We first became interested in Sphagnum moss because of its use in World War I as a wound dressing. Because Sphagnum moss can absorb 20 times its weight in water, it was used as a wound dressing in battlefield wounds where there is a lot of blood and exudate. As we began to investigate the properties of Sphagnum moss we found that is was known that Sphagnum moss was able to absorb positively charged ions, called cations, from water. These cations include iron and calcium; calcium being the cause of scale formation (as calcium carbonate). The moss has a very specific mechanism for doing this, much like ion exchange, which is what occurs in a water softener.
To make a long story short, when we first developed our Sphagnum moss products, SpaMoss® and PoolMoss® and started treating pools and spas, we noticed that scale and organic contamination appeared to be gradually removed from pool surfaces. Over years of research in our laboratory and field-testing, we have determined that Sphagnum moss removes and inhibits the formation of organic contamination and scale, and inhibits corrosion. Figure 1 demonstrates the effect on scale in a laboratory system. In this system, and as shown in the blue bars, the Sphagnum moss treatment removed 70% of the scale over 7 days of treatment.
Combining the laboratory data and our experience in treating water in pools, spas, and cooling towers, we came to the following conclusions: organic contamination plays an integral role in scale formation and microbiologically induced corrosion, and that all surfaces in contact with water are covered with organic contamination.
Scale formation is a crystallization process that requires a nucleation site. We believe that organic contamination is the major nucleation site for scale formation. Sphagnum moss directly affects both the accumulation of organic contamination, thereby reducing sites for scale to form, and the solubility product of the fluid due to the absorption of calcium, inhibiting and reversing the formation of scale.
The ability of Sphagnum moss to prevent scale and corrosion on heat exchangers is shown below:
As shown in Figure 3, there is virtually no scale or corrosion present on a heat exchanger that has been treated with PoolMoss® over a four year period.
The use of SpaMoss® and PoolMoss® in spas and pools has many benefits for the end user and the facility. Better air and water quality and reduced chemical usage are readily apparent and quickly realized. However, the long term benefits of SpaMoss® and PoolMoss® on extending the life of infrastructure and reducing maintenance should not be overlooked.