Filter Media – What choices do I have?

Its pool opening season, but before you begin connecting your equipment, how old is your filter media?

The most common type of pool filter for our region is the Sand Filter.  Although DE and cartridge filters are readily available, today we will focus on the sand filter and the types of media available for them.

When you have a sand filter you have choices as to the filter media you wish to use.  All three types are environmentally friendly, will not react with the chemicals within your pool water and they all require backwashing when your pressure gauge reaches 8-10 PSI above your normal PSI reading.  So what types are there and which should you choose?

Silica Sand: 


Silica Sand is the most common used, let’s face it, it’s as old as dirt (pun intended).  Sand is a natural product and has jagged edges.  These jagged edges help to trap dirt and debris as water passes by during the filtering process.

Eventually the jagged edges of sand will collect dirt and oil from the pool and the sand will round out and make it less effective.  Sand will also cluster, solidify and create passages where water can slip through unfiltered, back into your pool water.  It is therefore recommended to replace the sand in your filter every 3-5 years.

Recycled Glass Media:


Unlike sand, glass does not have a jagged edge.  It attracts the finer particles using a slight negative charge on the surface, having the dirt, debris and oil cling to the glass media until a backwash is done to release the particles.

Manufacturers also state that unlike sand, in which the dirt and oils commonly build up within the top 6 inches of sand, the entire filter bed of glass is used to catch particles.  This allows for a larger load of contaminant as glass does not pack the particles as tightly as the sand counterpart.

Glass manufacturers state it should be changed every 10 years.

Crystal Balls:


Crystal Ball Filter Media is brand new to our facility.  Although these look like larger cotton balls or pom pom balls for the top of your winter hat, these are actually made of 100% polyethylene.  The threads are interwoven to prevent the balls from unravelling and releasing residues during use, while increasing their lifespan and frequency of use at the same time.

When it comes to knowing the amount of crystal balls to use in your filter, look to see how much sand it requires.  One box of crystal balls (700g) is equal to a 50lbs bag of sand.  These are a very lightweight product.  The other great benefit of the crystal ball is no more chemical cleaning is required.  You can remove the balls from your filter and put them into your washing machine to give them a deep cleaning.  So even though they cost a little more than sand or glass filter media, they are convenient and easy to care for.   They also will filter your debris down to 3 microns, the equivalent of using a DE Filter.   It is recommended not to be used in pools which have pine needles regularly dropping into the water as the needles will need to be removed from the balls by hand.

Crystal Balls are set to last about the same length of time as your sand 3-5 years.


If you’re still confused on which media is the best for your pool, speak to one of our team members who can help assist with your particular pool situation and help you make the best decision possible.


  1. Enzo Germanese

    Hi there,
    I was told that you should still use 1 bag of sand at the bottom of your filter then put the balls in, is this correct? Or can I just use the crystal balls?

    • Kara Redden

      Good Afternoon Enzo,

      It is now recommended by the manufacturer to use pea gravel in the filter when using crystal balls. You will need enough pea gravel to cover the bottom and add support to the lateral system. We have actually removed this product from our shelves due to a Canada-wide recall on the items last fall. It seems the weight of the balls with water had been causing damage to the laterals (fingers) inside of the filters.

  2. Nick Cameron

    Can you please elaborate? These seem like an excellent idea, however, have the issues been addressed? Does using pea gravel solve the problem?

    • Kara Redden

      Unfortunately I am unable to answer your question regarding the solution to the problem as we have removed the product from our store. To my knowledge the pea gravel is the solution that was found to be best by the manufacturer. You may contact the manufacturer for further information. STARMATRIX Group Inc. 59 Zhongshan West Road Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, 212004. PR.China

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