Chlorine has been used as a sanitizing agent in swimming pools for decades. Over the last few years, however, hoteliers and homeowners have been ditching chlorinated pools for their saltwater counterparts. Several reasons have been sighted for this, chief among them being chorine’s harshness to the body and its environmental impact.
That does not mean saltwater pools do not use chlorine to keep their water clean and sparkling, they actually do. Saltwater pools are equipped with systems that generate chlorine from pool salt.
Saltwater pools have an ideal salt level of around 2700-3400 ppm (parts per million). Although this may sound like a lot, it’s not even enough for your taste buds to detect it. On the other hand, ocean water is ten times saltier than a saltwater water pool since it contains around 35,0000 ppm.
Saltwater pools are more friendly to the eyes, skin, and hair compared to chlorinated pools. Their softer and silkier water makes them an easy choice for pool lovers.
Besides their gentleness on the skin, saltwater pools are easy to maintain, provided you know how and when to add salt. Here is how the chlorine generation happens and what you need to do to get started with a saltwater pool:
Buy A Chlorine Generator
A chlorine generator is the primary piece of machine you’ll need for this kind of pool. The chlorine generator breaks dissolved salts into sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid (chlorine) through electrolysis. Both sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid are the sanitizing agents used in chlorine-based swimming pools. Hypochlorous acid eventually reverts to salt in a saltwater pool. Due to the continuous process of chlorine generation, chloramines cannot build up in the pool.
A salt chlorine generator typically costs $500. However, the generator is just one component of the saltwater pool system. Other components include a saltwater filter and chlorination system all of which costs anywhere between $1500 and $2500
Determine Your Optimum Salinity Level
The ideal salt levels for the pool depends on what your chlorination system can support but generally falls anywhere between 3000 and 5000 ppm. Some saltwater pool systems may have a little variance, so you’ll want to check your manufacturer's manual for the recommended salinity.
Check Your Existing Salt Level
Before we get to the best pool salt to use for such pool systems, you’ll have to test the pool’s current salt level. Of course, if you just filled your pool with fresh water, it will probably have close to zero ppm. However, pools can naturally acquire up to 500 ppm of salt over time. To test the current salinity levels, you can use salt water test strips, which are easy to use. If you can’t get the strips, you can take water samples to a pool store near you for a more accurate result and they will most likely test it for free!
Get The Best Pool Salt
Now it’s time to get some salt from the store. Any salt labeled ‘pool water salt’ is generally accepted, although “Water Softener Salt” may be the best salt for swimming pool because it’s cheaper and readily available. Pool salt typically comes in 40lb bags, which often range from $5-$7. Non-iodized salt with pure sodium chloride (NaCl) levels of at least 99.8% is typically the best pool salt. Be sure to avoid salts with anti-caking agents as they may stain your pool.
Add Salt To The Pool
Assuming you have already installed your saltwater chlorination system, have it turned off when adding salt until it is fully dissolved. Pour the salt directly to the body of the pool, particularly in the shallow areas where it can dissolve faster. The dissolution rate will depend on the texture of its granules.
It is advisable to run the pump for at least 24 hrs to ensure the salt is completely dissolved and that it’s well circulated.
Tip: You don’t have to dissolve all the salt necessarily; you can spare 10% of it just in case you did not calculate the size of your pool correctly. The best approach is to add 90% of the salt and retest the salinity level just to be sure before adding the remaining salt. In case you find the water is already too salty, you can drain and dilute it with fresh water.
Maintain Your Pool Regularly
Your pool’s salinity is ten times less than the ocean; the sea contains 35,000 to 40,000 ppm of salt compared to your pools’ 4000 ppm and with saltwater pools, the general standard is 50 pounds of salt for 2000 gallons of water. Once you have attained the required salinity levels in the first introduction, you’ll only have to maintain it by adding 50 pounds of salt over one year.
Note that the salt is never used up, but the chlorination system recycles it in the chlorine generation process. Little amounts can only be lost to overflow and evaporation. You’d also want to test the pool from time to time to ensure it has the right salinity levels.
Beware Of Corrosion
Salt can be quite corrosive, particularly if it hits highs of 6,000 ppm and above. Metals such as aluminum, copper, and stainless steel can suffer corrosion if your pool’s salinity level rises beyond the recommended levels.
This could affect the normal functioning of pumps or even lead to complete failure depending on a pump’s internal parts. As aforementioned, drain some water and dilute it with fresh water should your salinity exceeds 4000 ppm.
Whether you have just constructed your pool or have a chlorinated swimming pool, a chlorine system generator is an economical, convenient, and efficient way to turn your chlorinated pool into a saltwater pool.
Some chlorine generator systems come with an added feature that tells you when and how to add salt to maintain the right salinity levels. If your chlorine generator does not have this feature, be sure to get saltwater test strips so you can always test your pools for the right salt levels.