Saltwater and Chlorine Pools: a Quick Comparison
Saltwater pool systems are an alternative to the more common, traditional chlorine pools. Pools treated with saltwater systems still contain chlorine, but a much smaller amount than typically used in a chlorine system since you don’t add chlorine tablets – it gets naturally generated by the salt in the water.
A saltwater pool contains 10x less salt than sea water; around 3,000 PPM (parts per million), as opposed to 35,000 ppm in the ocean. Many find saltwater pools less harsh on hair, eyes, and skin than a chlorinated pool.
Saltwater pools are becoming more common at hotels and resorts, and natural saltwater lagoon pools can now be found in various places across the world. And now, since saltwater systems are becoming more affordable, you can choose to have a saltwater-based pool installed for your own enjoyment.
Saltwater pools vs chlorinated pools
Saltwater pool get cleaned with a special filtering unit called a salt chlorine generator. This system uses electricity to turn salt into chlorine, which cleans the pool, as traditional chlorine tablets do, but with a much lower level of chlorination.
With a traditional chlorinated pool, chlorine tablets are added to the pool on a regular basis to keep the pool clean.
With both treatment systems, it’s vital to regularly check the pH and alkaline levels of the pool to ensure that it remains sanitized and balanced.
Typically, the initial cost of a saltwater pool is greater than that of a chlorine pool. A saltwater chlorination system can cost between $1,500 to $2,500 plus tax and installation. In the long run, however, it may save you money since you won’t need to puchase chlorine tablets continuously.
Pools with saltwater systems are easier to maintain than a chlorinated pools, however, you still need to check pH and alkaline levels regularly.
Pools with saltwater systems don’t produce the same chlorine aroma as a traditional chlorinated pool, which can be overpowering to some.
Saltwater system pools don’t have the same bleaching effects as a chlorine pool, so your hair won’t turn green from a saltwater pool, and your swimming shorts won’t get ruined. Conversely, salt can be damaging to a pool if you’re not careful as saltwater systems need to be checked frequently for signs of erosion and buildup, and if damaged, they can be expensive to repair or replace.
Saltwater pools for health
Swimming in a saltwater pool may be better for those with some health problems, such as asthma or allergies, especially with indoor pools – a strong chlorine smell is often noticed when entering an indoor pool. This is due to chloramines, which is the chlorine and ammonia in the water. With outdoor pools, the smell evaporates or disperses and is not always as noticeable. The aroma is usually strongest at the surface of the pool, where swimmers take breaths, so if you have trouble breathing, you may find swimming in a chlorinated pool irritating.
Studies have found that children who swim regularly in an indoor chlorinated pool were at greater risk for developing lung inflammation, irritation, and asthma, however, more research is needed before we can say for certain that a saltwater pool is a better alternative.
It’s vital to test saltwater and chlorinated pools on a regular basis. Ideally, every week, test for free chlorine and pH using a store-purchased drop kit or test strips. And every month, make sure that you test your pool for:
- salt levels
- corrosion or damage from salwater or chlorine
And every three months, test the salt chlorine generator for buildup and clean it thoroughly, and watch for deposits and erosion. Perform maintenance as required, but don’t leave it as this could cost you in the long run.
At any pool, it’s important to practice basic safety measures, especially if children are present:
- supervise children at all times
- secure your pool with a fence so kids can’t get in the water unsupervised
- enroll anyone who doesn’t know how to swim in swimming lessons
- enforce rules like near the pool; common ones are ‘no diving’, ‘no running’, and ‘no alcohol’.
- when swimming laps, stop and take a break when out of breath
- warm up before entering the pool; stretch afterwards