Salt Water Pools: What Are The Risks And Benefits?

Everything You Need To Know About Salt Water Pools
Written By: Chris Tebbutt
Date Published: February 25, 2019

Have you ever love swimming in the sea so much you want to take the saltwater into your pool? Well, it is possible to have your saltwater pool, but it won’t be as salty as you would imagine. A lot of people wanted to convert their pool into a saltwater pool compared to the traditional chlorine pool as it is more economical and has health benefits.  

As you might have heard saltwater pool in passing, this article will tell you all you need to know about it. You will find out about the saltwater pool’s benefits, its difference between chlorine pool, and what you need to convert your pool.

So let’s begin and find out what the hype is about saltwater pools.

What Is A Salt Water Pool?

A saltwater pool is when you add salt to the water instead of chlorine, and it uses a salt chlorine generator. It is an alternative to a chlorine pool. However, it doesn’t mean that it does not have any chlorine in it. It still has a small amount that’s generated from its filter system.

Don’t expect that it will be as salty as ocean water. The saltwater pool would need 3,000 to 4,000 ppm (parts per million). It only has 1/10 salinity of the ocean and just comparable to the saltiness of teardrops. So the salt taste of the saltwater pool is very light and would feel silkier to swim to. It is also less harsh on your eyes, hair, and skin compares to the traditional chlorine pool.

You might have experienced saltwater pool in hotels, resorts, and cruise ships, but there are natural saltwater pools that exist in the world. If you do want to have your saltwater pool in your home, better stay tuned as I will tell you why you should have one and how you will convert your pool.

Why Use A Salt Water Pool?

Using a traditional chlorine pool isn’t as bad as it is the most used. However, there are alternatives out there like a saltwater pool that is healthier as it doesn’t have allergy risks and irritation to your eyes and skin. 

If you want, convenience then the saltwater pool is right for you as its maintenance is much easier compared to chlorine pools. It is also environmentally friendly.

What Is The Difference Between Saltwater Pool And Chlorine Pool?

The difference between the two pools is that the other uses salt and get clean with the use of a filtering system called salt chlorine generator. It would be best if you had electricity for the system to turn salt into chlorine that will help in making your pool clean.

While a traditional pool that uses chlorine need chlorine tablets or granules right in the pool for it to be cleaned.

The only similar thing to these pools is you need to check their pH levels and alkalinity to make sure everything is well balanced and sanitized. 

How To Convert Your Pool To Saltwater?

There are 8 steps on how you can easily convert your pool to become a saltwater pool.

Step 1

Make sure to balance the water in your pool according to specifications from your manual. Draining your pool isn’t necessary.

Step 2

Add the needed amount of pool-grade salt, and the quantity will be based on the volume of water in your pool. If you have a manual, you can get an exact amount of salt required to put in your pool. It will take up to 24 hours for the salt to be fully dissolved.

Step 3

Put your chlorinator controller on a wall that is near your pool. Read your manual for installation.

Step 4

Wire your chlorinator controller to be able to have the power to use it.

Step 5

Install the chlorinator cell in the pool plumbing after your pool’s filter.

Step 6

Connect the chlorinator cell into chlorinator controller

Step 7

You can now turn on the pool pump. Make sure to check for any leaks and let it operate for hours so it can circulate water and be able to dissolve the salt.

Step 8

Lastly, turn on the salt chlorinator, and you can now enjoy swimming in your saltwater pool.

You need to continue the maintenance of your pool to extend the life of your pool equipment.

Pros and Cons


  • Easy to use

Saltwater pools are automated; that is why maintenance is more comfortable. You don’t need to replenish the salt frequently compared to using chlorine pebbles with chlorine pools.

  • Good for your health

Since saltwater pools are more natural because of the use of salt instead of chlorine, there are more advantages for your health. The salt is considered odorless. It is why there is no risk of allergies or even irritations for your skin and eyes.

  • Environmental Friendly

Salt is the leading cleaning component of saltwater pools and is considered a natural resource. The use of chemical pollutants such as chlorine will harm the environment, and storing it to your pool shed or your house is a hazard and may create health and safety issues.


  • Manage the pH levels

           Saltwater pools need a lot of maintenance when it comes to it pH levels as it tends to rise. You need to watch it or install a pH regulator carefully.

  • Can cause damages

 Salt is known to be corrosive; that is why it can cause damage to your pool accessories. It is better to make sure to wash it frequently. With having saltwater pools, you might find it challenging to install fixtures as it may ruin in time.

  • Pricey at the beginning

Saltwater pool might be economical in the long run, but it doesn’t mean you are not going to shell out money, especially at the beginning of the process of converting your pool into one. The installation cost of saltwater pools are higher than the conventional ones, and you need more maintenance in having one.

Final Thoughts

Saltwater pool is a good alternative if you want to be your pool to be healthy and environmentally friendly. It will be suitable for families who wanted to let go of chlorine pools as it poses more health hazards. 

Yes, it could be pricey at first but will be economical in the long term. What is important is that you put your health and the environment first as it cannot be replaced.

There are two major types of swimming pools you can choose from: salt water pools or chlorine pools. The choice of any of them depends on your preferences and individual needs. However, making a choice on which pool is better might be a big challenge, especially if you are a new swimmer. In this article, we have provided you with the pros and cons of each of these swimming pools to help you choose the best one for your needs.

Saltwater Pools vs Chlorine Pools:  Pros and Cons

Installing a swimming pool is an ideal way of spending time with your family and friends on those hot summer days. Swimming pools also help to add the resale value of your home. When it comes to installing a new swimming pool, you have to decide whether you want an in ground or above ground swimming pool.  Similarly, you have to choose between a chlorinated pool and a salt water pool. Even though a chlorinated pool has many benefits, there are many advantages of owning a salt water pool.   Here are the top 4 salt water pool benefits.

Less Maintenance in Needed

One of the top benefits of salt water pool is that it generates chlorine automatically. This means less chemical adjustments will be required on a weekly basis.  Newer salt water pool system work to sanitize the pool automatically, even though they are not completely maintenance free. However, it is important you test the waters on a weekly basis. Additionally, self-cleaning of the pool water mean less routine maintenance is needed than chlorine pool.

Gentle on Eyes

Salt water pools have much less salt than the ocean.  This means when you get splashed in the face or open your eyes under water, it won’t sting. The salt concentration of the pool is very similar to that of human tears.  Some indoor chlorinated pools will make your eyes water and lungs to burn.  Salt water pools have no chemical fumes to irritate your respiratory system or eyes.

Gentle on Skin and Hair

Chlorine causes your skin to dry out. It makes your hair brittle and discolored. Since salt water pools have less chlorine, the water in them is less gentle. This means people with a sensitive skin can confidently swim in the pool without worrying about getting irritated.  In fact, most swimmers say the salt water makes them feel better.  They say salt makes water to feel soft, which consequently makes the skin to feel smoother after swimming.

Less Chlorine is Safe

A high concentration of chlorine can cause severe chemical burns. When you swim in water saturated with chlorine, the chlorine gets absorbed into your skin. Once it gets into the body it causes serious breathing problems, allergies and asthma. Recent studies also show a close relationship between chlorine exposures to certain types of cancer.

Cost Benefits

For a chlorinated pool, you expect to spend at least $40 monthly on chemicals necessary to keep the pool clean. With salt water pool, you only have to pour a bag of salt into the salt machine once every 6 weeks. Even then, a bag of salt is cheaper than buying chlorine chemicals monthly. Salt water pools will allow you to not only save money on pool maintenance, but also your swimwear will last longer since there are no high levels of chlorine to cause fading. Energy costs will be lower than what you would expect from a chlorinated pool.

These are just some of the top salt water pool benefits. The only problem with salt water pool is that the automatic chlorine generator uses saltwater. Salt water causes damages to steel and concrete. Thus, it is important that you ensure that your salt water pool is well sealed to prevent damage to the surrounding.

  • Contains low levels of Chlorine

Salt water contains some amount of natural chlorine. There is no need of physical adding chemical chlorine since the pool systems itself converts salt into chlorine.

  • Gentler on your Skin

A salty water swimming pool causes little or no damage to your skin since it contains a very little amount of chlorine.

  • Beneficial to Muscles and Joints

Salt water contains some minerals such as bromine that help relieve soreness, pain and aches that you may experience in your muscles and joints.

  • Low Salt Levels

Although it is called a salty water swimming pool, the levels of salt are very low. Health specialists say that amount of salt in these pools to be equal to salt contained in human tears. Thus, the salt is harmless to your health.

  • Requires less Maintenance

Salty water discourages the growth of water plants such as green algae in your swimming pool.  Furthermore, most modern saltwater systems are designed to automatically clean your swimming pool water.

 Cons of a Salt Water Pool

  • Requires Huge Capital to Establish

Although its maintenance cost is low, you have to spend a lot of money to establish it. For example, you require an automatic saltwater system that will monitor and automatically clean the water in the pool.

  • Exposure to Corrosion

Salt contained in the pool water may affect materials such as underwater lighting, heaters and some masonry works.  This might make you incur unnecessary repair costs.

Pros of Chorine Water Swimming Pool

  • Easy to Maintain

The pool requires low maintenance. You only need to add some chlorine tablets when the level of chlorine the water goes down, or after replacing the pol water.  Moreover, you can easily automate the process of chlorination

  • Low Initial Costs

Unlike a salt water swimming pool, this pol does not require a lot of expenses during its construction. It is designed just like a traditional pool.

  • Chlorine Clears Water Bacteria

The chlorine that you add into the pool regularly plays a major role in ensuring that there are no bacteria. Chlorine is a disinfectant and sanitary mineral.

  • Reduces Growth of Plants in your Pool

Chlorine is more efficient in killing algae and other water plants than the mere salt contained in a salt water pool. It helps keep your pool free o other saprophytic organisms.

Cons of a Chlorine Water Swimming Pool

  • Chlorine Leads to Development of Chloramines

Chlorine being a chemical mineral, it combines with cosmetics and body fluids leading to formation of chloramines. Chloramine is harmful to your eyes, hair skin and other external body parts.

  • Requires High Maintenance

Though its construction is cheap, the cost of maintaining the swimming pool is high. For example, you have to add chlorine tablets into the pool water regularly.

  • Chlorine is Harmful to your Health

Chlorine can lead to respiratory disorders such as asthma. Recent studies show that high levels of chlorine can lead to some types of cancer.

Which is better?

When most people imagine a swimming pool, they think of the fun, relaxation and entertainment that come with it.  While pools facilitate these great feelings, pool owners have to decide which type of swimming meets their needs well. Generally, there are two major types of swimming pools: chlorine pools and salt water pools. The disagreement over chlorine versus salt water pools has been going for quite some time now. Each type of pool has its own advantages and disadvantages. Costs, maintenance and health concerns are the primary reasons for the debate between these two pool systems.  In this article we will compare these two pools so you can easily choose the right one for your needs.

Equipment Cost

Traditional chlorine pools are cheaper to acquire.  You only have to buy a mixing vessel with pipe connections. There are no electronics and other components needed for the pool to operate. To chlorinate the pool, you need to acquire a chlorine float that holds a few chlorine tablets as they slowly dissolve in the water. Though chlorine floats have a downside of not allowing you to control the amount of chlorine dissolved in the water, they are ridiculously cheap.

Salt water systems are costly to acquire, with the cheapest costing about $400. If you go for popular brands, such as Hayward AquaRite and Pentair Intellichlor, you may pay thousands of dollars. Thus, a salt water pool may not be ideal if you are working on a limited budget.

Installation Cost

Salt water systems have three parts, namely flow switch, power center and chlorinator cell. All these parts need mounting, wiring and plumbing, which may require you to hire a professional. Chlorine tablet feeders, on the other hand, are easy to install. All you need to do is fill the feeder with chlorine tablets and drop it in the pool.

Maintenance Cost

Though the equipment and installation costs of chlorine pools are low, their maintenance costs are extremely high.  The time and labor used in keeping your pool water correct is something you have to deal with over the years. You will have to test the water at least once a week as well deal with the toxic caustic chlorine tablets.

Saltwater pools are easy and cheap to maintain. The chlorinator removes the guesswork from pool maintenance using the alert light display and the control panel’s error code.  The saltwater system reads the salt levels, pH level, water temperature and water flow to keep chlorination production at ideal levels.

Health Concerns

Chlorine pools may contain high levels of chlorine if they are not maintained properly. Pool water with high levels of chlorine is known to be hard on the skin as it contains chemicals known as chloramines. Chloramines are created as a result of chlorine mixing with things like sweat and urine. Chloramines cause irritation of the skin, lungs and eyes. When chloramines accumulate in the air within the pool, especially for indoor pools, they can cause coughing as well as trigger asthma. Salt water pools have water that feels soft and is gentle on your skin. The presence of salt in water reduces skin and eye irritation that can be experienced in a chorine pool.

Most swimmers explained their swimming experience on salt water pools as fun and enjoyable. The salt water feels soft, which consequently makes your skin smooth. Though the cost of installing a salt water pool is high, you certainly save money in the long run due to its low maintenance costs. This explains why most pool owners today are installing salt water pools.

How to Convert Chlorine Pool to Salt Water Pool

Salt water pools have grown in popularity in the recent years. This is because they are easy to maintain.  Additionally, salt water pools are healthy and gentler on your eyes, skin and hair than chlorine pools. There are many reasons why most pool owners are switching from chlorine pools. First, chlorinated water is known to be hard on the skin as it contains chemicals known as chloramines. Chloramines are created as a result of chlorine mixing with things like sweat and urine.

Chloramines cause irritation of the skin, lungs and eyes. When chloramines accumulate in the air within the pool, especially for indoor pools, they can cause coughing as well as trigger asthma .More exposure to chlorine causes some people to develop an allergy causing itchy skin, rashes and hives.

Why convert to Salt Water?

There are many benefits of converting a chlorine pool to a saltwater pool.  First, you will not have to buy any more chlorine tablets and shock the water again. With a saltwater pool, you will also avoid the effects of chlorine, such as smell, red eyes and itchy skin. While the process of converting chlorine pool to saltwater pool may sound complicated, it is an easy process that can be done over the weekend.  Here are some of the major aspects to consider during the saltwater conversion.

Salt water pools have water that feels soft and is gentle on your skin. The presence of salt in water reduces skin and eye irritation that can be experienced in a chorine pool. When chlorine levels are stabilized there’s no formation of chloramines hence the water salinity is closer to the salinity of your natural tear duct. Here are the critical steps to follow when converting a chlorine pool to a salt water pool.

Selecting a Saltwater System

A saltwater system is also known as a chlorinator. It is used to produce chlorine. Saltwater systems vary according to the pool sizes and can range anywhere from 10, 000 to 100, 000 gallons.  Your chlorinator should be big enough to fit your pool. The cost of a saltwater system ranges from $400 to $2,000. Fancy chlorinators come with digital read outs, self-cleaning and diagnostics. When choosing your chlorinator, consider how much it cost to replace the cell, as it can be very expensive.

Draining the Pool

If your pool uses an antibacterial agent, it is advisable that you drain the entire pool. Some antibacterial agents may not be compatible with chlorine. Alternatively, you can get rid of the antibacterial agent by using high amounts of chlorine.  With this method, you have to wait until the agent has dissipated before proceeding with the conversion.

Determine Where the Various Installations Will Be Done

For most in-ground swimming pools, you have to add the salt system to your existing plumbing. The installation should be done after the heater, filter and pump and within the proximity of the control panel and the power source. If you will be installing the cell in the previous system, be sure to install where the previous chlorine dispenser was located.

Add the Check Valve, Flow Switch and Plumbing

First, ensure the water flows smoothly into your pool. Avoid obstructions and sharp angles as these can cause back pressure on the system, increasing the work of the pump. More importantly, use couplings and elbows to make sure the water flows with least amount of resistance.

Second, install the flow switch after the cell in the plumbing system according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Check for directional arrows on the PVC casing that screws to it or the flow switch itself.

Third, install the check valve before installing the cell or after adding the heater or filter if you have one.  This prevents highly chlorinated water and chemicals from back flowing to the filter or heater.

Install an In-Line Zinc Anode

An in-line zinc anode helps to prevent corrosion of your pool hard water.  Consider installing the anode during the conversion as you work on the plumbing.  For added convenience, install the anode near your cell and be sure to add a grounding wire.

Mount the Power Supply and Control Panel

Mount the power supply and control panel in an accessible area. This can be within reach of the timer, switch or cell cord if necessary. Lastly, connect and switch on the main power supply. It is recommendable you hire an electrician if you do not know how to work with electricity.

Balance Your Pool Water

Before changing the chemistry of your pool water, you need to balance it.  To do this, test the water for levels of heavy metals, calcium hardness, stabilizer, pH, alkalinity and chlorine. Once you have balanced the water completely, you can add salt to the water.

Add Salt

The next step to completing your salt water pool conversion process is to add salt. The amount of salt added depends on your pool’s gallonage and salinity of the pool water.  The recommended salt range is 3,000 to 3,500ppm.

After balancing the water, start adding the salt to the pool. It is recommendable that you use non-iodized salt. The amount of salt you need to add depends on the size of your pool, though this is information is usually provided in the pool installation manual.   Wait for a several days for the salt to dissolve fully in water before proceeding to the next step.

These are the critical steps to follow when converting chlorine pool to salt water pool. Be sure to hire an experience swimming pool contractor, if you need any assistance.

Install the Chlorinator Controller and Salt Cell

In this stage, you need to add the chlorinator and wire it up. Consider installing your controller closer to the equipment pad. The wiring varies depending on the type of controller you are using.  Some have to be hooked up to the pool pump while others get straight from the circuit.

After installing your controller, you need to install the chlorinator cell. The installation should be done after the heater, filter and pump have been installed.  After installing the salt cell, make sure you connect it to the chlorinator controller.  You may need some plumbing skills to correctly install your chlorinator cell in place.


The final step to converting your chlorine pool to saltwater pool is testing. You need to be sure that all the various pool components are working properly.  Engage the pool pump and check if there are any leaks from the piping. Consider running the pump for a few hours to circulate the water and dissolve any salt.  Once you are certain that all parts are working correctly, switch the chlorinator cell on and start enjoying your saltwater pool.

How to Convert Saltwater Pool Back to Chlorine

Though this may come as a surprise to some, not every pool owner loves salt chlorine generators. Some pool owners do not like to experience the rusting, soft stone decks or investing a few hundred dollars for replacement cell. Regardless of what the reason is, some pool owners are looking for the easiest way to convert salt water pool back to chlorine pool. In this article, we will discuss all that you need to know when it comes to converting salt water pool to traditional chlorinated pool.

Draining the Pool

To convert a salt water pool to a fresh water pool, you will have to drain a portion of your salt pool water and replace it with fresh water. This helps to lower the levels of Cyanuric acid (CYA). Cyanuric acid works as a stabilizer. The chlorine produced by the salt water generator is a pure form. This means you have add Cyanuric acid to protect the chlorine.  The CYA levels of a salt water pool should be 80 to 90 parts per million (ppm), while the level of chlorine should be about 40 ppm.

Since Cyanuric acid does not dissipate from pool water like chlorine, you have to drain a portion of your pool water and then refill it with fresh mesh.  A good way of doing this is using the percentage method.  If the level of CYA is at 80 ppm and you want it at 40ppm, drain about half of the water in your pool.

Balancing Chemicals for Your Pool

After draining the salt water and refilling it with fresh water, you need to continue your regiment of testing hardness, alkalinity and pH before applying the necessary chemicals. It is recommendable you chuck your CYA bottles since liquid and tablet chlorine contain stabilizers with their formulas.

What about the Residual Salt?

After draining the salt water, you may notice some residential. This left over salt may not pose danger to your pool equipment.  The corrosion in your pool was created by electrolysis caused by reaction to the salt cells and not the salt itself. Thus, the leftover salt is relatively harmless.

Choosing Your Chlorinator

Install the chlorinator after installing your solar panels, gas heater and filter. There are many types of chlorinators you can choose from. For both off-line and in-line types,  the biggest concern would be the spacing and location.

Regular flow through cells, such as Pureline, AquaRite and Intellichlor may be long enough for an in-line chlorinator to be slotted in its place. Similarly, an off-line chlorinator would be an ideal solution if your cell has an odd configuration such as Jandy AquaPure Ei or CompuPool. You have to make a small hole for tapping the plumbing line and for the feeder line.

Removing the Old Salt Equipment

You need to remove the old salt system using these three steps:

  • Turn off the power to the control box before un-mounting it.
  • Take out the flow switch before plugging the tee tap.
  • Remove the cell from the plumbing line.

These are the crucial stages involving when converting your salt water pool back to chlorine pool. By following the above steps, you will certainly having an easy time doing the job.

While it may not be a simple task converting your swimming pool, it it worth it in the end for the results!

Don't forget to leave a comment!

Article written by Chris Tebbutt
In 2016 I got my first house that had a pool and I had no idea where to begin. Over time I have learnt how to do most things myself (I am really into DIY) and wanted to share my information with other. I was one of the people who thought if water smelt like chlorine, that meant there was too much chlorine in the water!

3 comments on “Salt Water Pools: What Are The Risks And Benefits?”

  1. Kate Hansen says:

    It's good to know that saltwater doesn't irritate your skin your eyes as much. My husband and I are wanting to get a pool for our backyard, but my daughter has sensitive skin, so we are worried about how the chlorine could harm her. We'll have to look into getting a saltwater pool when we do get one installed.

  2. I like what you said about adding a chlorinator to your pool after the heater, pump, and filter are installed. My sister would like to get a pool installed at her home soon. I'll share this information with her so that she can look into her options for professionals who can help her with this in the future.

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