Salt vs. Chlorine Pools: Facts

Posted on: November 3, 2016
Posted in: Salt vs Chlorine
Tags: Chlorine Water Pools , Salt Water Pools , Facts


Chlorine pools have been common for residential pools ever since their inception. Adding chlorine to your swimming pool to maintain clean and healthy water is relatively simple and cheap. However, recently there has been a push towards salt water pools as the advantages of setup and maintenance seem to outweigh those of a chlorinated pool. This article will discuss the facts of each type of pool water so you can better understand which one is best for your pool.

Facts About Salt Water Pools

Salt Water Pools Still Contain Chlorine

Salt systems are made up of two components: the power center (sometimes called the “box”) and the salt cell. The salt cell is where all the action occurs. When you add enough salt to your pool water to reach 3200-3400 parts per million (ppm) and that water flows through your salt cell, a process happens called “electrolysis” which produces hypochlorous acid and sodium hypochlorite, also known as chlorine. So, contrary to what you may have been told, a salt water pool still contains chlorine.

More than Just Salt Must be Added to Your Pool

Your salt system is simply adding chlorine to your pool water. However, chlorine is not all bad. It is what we need to keep the pool sanitized and it helps in keeping the pool clear and blue, but a pool with nothing but chlorine is an out of balance pool.

For your pool to remain clear, blue and safe for your expensive pool equipment and swimmers, a pool needs the proper balance of alkalinity, pH and calcium. Additionally, if you want to hold on to your chlorine level in the water, a stabilizer is needed. Your salt system alone is not providing any of these balancing chemicals.

Salt Water Systems Costs More Up Front

if you choose to look at the perspective of “time is money,” then maybe the argument that a salt system saves you money has more validity. However, you are making a sizable up-front investment when you are purchasing a salt system. Not only are you buying the power center and salt cell, you are possibly purchasing some additional plumbing or re-plumbing and then there is the cost of labor for it to be installed professionally.

However, on the bright side, since the salt water system is going to generate chlorine for you, there is no longer a need for you to purchase chlorine sticks or tablets. This is where you will possibly save money with a salt system later on. These savings are based on what the average pool customer spends on chlorine sticks or tablets during a typical pool season.

Facts About Chlorine Pools

How Chlorine is Used in Pools

Chlorine is utilized in pools to disinfect the water and is part of the sanitation process. Chlorine pools typically have between 3 and 5 ppm of chlorine. However, today there are options that enable you to reduce your pool chlorine to the same levels recommended by the WHO for drinking water, or even to completely chlorine free.

pH Values for Good Water Quality

The pH is a measure of the acidity of the pool water. The scale goes from 0 to 14, where pH 7 is neutral. If above 7, the pH level of the water is basic, if it is below 7 the water is acidic. The optimal pH level for pool water is 7.4, since this is the same as the pH in human eyes and mucous membranes. Also, this gives good chlorine disinfection.

If the pH is too low, the following can occur:

  • aggressive water, which damages the mechanical components of the pool
  • irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes
  • damages to the pool liner

If the pH is too high, the following can occur:

  • poorer chlorine disinfection
  • skin irritation
  • lime precipitation
  • cloudiness

Chlorine Pools are Safe for Dogs and Cats

Like many chemicals with the potential to be dangerous, the hazards of chlorine exposure are dose dependent. Pool water has very dilute levels of chlorine, and is unlikely to cause chlorine poisoning in humans or animals. From a risk manage standpoint, a pet is more likely to become ill from a dunk in a standing pool of water, or a lake filled with unknown micro-organisms such as amoeba, than they are from swimming in a chlorine pool that is properly maintained.

These are just a few facts of both chlorine and salt water swimming pools. Ultimately, the best choice will be up to you and what best fits your needs. Contact us here at Paradise Oasis Pools with the link below for more information!