We have spoken about the growing phenomenon of Calcium (Calcite) Crystals in pools and how to prevent and treat these troubling deposits, but how can you tell if you even have them in the first place? This useful pool maintenance-related article is here to help you identify the 4 Types of Calcite Calcium Crystal Deposits using the naked eye. Justremember that Calcium Crystals are different from winter dust and winter scale calcium deposits since they are only found growing  on cement surfaces and tile grout, but never on the face of tile or other non-cement surfaces like plastic, glass, metal, etc. They also look very different in appearance. The following article describes the 4 types of Calcite Calcium Crystals. 

There are 4 types of calcite calcium crystals:

Based on research conducted by Orenda Technologies, they have identified at least four types of Calcium Calcite Crystals. All are made of calcium carbonate, however, there are trace amounts of outer elements present in some including strontium, silicate, and a few others. In addition, surprisingly, of the four types of Calcite Crystals, they estimate just two of them account for more than 90% of the crystals most commonly found by pool maintenance professionals.

  1. Sandpaper Crystals 
    • Nicknamed “sandpaper crystals” because these crystals look (and feel!) like sandpaper. They are translucent, very fine but plentiful. Just like sandpaper, they are sharp to the touch and unfortunately, they are very very difficult to remove. Their stubborn facade is resistant even to acid washes at first. Believe it or not, you have to scrape or sand them off first, and then, and only then, can you dissolve them with acid. Sometimes they do not dissolve easily and will take multiple attempts to remove. 
  1. Needle Crystals 
    • Picture a needle- long and thin but not as strong. The needle crystal formations are far more brittle than an actual needle. They grow directly from the cement and keep growing until they are stopped by intervention. Like the hollow eye of a needle, these crystals have a hollow center to them, with the technical definition of their molecular structure being referred to as “skeletal calcite”. Unlike sandpaper crystals, these are relatively easy to remove. First, a pool maintenance technician will soften the crystal, perhaps using some SC-1000, brushing it off and in turn restoring the LSI balance as the water starts to heat up over 65%F.
  1. Toenail Crystals 
    • Sounds a little creepy? Well,these crystal formations are much less common than their two predecessors. They have an ‘off-white’ coloration to them but have more opacity to them than needle or sandpaper crystals.  But their translucence doesn’t make them any less dangerous. They are deathly sharp and can grow up to 1 ½ inches long (perhaps longer if left unattended) While they are ugly to look at, the good news is that they are by far the easiest to remove! Chemically dissolving these crystals with an environmentally friendly solution allows you to easily brush any remaining crystal residue off your pool and then simply balance the LSI back and you’ll be back swimming in a week or two crystal free.
  1. Flaky Crystals
    • These are the rare formations of all. According to pool maintenance professionals, these crystals look like snowflakes or broken translucent glass pieces… all stuck next to each other in random patterns. What’s interesting about this calcite crystal is that they tend to cluster in certain areas of the pool, and not all over like the other three types. It seems they will only grow in the real purpose and weak areas of the pool. That said, this isn’t a conclusive theory because there isn’t a ton of data and research on this type of crystal given its rarity. The one positive is that they seem to be just as easy to remove as the toenail crystal and following a similar removal process will allow you to return your pool to a pre-crystalized condition in just a few weeks.

If you believe your pool may have Calcite Calcium Crystal Deposits then we recommend contacting a pool maintenance professional to help remove the debris and bring the balance back of your pool chemicals. Located in or around the Long Island area? Contact us here for more information.