The 5 W's of Enzymes

Enjoy Crystal Clear Water

Who should use enzyme products?

The simple answer is, everyone. Enzyme products have evolved over the years to a point where there are now specific enzyme products based upon the needs of each and every body of water. That's why "everybody" should use them.

What are enzymes?

There are two different types of enzyme products available in the swimming pool and spa industry today. These products are called commercially manufactured and broad-spectrum enzymes. Both will allow for visible results, but they work a bit differently based on how they are made.


A manufactured enzyme is a targeted product that focuses primarily on fats and oils. A benefit you will see is that it could reduce the time and effort needed to maintain the waterline cleanliness in a pool. If you had to choose between the two, however, broad-spectrum enzymes are the way to go.

Broad-spectrum enzymes are made through a fermentation process (similar to the one used for alcohol), and they are capable of thousands of reactions in swimming pools and spas. These enzymes break down non-living organics such as bather waste, lotion, sunscreen, oils and more in a naturally based way. They break these unwanted additions to pool and spa water down piece by piece, until there is little left other than water and air.

When you think of it, enzymes are a commonly discussed item in many other industries, including health and wellness (enzymes in our stomachs), beauty products (enzymes in a facial peel), and even at-home maintenance (enzymes in septic and drain cleaners).

Where enzymes should be added?

You should select an enzyme product based on the body of water for which it was formulated. For example, a spa can have somewhat different needs than those of a swimming pool. Spas deal almost entirely in bather wastes, such as makeup, hair products and lotions. Enzymes formulated for these bodies of water are targeting the most commonly experienced non-living organic waste that builds up in spa water. They are also buffered to last longer in the warmer water environment of a hot tub over a pool.

Swimming pools also deal with these types of non-living organics (bather waste, lotion, sunscreen, etc.) in addition to the environmental factors that can affect pool maintenance. Some of these environmental factors include pollen (which is heavy in the springtime) or bird waste.

Enzymes formulated for swimming pools are designed with all of these needs in mind and more.

Professional research has been done on the amount of non-living waste left behind from bathers, and the numbers are quite shocking. It is a commonly accepted standard in the pool and spa industry that each bather leaves behind about 16 ounces of non-living waste in 45 minutes to an hour in a body of water. That is a lot of "stuff" to break down—enzymes can help with the job!

When are enzymes to be added?

Enzymes can (and really should) be used primarily as a maintenance product in addition to regular sanitizer and balancing efforts. Enzyme maintenance products are formulated to be applied in weekly doses (the dosage amount and product used is different for pools vs. spas).

When using an enzyme maintenance product weekly, pool professionals can actually take it one step further and split that dose up to daily feed amounts. (This is especially great in commercial pools.) Enzymes work while bathers are swimming, so think of it like you are cleaning up in the heat of the party. As non-living organics (bather waste, sunscreens, etc.) are being added to the water, you can be breaking them down as you go instead of waiting for them to build up and cause issues in the filter, with water clarity or at the waterline.

Enzymes can also be used as a problem-solving product. This is one we hope you will never have to use, but enzymes work well in the unlikely event that a pool is vandalized. Enzymes have saved the day so many times when pools have been the victim of unnecessary vandalism and can even break down motor oil.

Why use enzymes?

The bottom line is that you should use enzymes to make pool or spa maintenance easier. When using enzymes as a part of a maintenance program, the benefits will include:

  • Increased filter run cycles: Less filter cleaning for you! This occurs because enzymes are working constantly to break down non-living waste in the water before it has a chance to build up on the filter.
  • Reduction of scum lines: Less scrubbing of the tile line for you! When non-living organics partially break down, one of the places their remains like to stick is at the tile line. We've all seen this unsightly buildup at times, and enzymes will work to control it from coming back.
  • Superior water clarity: Pools and spas will sparkle like never before when an enzyme is made a part of weekly maintenance. When there is less "stuff" (non-living gunk and grime) in the water, it will show in its appearance.
  • Increased efficiency: This means an all-around easier-to-maintain pool or spa. Enzymes work hard, so you don't have to.

Much like the rest of our world, the swimming pool and spa industry has evolved quite a bit since inception. Why then, should we not consider proactive pool and spa care as an alternative to our traditional "put out the fire" approach?

Using an enzyme will enhance water clarity and reduce overall pool and spa maintenance. Pool professionals who want to ensure the clearest water in all of their pools and spas serviced while minimizing the time it takes to do so should add enzymes into the cleaning routine. Stop scrubbing scum lines and enjoy crystal clear water with less work-saving time and money by using enzymes!



Chris Marcano is an educator with a passion for assisting the pool and spa industry. He is the Director of Training and Education for NC Brands (home of Natural Chemistry, SeaKlear and Red Leopard), a sought-after public speaker, and a contributor for many columns and various industry media outlets. For more information, visit