How Do Saltwater Pools Work?

So you are thinking about converting your freshwater pool into a saltwater one, but are unsure whether this is a good idea. Although they have been around for quite some time, many pool owners fail to realize the many benefits these types provide in comparison to their conventional, chlorine-based counterparts. The saltwater process itself may seem a bit confusing at first, but it is actually quite simple once you understand the basics.

Saltwater Pools

What to know about saltwater pools

Every saltwater pool generates its own chlorine levels via a process known as electrolysis; this consists of using what is called a salt cell to break down sodium chloride to create sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid. The latter are why there is no need to use chlorine in these types of pools, as they take care of the cleaning and sanitization process automatically.

The role of these chemicals is to disinfect and oxidize the water just like powdered form chlorine does in freshwater pools, the key difference being they auto-generate the chlorine through electrolysis. Another main difference between the two is that saltwater pools always contain a lower amount of chloramines, which in fact is a good thing. One of the negative side effects to adding chlorine to water in its solid state is the lack of breakdown of these chemical agents, which consequently leads to the all too common (and rather off-putting) chlorine odor associated with freshwater pools. Likewise, the more chloramines their are, the more skin and eye irritation will occur.

Contrary to popular belief, the salt levels in saltwater pools is much, much smaller than that of the ocean. Whereas the standard, recommended range for residential and commercial pools is between 3,000 and 4,000 parts per million, the sea on the other hand averages ten times this much!

As for maintenance, it is important that you test and keep the salinity levels within the designated range, so as to ensure proper system functioning and to not disturb the electrolyzing process. While you can indeed do this on your own, it is often better to have a pool contractor that specialize in the cleaning and upkeep of saltwater models perform the testing procedure. If you are tired of dealing with the problems brought on by too much chlorine, swapping to saltwater may not be a bad idea!


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