We all know someone with blonde hair, which means we all know someone who has come out of a swimming pool with green hair. This occurrence is somewhat common, and when it happens, most people have always believed that it’s due to the chlorine in the water. But then they read this blog, and learn that green hair is not and has never been a product of chlorine. Green hair is the product of one thing: Copper.
So what is copper? Copper is an element, just like chlorine. It’s the stuff pennies used to be made of, and when it’s in pool water, it can cause staining on surfaces, skin irritation, and turn hair green. Ideally, we want absolutely no copper in pool or spa water.
Copper can be introduced from quite a few different places, but there are three that are most prevalent. They are:
- Source water. Many of us here in southeastern Wisconsin have hard water. Even more of us have plumbing in our homes that is made of copper. Whether on city or well water, most people have some copper in their water. It’s a good idea to use a filter on the end of the garden hose when filling the pool with hard water.
- Pool heater. The heating element in most pool heaters is made out of copper. When a pool owner isn’t diligent about testing and balancing their water, they usually end up corroding that heater element. This results in having to do an expensive metal removal treatment, followed by an even more costly heater replacement. We have seen customers corrode a new heater in just 30 days, so it’s critical to stay on top of the water chemistry!
- Cheap algaecides. Copper is good at one thing, and that’s preventing algae growth. However, most chemical manufacturers do not chelate the copper in their pool chemicals, which means that the copper can come out of solution and contribute to all of the irritants described above. Some companies do use a chelated copper in their chemicals, so it’s important to consult with a water care expert before using any copper-based products.
To be clear: green hair is not good. That is, unless you are on your way to the always majestic Lambeau Field!