How to Remove Copper From Swimming Pool Water

Michael Keenan


Pool Water Chemistry

If you have a swimming pool, you’ll know that copper will inevitably find its way into the water. While the water can handle a certain amount, you want to avoid situations where it dissolves – because too much copper can cause stains and other problems.

In this article I’ll discuss the importance of lowering copper levels in your pool. I’ll look at the ways that copper can enter the water. Then explain how to remove copper from pool water – using a sequestering or chelating agent. Plus I’ll share a few other things to keep in mind – stuff I’ve learned alomg the way.

Don’t allow excess copper to mess up the calcium hardness in your pool – with this guide you’ll learn how to remove copper from swimming pool water quickly and safely!

how to remove copper from swimming pool water

Quick Answer:

Copper has a way of finding its way into swimming pool water, and if too much builds up it can cause staining and cloudiness. To remove copper from your pool, you’ll need to do some testing with a sample and add sequestering agents or chelating agents according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Check pH, chlorine, calcium hardness, and alkalinity levels in the pool water to ensure balance when adding chemicals. With proper care and monitoring of these values, you can keep the copper levels in your swimming pool at zero!

The Importance of Lowering Copper in Your Swimming Pool

The best-case scenario is to not have any copper at all in your pool water. Because it is capable of messing with the pH balance, calcium levels and alkalinity. This leads to oxidation of the copper in the water and that, in turn, leads to a whole new set of problems.

For starters, when the pool hits its saturation with copper, it makes the water cloudy because it will be floating in the water. That happens at about 0.2 to 0.4 parts per million. This will float away towards the solid surface and cause stains on the walls of your pool.

There’s more. If you swim in a pool with high levels of copper, you will notice that your hair starts to turn some shade of green because it gets plated with the metal. You don’t want that!

Excess copper also messes with the calcium hardness test. Excessive amounts of dissolved metals in a pool can cause the calcium hardness test to give inaccurate results, leading to what’s known as ‘fading endpoint‘.

This means that an even more complex water test must be done first in order to neutralize the metals present in the sample.

Trust me, you don’t want high levels of copper in your pool! So, how does copper get into your pool in the first place?


What Causes High Copper Levels in Pool Water?

There are several ways for copper to end up in your pool. Unfortunately, your source of water is even a possible cause. Most pool owners will be faced with high levels of copper in pool water at some point. Here are the main causes of copper in pool water:

  • The local water source
  • Copper-based algaecides
  • Copper based pool mineral systems
  • Low pH levels that cause copper corrosion
  • Adding chlorine or other harsh chemicals to the filter basket
  • Using copper/zinc ionizers to sanitize the pool

Remember, a combination of these can mean high levels very quickly. You gotta test regularly and keep things in check!

So, How to Add Chemicals to the Pool and Not Copper?

As you’ve noticed some common pool chemicals can actually cause high levels of copper in the water. But, we still need to use things like algaecides, chlorine shock and perhaps ionizers.

Fighting algae is not optional. But if algaecides contain copper, what to do? For one, you can’t avoid them, so keep a measure of the copper levels. Start by following instructions from the algaecide manufacturer to the tee.

A week after this, test the copper levels. If the levels are higher than 0.4 ppm, you need to add a sequestering agent. It basically “vacuums” your pool and gets rid of the copper. Check the copper levels after 24 hours.

The best approach is to be aware of how copper levels can rise after using these and then manage the copper afterwards.

How to Reduce Copper Levels in Your Pool?

The first step is to be aware of the problems copper can cause and what can increase copper levels. As with most pool maintenance issues, the first step is to test your pool water. Just make sure your test includes copper levels – duh!

The best way to remove copper from pool water is to use a sequestering agent (or a chelating agent).

A sequestering agent is a chemical compound used in pool care to prevent the buildup of minerals and other particles in the water. The are often marketed as cleansers or chemicals to give your water a clear sparkle!

These agents bind to metal ions, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper, preventing them from reacting with other substances in the pool water and making it easier to keep the water clean and clear.

Sequestering agents are often used alongside other products such as sanitizers or algaecides for maximum effectiveness.

Our Top Pick

Pool Mate Metal Out

An excellent general purpose sequestrant which helps protect plumbing and pool walls from rust, stain and scale

Buy Now on Amazon

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

How to Use A Sequestering or Chelating Agent

You know there are dissolved metals in your pool water when you see that the water is getting a bit cloudy and not sparkling as it should be. And then of course you have tested for copper. Once you know there’s copper in the pool, here’s how to proceed.

Check the pH and chlorine levels. Also, check calcium hardness and alkalinity of the pool water. Make sure all the values are balanced. That is because the sequestering agent works best when the pool water is balanced.

Now, do a test on a sample and verify that it is indeed copper in the pool. You want no more than 2 ppm of copper although levels up to 0.4 ppm are acceptable (not for me!).

If levels are high, get a sequestering agent for copper and add it to the pool according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some need you to dilute it. So, double-check that.

Come back after 24 hours and do another test. Check your pH, chlorine, calcium hardness and alkalinity levels too. Balance the water using the right amount of chlorine to avoid corrosion in the future.

And when the water is balanced, you will also know right away if the copper levels are getting out of control and you will be able to avoid disasters like staining. No one wants to get into a stained pool.

Other Things to Know

  1. It is very tough to find algaecides that are not copper based. So, stop putting your research energy there. Instead, get a sequestering or chelating agent while you are getting your algaecides.
  2. If you are using an algaecide wait about seven days before adding the sequestrant. The algaecide will still be working before that time and you want it to kill the algae first.
  3. If you see that the water is corrosive constantly, don’t wait to do a copper test. It is more than likely that the water has a copper problem.
  4. Do one copper test at the beginning and one at the end of summer. It is also a good idea to do a couple of them mid-season.
  5. If you see that your pool is stained but the copper test shows normal levels, that means the metal has already made its way to the walls of the pool.

Test Strips for Pools and Hot Tubs

7-IN-1 TEST STRIPS: Tests the most critical parameters: pH, Total Chlorine, Free Chlorine, Bromine, Alkalinity, Total Hardness, & Cyanuric Acid

Buy Now on Amazon

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

open copper mine


What is the best way to get rid of copper from pool water?

The best way to remove copper from swimming pool water is with a sequestering or chelating agent.

How to remove copper from pool water naturally?

One natural way to get rid of copper from pool water is to use a mineral filter system. These can help reduce copper levels over time.

What should the copper level be in a swimming pool?

The safe level of copper in a swimming pool is 0.2 ppm to 0.4 ppm. Anything over 0.5ppm and you should add a copper sequestering agent.

What are the potential health risks of high copper levels in a swimming pool?

Potential health risks associated with high copper levels in a swimming pool include skin irritation, eye and throat irritation, and respiratory problems.

Can you swim in a pool with high copper levels?

You can swim in a pool with high copper levels, but it can cause issues with eye and throat irritation. It can also turn hair green! Levels below 0.4 ppm are considered safe for swimming and pool equipment.

Does using a saltwater chlorinator help reduce copper levels in a swimming pool?

Using a saltwater chlorinator can help reduce copper levels in swimming pools because saltwater chlorinators produce chlorine which helps break down metals like copper in the water.

Wrapping Up

Removing copper from your swimming pool water is essential to avoid staining, cloudy water, and green hair! Copper can find its way into swimming pools through various sources, such as source water, algaecides, and harsh chemicals – but luckily there are steps you can take to remove it!

Start by following instructions from algaecide manufacturers closely and test for copper levels after one week.

Balancing the pH and chlorine levels in your pool will improve the effectiveness of a sequestering or chelating agent, which is the best way to rid your pool of excess copper.

Finally, regularly testing for copper levels throughout summer is key in preventing corrosion damage – don’t wait until it’s too late! With these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy a safe swim without green hair or stained walls this season!

michael keenan author

Author - Michael Keenan

I'm Michael Keenan the owner and creator of the Outdoor Care Guide. I'm a trained horticulturist with over 30 years of experience in pool care, plant care, and landscape care! Seemed like a good idea to share - I think I can make your life easier and save you some time and money!