of these metals in the pool water. At low concentrations they are
effective in combatting a range of algae, bacteria and viruses in conjunction
with a low oxidizer level (such as chlorine).
At high concentrations, these ions are oxidised by the chlorine (or other
sanitizer) resulting in clear but colored water.
Solving colored water problems
To solve problems of colored pool water there are two main options:
- Shock treat the pool to oxidize the ions, which then settle out of
solution as "rust". The "rust" can then be vacuumed
off the bottom of the pool.
- Add a chelating or sequestering agent which bonds with the ions and
prevents them from reacting with the chlorine.
In both these cases the ions are lost and need to be replaced for the
ionizer to be effective.
Preventing high ion levels in pool water
Regular monitoring of the ions in the water is essential when using any ion
generator or ionizer. Refer to the product's maintenance manual for testing
procedures, electrode maintenance and replacement, and operating procedures.
There are a few products on the market which allow the pool to have low
levels of copper, silver and zinc without the risks of over-ionizing. They
either release the minerals slowly over a period of time, or the minerals are
in a complexed state which prevent them from being oxidized by the chlorine.
The Pool Wizard falls into the latter group, having its copper, silver and
zinc in complexes that ensure its long term stability in pool water.
Other popular products include Nature2 and the Frog and are
sometimes called "alternative sanitizers". Before deciding which one
is right for you compare the following:
- Installation - Will you need to call a pro to install it?
- Lifespan - How long will it last?
- Cost - How much will you pay over a period of 2-3 years?
- Maintenance - Will you have to perform maintenance or adjustments?