Saltwater pools are very popular and although they were invented in the 1980s, they continue to grow in popularity particularly among those who don’t want to directly handle or store chlorine on their property.
There are millions of these systems in the US alone and they are one of the best options for maintaining a clean and safe pool that doesn’t become a harbor for harmful bacteria which could harm you or your family.How do salt pools work?
One important thing to note right away is that saltwater pools aren’t chlorine free, and they certainly aren’t the same as swimming around in the sea or other salty bodies of water.
Saltwater pools work by creating their own chlorine, by using slightly salty water and running it through two electrically charged metal plates which are commonly referred to as the Salt Cell.
Through a process known as electrolysis, the salt and water (NaCl and H20) are converted into Chlorine (Cl2), Hydrogen (H2), and Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) as the water runs through the powered salt cell.
The chlorine produced using this process is essentially exactly the same as the chemicals that are used in chlorine tablets and shock, but as the chlorine molecules start to get used up in keeping the pool clean, the salt is converted back into NaCL and the process can begin anew.
It’s important to be clear that a saltwater pool isn’t any different from a chlorine pool in real terms, they are both technically chlorine pools, and the only real difference is that salt pools use a different process to create and maintain chlorine.
The chlorine that is used in tablet form, liquid form, or granules are all ultimately the same thing and act in the same way, by killing germs and preventing the harvesting of bacteria which in turn helps to keep your pool clean and safe even during the hottest times of the year when the pool will likely be used most and when conditions for bacterial growth are most favorable.
How much salt to add?
The amount of salt you need to add to your pool will naturally change depending on a few factors, the main one being the sheer size and volume of water in the pool itself.
Another thing you should be aware of is that keeping an eye on the saltwater levels can actually be quite difficult and it’s easy to forget about it until the chlorine generator tells you the salt levels are too low or high.
Luckily maintaining these levels is relatively simple.For most pools, the optimal range of salt in the pool will be anywhere from 2700ppm to 3400 ppm (parts per million), with 3200 ppm being the sweet spot for most pools.
If you’re not sure what parts per million means, don’t be alarmed or put off, it isn’t important for you to be an expert on the definition of this and what it means in practice, all you need to do is test your pool and make sure that the correct amounts are reached.
If you’re curious, however, it’s simply a scientific measurement of how much of one molecule there is in relation to another.
If you want to calculate the volume of your pool to help get a better idea of its size and how much salt you need to hit the sweet spot for your particular pool, there’s a simple way to do this.
Simply multiply the height of the pool, the width of the pool and the depth of the pool and the result of this simple calculation will give you the volume of water in your pool.
It's also possible to find automatic calculators online, where you can enter these measurements and your volume will be given to you.
There are also some automatic calculators online that can use the volume measurement of your pool and your desired salt ppm to recommend how much salt you need to add to your pool.
Again, your system should be able to monitor this and keep you updated however so you can get a fairly accurate idea simply by monitoring your system.
Benefits of a saltwater pool?
Many saltwater pool owners attest to the difference in the quality of water and how it feels on the skin when there is 3000ppm of salt dissolved into it.
The great thing about this system is that you won’t have to worry about tasting the saltwater if it gets into your mouth because humans can only taste salt at 3500 ppm, so you get the convenience and pleasantness of saltwater and how it feels, without putting up with the nasty taste of it.
Many owners find saltwater pools easier to manage too as the salt cell does a lot of the work and will keep you updated on the measurements in terms of chlorine levels.
It's also possible for saltwater pools to cause less irritation to sensitive areas such as the eyes when in the pool, which some chemical-fed pools cause.
How to maintain a saltwater pool?
In terms of maintenance, saltwater pools differ very little from chlorine tablet systems, and the only key difference between them is that saltwater pools don’t require you to handle the pungent and fairly unpleasant chlorine chemicals directly, to refill the chemical feeder.
You’ll still need to monitor your water carefully for correct chlorine levels, and you will still need to use chlorine stabilizers and other chemicals to make sure that the pool is safe for swimming.
However, for some people, the benefit of not having to handle chlorine is enough to consider installing and using a salt cell to create chlorine instead of tablets or granules and can also be an advantage if you have pets or children and don’t want any chance of them getting their hands or paws on chlorine products.