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Do you have foam in your pool?

That’s cool if there’s a pool party coming up.

But what if, just like that, the pool foams?

We’ll get to the possible causes in a moment.

However, many pool owners are responsible for the foam in the pool themselves – intentionally or unintentionally.

The foam bath is a fun thing at the pool party, but the very next morning it causes many pool owners a real headache.

At the latest, when cleaning up, pool owners are already faced with the question of how to get rid of the foam in the pool.

The problem is more serious than thought. But it doesn’t even have to come to that. With a few simple rules, you can effectively prevent foam from forming in the pool.

But first, let’s get into it with the cause of foam.

Where does foam in pool water come from?

In natural waters, foam occurs when there are substances in the water that loosen the surface tension of the water. Air can enter the solution and forms the familiar bubbles.

This is also the reason why foam is formed at waterfalls and when waves break. The water traps the air. The foam is carried along with the current, disintegrates after some time or accumulates in calmer places in the water.

In an above-ground pool, foam is to be supplied on the fact that the return nozzles blow with the water also air bubbles into the pool. However, strong wind can also be a trigger.

If the surface tension is lowered by agents in the pool water, foam forms. The pool water foams. On the calm pool, the foam persists and over time more and more accumulates.

What agents cause pool foam?

The main foam-forming agents are surfactants and proteins. Surfactants occur naturally (e.g., natural saponins), but are primarily produced synthetically and are used in cosmetics, personal care products, detergents and cleaning products.

Proteins are a component of all organic life. Protein foams are part of everyday life. We encounter them every day in the form of foam when cooking pasta or rice, as beer foam or as beaten egg whites.

In bodies of water, egg white foam is formed primarily by organic material, but also by algae, the remains of aquatic plants, insects and leaves, for example. Protein also gets into the pool water in other ways.

If the pool water foams, these are the most likely causes:

  • Detergents and soap
  • Body lotions, deodorant and makeup
  • Hair care products such as shampoos, gels or hairspray
  • Algaecides
  • cheap or too many chemicals
  • total dissolved solids (TDS)

Removing foam from the pool

If the foam is already in the pool, these precautions won’t help. Now, only measures to remove the foam from the pool will help.

  1. Test the pool water. If the pool chemistry is okay, you will also get rid of the foam faster.
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  1. Foam caused by algaecide will break down on its own after some time. Skim the foam off the surface and give the pool a few days rest and the problem will go away.
  2. Check the pH. If you have problems with foam, keep the pH in the range of 7.4 to 7.6 with an alkalinity of 100 to 150 parts per million (ppm).

If none of this has helped, you should shock the pool. You can choose between chlorine-free or chlorine-containing pool shockers. The best time to shock the pool is in the evening. Leave the filter and pump running overnight.

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If you still haven’t seen positive results, or you just need a quick fix because you have visitors coming, and you want to show off your new pool rather than your new 20,000 gallon washing machines, the only thing that will help is a defoamer.

Defoamers or anti-foam agents dissolve foam and prevent it from forming by destroying the gaseous air bubbles, thus returning the water to its lowest-energy state (a closed water surface).

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Avoid foam in the pool

Now that we have explained the causes of foam in water bodies and pools, let’s derive some rules on how you can avoid foamy pool water in the future.

Rule #1: Take a shower before swimming

With cold temperatures outside, it can be pretty tough. But showering before bathing rinses makeup, shampoo and soap residue from your skin. Also, wash your hair out thoroughly, so you don’t carry remnants of your arsenal of hair care products into the pool.

Children are not very happy about this rule. However, showering off before bathing is important to avoid bringing all the chemicals from your skin, body and hair care products into the pool. If you do not shower before bathing, the disinfectant will be used up more quickly, and you will incur higher costs.

Note: Shower gel or hair shampoo should obviously not be used when showering off.

Rule #2: Algicide

Algaecide is one of the most likely causes of pool foaming. Therefore, choose an algaecide that is labeled non-foaming. Also, do not use excessive amounts of the product.

Follow the package directions on the back of the algaecide or the manufacturer’s directions on the company’s website to determine the proper dosage and frequency of application.

With proper pool chemistry, algae infestation is very unlikely. If all tests for algae are negative, you can forgo algaecide and still have a clean and healthy swimming pool.

The problem with cheap chemicals (like too cheap algaecides) is that they foam. Don’t go to the hardware store and buy packs of tens of gallons of algaecide each, but rather choose a highly concentrated product that you only need a few grams of per treatment and that doesn’t foam.

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Rule #3: Bubble bath and detergent do not belong in the pool.

A bubble bath in the pool sounds fun and enjoyable at first. However, when it becomes permanent, the joy usually fades quickly. Just like in the bathtub, bubble bath fluid creates a sea of foam.

You can no longer get rid of this foam. When emptying the bathtub, you have certainly noticed that a lot of foam remains and does not disintegrate even in the absence of water. The leftover foam in the tub always has to be rinsed away, quite annoyingly.

In the pool, this means immediately draining the pool water, rinsing out the remaining foam and filling it with new water. This is a real hassle and costs a lot of money.

Ultimately, a swimming pool is a very large bathtub. The effort required to get rid of the foam in a pool is much higher than in a bathtub. So you’d better leave it alone and move the next foam party to the bathroom instead.

Special case: salt water pool foams

Not everyone owns a chlorine pool, so it’s not surprising that one or the other saltwater pool foams sometimes. Whether there are differences here? No.

Adhere to the following rules here as well, and the foam in the salt water pool should soon be a thing of the past.

Remove salt water pool foam:

  • Rule #1: Shower before bathing.
  • Rule #2: Algaecide
  • Rule #3: Foam bath and detergent do not belong in the pool

Conclusion

Hopefully, our tips have helped you put an end to the ongoing foam party, and you can get back to using the pool normally.

We hope you enjoy your swim!

Larry has been a true water rat since childhood. Pure pleasure turned into a passion. That's why he is the first point of contact for friends and acquaintances when it comes to pool-related problems. He is an integral part of the PoolHandbook editorial team.