Having a pool to enjoy in hot weather, during barbecues, and when friends and family visit is a great benefit that can create many amazing and fun memories. However, pools don’t just stay nice and clean on their own; they require regular maintenance and a functioning pool filter to be able to pull small dust and debris particles from the water. Sand filters are commonly used for this purpose, but over time the pool filter sand can become dirty and contaminated, which affects how well the filter can function.
Instead of replacing an entire pool filter, the sand can be drained and replaced with new sand. Pool filter sand can commonly filter debris as small as 20 microns, with 1 micron equal to 1/26,000 of an inch. The best pool filter sand may be able to filter particles as small as 3 microns, though it depends on the type of pool filter sand that’s used. The list below features several top products, but continue reading to determine the most important factors to consider before deciding on one type of sand over another.
- BEST OVERALL: FairmountSantrol AquaQuartz-50 Pool Filter Sand
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Palmetto Poolfilter-50 Superior Pool Sand Filter
- BEST SILICA SAND: HTH 67074 Filter Sand Care for Swimming Pools
- BEST ZEOLITE SAND: Zeo, Inc ZeoSand-50 ZeoSand Swimming Pool Sand
- BEST GLASS SAND: HARSCO METALS & MINERALS Filter Glass
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pool Filter Sand
Before choosing the best pool filter sand for your sand filter, it’s crucial to determine the type of sand that would be ideal for your pool. Consider the grain size, quantity of sand, and whether it’s compatible with above-ground or in-ground pool filtration systems. Read on to find more important shopping tips and details about essential product features.
Pool filter sand can come in three common types that are designed to effectively trap dirt and debris to keep the pool water clean, including silica, zeolite, and glass sand.
- Silica pool filter sand is the most commonly used type. It’s inexpensive, easy to find, and can filter particles down to 20 microns, which is approximately 0.0008 inches. Silica sand is made with ground quartz, and it has rough edges to help trap particulates.
- Zeolite pool filter sand is made from volcanic rock minerals and can filter debris as small as 10 microns, giving it a slight edge over silica pool filter sand. However, zeolite sand is also capable of binding with chloramines to help maintain the chlorine balance in the pool water.
- Glass pool filter sand is the best option for removing very small particles from the pool water. This alternative to silica sand is made from recycled glass and can capture debris as small as 3 to 5 microns in size, making it a good option for pools that have recurring algae problems. This is because while algae is often 30 microns in size, algae spores can be much smaller, allowing them to slip through silica sand and create new problems in the pool.
The grain size of pool filter sand can be measured in inches, but due to the size of the sand, it’s easier to express it in millimeters. In order for a sand filter to work properly, it needs grains of sand that are the appropriate size. If the grains are too small then the flow of water through the filter can actually sweep them up and push a large portion of the sand into the pool instead of cleaning the water.
Grains that are too large won’t get pushed out of the filter, but they are also less effective at properly filtering small particles. With this in mind, the ideal grain size for filter pool water is between 0.45 millimeters and 0.55 millimeters or 0.018 inches to 0.022 inches. Never use industrial or play sand in a pool filter. It won’t work well, and it can damage the filtration system.
Above-Ground vs. In-Ground Pool
Pool filters can be used with both above-ground and in-ground pools, but differences in flow rates mean that there are some pool filter sand products that aren’t appropriate for all types.
- Above-ground pool filters will typically be smaller and the water flow through them will also be lower because the pump doesn’t need to work as hard to pull the water into the filtration system. These sand filters can be used with grains of sand as small as 0.45 millimeters without pulling sand out of the filter.
- In-ground pool filters require a heavier grain of sand above 0.5 millimeters so that the more powerful filtration system can be used without worrying about filling the pool with sand.
Beyond the flow rate of the filtration system, there isn’t a lot of difference between pool filter sand used in above-ground sand filters and the sand used with in-ground sand filters.
Look for product information that indicates the filter type before deciding on a pool filter sand to refill your sand filter. This can include above-ground, in-ground, commercial, and residential sand filters with small differences between each type.
- Above-ground and in-ground pool filters typically use the same type of pool filter sand, but it must be the correct size to prevent the sand from being pulled into the pool instead of acting as a filter.
- Commercial filters will often have to deal with a lot of dirt and debris from a large number of people, so it’s best to use a zeolite or glass pool filter sand that can trap particles as small as 3 to 5 microns.
- Residential pool filters may not require the same level of filtration, so users can get away with the more affordable silica pool filter sand. However, both zeolite and glass can also be used for crystal clear water.
The quantity of pool filter sand that is required depends on the specific pool filter. However, there are some basic standards that hold true for most filter brands:
- 16-inch filters require about 100 pounds of pool filter sand.
- 19-inch filters require about 150 pounds of pool filter sand.
- 21-inch filters require about 200 pounds of pool filter sand.
- 23-inch filters require about 250 pounds of pool filter sand.
- 25-inch filters require about 300 pounds of pool filter sand.
Before deciding to pick up 300 pounds of pool filter sand, check the specific filter recommendations to ensure that you don’t overload the filter, which can burn out the filtration system or deposit a large amount of sand into the pool.
Our Top Picks
The following products were chosen using several criteria, including sand type, grain size, and overall quality, factoring in the additional shopping considerations listed above. Keep reading to discover the best pool filter sand for your pool filter.
Silica pool filter sand, like this FairmountSantrol product, is an affordable replacement medium for all sand filters. The 20-grade silica sand is capable of filtering a wide variety of pool debris like dirt, oil, hair, and algae that is 20 microns or larger. It’s 100 percent natural silica sand that has been mined instead of manufactured so that users don’t need to worry about chemicals in the sand.
The silica pool filter sand comes in a 50-pound bag, though it’s also sold in a three-pack if more sand is necessary. It doesn’t solidify or form clumps, reducing the chance of filter clogging or channeling. The sand is also odorless and it backwashes easily, helping to keep the pool clean and crystal clear.
Affordability is important when it comes to pool maintenance because pool chemicals, cleaners, and repairs can be costly. So whenever possible, it’s a good idea to look for inexpensive products like this Palmetto pool filter sand. The silica sand comes in a large 50-pound bag and is 100 percent natural with no chemical additives to worry about.
The 20-grade formula is easy to backwash and can be used to filter leaves, dust, dirt, oils, algae, insects, and any other particles that are larger than 20 microns. It’s an odorless, non-clumping product that won’t clog the filter, and it lasts between 3 and 5 years before needing to be replaced.
Keep the water clean and clear with this HTH silica pool filter sand that is designed to trap dirt, dust, leaves, oils, and other small particles down to 20 microns in size. The 20-grade silica sand can be used with a variety of different sand filters including residential, commercial, above-ground, and in-ground filters, though the amount of sand per filter will differ based on the specific filters.
The pool filter sand comes in a 50-pound bag, and it has a natural formula that won’t form clumps or cause clogging. Just replace the existing sand and backwash the system until the water is running clear. After connecting the filter, the sand will remove debris from the pool water and won’t need to be replaced for 3 to 5 years, though weekly backwashing is suggested.
When selecting a new pool filter sand, it may be a good idea to invest in a zeolite sand product, especially if the pool has recurring issues with chlorine levels that result in sore or red eyes. This zeolite sand helps absorb chloramines, which are responsible for causing eye pain and redness while swimming. The sand is also ideal for filtering very small dirt, oil, debris, and particles that are as small as 10 microns.
This pool filter sand can last for up to 5 years before needing to be replaced, and it comes in a 50-pound bag. However, 50 pounds of Zeo, Inc zeolite sand is the cleaning equivalent of 100 pounds of silica pool filter sand, allowing users to spend less and get the same results.
This HARSCO glass pool filter sand is an excellent option for people who regularly experience high levels of algae in their pool or frequent algae blooms that can turn the pool water green overnight. The glass sand comes in a 40-pound bag and it is designed for filtering hair, dirt, and debris, but where this glass sand really excels is in trapping tiny particles that can be as small as 5 microns.
The pool filter sand can also help reduce the need for chemical shock treatments by capturing ammonium ions that can create harmful chloramines. It doesn’t retain as much grime as silica sand, so backwashing is quick and easy. The glass sand lasts between 5 and 9 years before it needs to be changed, outlasting standard silica sand products by two to three times.
The Advantages of Using the Best Pool Filter Sand
There are many advantages to using pool filter sand to help the pool vacuum keep the pool clean including the low maintenance of a sand filter. These pool filters should have the sand changed once every 3 to 5 years depending on the frequency with which the pool is used and any factors that may make the pool dirtier, like close proximity to new construction. Keep in mind that users should backwash the filter once per week, but dirtier pools may need to be backwashed two to three times.
The low maintenance required for pool filter sand is also great on the wallet. Sand filters may be expensive initially, but the actual pool filter sand is affordable and easy to find. It helps that the sand only needs to be replaced every 3 to 5 years, so even 250 to 300 pounds of sand isn’t that expensive over a multiyear period.
However, pool filter sand isn’t just the quick, inexpensive option; it’s also an effective method of keeping the pool cleaner and is able to filter debris down to 20 microns in size. Users can also use glass sand in the filter that is capable of filtering particles that are just 5 microns in size, ensuring the water is clean and safe for swimming.
- Pool filter sand requires very little maintenance and only needs to be replaced every 3 to 5 years.
- Maintenance equipment for a pool, like a pool pump or a filter, can become costly, but pool filter sand is easy to find, relatively inexpensive, and it rarely needs to be replaced.
- Pool filter sand is effective at filtering debris from the pool down to an average of 20 microns.
FAQs About Pool Filter Sand
Sand filters are a great addition to any household with a pool, but you may still have some concerns about pool maintenance, how pool filter sand works, and if the sand can be reused. Read on to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the best pool filter sand.
Q. Will sand filters remove algae?
Sand filters can be used to remove most algae from a pool, but any particles that are smaller than 20 microns will pass through the average sand filter.
Q. How often should a sand filter be backwashed?
A sand filter should be backwashed about once every week to help remove excess dirt and debris so the filter can function more effectively.
Q. What is the most common grade of sand used in sand filters?
The most common grade of sand is 20-grade silica sand, which can filter particles as small as 20 to 40 microns.
Q. Can pool filter sand be reused?
When the pool filter sand becomes too contaminated to properly filter the pool, then it should be replaced, not reused. There isn’t a good method for effectively cleaning pool filter sand, so reusing the sand would give you the same results as just leaving it in the filter indefinitely.
Q. When should the pool filter sand be replaced?
On average, sand should be replaced every 3 to 5 years. This may be longer if the pool stays clear, or shorter if the filter runs all the time. The jagged edges of the sand wear down and become smooth as the sand ages.