UPDATED: Mar 03, 2020.
Each season, do you find yourself tempted to save a bit of money by making a swap that’s “not a big deal?” If you’re like many homeowners around the world who enjoy the luxury of a private pool, you’ve probably wondered at some point: “Can I use playsand in my pool filter?”
Well, the short and simple answer is, yes. But, it’s not really the best idea, and we’ll explain why. If it were feasible to use the cheaper, playground version instead of the one labeled for pools, wouldn’t everyone do it?
Filtering Out The Nonsense
The first thing you need to understand for us to address this question is what makes “playsand” (more commonly known as sandbox sand), so much different from sand that’s specifically designed and manufactured for swimming pools. At a quick glance:
- Pool filter sand is much smaller – .45 to .55 millimeters in size compared to up to 2 millimeters across for playsand.
- To prevent children from inhaling cancer-causing silica or developing the disease silicosis, silica is deliberately removed from sandbox sand.
- Playsand has the potential to introduce contaminents into your pool, such as artificial colors, insects, water-sensitive chemicals, and more.
In other words, there’s a BIG difference between these two types of “sand,” and they are obviously made for very incompatible purposes. To put this into perspective, would you go to the local hardware store and purchase pool filter sand for use in your child’s sandbox?
Illustrating These Differences
Watch this informative video that dives (pun intended) into some of the key differences you should take note of:
You can also find a more personal view of someone’s experience and observations when using both on this helpful video:
The Long-Term Costs
While it might prove to be a cheap, patch-up option in the beginning, you’re likely to incur huge costs down the road when everything else is factored in. Because of the inefficiently large size of playsand, it will not only filter less from your pool, but it will need to be changed more often.
More importantly is the inconsistency of playsand, which can contain everything from too coarse particles to ultra-fine particles that can clog or damage your valves.
Pool filter sand is a properly graded and dried sand, which takes into account numerous considerations that other commercially available sands simply do not. As mentioned earlier, playsand is missing silica, which is a vital filtration substance when used underwater.
Are There Safe Alternatives?
Knowing what kind of products for will work as effective pool filters can give you a lot of affordable options. At this point you’re asking, “So wait, can I use playsand in my pool filter after all?” Nope. We’re still suggesting to avoid it, but there are other things you can try.
Here are some products which you may find to be cheaper alternatives if you’re looking to get creative:
- ZeoSand filter media (natural and safe, with DE-like clarity and controls chloramines)
- RX Clear Luster Eco-Friendly Filter Media (tiny polyethylene balls that last seasons)
- In The Swim Filterballs Blu Advanced (as the name suggests, these recyclable balls are great and use much lower working pressure for less energy consumed = money saved)
Some of these options also last for many seasons, which may produce some savings for you long-term. Unlike some might suggest, pool filter sand must be changed regularly to maintain effectiveness. A lot of this has to do with the jagged shape of sand that wears down over time.
What’s The Final Say?
To wrap things up, let’s say that playsand might be a suitable option – if it’s just a quick (and very temporary) fix to get you by. But since there are so many better, safer and even cheaper choices, why even risk it?
If any of your friends, coworkers or neighbors ask, “Can I use playsand in my pool filter to save money?” Tell them that this is a matter not to play around with – just use filter media, or go with the sand intended to find its way into your filter.
Feel free to comment if you have any tips or questions!