Are Saltwater Pools Sanitary?

Are Saltwater Pools Sanitary?

A common dilemma faced when setting up a pool would be to go for a saltwater pool or a traditional chlorinated pool. So, you may be wondering whether a saltwater pool is sanitary or the effects of salt water in pools. Well, stick with me while we figure out answers to these questions. Saltwater pool has been popular for many years, but most pool owners know little about them.

Just hearing the name saltwater pool makes people think that well, my pool would taste or feel like seawater or ocean water, all I have to do is just add salt to my pool and so on. Well, lucky for you, that is not what saltwater pool is all about.

So what is a saltwater pool?

A saltwater pool is a pool that makes use of a salt-chlorine generator for its sanitization system. This means that the pool uses this generation to converts salt to chlorine gas for water sanitization rather than use the traditional or conventional chlorine (hypochlorous acid). Just add enough salt to enable the saltwater chlorine generator (SWCG) to function properly, making the water soft and silkier.

Saltwater chlorine generator (SWCG): A saltwater chlorine generator is a machine used in all saltwater pools. They make use of a process called saltwater chlorination, which is the use of electrolysis to create chlorine. This generator on the machine breaks down salt into chlorine or it’s dissolved from hypochlorous acid and sodium hypochlorite while producing hydrogen as its by-products. This process also helps prevent the building up of chloramines in the pool.

This machine makes use of three types of salt namely; mined salt, solar salt, and mechanical evaporated salt.

  • Mined Salt – This is said to be the purest form of salt, it is usually dug on the ground.
  • Solar Salt – This salt contains many impurities such as bacteria and dead shrimps. It is gotten from seawater that has been evaporated by the sun, and the impurities found in this salt make a generator work harder.
  • Mechanical Evaporated Salt – This type of salt is also gotten from seawater. But instead of using sunlight to evaporate it, heat is used to cause evaporation. This type of salt also contains minerals that could damage the machine.
saltwater vs chlorine pool

Difference between the saltwater pool and traditional chlorinated pool

There is not much difference between a saltwater pool and a chlorinated pool. But, often, there is a big misconception that a saltwater pool does not use chlorine. Well, that is far from the truth. So  read below to see some of the difference between a saltwater pool and a traditional chlorinated pool:

The presence of chlorine in traditional swimming pools can be described as a combination of free available chlorine (FAC) and combined available chlorine (CAC).] While FAC is composed of the free chlorine that is available for sanitizing the water, the CAC includes chloramines, which are formed by the reaction of FAC with amines introduced into the pool by human perspiration, saliva, mucus, and urine. These chloramines are responsible for the “chlorine smell” of pools. 

But in saltwater pools, the generator uses the saltwater chlorination process to create chlorine. That is, the generator use electrolysis to keep on producing free chlorine. As such, a saltwater pool is not chlorine-free; it simply utilizes added salt and a chlorine generator instead of directly adding chlorine. It also burns off chloramines in the same manner.

While saltwater pool might look expensive initially due to the cost of the saltwater chlorine generator and pool filters, but over time, the cost compared to that of the traditional chlorinated pool would show that the traditional chlorinated pool is more expensive as you have to keep on buying chlorine tablets or granules regularly for pool sanitization.

How to maintain a saltwater pool

Trying to maintain a saltwater pool in the same regular way you maintain a traditional chlorinated pool might damage your saltwater pool.

  • Regular cleaning of the pool

The cleaning of your saltwater pool differs from that of your traditional chlorinated water pool, in the sense that the most popular tools or pool cleaning equipment are not as durable in saltwater. So you need to get tools or cleaning pool equipment specifically made for cleaning the saltwater pool. Try as much as you can to avoid huge splashes, because constant splash from the pool would lead to high concentrations of salt on the outside pool liner, inevitably leading to damages over time.

However, it is practically impossible to clean your pool without water splashing outside the pool. So, it is advisable to regularly spray down the area to push back the salt into the pool preferably using a hose. This process would ensure proper cleaning of the pool, at the same time reducing the risk of high salt concentration outside the pool. Also, ensure that pool pumps, filters and skimmers are clean.

  • Maintaining proper pool circulation

Maintaining proper pool circulation is integral in maintaining your saltwater pool because improper circulation could lead to specific areas of the pool having a high concentration of salt. Lucky for us, maintaining a proper pool circulation is quite easy, all that is needed to be done is ensure that the water in the pool is rotating through the filters and at a reasonable rate.

  • Keeping a balanced pH level and water chemistry 

Keeping the pH level and water chemistry balanced sounds harder than it is. Just follow the instructions below and you will be okay.

  1. Test your pool regularly – Ensure to carry out proper tests on your pool regularly with a very reliable test kit to check the pH level and chlorine level. Also, make sure your salt cell generator is plugged in to avoid algae in your pool.
  2. Monitor and manage pH level – The normal range for a pH level is between 7.4 and 7.8. this number fluctuates over time, below 7.4 translates to too much acidity, above 7.8 translates to too much base or alkalinity. In the case of a saltwater pool, the pH will continue to increase so it is important to always monitor the pH level and use any tool of your choice to balance it when needed.
  3. Maintain the salt level – The salt level required varies from one manufacturer to another, but for salt chlorine generators 3000 ppm is the minimum required for it to work. So when salt levels are low, you need to add pool salt until it reaches the required level to function. It is advisable to use a pool salt calculator.

Advantages of a saltwater pool

Saltwater pools do have some awesome advantages that would make you convert your pool into a saltwater pool. Some of the advantages are;

  • Pool owners no longer need to purchase and move chlorine products from stores to their garage or backyard. Saltwater pool conveniently delivers its pure chlorine-based sanitizers. Just like having a mini-chlorine factory
  • Saltwater pools are much gentler on the skin and eyes because they have lower chlorine levels
  • Electrolysis effects of dissolving alkali minerals and the reduction of chloramines in a saltwater pool is also an advantage of a saltwater pool.
  • Saltwater pools have a softer feeling to the water, which is desirable to many people.
  • This is also safer than the traditional chlochlorinated pool, in the sense that you would not need to keep or handle unsafe chemicals. Furthermore, research has shown that heavily chlorinated pools could pose a long-term risk.
  • It is far easier and cheaper to maintain all year long since salt is way cheaper than commercial chlorine. The salt cells in the saltwater chlorine generator have the needed amount of chlorine, hence the pool requires far less maintenance. 

Disadvantages of a saltwater pool 

  • The initial cost of system installation and maintenance. Saltwater pool requires a larger investment initially to start, making it more expensive than the traditional chlorinated pool at the start. However, money saved from chlorine would likely cover the initial expense.
  • Salt is corrosive and might damage some metals and stones that are not sealed properly when the salt chemistry is not properly balanced and maintained.
  • More complex. Saltwater pool often requires experienced technicians even for little problems.

Misconceptions about saltwater pools

  • All you need to do is add salt

Most people think that the only thing you need to do to a saltwater pool is just to add salt. Well, salt is just one of the things saltwater pool owners are supposed to add. Just like the traditional chlorinated pool, saltwater pool owners need to also monitor and maintain the pH and alkalinity level of the pool. The salt system also needs additional help preventing calcium buildup. All these require more than just to ‘’add salt’’

  • It is chlorine-free

This is a common misconception that all saltwater pools are chlorine-free, but that is not true. Chlorine is present in the saltwater pool as a result of salt undergoing electrolysis in the pool. Some pools are indeed non-chlorine-based, they just use a different kind of salt called bromine. These pools also require extra chemicals to prevent the growth of algae and keep the water clean.

  • Low maintenance

Saltwater generator indeed reduces the need for daily sanitization of the pool. But owners of saltwater pools still need to balance the pH and chemical levels of the pool every week. Depending on the usage of the pool, the saltwater generator would need servicing or maintenance annually or bi-annually. While the everyday care of a saltwater pool might be less frustrating and cheaper, the overall costs start to accumulate over the years. 

Why you should get a saltwater pool

Salt is more stable and consistent than chlorine treatment. A saltwater chlorine generator produces the same amount of chlorine on a regular base hence having a stable amount of control, unlike the headache and struggle one goes through trying to control the chlorine in the traditional chlorinated pool.

A good alternative to people who find the smell of chlorine to be repulsive would be saltwater pools. Anyone who likes the idea of less daily work and wants to feel comfy feels free to start making plans on how to own one. Studies have shown that asthmatic patients and people with allergies find the strong smell of chlorine disturbing, especially in indoor pools where the smell does not quickly evaporate. A saltwater pool would be a very suitable alternative to them.

Salt is more familiar to taste, touch, and feel. This understanding of salt is vital, and that makes a lot of people often trust and prefer salt to chlorine.

Conclusion 

After going through the pros and cons of a saltwater pool, we can assume that the sanitary level of any pool particularly a saltwater pool depends on the owner of the pool. Although the saltwater pool is not like any other pool, it is less stressful and frustrating. If one can afford the initial cost, it would be a great idea to get one. As I have said before, the saltwater pool is not for everyone but it sure is a great alternative to the traditional chlorinated pool. But before you make a conversion to a saltwater pool, you need to be aware of the risk.

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