What You Need to Know About Saltwater and Chlorine Pools

When it comes to selecting a swimming pool for your home, the choice between saltwater and chlorine pools is a significant one.

Hand holding white chlorine tablets over swimming pool skimmer chlorination of water in pool for dis



Jan 21, 2021

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Each type has its own set of advantages, disadvantages, and maintenance requirements. By understanding the differences between these two popular pool options, you can make a more informed decision that fits your lifestyle, budget, and personal preferences.

Introduction to Saltwater Pools

Saltwater pools are increasingly popular due to their perceived ease of maintenance and softer water, which is gentler on the skin and eyes. Instead of manually adding chlorine, these pools utilize a salt chlorine generator. This device electrolyzes the salt (sodium chloride) added to the water, producing chlorine naturally. The salt content in a saltwater pool is significantly lower than that of ocean water, typically around 3,000 to 4,000 parts per million (ppm), compared to 35,000 ppm in the sea. This process not only continuously sanitizes the pool but also avoids the peaks and troughs of chlorine levels typical in traditional pools.

Introduction to Chlorine Pools

Traditional chlorine pools use manually added chlorine to maintain water sanitation. This chlorine can be added in various forms such as tablets, sticks, or granules, either through a floating chlorinator or a built-in dispensing system. Chlorine acts quickly to kill bacteria and algae but requires regular monitoring and adjustment to maintain safe and effective levels. Unlike saltwater systems, chlorine pools require a more hands-on approach to ensure that the water stays clean and balanced.

Comparing Maintenance Requirements

Maintenance of Saltwater Pools:

  1. Salt Chlorine Generator Maintenance: The generator is the heart of a saltwater pool, and it requires regular maintenance to function properly. Calcium and other minerals can build up on the electrolytic cell, which needs to be cleaned periodically to ensure efficiency.
  2. Stabilizing Salt Levels: Salt levels in the pool must be properly maintained to ensure the generator can produce the necessary chlorine. This often means adding salt a few times a year, depending on rainfall and water loss due to evaporation or splashing.
  3. Chemical Balance: While the need for chlorine adjustments is lower, the balance of other chemicals, such as pH and alkalinity, is still crucial. Saltwater pools tend to have a higher pH, which needs to be lowered periodically to maintain a balanced water chemistry.
  4. General Upkeep: Regular upkeep such as checking the pump, filter, and skimmer is also necessary to ensure everything is operating smoothly and efficiently.

Maintenance of Chlorine Pools:

  1. Chlorine Management: Active management of chlorine levels is crucial. This involves regular testing and adjusting to maintain effective sanitization, especially after heavy use or rainfall.
  2. Chemical Balancing: Alongside chlorine, the chemical balance of the water, including pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness, needs regular attention to prevent corrosion or scaling on pool surfaces and equipment.
  3. Shocking the Pool: Unlike saltwater pools, chlorine pools often require periodic shocking, especially if the water becomes cloudy or after heavy use. Shock treatments involve adding a large amount of chlorine to the pool to quickly raise the chlorine level and sanitize the water thoroughly.
  4. Equipment Care: Like saltwater pools, maintaining the pool’s equipment such as pumps, filters, and heaters is necessary to avoid breakdowns and ensure efficient operation.
Umbrella and chair around beautiful luxury swimming pool

Pros and Cons of Each Pool Type

Benefits of Saltwater Pools:

  • Gentle on the Body: The softer feel of the water and lower chlorine levels are easier on the skin and eyes, making it ideal for those with sensitivities.
  • Less Maintenance: Saltwater pools require less frequent chemical adjustments, potentially lowering long-term costs and labor.
  • Consistent Chlorine Production: The continuous production of chlorine ensures a steady level that helps prevent the growth of algae and bacteria.

Drawbacks of Saltwater Pools:

  • Initial Costs: The upfront cost of installing a salt chlorine generator can be significant.
  • Corrosion Issues: Salt can be corrosive to certain materials used in pool fixtures and deck areas, potentially requiring more frequent repairs or replacements.
  • Complexity: The system can be more complex to troubleshoot and repair compared to traditional chlorine systems.

Benefits of Chlorine Pools:

Drawbacks of Chlorine Pools:

  • Chemical Handling: Regular handling and storage of chemical chlorine can be hazardous and inconvenient.
  • Fluctuating Chemical Levels: Chlorine levels can fluctuate widely, requiring more active management and frequent testing.
  • Harshness on Swimmers: Higher levels of chemical chlorine can be harsh on skin and hair and can emit a strong odor.


Deciding between a saltwater and a chlorine pool depends largely on your priorities, such as ease of maintenance, initial and ongoing costs, and the physical effects of chlorine on swimmers. Saltwater pools offer a softer swimming experience with potentially lower ongoing chemical costs but come with higher initial installation costs and maintenance complexity. Chlorine pools, on the other hand, are less expensive to set up and offer more immediate adjustments to sanitation levels but require more frequent chemical handling and can be harsher on swimmers. Regardless of the type, both pools need consistent care and regular maintenance to ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming environment.

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April 23, 2024
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