What are Enzymes?
Enzymes are part of a group of organic proteins known as amino acids and are found in all living things. They are as old as life itself. Without enzymes, there would be no life. If enzymes were totally absent, then life would cease. When there is a partial reduction of availability of enzymes, then life is reduced. All activity of life depends on them. The greening of leaves in spring, the ripening of foods, the digestion and absorption of food — all require enzymes. Without enzymes, seeds could not sprout and the soil could not produce, therefore fruits and crops would not ripen or grow.
Enzymes as a whole are the “take charge” catalysts. They perform an action, but do not become part of the action. An analogy is using a fire to cook some food. The fire is comparable to an enzyme in that the fire cooks the food but does not become part of it. You do not eat the fire. Yet, without the fire you would not be able to cook.
Some common examples involving the catalytic action of enzymes are:
- You add fertilizer to the soil around a tomato seedling. Enzymes in the soil help supply the available nutrients to the seedling’s roots. They also recycle nutrients back into the soil.
- You have green tomatoes that need to ripen. You put them on a windowsill where the warmth of the sun causes the enzymes to function and turn the tomatoes into a nutritious red.
- You eat food in your mouth and chew. Specific enzymes in your saliva start the digestive process, which is continued in your stomach by others. They break down the starches, fats and proteins your body needs to live.
Enzymes are small biochemical digesters. They have the individual power to break apart vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, etc. and make the absorbable. Remember that enzymes do not become part of the end product but they do make the process possible. Processed enzymes are able to exert a unique reaction that does more that dissolve accumulated toxins and prepare them for elimination. With the use of enzymes, you can do many things. You can stimulate and improve water’s appearance naturally, repel parasites, sanitize an area, or dissolve waste more quickly.
|Amino acids, like this valine, are the principal building blocks of both enzymes & proteins.|
In the pool and spa industry, enzymes are used to digest or break down oils from suntan lotions, body lotions, hair products, soaps and cosmetics. They also digest perspiration, pollen and other small organic particles. Enzymes slowly turn oils into carbon dioxide and water, without leaving behind any residue or chemical fragments. Without a lot of effort, Enzymes enable pool and spa owners the ability to remove oils that form the bathtub ring.
With the use of enzymes in pools and spas, water can be used longer before draining, less chlorine and or bromine is needed, filters don’t have to be cleaned as often and the buildup of scum lines on the tile and liners is reduced. Maintenance time is reduced with the use of enzymes.
In the pond industry, enzymes attack waste materials such as slime, sludge, algae, dead plants, insects, uneaten fish food, waste from pond creatures and other organic contaminants. Enzymes turn them into a form that can later be eliminated by natural bacteria. Enzymes help decompose toxic hydrogen peroxide and release healthy oxygen from poisonous waste. Enzymes hold the key to life with their powers of being able to digest and promote assimilation and reduction. When enzymes and natural indigenous bacteria are through diminishing water-born contaminants, the by-product becomes nitrogen and water, providing a naturally clean and clear environment.
For all of their usefulness, it is important to be clear on what enzymes are not. They are not fast acting, all-purpose clarifiers, nor are they anti-foam agents. However, they can clarify water, and sometimes remove foam, as long as the contaminants are of organic nature.
|A wrench is unchanged after 1,000’s of uses; similarly, an enzyme keeps working after completing a reaction.|
In the pond industry we have two distinctly differently types of bacteria. Mother Nature’s indigenous bacteria are naturally occurring bacteria that produce hundreds of different enzymes. Man-made (synthetic) bacteria are hybrid bacteria producing selected types of enzymes. Mother Natures’ works very slowly. Hybrid bacteria are more aggressive and reproduce more rapidly. Ponds that are left alone to balance (without being hand fed bacteria) take several weeks if not months to properly balance. Adding hybrid bacteria greatly reduces this balancing time. For the pond industry faster is better; customers demand it.
|Enzymes bind temporarily to one or more of the reactants of the reaction they catalyze.|
All bacteria can carry an enzyme. Hybrid bacteria produce selective enzymes like pectinase, cellulose, lipase and protease. Mother Nature produces these plus hundreds of others. Each type of enzyme is engineered to function differently; one specific enzyme cannot do the task of another. In a pond we have leaf litter, grass clippings, organic pond sediment (muck), etc. Each contaminant is different and needs a specific enzyme to digest specific matter. So if one type of bacteria does not work in a particular water garden situation (each has different needs), then it’s important to try another. Mother Nature’s bacteria functions better than hybrid bacteria because of the broad spectrum of enzymes she produces but takes longer to act.
A Close Working Relationship
Now, how do bacteria and enzymes function? The bacteria cell collides with the food source. Then the enzyme punctures the outer shell wall and enters the food source. It liquefies the matter to a state where the bacteria (either natural or hybrid) is able to absorb it, converting the matter to a by-product of nitrogen and water. Since enzymes are catalysts that speed up reactions, ponds balance twice as fast compared to if they were left alone to balance. Moreover, the enzymes still remain afterwards. Each is like a special tool used for a specific task. The tool speeds up the work and remains when the job is done, until the next time it is needed.