Pool Clarifier and Pool Flocculant: What's The Difference?

We take pride in our swimming pools and work hard at keeping them perfect.  We test on a weekly basis, we add chemicals, and we sweep and vacuuming when our pools need it.  But sometimes we might stand back and say it could be better.  Or our pool might be just a bit cloudy.  And that's when we find ourselves asking which one is better, a pool clarifier or a pool flocculant. 

What Is A Pool Clarifier?

Swimming pool clarifiers are chemicals that cause coagulation in our pool water.  So, what does that mean?  Basically, a clarifier takes smaller particles and combines them into a larger particle so they can easily get caught in the filter, then backwashed out.  The filter and pool clarifier work together to eliminate unwanted particles from your swimming pool.  It's a straight forward process and rather easy to do.

The Difference Between A Pool Clarifier and Pool Flocculant

Benefits Of A Pool Clarifier 

When you know the benefits and negatives of a product, you'll be able to understand what you need for your pool's situation.

  • Easy to use.  Simply pour the clarifier in the pool and let it do its job.
  • Can be used at anytime during the week.  You don't need to wait for a special time to add your pool clarifier.
  • Excellent for mild to moderately cloudy pools.

Negatives Of A Pool Clarifier 

There's no magic bullet with pools, and everything has its drawbacks. 

  • Several applications might be needed, depending upon the cloudiness of your pool. 
  • Works slower than a flocculant. 
  • You'll need to backwash or clean the filter. 
  • Does not address why the pool went cloudy or green.

How To Use Pool Clarifier

Always follow the directions on the bottle.  Clarifiers are easy to use and you want to take the right steps to get the best results. 

  • Backwash or clean your filter.  
  • Balance the pH in your pool to 7.2 - 7.8. 
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions on the bottle. 
  • Determine your pool’s water volume.  
  • Add the correct amount of clarifier for your size pool. 
  • Turn on the pool's pump motor and run it on filter until the pool water is clear.
  • Clean the pool filter again. 
  • Check your pool’s pH level again and make any adjustments if needed.  

What is Pool Flocculant?

Flocculant, or pool floc as it's sometimes called, is a chemical that you add to your pool that coagulates smaller particles to make them larger particles.  These larger particles sink to the bottom of the pool in a kind of goopy cloud.  Then you vacuum it out to waste. 

The Difference Between A Pool Clarifier and Pool Flocculant

Pool Flocculant Benefits

While pool floc is a little more work, it does have some benefits.

  • It's very effective, even if you have a large or very green pool
  • It's very quick.  Unlike a clarifier that may take a few days, a floc may only take a few hours to see the benefits.
  • It's perfect for systems that have a multi-port valve like sand and DE

Pool Flocculant Drawbacks

Before using a pool flocculant, you should know a few things. 

  • It's time consuming.  You will need to manually vacuum the floc out of your pool. 
  • Vacuuming to waste means you're going to lose water. 
  • Cartridge filters should not use a pool floc.  You'll ruin your cartridge filter if you vacuum up a floc. 
  • Does not address why the pool went cloudy or green. 

How To Use A Pool Flocculant 

  • Turn your pump motor off and put the filter's multi-port valve to RECIRCULATE.
  • Add a few inches of water to your pool.  You're going to vacuum to waste and that means your pool is going to lose some water.  
  • Balance the pH in your pool to 7.2 - 7.8. 
  • Calculate your pool's water volume.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions on the package. 
  • Add the correct amount of flocculant for your pool’s size.  
  • Turn the pump motor on and allow 2 hours on RECIRCULATE for the floc to go through your filter system. 
  • Turn off the pump and allow the pool to sit for 24 hours.  
  • Turn your multi-port valve to the WASTE setting, then turn the pump motor back on. 
  • Connect your manual vacuum.
  • Slowly vacuum the particle cloud from the bottom of your pool.  The floc cloud might come up a bit during your vacuuming.  If this happens, stop vacuuming and allow the particles to settle to the bottom once more, then resume your vacuuming.
  • Check the pool’s water level again.
  • Test and rebalance your chemicals.

Which One Should I Choose?

That depends on you and your pool's situation.  Are you having a party this weekend and need your pool cleared up in a day or two?  Then a pool flocculant is the way to go.  Do you have a few days and just want your pool to POP a little more?  Then a pool clarifier is the right one for you.  There's really no right or wrong answer.  

Last Thoughts On Clarifiers and Flocculants

It's not better, just different, said the one who is thinking about a pool clarifier vs. a pool flocculant.  You have 2 great choices to quickly and effectively clear up your pool.  The question is, which one suits your pool's needs and your time and effort?  

Pool Clarifiers and Pool Flocculants FAQ

You will find the questions to the most common pool clarifier and flocculant questions. 

Can you swim in a pool with flocculant? 

It's not recommended that anyone swim in a pool while the flocculant is still in the water.  The pool must remain very still for the floc to work.

How long does it take for pool floc to work?

24 - 48 hours, but the coagulation might be finished within 8 - 10 hours, or overnight.

Can you put too much clarifier in a pool?

As with any chemical, you can put too much clarifier in a pool.  You can do a partial drain and refill.  A clarifier will naturally be cleared up over time.

Does flocculant kill algae?

No it doesn't.  Chlorine is best at killing algae.

How do you fix a cloudy pool fast?

Clarifiers and flocculants can quickly clear up a cloudy pool, but they don't address why the pool went cloudy to begin with.