How Orenda Enzymes Actually Work

July 18, 2017

Enzymes are made up of proteins and amino acids, and their purpose is to catalyze certain chemical reactions. In our bodies we have countless types of enzymes that help us process food into nutrients, waste, etc. Every enzyme has a specific function that it can do, and nothing more. Orenda's enzymes are made to break down and digest non-living organic waste, and remove it from water.


Oxidation vs. Digestion

oxidizer symbol

Chlorine, Bromine, Ozone and Oxyradical systems are oxidizers for swimming pools. Oxidation is a chemical process where electrons are stolen from an oxidant (like bather waste or metals). In swimming pools, oxidation is basically burning contamination out of the water, but at the expense of chlorine, because along with oxidation comes reduction. Remember those electrons that were stolen from the oxidant? Well they have a negative charge (e-), which reduces the charge of the oxidizer. Eventually that oxidizer has no more ability to steal electrons, and can therefore no longer oxidize. When say chlorine is "used up", we mean it was reduced.

Related: Understanding ORP: Oxidation Reduction Potential

Before enzymes, oxidation was the primary way to handle non-living organics and oils. And while chlorine is an excellent sanitizer, it is a relatively lousy oxidizer.

sanitize-disinfect-oxidize chart

Downsides of Oxidation

While there are some things that must be oxidized by chlorine–like ammonia and other nitrogen compounds–organic waste is not among them. Enzymes can break down organic waste far more effectively than chlorine can. We know this not only because of the chemistry, but the real-world results of swimming pools that are treated with Orenda enzymes.

If chlorine oxidation were as effective as enzymes are against bather waste, why do pools relying solely on chlorine have problems like scum lines and oily water? Why do those same pools often struggle with cloudy water? Why do sand filters routinely get fouled with organic grease and grime? And most importantly, why do these problems often cease to exist when a pool is being treated with Orenda enzymes?

It is because oxidation is far less effective than enzymes at totally removing non-living organics from water.

Enzyme Digestion

how enzymes work-1

Orenda Enzymes are formulated to break down and digest carbon-based organic waste. Rather than oxidizing an entire molecule of bather waste, our enzyme formula breaks the molecule apart, and digests the components.

Enzymes essentially force a reaction amongst other elements, called substrates. Some enzymes pull in multiple substrates and catalyze their connection, and other enzymes (like ours) pull in a substrate and break it apart. In the Renaissance-quality illustration above, we attempt to illustrate basically what happens. In step 1, a complex piece of non-living organic bather waste is drawn to the enzyme, which has a perfectly suited space for it to land in. Step 2 shows the purple carbon bond being broken when the piece of organic waste is lodged in the enzyme's grasp. Finally, the bond is broken and released as carbon dioxide, along with the now-separated substrates, inert and harmless.

Here is a very quick video demonstrating the other way enzymes work:

Now here's a video showing a real reaction of Orenda enzymes breaking down WD-40, which is an oil product to represent oils and bather waste. Notice the carbon dioxide bubbles, showing the release of CO2 into the air.

Video Thumbnail

Many pool chemical products out there address symptoms that stem from poor management of bather waste. If the bather waste were handled properly (instead of relying on oxidation to burn through it all), many problems would never start. This is why Organic Waste and Carbon Management is our Second Pillar of Proactive Pool Care. Let's stop going after symptoms and instead get ahead of the root cause of the problems.

Enzymes help chlorine efficiency

Let's not forget that chlorine is the primary sanitizer in pools. Killing germs and keeping the pool safe to swim in is the primary purpose of having a residual sanitizer in the first place. Oxidation is chlorine's secondary responsibility, yet the vast majority of contaminants in water are non-living oxidants. So why not let enzymes do the heavy lifting against bather waste, and let chlorine get back to what it's best at?

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