How to Boost the Efficiency of a Sand Filter With a DE Filtering Agent

Updated on October 25, 2019
Barack James profile image

Barack is an expert pool chemistry guy and experienced online-based pool maintenance assistant via in-depth articles that top search results

Learn how to boost the efficiency of your pool filter with diatomaceous earth.
Learn how to boost the efficiency of your pool filter with diatomaceous earth. | Source

There are three types of pool filters available on the market today and each comes with its pros and cons.

Cartridge filters are not a favorite option for lots of people, due to the filter's low efficiency level and the need to frequently replace the cartridge filtering materials.

Sand filters, on the other hand, are the most common type, depending on the needs of the buyers and pool owners. They are cheaper and less difficult and costly to maintain when compared to the diatomaceous earth (DE) filter.

The sand that's used as the filtering agent in the sand filter has sharp edges, which makes it efficient in filtering dirt out of the pool water. As the sand agents are used, however, these edges wear out, and they become inefficient at filtering over time. As a result, they need to be replaced after a given period—most likely five years for home pools and two to three years for public pools.

However, most pool managers or pool owners use different agents to boost the efficiency of sand filters, reduce backwash times, and to increase their lifespan.

This article shows you how you can use a DE filtering agent to boost the efficiency of your sand filter, and it also compares other alternative agents that can be used to replace filter sand.

Note: For even more information on the subject, read my article on How to Select the Best Pool Filter.

Using a DE Filtering Agent in a Sand Filter

The most common types of sand filter alternative agents with higher efficiency (as compared to regular sand filters) include: glass, ZeoSand, and now diatomaceous earth.

I have tried most of these at one point in time, and none compare with DE when it comes to boosting efficiency of the sand filters. Most sand filters can only filter down to 30 microns, while DE can filter down to 5 to 8 microns.

Moreover, the other downside of these alternatives compared to DE is the price factor, as the latter is relatively affordable.

How to Use a Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filter Agent

  1. Turn on the filter while the pump is running, and note the pressure reading before doing anything.
  2. Mix 1/4 cut of DE with water in a bucket, and then pour it slowly into the skimmer. Ensure that you remove any skimmer shock if available before adding the DE agent.
  3. Leave for about 2 minutes.
  4. Note the pressure on the filter again. If the pressure has not gone up by 1 PSI, repeat the second and third step until it does. This will take approximately 1–2 cups of DE.

Note: Since the efficiency of the filter is improved and it may thus catch many fine particles, it is important to watch for any changes in pressure.

Other Potential Filtering Agents

Here is a quick overview of other alternative filtering agents.

Filter Glass

Filter glass is one of the most efficient sand filters used today due to its efficiency over filter sand. It can filter down to 5 microns, unlike filter sand, which can only filter down to 30 microns.

Moreover, filter sand is relatively bulky, since the amount needed is much more than the amount needed for filter glass—which may translate to around 20% less media in weight compared to filter sand used in the same filter.

Finally, filter sand wears out very soon as compared to filter glass, which is more durable and can last three times longer than the filter sand.


Unlike real filter sand, ZeoSand agent filters down to much lower than 30 microns. Many swimming pool managers like this filter agent because of its efficiency and durability, which lasts for about five years.

ZeoSand has a decreased backwash time as compared to the sand filter, and a smaller quantity is needed.

Which pool filter do you use in your swimming pool?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers


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      • Barack James profile imageAUTHOR

        Barack James 

        2 years ago from Green City in the Sun

        Hi, if the water is stagnant and clean means the zeolite is not used and can still work to filter your pool water. You may have to replace it if the water pool remains cloudy or dirt.

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        Looking for some info on a caring for a pool filter with zeolite.

        I installed a sand filter last year on a converted above ground agriculture cement tank that's now a pool. I chose Zeolite over sand,

        Due to medical reasons I had to leave the camp for several months. Upon my return I discovered that the filter had been taken down and stored in a shed - full of water. My question is if this zeolite media is still good to use after standing in water for approximately 7 months.


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