If you've been buying pool or spa water care products, you're probably aware
of the growing popularity of
"natural" oil and scum-reducing products that contain
claims have been made about these products - some are even true.
properly assess which claims are pure and which is pure hype, it's
important to understand how these products are supposed to work and what
they can do for your pool or hot tub when used properly.
Think back to high school chemistry and recall the term "catalyst". A
catalyst is something that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction or
change without undergoing a change itself. An enzyme is simply a catalyst
of biological (not chemical) origin. Enzymes play a crucial role in the
human digestive system because they break down food into nutrients our
bodies can absorb. Without enzymes, we literally could not survive.
In pools and hot tubs, some of the most adversarial water quality
contaminants are greases and oils that accumulate from bather waste. These
materials build up on filters and
form scum rings. When the build-up is allowed to accumulate, it can retard
disinfection and lead to foaming or a dull, cloudy appearance in the
In the past, frequent use of surfactants (soaps) was the only way to
clean scum lines, and filter gunk was almost unavoidable when water was
subjected to excess bather waste. However, overuse of surfactants can lead
to foaming and they require a lot of elbow grease in order to work.
Therefore, the pool industry set out to develop an alternative. That
alternative - enzymes - is based on a simple concept: Add an enzyme to the
water that breaks down oils and greases and prevents them from
attempts to apply this simple theory met with some difficulty. One problem
was that the enzyme had to be in liquid form for easy pool and hot tub
use, and the enzyme chosen for it's ability to breakdown oils and greases
(called lipase or fat-splitting enzyme) was not always shelf-stable in
liquid form. So the enzymes worked to break themselves down in the bottle
before the product was ever used.
A second problem was that low doses of chlorine or bromine would
destroy the enzymes. To overcome this obvious drawback, some manufactures
blended enzymes with surfactants. Test showed that the surfactants - not
the enzymes - were the only active ingredient. Therefore, some "enzyme"
products offered no activity at all.
So Advantis Technologies developed a new generation of enzyme-based
products. Unlike other formulations, the Advantis family of enzyme
products - GLB Natural Clear, Robarb Scum Digester, Dissolve from Applied
Biochemist, and Leisure Time Spa Scum Gone - are shelf stable and work in
the presence of bromine or
chlorine, in addition to biguanide, ozone, and non-chlorine shocks. In
fact, laboratory test showed Advantis products to have more active enzymes
than others on the market.
The benefit of these products is that they address a specific problem -
scum and oily buildup - with a targeted approach. That is, the enzyme
chosen - a specific form of lipase - breaks down body oils and lotions
into glycerol's and amino acids, which are readily oxidized by common
water treatment practices.
Therefore, regular use of Natural Clear, Scum Digester, Dissolve or Spa
Scum Gon can eliminate scum lines at the water's edge and also prevent
buildup in filters that would otherwise shorten the filters life span.
Plus, these biodegradable products appeal to earth-conscious consumers
because their active ingredient is truly natural.
Derived from Pool & Spa Magazine, July 2001