In the world of swimming pool maintenance, sand filters are the most cost-effective way of keeping your pool clean. But that doesn’t mean that the quality of pool hygiene has to suffer.
Like the old saying, “There are many ways to skin a cat.” there are many types of sand filter media available in the market each with its pros and cons.
So in this guide, we will talk about how to select the best pool filter sand for your home, the types of filter sands that you can use, and explore some of the best filter sands available in the market.
What Is The Best Pool Filter Sand?
Certain factors come into play when talking about what is the best pool filter sand. It depends on the budget you have, the fineness of sand, the level of filtering you desire, and if you want an eco-friendly type of sand.
Let’s talk about your budget first since this is the most decisive factor. A sack usually contains 50 pounds of sand that can go from $25 to $100. The price depends on the type of sand filter media and its filtering capabilities. We’ll talk about the types later in detail.
Now, sand filters need around two to five sacks of sand, depending on its size. So to estimate the budget needed, get the required sand specification (in pounds) on the product brochure and divide it by 50 pounds. Then, multiply the result by the price per sack to get the initial cost for the sand.
So let’s say that you have a pool sand filter from Pentair, the top mount Sand Dollar (SD 60). If you look closely at its brochure, you’ll notice that you’ll need 250 pounds of sand according to the column “Required Sand” . Since each sack has 50 pounds of sand, then you’ll need five sacks. And if you multiply that by the price per sack, let’s say $60, then you’ll need $300 to fill up the sand filter.
Desired Level Of Filtering
This refers to how much you’re willing to improve the pool water quality by deciding on the particle size you want to pass through the filter. The unit of measurement for this is expressed in microns-one thousandth of a millimeter.
By changing the filter media of a sand pool filter system, you also change the filtering capacity. It can range from 40 microns up to 3 microns depending on whether you’re using sand, glass, or zeolite for your pool filters. We’ll talk more about these later.
The last factor that you’ll need to consider is the grain size or fineness of sand and this means compatibility with your pool sand filter. This is important to consider because improper sand fineness can either lead to inefficient filtering capabilities or quick loss of sand inside the tank, which will be ejected into the water of the swimming pool.
Most of the time, manufacturers of sand filters recommend using no. 20 silica sand. To show you, let’s take a look at the brochures of Pentair  and Hayward . Reading through the information from these brochures, you’ll notice that most pool filters only recommend using no. 20 silica sand.
So you may wonder: “how can I know if my sand filter can accommodate another type of pool filtering media?” There are two ways to know: the direct method is through the manufacturer’s brochure, and the indirect method is by knowing the minimum grain size or particle size that the sand filter can hold.
Different Types Of Pool Filter Sand That You Can Choose From
Now that we’re done talking about the factors in selecting the right pool filter sand for you, let’s move on to the different types of pool filter sand that you can choose from.
Like what we’ve briefly talked about. Changing the pool filter types of your sand filter will also change its filter performance. Aside from that, it also changes other properties such as sand’s filter size, effective filter area, and, of course, the price.
The high rate no. 20 silica sand has been the most used filter sand, not only in the swimming pool industry but in the field of water filtration since the 1800s. Due to silica sand’s natural angular shaped grains, it can effectively remove dirt and debris from the pool water. And since silica is abundant, this is the cheapest filter sand option. 
Silica sand can remove particles from up to 20 microns in size. To give you an idea of how small it is, let’s take a look at this particle size chart . From the diagram, silica sand can filter dust, pollen, human hair, and sands which has an average size of 20 microns.
Since the 1900s, glass has been used as an alternative to the usual sand filter medium for water treatment. The performance of glass varies depending on the quality of the glass used and the types of glass vary from crushed, recycled, or virgin beads. 
When it comes to its pool filtering performance, high quality glass, like glass beads and pearls, can remove particles up to 5 microns from the swimming pool water . From the diagram, glass can filter blood cells, fine dust, and some bacteria. So if you’re aiming for a better filtration performance than silica sand, glass might be a better choice if you have additional budget to spare.
Last on our list of filter sand types is zeolite – a hydrated aluminosilicate mineral that contains alkali and alkaline-earth metals. Using zeolite as a sand filter medium can be considered the best out of the three options due to its excellent capabilities. Of course, given that you have the budget for it.
Zeolite is known as a “molecular sieve” because when you look at a zeolite from a microscope, you’ll see that it has a microporous structure. Due to this structure, zeolites can filter particles up to 3 micron in size. Aside from this, zeolite can also remove aluminum ions and ammonia in the swimming pool water. 
What Are The Best Pool Filter Sands Available In The Market
After carefully considering your needs and your budget, it’s now time to select a pool filter sand from a myriad of options available in the market. To help you narrow down the options and select a pool filter sand with the best performance and customer feedback.
ZeoSand Zeolite Filter Media
ZeoSand is a pure natural zeolite that has a three dimensional honeycomb structure. And due to this molecular structure, ZeoSand has a surface area around one hundred times larger than glass and silica sand. Giving it greater filtering capabilities than an ordinary filter medium.
Another effect of the large surface area is the increased density of the ZeoSand. ZeoSand has a fifty percent to sixty percent replacement ratio. This means that you’ll only need half the required filter sand. So you’ll have to keep this in mind when trying to use this product for your swimming pool filter. The ZeoSand is also effective in capturing ammonia in the pool water. Which results in a lower chloramine level of the water in your pool.
But the best out of all its features is passing the NSF/ANSI Standards 50, 61, and 372. Which results in the pool sand product becoming certified by the Water Quality Association. Meaning, its filtering capabilities create safe drinking water.
ZeoSand is produced by Zeo Incorporated, an established company focusing on innovating and producing zeolite products for water filtration, soil amendment, and animal food additives. They have been operating for 30 years and have become a leading figure in the zeolite industry. 
Zeoplus Pool Filter Media
Zeoplus is a zeolite, mainly mordenite and clinoptilolite, from natural mineral rocks formed from volcanic activity. As a zeolite, it has a naturally occurring microporous structure. It also has increased filter area due to its surface having surface irregularities.
The ammonia removal capabilities of Zeoplus are also outstanding. So you won’t have to worry about skin and eye irritations due to ammonia formed from the mixing of ammonium ions and chlorine.
One of the best features of Zeoplus is that it can be regenerated once. Regeneration means that you can revive its ammonia-removing capabilities once it becomes saturated (a state in which the zeolite is unable to absorb ammonium from the water).
It’s quite easy to follow the filter sand regeneration procedure. You’ll just need to backwash and drain the filter. Then mix the pool sand with a brine solution and leave it overnight to soak completely. Drain the solution and rinse until the salt level returns to normal.
Zeoplus is produced by Waterco, a leading global brand that offers excellent water treatment products for residential and commercial pools and spas. They have been in the industry for more than forty years and have more than a hundred franchises. 
ZeoBest Pool Filter Media
ZeoBest is made from natural occurring zeolite. It has a uniform three-dimensional honeycomb structure that enables it to capture pool water contaminants up to 3 microns in size.
One of ZeoBest’s edge when it comes to competitors is its excellent ability to reduce and remove chloramine from the pool water. As proof of this, it has received the highest rating of Cation Exchange Capacity out of all the filter mediums in the United States. So you can be sure that it will provide you better water clarity and safety. 
ZeoBest is produced by Northern Filter Media Pools, a fairly new company in the pool industry but creates excellent quality products. Their main focus is creating environmentally friendly products for pools and spas. As a testament to this, their line-up of products is one of the first to receive certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 
Emaux Filtration Media Crystal
This glass filter medium is the sole filtration media product of Emaux. The Emaux Filtration Crystal is a crushed glass filter medium that offers better filtering capabilities than a generic pool filters’ sand.
Emaux is a company that specializes in manufacturing products related to swimming pools, spas, aquatic centers, and other water recreation activities. They have been in operation for 35 years in China and Europe. 
WaterCo Glass Pearls Pool Filter Media
The Glass Pearls product of WaterCo is made from 100% pure glass, in other terms virgin glass – chemically inert and zero impurities. Enabling it to offer better filtration than conventional glass filters.
In fact, WaterCo’s Glass Pearls have been independently tested by TUV SUD (Technischer Überwachungsverein) and the results show astounding results. The Glass Pearls significantly reduced the particle count of a sample influent even at a particle size of 1 micron. Inferring from the test results conducted, you can be sure that water in the pool will remain very safe and very clear. 
Aside from safety and water clarity, you can even generate savings. The spherical shapes of the Glass Pearls enable less water usage during backwashing. From the tests, Glass Pearls uses twenty percent less water than silica pool sand.
WaterCo is a leading global brand that offers excellent water treatment products for residential and commercial pools and spas. They have been in the water treatment industry for more than forty years and have more than a hundred franchises worldwide. 
Mystic White Pool Filter Media
As the name implies, Mystic White is white-colored pool sand made from premium grade silica sand. It is chemical-free, ecologically safe, inert, and odorless.
The grains of Mystic White are angular in shape that provides maximum entrapment of solids such as dirt, dust, leaves, insects, moss, oil, cosmetics, gum, and other debris.
Mystic White is a product made by U.S. Silica, a global industrial minerals and logistics leader. They specialize in mining and developing new products for glass, chemicals, foundry, recreation, water treatment, and industrial filtration. 
Quikrete Pool Filter Sand
The Quikrete is perhaps one of the most known silica sand products on the pool market. It is made from high-quality silica sand with grain sizes ranging from 0.85 – 0.425 mm. The Quikrete pool sand can filter particles having sizes twenty microns and above.
Quikrete is a company known for its cement and concrete products. They have been in the industry for more than eighty years, which gives them a lot of knowledge and insight in producing quality products in the United States. 
FairmountSantrol Aqua Quartz
The Aqua Quartz is a product made from high-grade silica sand which can easily remove debris, insects, leaves, oils, dirt, dust, hair, and algae from the water of the pool. This product has an overwhelmingly positive review on Amazon, so you can be sure that it can get its job done as a pool filter sand.
This is mined and harvested from hundred percent natural sand, so you can be assured that it is chemical-free. It is also ecologically safe sand so you won’t have to worry about it solidifying inside the sand pool filter tank and pipes and will help prevent clogging and channeling. 
Palmetto Pool Filter Sand
Although not as much reviews as the Aqua Quartz on Amazon, the Palmetto is still a great pool filter sand option for those who are on a tight budget. The Palmetto Pool Filter Sand is made from a high grade silica so it can effectively remove insects, leaves, dirt, dust, sunscreen oil, hair and other small particles to keep your pool clean and clear.
This pool filter sand is hundred percent natural and is chemical free. So you won’t have to worry about sand clumping that can cause clogging inside the pool filters.
Another notable specification of the product is that, unlike other pool filter sands, it has passed the requirements of the American Water Works Association for a pool filter sand. Which means that the quality of water that it produces is guaranteed to be safe. 
RX Clear White Pool Filter Media
This product can be considered as an alternative for the common pool filter sand like silica, glass or zeolite because the RX Clear White has different properties and is shaped like a large cotton ball. 
The RX Clear White, or should we say snow white filter balls, are made up of polyethylene fibers. This fibrous material can filter out contaminants in the water which can remove even particles sizing only three microns. So you can be sure that it is a great water clarifier.
Aside from that, these filter balls are washable. So you don’t need to backwash your pool filters. Just scoop the balls out and then you can wash it by hand or clean it by using a washing machine.
But take note that filter balls are fairly new in the scene of pool filters and there are very few reports of it losing effectiveness after a year. And there’s very few studies when it comes to using polyethylene fibers for water treatment, so we don’t know yet its long term effect. Thus, kindly take this recommendation with a grain of salt.
Sand Filter Improvement Tips
Aside from selecting the best-suited pool filter sand for your needs, there are other ways in which you can improve the efficiency and performance of pool sand filters. Below are three tips to do so.
Adding Pool Water Clarifiers In The Sand
Pool clarifiers are made from a polymer formula that acts as a coagulant. In simpler terms, it groups up suspended particles in the pool water and clumps them together.
So when you pour a small amount of pool clarifier inside the filter, the fine particles stuck in the sand bed will clump together. Due to this clumping action, the size gets bigger making it easy to be filtered out or washed out when you backwash and rinse the pool filter.
Try it out next time because it’s fairly easy. The night before you backwash, turn off the pool pump and pour a little clarifier inside the sand pool filter. The day after, set the multiport valve to backwash and turn on the pool pump. You’ll be surprised to find the sand filter cleaner than ever and your water clearer.
Add A Little Diatomaceous Earth In The Filter
Though a little counter-intuitive, adding diatomaceous earth (DE) powder can make a difference in improving pool filtering efficiency. It provides an additional layer of filtering aside from the pool filter sand in the tank.
To add DE powder to the pool filter, turn the sand filter pump and let it circulate for a few minutes. Ready a solution of one cup of diatomaceous powder and water in a bucket. Open the skimmer and slowly add in the solution. Observe the pressure gauge carefully. You’ll know if you’ve added enough if the reading in the pressure gauge increased by 1 psi. If one cup isn’t enough prepare another solution and add until you achieve the 1 psi increment.
Maintain A Regular Schedule Of Backwashing
As you continuously use your filter system, particles like dust and debris will accumulate in the pool filter sands. Backwashing removes the accumulated particles in the pool filter system by reversing the water flow and redirecting it towards your waste pipe.
Don’t worry sand filters are easy to use and easy to maintain. To backwash your pool filter, you’ll only need to turn off the filter pump, set your multiport or sliding valve into “backwash” mode, and turn the pump back on.
In summary, the best pool filter sand for you depends on what you need. To select the best pool filter sand suited for you there are certain factors that need consideration.
First, consider your budget. Because although you may want the most excellent sand quality there is, it won’t matter if you can’t buy it. Next is the desired level of filtering and the sand grain size which you can afford based on the set budget.
There are three types of sand filter media available in the market. There are many brands available, and the choice is ultimately up to you.
To improve the filtering ability of your sand filters try adding clarifiers, diatomaceous earth, and maintain a regular backwashing schedule.
Additionally, these articles are worth checking out. You will learn a lot from it, I’m sure!
- Pool Heat Calculator – How to Estimate the Btu Rating and Heating Cost for Your Pool
- Detailed Guide to Choosing and Using a Gas Pool Heater
- The Best Above Ground Pool Filter That You Can Use For Your Home
Maintaining your swimming pool properly is an essential part of keeping it clean and healthy. You can find a variety of articles about how to take good care of your pool on our website.
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