Saltwater vs. Chlorine Pool: Which is Better?

By August 29, 2022Pool Safety
Saltwater vs. Chlorine Pool: Which is Better?

When it comes to swimming pools, there are a few different types to choose from. Two of the most popular options are saltwater pools and chlorine pools. Each type has its own unique set of benefits, making it important to weigh your options before making a decision. Saltwater pools are becoming increasingly popular due to their low maintenance needs. Unlike chlorine pools, saltwater pools don’t require you to constantly add chemicals to maintain a healthy pH balance. In addition, saltwater is gentler on your skin and eyes, making it a more comfortable option for swimming.

However, saltwater pools do have some drawbacks. They can be more expensive to install and maintain, and the salty water can be tough on pool equipment. Chlorine pools, on the other hand, are more affordable and easier to maintain. With a chlorine pool, you’ll need to add chemicals on a regular basis to keep the water clean and safe for swimming. However, too much chlorine can be harsh on your skin and eyes. It’s also important to note that chlorine can damage pool equipment over time. So, when deciding between a saltwater pool and a chlorine pool, it’s important to consider your budget, lifestyle, and maintenance needs.

Comparing Saltwater Pool vs. Chlorine Pool Benefits

Whether you’re building a new pool or considering a sanitizer upgrade, understanding the benefits of a saltwater pool vs. a chlorine pool helps you make the right choice for safe swimming pool water. Sanitation is a key aspect of maintaining your pool. Contaminants can enter your pool’s water from dust and debris blown in on the wind, pets, and wildlife that visit or pass near it, and even on the bodies of your friends and family who enjoy your backyard oasis. Both saltwater and chlorine sanitation systems can get the job done, but one may be better for your pool’s needs than the other. We’re going to take a look at how each one works and why they may or may not be the right fit for you.

Sanitation Safety

If you own a pool, you’re used to the applied chemistry task of properly conditioning and preparing your water for safe swimming. You’ll regularly balance the pH, adjust the alkalinity, and make sure the hardness is at appropriate levels. Some pool owners then need to add algaecide to control algae growth, stain inhibitors, and more, all to keep your pool looking good and the water feeling great for swimmers. Alongside those concerns, however, is sanitation, which usually sees the introduction of chemical compounds known to inhibit the growth of bacteria, aid in the deterrence of algae, and keep viruses or other pathogens in check.

Chlorine is Key

While often set up as a debate about saltwater pools vs. chlorine pools, the reality is that both systems are using chlorine as a sanitizing agent. They just get there through different mechanisms.

  • Chlorine Pools – When people refer to chlorine pools, they usually mean pools with water that is sanitized by the direct introduction of chlorine chemicals. After adjusting your water’s other attributes, you use your water test kit to determine sanitizer levels and directly add the amount of chlorine needed to get its presence into the desired range. Alternatively, you may be using an automatic device that uses advanced swimming pool technology to introduce a preset or tailored amount to your pool on a regular basis.
  • Saltwater Pools – Rather than determining saltwater vs. chlorine for your pool, you’re just delivering the chlorine in a different manner. Using swimming pool salt to create salinated water that passes between two electrically charged plates, the system breaks down the salt to create chlorine ions that sanitize your pool water.

Not All Chlorines Are Created Equal

So, if it’s all chlorine, what’s the big deal? Saltwater pools create fewer chloramines vs. chlorine pools. Chloramines happen when chlorine bonds with ammonia. These compounds are great disinfectants in their own right, but they come with a heavier chemical smell–the heavy “chlorine” smell of an overtreated pool is often actually the chloramine concentration. Aside from the smell, these compounds can be harsher on the skin and hair, more damaging to materials used in clothing and swimsuits, and can more readily stain and damage your pool in high concentrations.

Sometimes They’re Not Created At All

Your climate plays an important role in whether you should choose a saltwater pool vs. a chlorine pool sanitation system. Saltwater-based chlorine generation takes heat. Once the temperature drops below 60-degree Fahrenheit, chlorine production is inhibited and may stop altogether, leaving your pool unprotected. If your pool is only open during the blistering summer heat, that may be fine, but in moderate temperatures, a saltwater system may not keep up with your sanitation demands.

Up-Front Cost vs. Ongoing Expenses

A major consideration for many pool owners when deliberating whether a saltwater pool or chlorine pool is better for their swimming needs is the money. Chlorine pools require the regular use of expensive chemicals that can cost you hundreds of dollars a year. While this has long been a way of life for pool owners, saltwater systems only require salt as their consumable–a common compound that is readily available at a low cost. The equipment needed to process that salt, however, can add thousands of dollars in purchase and installation fees. This makes it a less economical choice if your existing pool is chlorine-based, as it would take years of further chemical treatments to equal the cost of retrofitting your pool.

More Parts, More Potential Problems

A final factor to consider if you choose a saltwater pool over a chlorine pool is that you are adding another system to an already complex recreational amenity. That’s another system to learn, clean, and maintain. For some, that’s no issue, but for others, it’s a challenge to be met head-on, but plenty of people decide it’s just too much of a burden or risk.

Whichever You Choose, Keep It Safe

child standing next to pool wearing goggles, giving thumbs up

The final answer about which is better for you, saltwater vs. chlorine pool sanitation, is that the best one is the one that gives you the most enjoyment from your time in the water. Swimming should be fun, feel great, and offer a safe, healthy activity for the whole family. That’s why we work so hard to help our friends and neighbors create safer swimming pool areas that reduce the risk of accidental drowning.

A lack of proper barriers is cited as a contributing factor in the majority of drowning deaths. Our ASTM-compliant pool safety covers, safety nets, and removable mesh pool fencing help you prevent unauthorized access to the pool area.

  • Swimming Pool Safety Covers – Rip, weather, and chlorine resistant, our covers anchor to your deck and can support the weight of a full-grown adult. They help keep your pool closed and free of debris when you aren’t around.
  • Safety Nets – Using a strong, knotted cord and twine, a professionally installed safety net holds children, pets, or adults up and out of the water until they can be helped to safety.
  • Removable Mesh Pool Fencing – The most advanced pool fencing on the market. Our mesh fence resists climbing, can be removed for parties and re-installed in minutes, and uses a self-closing and latching gate to prevent entry. It keeps your pool area secure, and alarms are easily added to notify you of any unsupervised entry.

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