When you hear saltwater, most people think of the ocean, not swimming pool water. But now millions of pools worldwide are saltwater pools, so let’s take a look at what having a saltwater pool means. But before we get to that, I mentioned ocean water, and if you have ever gotten a mouthful of ocean water, then you know how salty the water tastes. A saltwater pool is not the same; in fact, just a drop of water from a saltwater chlorinated pool contains less salt than a human tear.
Take a look at this list of salt levels:
Ocean Water – 35,000 PPM
Human Tear – 9,000 PPM
Saltwater Pools – 3,000 PPM
What is a Saltwater Pool?
Swimming pool water must have a salt concentration of 3,000 ppm (parts per million) before a salt chlorine generator can operate. Once the salt concentration has reached 3,000 ppm,
the salt chlorine generator (also known as a salt system or a salt chlorinator) creates chlorine from sodium chloride (salt) to sanitize the pool water. So you still have a chlorine pool, it’s just a different type of chlorine.
How does it work?
As saltwater travels through the swimming pool’s circulation system, it enters the salt chlorine generator and passes through a salt cell. As the saltwater flows through the cell, a low-voltage direct current is applied to flat, rectangular plates inside the cell, initiating electrolysis. Through electrolysis, salt and water break up into hydrogen gas and hypochlorous acid. The hydrogen gas leaves the swimming pool water in the form of small bubbles. The hypochlorous acid sanitizes the swimming pool water and ultimately reverts into salt, and the process repeats. So, instead of pouring chlorine into your pool or adding tablets, the generator is continuously creating it.
Advantages of Salt Chlorination
Saves up to 50% over traditional chlorine
Salt water is gentler on skin, hair, & eyes
Saltwater feels soft and silky
Saltwater pools are easier to maintain
No smelly chloramines
You don’t have to handle harsh chemicals
Disadvantages of Salt Chlorination
Initially, the cost is more
Requires great diligence in keeping the pH balanced
Salt is corrosive, and can damage pool parts and accessories if the water chemistry is not regularly monitored and maintained - salt chlorination is not a set it & forget it chemistry option
Salt cells have a high replacement cost
As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages of maintaining a saltwater swimming pool. It comes down to personal preference and deciding what the priorities are for you and your family.