It is very easy to confuse the difference between pool flocculent and pool clarifier. As they both deliver a very similar function. However each serves a unique purpose.
A clarifier is a chemical substance that binds the tiniest of debris together to trap it in your filter. The chemicals in a clarifier act like a magnet to the fine debris suspended in your pool to achieve sparkling water.
Pool flocculent works in much the same way, however it is generally used when the pool is so cloudy you can’t see to the bottom the pool. Pool flocculent thickens the particles in suspension and binds them together, so they sink to the floor. Following this you then vacuum the particles to waste.
So when should you use Pool Flocculent or Pool Clarifier?
Pool clarifiers do not work as quickly as flocculents because they are used more for routine maintenance instead of troubleshooting a problem with the pool water.
Flocculents on the other hand work much faster, because it drops the suspended debris to the pool floor before you manually vacuum the debris to waste.
You cannot use flocculent with a cartridge filter unless you have plumbed your system to bypass the filter. Flocculents can create problems with cartridge filter elements if used incorrectly and can reduce the efficiency of your filtration. Similarly, with a media filter you want to avoid trapping the large particles created by the flocculent in your filter as it will affect its efficiency, hence it needs to be vacuumed to waste. When using flocculents because you are vacuuming to waste, your pool water levels drop. This is why you use flocculant as a last resort and should use pool clarifiers as part of your regular pool maintenance routine.