Maintaining a swimming pool or spa has traditionally meant using caustic, toxic chemicals like chlorine and bromine. These chemicals are costly to both the user and the environment. Corrosive chemicals can damage pool equipment, such as liners and filters, and aesthetic elements such as stonework and tile. Swimming or soaking in chemical laden water can be hazardous to swimmers. Discoloration of hair and swimming suits often results along with irritation to eyes and skin.

It is imperative to utilize an effective water quality management program in all swimming pools and spas. Poorly maintained pools and hot tubs can result in disease outbreaks, such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, E. Coli and Shigella. There have been widely reported problems with Legionella, Staphylococcus and meningioencephalitis.

While chlorine and bromine are often the cause of damage to pools and discomfort to swimmers, they are very effective means of maintaining a sanitary pool environment. But because of the costs involved with the use of these chemicals, pool operators have long searched for a safer, more environmentally friendly and cost effective way to sanitize and maintain and safe swimming pool or spa.

There are alternatives to the traditional methods of swimming pool sanitation. Many of the alternatives available today are less damaging to swimmers and equipment and friendlier to the environment. There are several alternatives available today. Ozone generators, like those manufactured under the brand names Applied Ozone systems, DEL Ozone and Balboa, inject ozone gas into the water as it passes through the pump.

Ionizers from EcoSmarte, Floatron and Power Ionizer, use mineral sanitation, usually copper or silver, both known for their anti-bacterial properties, to kill bacteria and viruses present in the pool or spa water as it passes through an ionization device. There are both floating ionizers, which are often solar powered and ionizers that are integrated into the pool pump or filtration system.

Catalytic sanitation units, from such companies as Vision, Nature2 and Claritec, use oxidation and natural minerals to kill bacteria, viruses and algae.
Chlorine generators, manufactured under brand names several brand names, including AquaRite and Intex, utilize the sanitizing power of chlorine generated from salt or brine. They do not actually eliminate the use of chlorine, but instead eliminate the need to purchase, transport and handle the caustic chemical.

Biguanide chemicals are chlorine replacements. Biguanides provide a higher quality of water than chlorine, and is not as caustic as chlorine or bromine. Bigunaides react unfavorably with chlorine, and therefore care must be taken to ensure that all residual chlorine is gone from an existing pool and that none is added to a new structure. Biguanide chemicals are available under the brand names Baquacil and SoftSwim.