What Type Of Pool Salt Is Right and Why

Are salt pools just like the swimming in the ocean?  Not really.  Salt pools that use pool salt have a totally different make-up compared to the ocean.  Salt pools feel so much better on your skin compared to regular chlorine pools.  And less maintenance means more swimming time.

But, let's not go out to the grocery store and buy hundreds of pounds of Himalayan salt, add it to our pool, and call it good.  We need to learn about salt for our pool, what it is, what it does, and how it works.  

What Type Of Pool Salt Is Right and Why

What Is Pool Salt?

The majority of pools use chlorine to disinfect the water and kill algae and bacteria.  Pool salt is standard NaCl, which is sodium chloride.  It's very similar to table salt, just in a different form. The primary difference is that pool salt comes in a larger cut or size.

Your pool salt chemical elements are sodium and chlorine.  Pool salt dissolves in your pool water and breaks down into sodium ions and chlorine ions.  Then, through a chemical reaction, the water will pass through a chlorine generator and convert the free chlorine ions into hypochlorus acid.  This hypochlorus acid is what kills the bacteria in your pool.

Why More People Are Installing Salt Pools

As of this writing, nearly 75% of all in-ground pools being installed nationwide will be salt pools, compared to 25% of new pool construction in 2002.  This is according to Pool & Spa Magazine.  Why such an uptick in salt pool construction?  

Salt water pools are gentler on your body and clothing, the water feels better, and there is no chlorine to store and add.  Normal weekly maintenance must performed such as checking the pH and sanitizer levels. 

What Are The Three Types Of Salt?

As you already know, there are many different types of salt in your grocery store and each one has different properties and functions.  They're mined, converted, and processed differently, and of course that includes our pool salt.  There are only three types of salt that are used in pools and they are:

  • Solar salt
  • Mechanically evaporated salt
  • Mined salt

Making the right choice on your pool salt is crucial in how your pool behaves, how well the water chemistry is, and how long your chlorine generator will last.

Solar Salt

Solar salt is sea water that's evaporated, leaving behind salt.  I've made solar salt a couple of times from the ocean water in Clearwater Beach.  The problem with solar salt is it contains bacteria and brine shrimp.

Further evaporation creates an environment that kills the brine shrimp and bacteria.  You will still have these impurities in your salt.  This means your chlorine generator has to work harder to create chlorine to eliminate the organic matter.  A salt that's high in impurities is not the best choice for your salt water pool. 

Mechanically Evaporated Salt

The good news is mechanically evaporated uses controlled heat to evaporate and kill bacteria in the salt water, leaving behind a more pure form of pool salt.  The bad news is it still leaves behind impurities, but more on the chemical side rather than the organic side.  These contaminants include:

  • Nitrates
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Silicates

Still good, but not the best, and is really not too good for your pool and chlorine generator.  

Mined Salt

And that leaves us with our final, and best choice.  Mined salt is the purest of all three types of pool salt.  Before you add your pool salt, you will want to balance your chemicals.  Although mined salt can be a little more expensive, it's well worth the investment to not have the impurities in your pool salt. 

You'll save a couple of bucks getting a lower quality salt, but in the long run you might need to buy another chlorine generator that prematurely burned out due to needing to handle a poor performing salt.  

How To Become A Salty Pro

Do your research, compare all the pool salts qualities and prices, and make your choice.  Remember, you have a chlorine generator to think about, so make the right decision when choosing your pool salt.