Salt Water Pool Systems – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Lots of views and claims about Salt water swimming pools hopefully this short article helps to clarify The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on Saltwater Sanitation for your pool.

That Panel and Cell chlorination system tucked away nicely with your pool equipment has a large responsibility. It is there to help keep your family’s swim health and enjoyable. The cell performs electrolysis on the dissolved salt and produces Hypochlorous Acid (HCIO, which is typically used to prepare tap water for consumption) and Sodium Hypochlorite (NaCIO, which is basically an oxidizer). Those are the sanitation agents that kill the various types of bacteria in your pool. Now to take a complicated explanation we are talking about taking a hard dissolvable product (Salt) and turning into chlorine.

Advantages of Salt Water Chlorination;

The most talked about positives of salt water is the smell, taste and overall ‘feel’ of the swim water. There are no harsh chemical smells and you are less susceptible to the red irritated eyes, scratchy skin and fading bathing suits. Typically a salt water system is installed with a control panel and cell system that adjusts the settings based on your input.

Disadvantages of Salt Water Chlorination;

While the process of creating Hypochlorous Acid and Sodium Hypochlorite is essentially creating chlorine gas , just in a smaller amounts. So technically you are still using chlorine in your pool. The initial installation cost is higher than chlorine but in line with Ozone/UV sanitation methods however you will need to replace the cell periodically which can carry a $300 – $600 cost based on the size of your pool. Speaking of the cell, you may also need some time in the library to understand how to balance your water, there are many claims that it is maintenance free but just like everything there is a learning curve. The truth is PH balancing becomes a little more challenging and testing frequently is important using your home test kit and once a week at your local pool store.

The Ugly…

Based on certain initial water types such as hard water (Hard water being deemed at calcium of over 100ppm) you may find that your pool walls may be accumulating a buildup for either vinyl liner , concrete and fiberglass pools. It just means more time monitoring and adjusting your water balance until you have a solid grasp on the basics. Until then you can always take a sample of you water to a local pool store and they can assist you – but ask for an explanation on why they are making specific recommendations.

Its not really maintenance free ,you still have to clean your pool and use all other chemicals required to keep your swimming pool safe. Hard to say if costs are lower we find PH management usage is more frequent and keeping chlorine at health Canada’s recommended range of 1.0 ppm to 3ppm (optimum 1.5) a little tricky.