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Why Does The Pool Turn My Hair Green?

The True Cause of Green Hair in a Swimming Pool: A Deep Dive

We've all heard the rumors, a friend of a friend went swimming and the chlorine in the pool water caused their hair to turn green! We so often take this kind of information at face value and never really question the truthfulness of a claim like this. But as a swimming pool operator it's very important for us to understand the actual root causes of the issues going on in our bodies of water. In this article we're going to explore what actually causes green hair and how to prevent it in your swimmers.

The True Culprit: Copper in the Water

Believe it or not, chlorine has been unnecessarily taking the hit for green hair this entire time, but the actual culprit behind green hair in swimming pools is copper. Yes, that's right – copper! But how does copper end up in the pool water in the first place?

Sources of Copper Contamination:

  1. Algaecides: Some algaecides used to control algae growth in pools contain copper compounds as active ingredients. When these chemicals break down, they release copper ions into the water.

  2. Corroded Pool Equipment: Copper can leach into the pool water from corroded or degraded pool equipment, such as heat exchangers or even some types of pool liners.

  3. Copper-Based Sanitizers: While chlorine is the most common sanitizer used in pools, some pool owners use copper-based sanitizers as an alternative. Over time, these can contribute to elevated copper levels in the water.

How Copper Causes Green Hair

So, the big question is how does copper turn our hair green? The process is actually quite simple:

  1. Chemical Reaction: When copper ions come into contact with chlorine, a chemical reaction occurs that forms copper chloride. This compound has a greenish-blue color.

  2. Hair Absorption: Our hair is porous, which means it can absorb substances from the water. When copper chloride comes into contact with our hair, it binds to the proteins in the hair shaft, causing it to take on a greenish hue. This is especially noticeable in people with lighter hair as the hair itself is more transparent, allowing the green to seem more prominent. 

Preventing Green Hair

Now that we know the cause, let's talk about prevention. Here are some tips to help you keep your swimmers' hair green-free after a swim:

Regular Water Testing:

  • pH and Copper Levels: Regularly test your pool water for pH levels and copper content. Keeping the pH levels balanced (7.4-7.6) can help prevent copper corrosion and the subsequent release of copper ions into the water.

Proper Pool Maintenance:

  • Clean and Maintain Equipment: Regularly inspect and maintain your pool equipment to prevent corrosion and copper leaching.

  • Choose the Right Sanitizers: Opt for chlorine-based sanitizers over copper-based ones to minimize copper contamination.


As we can see, not everything with swimming pool operation is as it seems. There are a lot of urban legends and myths out there that can cause you more confusion than anything. That is why it is crucial to get a solid educational foundation when it comes to swimming pool operation. Pool Training Academy's fully accredited CPO class is a great way to gain the knowledge you need to become the best aquatics operator you can be. Our fully online class offer you the flexibility you need and our in-person courses offer that classic classroom feel. For more details or to get signed up click here


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