Clarifiers and Flocculants are both coagulants, they both clear up cloudy water, and many people often confuse the two and for good reason. I mean, they both do the same thing right? Well, let’s dive into the similarities and differences so you’ll know which one to use for which situation.

What are pool clarifiers?

In a nutshell, pool clarifiers are “mild” versions of flocculants. They’re great for mildly cloudy pool or if you have a silt problem that your filters just can’t catch. What they do is they bind to these tiny particles to increase their size, allowing your pool filter to catch them.The down side to clarifiers is that they take a while to work, often taking a few days before you see some noticeable effects.

The good part about clarifiers is that they can be used with any type of filter. Another upside to clarifiers is that if you’re using a clarifying cube, you can just pop one into the skimmer basket or if you’re using a liquid one, just broadcast the recommended amount around the pool and that’s it, you just wait for it to do its job while the pump is running. That’s it, no vacuuming or doing anything else to clean the pool. Just let the filters do their job. Another thing we like about solid or cube-type clarifiers is that they can be used as a prevention tool. A single cube can last a whole month so as long as you have a clarifying cube in your skimmer basket then your pool water is constantly being cleaned.

What are pool flocculants?

Think of your flocculants as your clarifiers on steroids! They not only bind with the tiny particles in your pool, but they clump them together, making them sink to the bottom of your pool so you can vacuum them out. This is great for all levels of pool murkiness and it works very fast! So if you need a clear pool fast, or if you just went through a flooded pool then flocculants are the way to go.

Of course, all this efficiency comes at a price. Flocculants cannot be used with a cartridge filter because they can wreak havoc on your filter elements. Flocculants also waste a lot of water since you will be vacuuming those clumped up particles to waste. And with that water waste comes with it the lowering of your pool chemical levels so you’ll have to re-test and re-balance your chemical levels after “floccing” your pool. So essentially, we'll only use flocculants as a last resort!

I have a cartridge filter, what are my options?

Other pool experts will say that the only way you can use a flocculant with a cartridge filter is to either sacrifice the filter element or outright not use it flocculants. Here at Mr Pool Man, we understand that replacing a cartridge filter with a sand filter for this purpose alone is a little bit excessive (although we love our sand filters like the Water TechniX Aspire) so we have a solution for those who live in areas where silt or pool flooding is a constant problem.

The solution? Plumb in a bypass line after your pool pump with a 3-way valve! This will effectively allow you to vacuum to “waste” when using a flocculant to treat super-cloudy pools. To circulate the water, simply take out your filter cartridge, run the pump, and after everything is settled to the bottom of your pool, move your 3-way valve to the bypass line, vacuum to waste and you’re done! Just be sure to let the pump run for a couple of minutes without the cartridge installed afterwards to fully flush your cartridge filter tank of any remaining floc.

Flocculants and Clarifiers at a Glance

Clarifiers Flocculants

Speed of Action

Slow, takes days to see results

Fast, results in hours

Water Waste

Almost None

A Lot

Chemical Usage

Almost None

A Lot


Almost None

A Lot

Cloudiness Level

Mild to Low

All Levels


So there you have it, while they’re similar, clarifiers and flocculants have very different usage scenarios. Be sure to pick the right type of coagulant for your pool for the right type of situation. For long-term maintenance and mild cloudiness levels, choose pool clarifiers. For heavier problems that need to be resolved quickly, then flocculants are the answer.

Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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