Pool maintenance

Successful maintenance of commercial swimming pools with enzymes | International Aquatic Magazine

Enzymes are well suited for use in commercial pools. And many pool professionals recommend enzymes because they are a natural option.

These products have evolved over the years to include specific varieties that meet the needs of each body of water. Today, there are two types of enzyme products available for use in pools and spas: blended and broad-spectrum. Both provide visible results, but they work differently depending on how they are made.

Blended Enzymes: These are often blended to focus primarily on reducing fats and oils. They can reduce the time and effort required to keep the water line clean in a swimming pool and/or hot tub.

Broad Spectrum Enzymes: These are made through a fermentation process – similar to the making of alcohol – and are able to speed up or catalyze thousands of chemical reactions in swimming pools and hot tubs.

Broad-spectrum enzymes naturally break down non-living organic matter such as bather waste, lotions, sunscreens and oils. They break down unwanted additions to pool and/or spa water piece by piece until only water and air are left.

When choosing between the two types of enzymes, keep in mind that the broad-spectrum type tends to have a wider range of abilities.


Each enzyme binds to a specific molecule, called a substrate. They meet at the active site, where the reaction takes place. After this joining, the substrate is broken into smaller pieces which can then continue to deteriorate. The enzyme then moves to another similar substrate to continue the degradation process.

Natural Chemistry
Enzymes are often explained by a lock and key model, as shown above.


Select an enzyme product based on the body of water it was formulated for.

For example, a spa may have somewhat different needs than a swimming pool. These hot water receptacles handle bather waste almost entirely, such as makeup, hair products, and lotions. Enzymes formulated for these bodies of water are intended to target the most commonly encountered non-living organic wastes that accumulate in spa water. They are also buffered to last longer in the warmer water environment of a spa.

Pools also contain non-living organic matter such as bather waste, lotion, and sunscreen, in addition to environmental factors that can affect pool maintenance. These can include pollen (with particularly high amounts in the spring), as well as bird waste and even jet fuel dropped by planes landing in the area.

For this reason, it is important not to use the same enzymes in spas and swimming pools. They should also not be interchanged, as enzymes formulated for swimming pools are not designed to work in higher spa water temperatures. Using enzymes in the wrong application could impair their performance.

Enzymes are specific in what they break down, so it’s important to have a broad-spectrum variety that can catalyze thousands of reactions. The enzyme that is effective on pollen, for example, will not be effective on sunscreen and vice versa.

A broad-spectrum enzyme allows for maximum coverage and treatment of a wide variety of non-living organic waste in swimming pools and spas.


It is a commonly accepted industry standard that each bather leaves behind approximately 16 ounces of non-living waste in 45-60 minutes in a body of water.

Enzymes can and really should be used primarily as a maintenance product in addition to regular sanitizing and balancing efforts. Enzymatic maintenance products are formulated to be applied in weekly doses, different for swimming pools and spas. In commercial pools, the enzymes can be placed on a metered feed, so the pool receives a small amount seven days a week. Once the non-living organic matter is broken down by the enzymes, the filter has no need to work as hard to eliminate them.

The enzymes work while swimmers are swimming, it’s like cleaning in the heat of the moment. Non-living organic matter is broken down as it is added to the water, rather than after it has accumulated and caused problems with the filter, water clarity or line of flotation.

Enzymes can also be used to help in the event of vandalism or an accident. They can even break down engine oil.