Overview

A saltwater pool is an alternative to a traditional chlorine pool. Although you don’t add chlorine tablets to a saltwater pool, it does still contain chlorine. It just has a smaller amount that’s generated through the filter system.

A saltwater pool contains 10 times less salt than the ocean. There’s around 3,000 ppm (parts per million) salinity in a saltwater pool. By comparison, there’s 35,000 ppm in the ocean. Some people find this type of pool less harsh on their hair, eyes, and skin than a chlorinated pool.

Saltwater pools are becoming more common at hotels, resorts, and on cruise ships. You can find natural saltwater lagoon pools in places like Mozambique and Bolivia. You can also choose to have a saltwater pool installed in your own home.

Saltwater pool vs. chlorinated pool

A saltwater pool gets cleaned using a filtering system called a salt chlorine generator. The system uses electricity to turn salt into chlorine, which cleans the pool.

In a chlorinated pool, chlorine tablets or granules are physically added on a regular basis for the same purpose.

In both pool types, it’s important to still check the pH levels and alkalinity of the pool so it stays sanitized and the chemicals stay balanced.

Cost

The cost of a saltwater pool is initially more than a chlorine pool. That’s because a saltwater chlorination system can cost around $1,400 to $2,000, plus installation. But over time, it may save you money because you won’t have to regularly buy chlorine tablets.

Maintenance

A saltwater pool is easier to maintain than a traditional pool. But pool owners still need to check pH and alkalinity levels weekly.

Smell

A saltwater pool doesn’t have the same chlorine smell as a traditional pool. If you find the smell of chlorine bothersome, you may prefer a saltwater pool.

Effects

A saltwater pool won’t have the same harsh effects of a traditional chlorine pool. For example, your hair is unlikely to turn green from swimming in a saltwater pool. Your swimsuit won’t get bleached out, either.

Pool effects

Salt can be harmful on a pool over time. Saltwater pools need to be regularly checked for signs of erosion and buildup.

Saltwater pools for health

Swimming in a saltwater pool may be better for someone who has asthma or allergies. That’s especially true when it comes to indoor pools. You might notice a strong chlorine smell upon entering an indoor pool area. That’s because of the chloramines, the mix of chlorine and ammonia. In an outdoor pool, the smell quickly evaporates, whereas it’s contained indoors.

It usually is most strong around the surface of the pool, where swimmers take their breaths. If you have trouble breathing, you may find swimming in an indoor chlorinated pool irritating.

One 2003 study found that young children who swim regularly in an indoor chlorinated pool were at greater risk for lung inflammation and developing asthma. But more research is needed to determine if a saltwater pool is the best alternative.

Does swimming in saltwater burn more calories?

Swimming in a saltwater pool doesn’t burn more calories than a regular pool. Still, swimming is an excellent form of exercise. No matter which type of pool you’re swimming in, wear goggles to protect your eyes and avoid swallowing water. Want to learn more? Find out how many calories you burn swimming.

Testing

It’s important to regularly test a saltwater pool. Weekly, test for free chlorine and pH using a drop kit or test strips. Monthly, it’s important to test for:

  • salt level
  • alkalinity
  • stabilizer
  • calcium

You may need to make adjustments.

Every three months or so, you need to test the salt chlorine generator for buildup and clean it off. Also watch for signs of deposits and erosion, and perform maintenance as needed.

General pool safety

At any pool, it’s important to practice basic safety measures:

  • supervise children at all times
  • secure your pool with a fence so kids can’t get in the water unsupervised
  • enroll anyone who doesn’t know how to swim in swim lessons
  • enforce rules like “no diving” or “no running” near the pool
  • when swimming laps, stop and take a break when you’re out of breath
  • warm up before entering the pool and stretch afterwards
  • avoid drinking alcohol when you’re in and near the water

Takeaway

A saltwater pool may be a good alternative for anyone who finds the smell of chlorine irritating. It may also be a good option if you have asthma or allergies, but more research is needed.

If you’re interested, look for a saltwater pool where you can swim in your community. Or, consider installing a saltwater filtering system in your own pool.