The Difference Between Pool Clarifier and Flocculant

Is there a better way to spend your day than sitting by a pool, basking in the sunshine? We doubt it. Unfortunately, a cloudy pool can throw off your plans in a hurry.
It is entirely reasonable for your pool to get cloudy occasionally, but how do you clear it up? There is a simple process to clarifying your pool, and you will find many useful products to choose from. The two primary solutions are pool clarifier and flocculant.
But there is a little problem with distinction between Clarifiers and Flocculants because are both coagulants, they both clear up cloudy water, and many people often confuse the two and for good reason. I mean, they both do the same thing right?
In this article, we will explain what the difference  between flocculent and clarifier, along with the directions to use both.

What is Clarifier?
Pool clarifier is a mild coagulating agent that boosts your filter’s cleaning capabilities by clumping small dirt particles into larger particles your filter media can trap. Safe to use with sand, DE and cartridge filter systems, clarifier requires that your pump and filter are run continuously for at least the first 24 hours for optimal results.
Clarifier is a milder chemical than flocculant making for a slower work rate. Your pool’s reaction to the clarifier may take a couple of days before you see the results. So, if you are needing a quick fix for a pool party only hours away, clarifier will not be the choice for you.
Clarifier is the ideal choice for mild cloudiness or a regular part of a cleaning regimen to give your water that extra sparkle.

Pool Clarifier Benefits
Knowing the benefits and downsides will help you decide whether this is the right chemical for the occasion.
- Less work for you. All you have to do is add the pool clarifier to the water, walk away, and wait for it to do its job.
- Good for mild cloudiness. Is your pool water just a little cloudy, but you can still see through it for the most part? A clarifier is the way to go.
- It saves water. Because it helps your filter work more efficiently, you won’t have to remove any water from the pool to clear it.
- Can be used anytime. Even when your pool’s not cloudy, you can add a little clarifier to give the water a little boost to look extra sparkly.

Pool Clarifier Drawbacks
It seems like a magical pool chemical, but just like anything, it does have its downside.
- It works slowly. It may be two or three days before your pool is completely clear, depending on the severity of the cloudiness.
- You’ll need to clean the filter. Once the clarifier has worked, all those clumped particles will be in the filter, possibly reducing its effectiveness.

What is Flocculent
Flocculant’s coagulation process is basically a supercharged version of a clarifier. But instead of relying on a pool filter to do the cleaning, it requires vacuuming. Floc clumps the dirt into large clots, so large that they no longer float, dropping all the dirt to the pool floor where you can then vacuum to waste. Your pool should show marked improvement within a few hours of its application, making it ideal for procrastinators (like me) cleaning just before a pool party.
Floc can be used for mild cases of cloudiness all the way up to murky. However, I usually suggest it as a last resort, because you must vacuum it to waste. You can lose a good bit of water while cleaning the pool.
Floc should never come in contact with your filter media as the clumping agent can cause havoc. Floc is only suggested for use with filters with bypass options, i.e. sand and DE filters with multiport or slide valves. It is not suggested to use floc with a cartridge system, unless you have plumbed a bypass for the filter.

Pool Flocculant Benefits
You may find the pros make it a more desirable option than clarifier.
- It works quickly. You won’t have to wait days for flocculant to do its job. The clouding particles will be clumped together and sitting at the bottom of your pool in a matter of hours.
- It’s effective. Pool floc clumps those particles, and keeps them together until you remove them. No stragglers left behind making cloudy spots in the pool.
- It’s ideal for sand and diatomaceous earth (DE) filters. Because those filters normally have multiport valves that include a “Waste” setting, it’s easy to bypass the filter when removing the clumped particles and the flocculant.

Pool Flocculant Drawbacks
Before you opt for floc over clarifier, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
- It requires more work on your part. Once the clumps form on the bottom of the pool, you’ll need to remove them with a manual pool vacuum.
- You’ll lose pool water. When you vacuum the clumps out, you’ll need to vacuum to waste to bypass the filter. Your water level will decrease, and you’ll need to replace what’s lost.
- You can’t use it with a cartridge filter. Unless you have a custom plumbing setup that allows you to bypass the filter when you vacuum.

When to use a flocculent or clarifier?
Ultimately difference of use between flocculent or clarifier is time. If you need your pool up and running for the weekend and it’s Friday, floc is by far, the way to go. The downside? It requires a lot of work. If have a bit more time, then clarifier will give you the same result but can take up to 3 days to get fully cleared. It also cheaper as you will not have to add extra water to the pool and chemicals.


If you have any other questions about pool and spa products please do let us know - we are here to help!

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