The most effective ways to filter water are through materials that allow water to penetrate easily, but would be too small for anything else in the water to pass through. D.E. (or Diatomaceous Earth) does this incredibly well. Here’s why: To the naked eye, D.E. is a white powder that is porous to water. At the microscopic level, it is made up of very small openings that let water through, but not other particles that may be in the water, such as those at least two microns big (small, a human hair is around 75 microns, give or take). That is some fine stuff, you can’t even see! As the water passes, these “larger” particles are trapped.
How do D.E. Filters work?
D.E. pool filters literally let the D.E. powder attach to them. Think of a rough clothe that you wipe flour onto. It’s hard to get off, even if you run water through it. The powder becomes pasty when wet, but stays attached to the D.E. filter nonetheless. Over time, this power traps particles from the water, thus removing them from your pool.
What is D.E. Powder made of?
This powdery stuff isn’t quite the same substance as cooking flour. Think of it like a really, really fine sand. Different from sand though, which tends to be more rounded, D.E. powder is made up of things such as ground up prehistoric shells from the sea or the skeletal remains of microscopic single-cell aquatic plants called diatoms (or diatomite). The resulting pieces come in just about as many shapes and textures as you could imagine. A microscopic view would look more like a sculptor’s art project than a filtering system. It’s these shapes though that create the very tiny openings for water to pass through, but the other particles like dust and sand cannot.
Adding D.E. to your pool filter
The way you get this stuff onto your D.E. filter is simply by pouring it in your pool’s skimmer. This is usually where your largest basket is out at the pool. With your pump on, you just slowly add the designated amount of D.E. powder. You can also create a slurry beforehand by mixing the D.E. in a pail of water first. Follow the directions for the quantity you should add based on your particular D.E. pool filter.
One important fact to note about D.E. powder used on D.E. filters: This powder is so incredible fine that it can easily become airborne. This D.E. “dust” can easily become inhaled. As it separates, the tiny elements (with it’s vast array of shapes and sizes) can stick to surfaces easily. After all, that’s it’s job when it comes in contact with a D.E. pool filter! Well, the same can happen in your lungs. This can cause some serious irritation, and even lead to permanent breathing problems in worst cases. So, be careful when handling dry D.E. powder and dried D.E. filters.