Last Updated on June 4, 2024

Salt Water And Natural Pool Waters - Pros And ConsIf you struggle to keep chemicals balanced in your chlorine pool, consider converting it to a saltwater pool. Saltwater pools are more healthful and easier to maintain, less prone to algae, and more environmentally friendly. They are also gentler on your eyes, mucous membranes, and skin. Making the switch can seem daunting, but it can be done in four straightforward steps.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Salt Chlorine Generator

A salt chlorine generator is a device that converts plain table salt into chlorine. This machine is essential for maintaining a saltwater pool. There are several reputable brands available, so it’s important to choose one that meets your pool’s specific needs. When selecting a generator, ensure it is compatible with the size of your pool. The general rule of thumb is to select a salt cell rated at least one-third larger than your pool size to accommodate increased chlorine demand due to heat, direct sunlight, and increased usage.

Key Considerations for Choosing a Salt Chlorine Generator:

  • Pool Size Compatibility: Ensure the generator’s capacity matches or exceeds your pool’s size.
  • Brand Reputation: Choose a generator from a well-known, reputable brand to ensure reliability and longevity.
  • Additional Features: Look for features like self-cleaning capabilities, which can reduce maintenance needs.

Step 2: Selecting and Adding the Right Salt

The best salt to use in your pool is non-iodized table salt, which is readily available in bulk from home goods or hardware stores. The amount of salt you need will depend on the specifications of your chosen salt system. Typically, the salt concentration for a saltwater pool is around 3,000-3,500 parts per million (ppm).

Steps to Add Salt to Your Pool:

  1. Calculate the Amount of Salt Needed: Refer to your salt chlorine generator’s manual for precise measurements based on your pool’s volume.
  2. Distribute the Salt Evenly: Walk around the pool while adding the salt to ensure even distribution. This helps the salt dissolve more quickly and evenly.
  3. Stir the Water: Use a pool brush to stir the water, aiding in the salt’s dissolution. This can also help to prevent salt from settling on the bottom of the pool, which could potentially cause staining or other issues.

Step 3: Eliminating Phosphates

Phosphates are contaminants that can cause scale build-up in salt cells and serve as a primary food source for algae. They enter your pool from various sources, including body fluids, lawn fertilizers, cleaners, chemicals, and rainwater. Maintaining low phosphate levels is crucial for a clean and healthy pool.

How to Manage Phosphate Levels:

  • Phosphate Testing: Regularly test your pool water for phosphate levels. Levels below 200 parts per billion (PPB) are considered safe, while 100-125 PPB is optimal.
  • Phosphate Removal Kits: Use a phosphate removal kit to lower phosphate levels. These kits typically contain a solution that binds to phosphates, making them easier to filter out of the water.
  • Regular Maintenance: Consistently manage phosphate levels to prevent algae blooms and scale build-up in your salt cell.

Step 4: Maintaining Your Salt Cell

Proper maintenance of your salt cell is essential to ensure its longevity and efficient operation. Most good-quality salt cells last between three and five years, but this can be extended with diligent care.

Tips for Maintaining Your Salt Cell:

  • Regular Cleaning: Periodically clean the salt cell to remove any scale build-up. This typically involves soaking the cell in a solution of water and muriatic acid or a commercial cell cleaner.
  • Use Maintenance Kits: Using a Natural Chemistry Salt Water Magic Maintenance Kit when you first set up your pool and once a month thereafter can significantly enhance your cell’s lifespan. The kit includes a 1-liter bottle of liquid salt water magic and a 5.5-pound bag of salt water magic mix.
  • Monitor and Adjust: Regularly check the performance of your salt cell and adjust settings as needed to maintain optimal chlorine production.

Additional Products for Enhanced Pool Maintenance

In addition to the basics, there are a few other products that can help keep your saltwater pool in top condition:

Metal Deactivator and Phosphate Remover

  • Foundation: This product acts as both a metal deactivator and phosphate remover. It helps to prevent staining and scaling caused by metals in the water and keeps phosphate levels in check.
  • Metal-Free: This product chelates metals without adding phosphates, making it an excellent choice for pools with high metal content in the water.

Why Convert to a Saltwater Pool?

Converting to a saltwater pool offers numerous benefits that make it an attractive option for many pool owners. Here are some compelling reasons to make the switch:

Healthier Swimming Experience

Saltwater pools are known for being gentler on the skin and eyes compared to traditional chlorine pools. The saline water has a lower chlorine concentration, which reduces the risk of skin irritation, red eyes, and respiratory issues often associated with high chlorine levels. This makes saltwater pools particularly appealing for families with young children or individuals with sensitive skin.

Easier Maintenance

Maintaining a saltwater pool is generally simpler than a traditional chlorine pool. The salt chlorine generator automatically converts salt into chlorine, ensuring a consistent chlorine level without the need for frequent manual dosing. This automated process reduces the time and effort required for regular pool maintenance, allowing you to enjoy your pool more and worry less about chemical imbalances.

Environmentally Friendly

Saltwater pools are considered more environmentally friendly because they reduce the need for harsh chemicals. The chlorine produced by the salt chlorine generator is less concentrated and dissipates more slowly, leading to lower chemical consumption overall. Additionally, the absence of traditional chlorine tablets or liquid chlorine minimizes the release of harmful byproducts into the environment.

Cost-Effective in the Long Run

While the initial investment in a salt chlorine generator and conversion process may be higher, the long-term savings can be significant. Salt is cheaper and more stable than chlorine, and because the generator produces chlorine as needed, you’ll spend less on chemicals over time. The reduced need for maintenance chemicals and treatments can also contribute to cost savings.

Better Water Quality

Saltwater pools often have better water quality and clarity. The continuous generation of chlorine helps maintain a steady sanitizing level, reducing the likelihood of algae growth and other water quality issues. Swimmers often report that saltwater feels softer and more pleasant compared to traditionally chlorinated water.

Why It May Not Work for Everyone

While converting to a saltwater pool has many advantages, it’s important to consider some potential drawbacks that might make it less suitable for certain situations:

Higher Initial Costs

The upfront costs of converting to a saltwater pool can be significant. Purchasing and installing a salt chlorine generator, as well as any necessary modifications to your existing pool system, can be expensive. For some pool owners, the initial investment might be a barrier, especially if they have a limited budget.

Potential for Corrosion

Saltwater can be corrosive to certain pool materials, such as metal fixtures, pool liners, and masonry. Over time, the salt can cause damage to ladders, diving boards, and other pool equipment, leading to increased maintenance costs. To mitigate this risk, it’s essential to choose materials and equipment designed to withstand exposure to saltwater.

Complex Repairs and Maintenance

While day-to-day maintenance of a saltwater pool is generally easier, the salt chlorine generator itself requires regular maintenance and occasional repairs. The generator’s cell needs periodic cleaning and replacement, and troubleshooting issues with the system can be more complex than managing a traditional chlorine pool. Pool owners who prefer a hands-off approach might find the maintenance requirements challenging.

Electrical Costs

Operating a salt chlorine generator requires electricity, which can lead to higher energy bills. Although the generator doesn’t consume a large amount of power, it’s an additional cost to consider. Pool owners who are concerned about energy consumption should weigh this factor against the potential savings on chemical costs.

Water Balance Challenges

Maintaining the correct water balance in a saltwater pool can be tricky, especially in regions with hard water. High levels of calcium can cause scaling on the salt cell, reducing its efficiency and lifespan. Regular testing and balancing of the pool’s water chemistry are essential to prevent these issues, which can add to the maintenance workload.

Limited Effectiveness in Cold Climates

In colder climates, the efficiency of a salt chlorine generator can be reduced. Salt cells operate best at warmer temperatures, and in regions with long, cold winters, the generator may not produce enough chlorine to keep the pool properly sanitized. This limitation might necessitate the use of supplemental chlorine or other chemicals during the colder months, diminishing some of the benefits of converting to a saltwater system.

By following the above steps and utilizing the recommended products, you can enjoy a cleaner, safer, and more enjoyable swimming environment. Saltwater pools offer numerous advantages, including being gentler on the skin and eyes, and reducing the environmental impact associated with traditional pool chemicals. With proper care and maintenance, your saltwater pool will provide a refreshing and hassle-free swimming experience for years to come.

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