Saltwater pools are a type of pool that uses a salt-based sanitizing system instead of chlorine, which is not what you typically find in a traditional pool. But what does this mean for your swimming experience? And what about maintenance and cost?
This article shares everything you need to know before owning one.
What Exactly Is a Saltwater Pool?
A saltwater pool uses a salt-based sanitizing system in place of traditional chlorine. Saltwater pools are less expensive to maintain per year, and an experienced pool owner can still get the same level of sanitization from a saltwater pool.
Saltwater is also known for having a slightly better swimming experience. You can also reduce the need for many chemicals, and using a salt system on your pool allows you to go a little bit longer without needing to shock.
Since this will be a different process from what you are used to, you must understand the actual science behind it all.
How Does Saltwater Work?
While salt alone has some disinfecting properties, making a saltwater pool isn’t as easy as dissolving salt in water and calling it a day. Instead, sodium chloride, or regular table salt, is converted to chlorine using salt chlorine generating equipment.
As a result, a saltwater pool does contain chlorine. In comparison to a chlorinated pool, saltwater pools generate a pure type of chlorine delivered in a regulated way to avoid the formation of irritants called chloramines.
Salt is then added to the pool water. The swimming pool water is pulled into the generator, where it goes straight through the salt cell. Inside, metallic grids and electricity convert the salt to pure chlorine, providing chlorinated water.
What Type of Salt Can You Use in a Salt-Chlorine Generator?
You have three options for salt you can use.
The grinding process produces mineral salt. This process has salt with a chemical composition closer to chlorine, which can be used in a salt pool generator. It is the most expensive option out there.
Organic salt is produced through the evaporation process that mimics your backyard or swimming pool rocks. This type of salt has low levels of sodium chloride and will require additional filtering for filtration purposes.
Mined salt refers to salts mined from unreclaimed brines deep in underground mines naturally occurring in soil or rock formations. These types of salts contain high amounts of sodium chloride.
Use salt that is solely meant for use in swimming pools, food-grade, granular, and non-iodized.
The better the purity of the salt, the minor problem you’ll have with it in terms of aesthetics and upkeep. We recommend 99 percent purity for best results.
Avoid the use of rock salt (halite) in your swimming pool. Halite salt isn’t pure enough and will not dissolve easily.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Saltwater Pool?
Salt Water Pool Advantages
- Saltwater pools are significantly friendlier on the eyes and skin than traditional pools.
- According to recent research, saltwater systems may be safer than chlorine pools, which require owners to store and manage potentially hazardous chemicals. Similarly, studies have suggested that frequent exposure to excessively chlorinated swimming pools may have long-term health consequences.
- Saltwater pools generate water that has a gentler feel to the skin, which many people prefer.
- Because the saltwater system only creates chlorine when necessary, the pools require far less maintenance than typical chlorinated swimming pools.
Disadvantages of Salt Water Pools
- Saltwater pools have a larger initial investment to build, making them more costly than regular swimming pools.
- Saltwater pools are more complex to install and maintain, so you often need experienced technicians if you’re encountering major problems.
- Cleaning salt cells is done frequently or about every 500 hours, either with a cleaning stand or a bucket. One downside is that you’ll be using muriatic acid, a rather potentially hazardous chemical when not used with precaution.
- Saltwater is not compatible with all types of pools and pool equipment. Salt can corrode vinyl pools with metal wall panels. It can also rust some handrails and ladder bolts.
- The chlorine generator may not be able to create enough chlorine during the winter months. So compensating for the less chlorine, you may still need to have standard chlorine additions throughout the year.
How Much Salt Does Your Saltwater Pool Need?
An average salt level is around 3,000 to 4,000 ppm, but this still depends on your cell’s ratings. Not all salt chlorine generators have the same ranges.
“In a regular pool season, you may need to add a single bag or two of salt to top off your system and keep the salt in the range at or as close as possible to 3,200 ppm. Even the next season you may only need to add one or two bags to start off the year.”Matt, founder of Swim University
For a newly built pool, add 40-45 lbs of salt for 2,000 gallons of water. But for a pool that has previously been treated with chemicals, gauge the pool water first.
Check out a chart like this to estimate how much salt needs to add to attain the optimal ppm level.
Moreover, here’s an extensive pool guideline for balancing out your water.
How Much Will a Salt-Chlorine Generator Cost
Installing a salt-chlorine generator typically costs between $600 and $2,000. Although it appears to be a significant expense upfront, most people believe it is a worthwhile investment because you will no longer need to buy or store a lot of chlorine.
However, the price of the saltwater system, whether less or expensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. Various chlorine systems each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the type of pool will always have the most impact on the chlorine generator you’ve picked.
The expense of maintaining a saltwater pool can range from $50 to $100 a year. Compared to standard chlorinated pools, which cost $250–$300 per year, this is a significant saving.
Replacement of cell units costs around $700-$900 every 3-7 years. When all expenditures are taken into account, employing a salt-chlorine generator in your pool is roughly the same price as using regular chlorine.
Saltwater Pool Maintenance Tips
- Check the salt cells for build-up
- To keep your pool functioning properly, be sure to maintain the regular pump and filter
- Make sure to purchase salt specifically for pool use only
- Make sure to test your saltwater pool with test strips, especially during the busy season
- Regularly check for signs of corrosion on rubber O-rings and pump seals
The salt chlorine generator is an excellent alternative to traditionally chlorinated pools. It provides many benefits, including not having to worry about purchasing or storing chlorine, and this unit will also help lower your maintenance costs.
Though this system may seem like quite an investment up front, it provides more than just convenience—it can even actually save you money in the long run through upkeep and chemical expenses.
We hope this article helps you decide if a saltwater pool is suitable for your pool. You can also see these backyard pool ideas for inspiration on how to design the perfect pool for your backyard. Happy swimming!