How do Saltwater Pools Work?

Saltwater pool systems involve using dissolved salts to deliver chlorine into the pool water. Despite common misconception, they’re not an alternative to chlorine, but rather an alternative method of distributing it. There are many reasons why this method of distribution may be beneficial for your home pool, but you need to know how it works!

Saltwater Pool

Traditional Chlorine Distribution vs Saltwater Distribution

In traditional swimming pools, there’s a combination of free available chlorine (FAC) and combined available chlorine (CAC) which includes chloramines.

Chloramines are formed through a reaction that occurs between FAC and amines which are brought into the pool on the skin of bathers. This is why public pools will usually request that swimmers shower before entering the pool!

These chloramines are also responsible for the eye and skin irritation that is often blamed on chlorine, as well as the distinctive smell. When problems like this occur in pools, they are typically due to insufficient amounts of FAC and not the opposite. The pool will often require a “shock” treatment, which entails treating them with 5-10 times the usual amount of chlorine.

In saltwater pools, the generator will produce free chlorine ions, eliminating the production of CAC. Electrolysis serves to burn off the chloramines in much the same way as shock treatments, but without the need for large quantities of extra chlorine to be added.

Chlorine levels will still need to be checked and maintained at recommended levels, but the unpleasant itch and burning eyes will be a thing of the past.


Highly convenient, saltwater systems deliver a constant supply of pure, chlorine-based sanitizer and reduce the level of irritating chloramines. The softening effect of the electrolysis also reduces the levels of dissolved minerals in the water to create a more comfortable swimming experience than traditional chlorine systems. Saltwater pools are also less expensive to maintain.


There are also a few disadvantages to saltwater pools that should be mentioned before you reach a decision.

The initial costs of saltwater systems can be higher than the alternatives, and the cost of replacement cells can be somewhat prohibitive for those on a budget.

Additionally salt is a corrosive material and may cause damage to certain materials, so be sure that your pool is approved for a saltwater delivery system. The ideal concentration of salt is quite low so as long as you pay close attention to maintenance, you should not have a problem, however, many manufacturers do not recommend the combination of saltwater systems and stainless steel products.

If you’re interested in a saltwater pool, contact Solda Pools today and learn more about the benefits of these systems!


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