Salt Water Swimming Pools: Easy Maintenance and Pool Systems

Understand Salt Water Swimming Pools & Salt Water Pool Systems for Inground & Above Ground Pools. 

There's been a debate lately.  Well, maybe not lately, but it has been going on for years and years.  Which one is better?  Is a salt pool or a chlorine pool better?  Well, both pools have their pros and cons, but saltwater pools have become more popular over the past few years.  Most salt pool owners swear by them while chlorine pools have seemingly set the standard for comfort and reliability. 

All About Salt Water Swimming Pools

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Saltwater pools use the process of electrolysis to sanitize your pool water.  Salt is added to the water and the electrolyzer (chlorine generator) is connected to the pool’s filtration plumbing on the return side.  The salt water passes through the chlorine generator which turns it into active hypochlorous acid, or pool chlorine.  Also, a good saltwater chlorinator can give you a choice when it comes to chlorinating your pool.  A saltwater pool system simply takes the salt and produces chlorine.

Salt Water Swimming Pools Or Chlorine Pools

You use the same pool water test kits and add chemicals when your swimming pool demands it.  Many people who have fiberglass inground pools like this saltwater system. 

Understand Salt Water Swimming Pools & Salt Water Pool Systems for Inground & Above Ground Pools.

 But remember, saltwater swimming pools ARE NOT chlorine-free pools.  A salt water system simply means adding pool salt to make pool chlorine by installing a pool chlorine salt water generator.  A swimming pool chlorinator (both in-line and free standing) reduces the need to buy, transport, or store liquid or dry pool chlorine.  Some stand-alone salt cells may also measure out the proper amounts of acid and Sodium Bicarbonate to keep your swimming pool pH and total alkalinity in balance.

Does A Pool Salt Water System Produce Chlorine?

Saltwater swimming pools use dissolved salt in the water that passes through a chlorine generator to produce chlorine, or Hypochlorous Acid.  The chlorine cell then uses a process called "electrolysis" to break down the salt (sodium chloride or NaCl) in the water.  The chemical reaction that takes place by this electrolysis process produces chlorine, or in this case, hypochlorous acid.  It's this steady flow of hypochlorous acid that sanitizes, oxidizes, and kills the organic matter in the pool.  And it does its job very effectively.  

Understand Salt Water Swimming Pools & Salt Water Pool Systems for Inground & Above Ground Pools.

Hypochlorous acid

  • Add swimming pool salt.  For an average 20,000 gallon pool you will need 7-10 50 lb. bags to bring your saline level to the correct reading of 2500 - 4500 ppm.
  • The saline (salted water) is then carried through the plumbing to the pool chlorine generator
  • The saltwater chlorinator produces swimming pool chlorine a.k.a Hypochlorous Acid
  • This chlorinated water is then returned to the pool for sanitation

You'll also need to keep up on your residual chlorine demand testing.  For a chlorine cell to properly function, a typical home salt pool system requires anywhere between 2500 – 4500 parts per million (ppm) salt range.  This is much less than the ocean which has a salt level of approximately 35,000 ppm.

Benefits Of Salt Water Swimming Pools

  • A safe level of pool salt to chlorinate a pool is between 2500 ppm -4500 ppm

At this level the salt in the pool can't really be noticed.   

  • Once the swimming pool salt is added, the saltwater chlorinator takes over to produce as much or as little swimming pool chlorine as you require 

It has also been reported that the pool water actually feels softer and the swimmers are more refreshed after swimming.  Salt water swimming pools have this big advantage.  

  • Some people will say the comfort level of saltwater pools is better than regular chlorine pools

The water feels better on your skin

  • A pool salt system means you won't need to store any chlorine although you will need to handle other chemicals

Pool acid, sodium bicarbonate for the pool pH level, pool alkalinity, and calcium chloride for the water hardness.  Same swimming pool chemical maintenance as a regular chlorine pool.

  • Some people believe that salt water pool maintenance can be lower as compared to a normal chlorine pool 

A salt water chlorine generator normally cleans itself.  Pool salt systems are more expensive upfront.  You do save on actual chlorine because a bag of salt is less expensive than a bucket or gallon of pool chlorine. 

Disadvantages Of Salt Water Swimming Pools

While many who own a salt water pool system swear by it, there are some issues to consider:

  • A salt water chlorinator still produces pool chlorine and chemicals (Hypochlorous Acid)
  • Possibility of damaged equipment and pool filters
  • Possibility of plumbing corrosion
  • Possibility of using just as many other chemicals (pool acid, pool shock, calcium chloride) as a chlorine pool
  • Possible damage to winter and solar pool covers
  • Run the risk of swimming in a pool in which the pool operator does not have the proper knowledge or training on balancing the chemicals and proper pool maintenance
  • When salt chlorine generators breaks down, they may cost up to or over $1000 for a new unit.  

This may keep the average pool owner up to his eyes in chlorine for a normal chlorine swimming pool for years.

  • If you have or are planning to have decorative rock (Flagstone) you may want to reconsider salt water pools.  

Swimming pool salt is corrosive and may eat away at your investment.  Salt water swimming pools are great and if they're what you're looking for, and if you've done your homework, then I say go for it and have fun swimming.

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Recommended Reading

Chlorine generator (saltwater chlorinator) and the best swimming pool chemistry for your salt water pool systems. 

What Other Visitors Have Said

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My Saltwater Pool Has No Chlorine 
We had Leslie's test our water: free available chlorine - 0 waterph- 8.7 total alkalinity 90 cyanuric acid - 0 calcium hardness - 150 salt - 4100 …

Considering transitioning from chlorine to salt Not rated yet
1) My sand in filter is eight years old. (Filter is a Baker II Hydro-Model HRV-30, installed in 1983.) Should it (the sand) be replaced as part of transition? …

What concentration of liquid bleach (your table doesnt say) Not rated yet
I have a salt water above ground 18X33X4 pool. I want to shock it with bleach (12%), mainly because I want to make sure there are no nasty bugs in my …

No Chlorine Reading in Salt Pool & Soft Water Fill Not rated yet
Hello, thanks for the helpful videos on the web. 1 year old salt pool, florida. 12000 gal. digital nano and rc 35/22 cell. following a cleaning of the …