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Salt Water vs. Chlorine Pools: What's the Difference?

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

Everyone has an opinion about saltwater pools but are they valid?

To begin, saltwater pools are just one of the ways to sanitize the water in your pool. It may shock you to hear, but virtually every pool uses chlorine as the active sanitizer for your water. It just varies on where the chlorine comes from.

Traditional Tabs:

Pool Chlorine Tablets

Traditional chlorine tabs are the "legacy" sanitizer found in either a floating vessel in the pool or in an in-line canister device plumbed into your piping. They do a great job of keeping your water sanitized but they have their drawbacks. Many people will find that this version of chlorine is harsh to their skin and eyes, harsher on swimsuits potentially causing fading over time, and harder to keep stabilized in the water long term. If your chlorine system runs empty, pools tend to turn green within a few days.

Salt Cell Generators:

Pentair Intellichlor Salt Cell

Saltwater pools use a chlorine generator to produce active chlorine via the pool salt added to the water. This creates chemically pure chlorine that avoids the harsh skin and eye irritation often found with "tablet" chlorine. Salt never leaves the pool water through evaporation, so the only way you lose salt in your pool is through physical displacement of water (i.e. splashing or draining). All pool equipment manufactured today is designed to be "saltwater" compatible so there is not any risk of damage happening to your equipment under normal circumstances. Salt cells do not effectively produce chlorine with water temperatures below 52 degrees. Saltwater can be harsher on some natural stone products but that is easily remedied through the use of stone sealers.

*Any water chemistry that is not kept "in balance" has the risk of causing negative issues with tile, decking, and or plumbing. Maintaining proper pool chemistry helps prevent any damage to your pool, pool equipment, and pool decking.

What do we recommend?

The default design for Pool It Together built pools is to be "Salt Water" pools. We prefer this method of sanitization due to the more natural feel of the pool water, reduced excess chemicals being added to the water, and the ease of day-to-day maintenance of balancing chlorine levels. At a minimum, we only use salt cells rated for 40K gallon pools. What this means for you is the salt cell doesn't have to run at 100% production to generate the required chlorine needs for your pool. The chlorine generators aka Salt Cells do have a life span of about 10,000 hours and are an item that needs to be replaced as needed.

If you choose to have a non-saltwater pool, our design practice is to use an in-line chlorinator which is plumbed into your plumbing lines at your pool equipment. This method prevents you from having a physical "floater device" in your pool and gives better chlorine distribution which prevents "hot spots" of concentrated chlorine.

What about UV and Ozone?

Pool It Together is not big on alternative sanitizers like UV and Ozone. Both of those systems still require chemical-based chlorine as they are only actively sanitizing the water while the pump is running and while the water is still in the pipes. Once the water reaches the pool body, ozone dissipates which is why you need a residual sanitizer like chlorine. UV and Ozone both have maintenance life spans which require bulbs to be replaced at routine intervals. Because we are not trying to profit from equipment sales, we don't feel the need to "upsell" you on additional equipment for our own personal gain.

Hopefully, this helps you better understand your options. Don't hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.

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