"> Real World Explanation on What a Frog System is for Swimming Pools – Above Ground Pools Know it All

Real World Explanation on What a Frog System is for Swimming Pools


Chemical helper add-ons for above-ground swimming pools have become more common and popular in the last ten-plus years. Every year, the industry spits out new kinds of products to help pool owners with their chemistry.

In the above-ground pool world, the most common add-on helpers have settled out to a top three – Frog systems, Ionizers, and salt chlorine generators.

frog system or above ground pool

A BRIEF WARNING BEFORE I START REVIEWING

As an “old school” pool guy, I’m a fan of good ol’ fashioned basic swimming pool chemistry for maintaining a pool. That is mainly monitoring and cycling the chlorine level and adjusting the PH occasionally when it wants to stay out of whack. Truthfully, 95 percent of the time, that is all you have to do to keep a pool perfectly clear and healthy.

Regardless of your views and opinions on things, we can all agree that our lives have become more complicated. Some call this progress.

Above-ground pools and the way they are maintained is no exception. In the 35 years of my being in this business, everything has gotten more complex from the pool designs to the equipment to the way we chemically maintain them.

My truth is that the old simple ways to maintain a pool were better than today with maybe one exception. Also, if you strip down the added complexities of taking care of a pool, you will find only the basics still there and still being the real rules to proper pool chemistry.

So, my warning to you is that I will be reviewing and comparing these add-ons with basic pool chemistry in mind. And with that, most of these things don’t shine as bright as their marketing declares.

YOUR MOTIVATION FOR BUYING A CHEMICAL ADD-ON

Many above-ground pool buyers just get whatever add-on is sold or recommended to them from where they buy the pool. If you are reading this though, then you are doing some research to decide if and what to get.

There are three reasons why people get chemical helper add-ons.

1 To make it easier to chemically maintain

2 To save on long term chemical cost

3 To make the pool healthier

Most likely your motivation to spend the extra money on something not essential is to make it easier to maintain the pool. This is the best reason to get an add-on component.

Out of the three reasons to get an equipment add-on, to save money on chemicals is the false one. Just so you know – No chemical add-on will save you money in the long run. Period.

You may hear otherwise. Salespeople and marketing ploys often boast that certain products will save money. At the time of writing this, I know of nothing that you can buy for a swimming pool that will pay for its initial cost and long-term maintenance. Period.

FROG SYSTEMS (MINERALIZER + CHLORINATOR)

It’s not my intention to just review the Frog system brand of mineralizer/chlorinator products. They are just by far the biggest name for this type of add-on.

Think about describing diapers as Pampers, pop or soda as a Coke, and calling a skid/steer excavation machine a Bobcat. Frog is just a name I will use for all mineralizers and chlorinator combos that are on the market.

Keep in mind that there are other mineralizers/chlorinator units available. And there are mineral only applicators as well. This review will be just as accurate for those too.

WHAT IS A FROG SYSTEM?

Straight away, I’m not trying to sell you one, so I will tell you EXACTLY what a frog system is and what it isn’t.

A Frog system is a plastic container that is plumbed in the pump/filter line going back to the pool that adds small amounts of minerals and chlorine to the water returning to the pool.

The top of this container has a twist-off lid. Twisting the lid off reveals two separate containers inside. One container holds minerals and the other chlorine tablets.

As the now filtered water returns back to the pool, the Frog system container adds small and steady amounts of both minerals and chlorine to it. How much of each it adds to the water depends on the large dial on the side to.

As you turn the dial to a higher number, more of the flowing water is allowed to enter the Frog container which allows more of the minerals AND chlorine to dissolve and go into the pool.

So, the higher the number that you set, the more Frog product dissolves into the pool. This means the higher you set the container, the sooner it will be before the products inside (minerals and chlorine tablets) will have to be replaced.

When the mineral and chlorine containers inside are empty, you replace them with new ones. These replacement cartridges are ultra-specific to the Frog system unit. So even though you can buy minerals and chlorine tablets elsewhere for much less, you will have to buy specialized containers from Frog forever.

WHAT DOES THE FROG SYSTEM DO FOR YOUR POOL?

Most frog system products deliver two separate products into the pool water – minerals and chlorine. Out of these two, chlorine is clearly the more important one.

Basic pool chemistry in its easiest form requires you to introduce chlorine in two ways – by shocking it and constantly adding a small amount of it.

NOTE: There are a couple of alternatives for using chlorine in a swimming pool, however, I never cover them as chlorine is used in 99% of all pools and the alternatives are expensive, problematic, and not as effective as chlorine is.

There are a couple of ways to chemically maintain a swimming pool. The most basic process (which is a must in harsher swimming pool conditions) is to periodically “shock” the pool. Here in Central Florida, the summer conditions are extreme, so most pools should be shocked once a week during the summer.

“Shocking means introducing a large amount of sanitizer (chlorine) into a body of water in a short period of time”

In addition to periodically shocking a pool, small amounts of chlorine should be introduced to the pool constantly. This is where slow-dissolving tablets come into play.

The options for delivering slow-dissolving tablets into the pool are either by using a floating chlorinator or an inline chlorinator.

Floating chlorinators are cheap and work well, but do get in the way of swimmers as it is carrying toxic chlorine tabs and is floating in the pool. In-line chlorinators are nice in that swimmers are never closely exposed to the tablets while in the pool.

So, the real main function of the Frog system is that it is an inline chlorinator.

The secondary function of the Frog system is that it’s a mineralizer (for lack of a better term). This means it constantly delivers small amounts of minerals in the pool.

I call this the “secondary function” because a swimming pool absolutely needs chlorine(sanitizer and oxidizer), but does NOT need minerals.

WHAT DO THE MINERALS DO TO THE POOL?

Using my experience of having a swimming pool maintenance company for sixteen years, my opinion is that they don’t do much at all. But I wanted to see what the internet said about it.

So, I Googled terms like “what do minerals do to in swimming pools” and “what are the minerals in a mineral system for swimming pools” and many others. What I discovered is that Google fails miserably at giving website options for this info.

What you will find when you search for this will only be articles written by companies that either sell mineral systems OR companies that sell pools or pool-related products. And do you think any of those sites would give an unbiased answer? Yeah, no.

Most of these sites claimed that the minerals did some sanitizing(killing) and a couple of them claimed the minerals were used as an oxidizer (eliminate dead stuff).

Most expressed that the mineral pool water feels better to humans, is less toxic to swimsuits, skin, and hair, and is less harsh on pool equipment. If you are into facts being qualified “scientifically” then it’s a no bueno for any of these claimed advantages.

The real truth is that anything minerals do to a swimming pool cannot be proven. What chlorine does to a swimming pool can easily be proven. Just don’t put any in the pool and see what happens. And when you do that, read about how to get a green pool clear again here. Lol.

EVER HEARD OF THE “PLACEBO EFFECT”? IT KINDA WORKS WITH SWIMMING POOLS, TOO.

The placebo effect is a real thing. You may not know this, but every drug that is approved by the FDA has to perform only marginally better than a placebo. This is because a placebo (thinking that something will work to cure you) is sometimes just as effective as the thing that actually cures you. And sometimes even more so.

When it comes to swimming pool chemistry, the placebo effect is present as well. This doesn’t mean that chemicals that really don’t kill(sanitize) or get rid of (oxidize) will actually kill and get rid of stuff. But if the pool owner thinks that they will help, then they will believe that they are using fewer other chemicals (like chlorine).

Having a large Facebook group for above ground swimming pools AND being in the pool business for all of my life, I’ve heard lots and lots of people make crazy claims of pool chemistry equipment add-ons (like a mineralizer) like “I don’t need to add any chlorine” or “it keeps my PH perfect”, and other impossibilities.

My favorite one is people stating that their salt pool feels so much better than when they had a chlorine pool or that “my kid is allergic to chlorine, so now he can swim in our saltwater pool”.

These are extremes in the realm of the placebo effect. Most will just think that the water feels better to them. This is especially true for pools with mineralizers. They must be thinking about being at a spa and taking a mineral bath. Yeah, not at all the same thing.

Don’t think for a second that dissolving a few pounds of minerals into ten plus thousand gallons of water over a month period is the same as soaking in a 75-gallon tub with ten pounds of added minerals. Thinking that a mineral swimming pool feels “silkier” or “softer” or reminds you of “being in a field of lavender in a rolling French countryside” is your placebo in full effect.

THERE IS SOME TRUTH TO MINERALIZERS HELPING WITH POOL CHEMISTRY

Adding minerals to a swimming pool will do something. It is a fact that things cannot live and thrive as well in the presence of these minerals, so the chlorine is getting some “help” so to speak.
How much help do the minerals provide is the more accurate question.

Think of the last time you moved. Did you have an uncle or friend offer to help but they really didn’t do much. When the time came to take an end of something heavy(like a couch or washer), they were always miraculously in the other room grabbing some small box or talking to you about where you were going to put something.

In the end, they didn’t really help you move much. They maybe moved a box or two or kept the door open or got you a beer (that you provided) at the end and said: “good job” or something.

Think of the minerals in a swimming pool then as the lazy uncle that helped you move. They might do a little bit but are never involved in any heavy lifting.

WILL THE FROG SYSTEM SAVE YOU MONEY ON CHEMICALS?

The quick answer to this question is “no”. Whatever you save by the presence of minerals in the water will be absorbed by the fact that you have to buy the replacement chlorine cartridges from Frog as they are ultra-specific to the unit.

And you will pay more for your chlorine tablets when you buy the special cartridges from Frog than if you buy tablets elsewhere.

Also, you’ll be replacing the mineral cartridges too, which is an added expense that a non-mineral pool doesn’t have.

WILL THE FROG SYSTEM MAKE IT EASIER TO MAINTAIN YOUR POOL?

The quick answer to this question is “yes”. This is providing that you have limited knowledge of pool chemistry which most who buy this product do.

The Frog system’s advantage here is that you don’t have to replenish your tablet cartridges very often as they hold a lot of chlorine tablets. Frog even has a double cartridge system which allows you to go even longer without replacing.

So, as long as your Frog system delivers the correct amount of chlorine to the pool, you will be good and the unit will make it easier to maintain your pool.

It’s important though to set the dial (opening) at the correct number for your pool as this is what determines how much chlorine will dissolve and go in the water. Setting the opening too high (wide) will allow too much of the chlorine tabs to dissolve into the pool. This results in wasting money on chlorine, potentially building up combined chlorine (not good), and potentially increasing the cyanuric acid (stabilizer) levels to too high.

Setting the opening too low (less width) won’t allow enough chlorine to dissolve in the pool which can result in algae blooms.

I don’t really care how much or little the unit adds minerals to the pool because it doesn’t really matter much. Well other than the wider you keep the dial, the faster the minerals will dissolve and the faster you’ll have to replace the expensive cartridge.

SHOULD YOU CONSIDER GETTING A FROG SYSTEM?

In my opinion, it depends on your level of knowledge of chemically maintaining a swimming pool. If this is your first pool “rodeo” and it comes with the above-ground pool package that you are looking at, then I guess get it.

If you have at least a basic idea on how to keep a pool clear and healthy, then no. I advise you to get a regular inline chlorinator instead. A generic inline chlorinator will allow you to freely add 3” tablets to the unit without having to buy a fancy cartridge at a fancy price.

A basic in-line chlorinator will also allow you to put in just a tablet or two at a time instead of filling it up like a fresh Frog cartridge would be. This will allow you to better gauge how much chlorine dissolves into the pool.

Standard in-line chlorinators don’t allow for distributing minerals, so if you are somehow set on having a mineral pool, then that won’t work for you.

Some are very happy with their Frog systems. Back in the late nineties, one of my pool service customers that I did weekly chemical-only service to loved his Frog. He paid me to chemically treat his pool, so it didn’t matter to me if it was costing him more for the same thing.

He also loved his home warranty. And when his filter needed replacing, he went with the home warranty instead of letting me do the replacement. His $50 a month home warranty cost him $1500.00 to replace his D.E filter. I would have charged $700 for the exact same thing. Get what I did here?

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF EACH FROG PRODUCT

Frog offers ten different containers for delivering minerals and/or chlorine to a swimming pool.

Pool Frog Model 6100

This unit is inline, which means it has to be plumbed into the pool’s return line. This is a more basic unit that delivers both minerals and chlorine in one cartridge.

  • Cartridge contains both chlorine tablets and minerals
  • Suggested for pools up to 25,000 gallons

Pool Frog model 5400

The 5400 is the same as the above 6100 except that it’s bigger. Well, I’m assuming the cartridge is bigger because it’s for bigger pools.

  • Cartridge contains both chlorine tablets and minerals
  • Suggested for pools up to 25,000 gallons

Pool Frog XL Pro

With a name like “XL Pro,” you would expect more. And I think this model is more than the standard Frogs are. It is a big unit having two separate containers that hold the minerals in one and the chlorine tablets in the other.

The XL Pro is nice in that there are separate control dials for each. This means that if you want to continue to add the maximum amount of minerals, but need to back down how much chlorine is entering the pool, you can. The XL Pro also comes with a tool to help you open the units.

  • Separate containers for minerals and chlorine tablets.
  • Suggested for pools up to 40,000 gallons
  • Comes with a lid opening tool and holder

Pool Frog Twin

The “Twin” is a lot like the XL Pro model, except that it’s not as big and doesn’t come with a lid-opening tool. This model is sold for use with above-ground pools, so it’s probably more cost-effective (cheaper) and made of less quality (won’t last as long).

  • Separate containers for minerals and chlorine tablets.
  • Suggested for pools up to 25,000 gallons
  • Designed for above ground pools but does NOT come with cone fittings for flex hose application (fail)

Frog Leap

To the best of my knowledge, the Frog Leap has one cartridge that has both minerals and chlorine tablets in it just like the Model 6100. The difference (I think) is that there is a lesser percentage of chlorine in the mix.

It’s really not cool that the Frog website isn’t clear on this lower percentage of chlorine insinuation, but that’s OK I guess. The whole idea of this product line is to make it more convenient for pool owners without educating them. Sorry. That sounded negative, didn’t it?

  • Cartridge contains both chlorine tablets and minerals
  • Suggested for pools up to 25,000 gallons
  • Cartridges may contain a lesser percentage of chlorine

Frog Pool Tender

This is a cool name and comes in Orange, but what’s the difference between it and the Frog Leap? Well, the Tender comes with an algaecide cartridge that you install first, then take it out and install the chlorine tablets cartridge.

The biggest difference with the Pool Tender is that separate mineral and chlorine cartridges fit in the same container unit. This is cool but limits the amount of product that can be installed as the replacement cartridges are smaller.

As a knowledgeable pool guy, I’m not a fan of using algaecides, but that’s ok for this unit as you simply don’t have to buy the algaecide cartridges if you don’t want to use them.

  • Separate cartridges for both chlorine tablets and minerals
  • Both cartridges fit in one unit
  • Special algaecide cartridge can be used temporarily in place of the chlorine cartridge.
  • Suggested for pools up to 25,000 gallons

Frog Leap Twin

The Frog Leap Twin is not really like the Frog Leap. This comes with two separate units to hold the minerals and chlorine tablets separately. This is not like the Frog Leap, which holds both products in the same cartridge.

This is a big unit that holds a lot of product, which means that you won’t have to replace the cartridges as often and you can use it for bigger pools.

  • Separate containers for minerals and chlorine tablets.
  • Suggested for pools up to 40,000 gallons

Flippin Frog

This unit is NOT an inline chlorinator. It’s a floater. This means that you throw it in the pool and it floats around.

The Flippin Frog holds and dissolves both minerals and chlorine tabs in separate containers. This is nice in that if you decide later that you don’t care about adding minerals, you can still use it as a floating chlorinator only.

Frog claims that when the chlorine tablet cartridge is empty, it will flip over to let you know that. That’s pretty cool if it works.

  • Floating chlorinator/mineralizer
  • Separate containers for minerals and chlorine tablets
  • Warning! Very small unit. Design for pools only 2k to 5k gallons

Flippin Frog XL

This is the same as the Flippin Frog except it’s bigger and the chlorine cartridge is orange instead of blue. Bigger means you can use it for bigger pools. Not much bigger though.

  • Floating chlorinator/mineralizer
  • Separate containers for minerals and chlorine tablets
  • Designed for pools between 5k and 10k gallons

Instant Frog

This is a device that you place in your pool’s skimmer. It is only for use of non-vinyl-lined pools. This is because chlorinators/mineralizers placed in skimmers can damage the liner directly in front of the skimmer during extended use.

  • Warning! Instant Frog is a mineralizer only.
  • Floating mineralizer
  • Recommended for pools up to 25k gallons

danknowitall

Dan writes with the knowledge of having 35 years (and counting) in the above ground pool industry.

2 thoughts on “Real World Explanation on What a Frog System is for Swimming Pools

  1. Hi, thank you very much for this writeup! Can I please have your take on solar pool ionizers? They are supposed to reduce the amount of chlorine also, and the overall expense appears to be a lot less than the Pool Frog. In your opinion, do they work as described?

    1. I’m not a fan of ionizers as they don’t help much. A solar powered one most likely helps even less. Learn about ionizers here https://abovegroundpoolsknowitall.com/what-is-an-ionizer-for-above-ground-swimming-pools/

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