Salt Water Pool Chemistry

by Jeremy

I have been dealing with my parents pool and it is driving me nuts.

There are signs of black algae growth, so I have been trying to monitor the pH and Alkalinity levels, but I am struggling to make any changes with anything I do.

On the initial test, pH was > 8.0. I would say it was significantly greater, but my test kit only goes to 8.0 so to give an accurate reading.

At the same time, the Total Alkalinity was a little on the low side as well about 70PPM.

I have added about 6-7 pounds of pH minus to the pool over a 36 hour period, and finally got the pH below 8.0.

The problem is that the TA is now about 60 PPM. So this leads to my overall question:

How do you raise TA while lowering pH?

Anything used to raise TA will raise pH, and anything to lower TA will lower pH.

How on earth do I get the chemicals balanced out in order to get on a regular maintenance schedule.


Thanks for the question Jeremy

There's a way to see if you have black algae. Put a chlorine tablet in a sock and place it on the black spot. If it fades, it's algae.

You can go here to learn about that:

Black Algae

Help With Black Like Tar In My Pool

Is There Ever An End To The Black Algae Saga????

The alkalinity and pH can be raised and lowered, but depends on how to put the chemical in.

Is Having Low pH And High Alkalinity Possible?

pH Levels
Swimming Pool pH Levels

Pool pH

Pool Alkalinity

Total Alkalinity

To sum it up, you raise and lower the pH with the pump on and water circulating. Turn on any water features such as slides and water falls.

The pump needs to be off when the alkalinity and raised and lowered.

Make the adjustment in one spot, allow to set for 3 - 4 hours, then turn the pump back on for a full turnover of the water. This is normally about 8 - 10 hours.

Retest and make another adjustment if needed.

Gently sweep the sides and bottom to break up any hot spots. Acid is heavier than water and will sink to the bottom.

There are a couple of things you need to raise pH and/or alkalinity.

First, don't waste your money on pH or alkalinity up stuff from the pool store. Use baking soda.

It's the same thing and will raise both the pH and alkalinity (again, depending on how to put it in the pool).

To raise just the pH you can use 20 Mule Team Borax. Get this in the laundry isle of your grocery store.

The links above have more than enough info. to get your pool straightened out.

Hope this helps and have a great Summer.


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Converting Swimming Pool From Chlorine To Salt Water Generator

by Linda
(Wichita, Kansas)

What is your opinion on salt conversions and salt systems.

Thanks for your question Linda

I have taken care of both regular chlorine pool and salt water swimming pools. The YMCA pool that I take of now is a salt system swimming pool.

I kind of like the salt water systems for a couple of reasons.

One is the pool water seems to feel better because of the salt added to the pool. This doesn't include the free-standing chlorine generators that add the chlorine to the pool. I'm talking about the full salt water systems that you have to add salt directly into the pool.

The 2nd reason is you can adjust the amount of chlorine your pool demands. There's no need to constantly be adding chlorine because the chlorine generator does it for you. It's basically one less thing to worry about. do need to be sure you have enough salt in the pool for the chlorine to be at the right level, and you need to take all of the regular chemical readings as well.

If you're thinking of a salt pool, just be sure your deck can handle the salt. There are too many salt water pool owners that have spent thousands of dollars on their systems and decks, only to find the salt was eating through the rocks and pool decking. This is mainly Flagstone and decorative rocks.

You also need to periodically clean the chlorine generator, normally twice per swimming season.

For more information you can go to this link:

Salt Water Swimming Pools..Chlorinator..Maintenance Guide

Remember that a salt pool isn't a chlorine free or chemical free pool. You're still using muriatic acid to adjust the pH level and total alkalinity, and the chlorine generator is producing actual chlorine.

I've also found that the price of salt is a bit less expensive than chlorine. A 50lb. bag of salt for the Y pool costs $4.49 and we go through about 8 - 10 bags per month, so about $35 - $40 per month for an 80,000 gallon pool. Pool chlorine would run about $80 - $90 per month.

Hope this helps and have a great Summer


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Is Converting To Saltwater Pool Cheaper And Better?

by Toshika
(North Carolina)

I have purchased an above ground 13.58 x 7.08 x 3.26 pool from Kmart.

I've been reading online about converting to saltwater and they say it's cheaper and better.

Is this true?

Also I know nothing about maintaining a pool so what are the things I need to do and buy to make sure this pool lasts for as long as possible.

Here is the online description:

Rectangular Frame Pool Set includes pool, filter pump, ladder, sun-shadow, 1 beach ball, 2 air mats, 2 swim rings and DVD.

Water capacity (90%): 8,048 L (2,127 gal.)

Rust-resistant galvanized metal frames Heavy-duty PVC and polyester 3-ply side walls Flow control drain valve for easy draining.

Extra strength side walls are made with 3 separate layers of material.

Thanx in advance for your help.

Your site is such a great help.

Thanks for the question Toshika

A salt water pool is less expensive, in some respects, to a regular chlorine pool. Salt is much cheaper than chlorine.

A 50 lb. bag of salt I use for the YMCA salt pool (80,000 gallons) is about $5.

We go through about 25 bags per month for a total of $125.

If it were a regular chlorine pool, the chlorine would run in excess of $450 per month.

Which Salt To Use In A Salt Water Swimming Pool?

Salt Generator..Change A Chlorine Pool Into A Salt Pool

But, chlorine generators are expensive to replace. A good one can cost anywhere from $1000 - $2500, depending on the make and model.

How much chlorine can you buy with that much money?

Also, you must be sure you're testing the salinity every week and keeping it in range that the manufacturer specifies.

If not, it can burn up and may not be covered under warranty.

You also need to consider the calcium hardness.

If you have high hardness fill water, a salt cell might not work for you.

The cell can calcify and burn up if you're not diligent in cleaning it.

Some people say that a salt pool feels better because the water is softer. Others say it doesn't matter.

This is just a personal choice.

I think initially it might cost a bit more for a salt pool because of the expense of the chlorine generator, then it will go down as the generator starts to produce chlorine.

You won't have to buy chlorine as the less expensive salt that's added to the pool will be turned into chlorine.

I personally think, when all is said and done, it might be a wash in terms of cost and savings.

Salt pools are a bit different than chlorine pools, so it's important to read these pages:

Salt Water Swimming Pools

Chlorine Generator

And there's lots more info. on the Q&A page about salt pools:

Swimming Pool Questions and Answers

I don't want to scare you off from getting a salt pool, if you really want one.

Just remember that it's a bit different so you need to approach it from a slightly different angle.

For a pool start up you can go to these pages:

Starting New 27 ft. Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool Chemistry

My First Pool..How Do I Add Chemicals & Make Adjustments?

Above Ground Pool..Need To Know About Chemicals & What To Do..

Check out the pages above and if you have a specific question about a salt pool please feel free to contact me again.

Hope this helps and have a fun and safe swimming season.


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