Salt vs Chlorine Pools

FYI- Salt water pools ARE STILL chlorine pools. When installing a salt water generator, you do not eliminate chlorine – it makes natural chlorine in the pool through the electrolysis process. Salt is a compound made up of chlorine and sodium. So when pool owners are adding salt to the pool, they are actually adding chlorine, but instead of being in its raw form – it is in the form of a compound. By the method of electrolysis, the chlorine and sodium molecules are separated and then added to the pool water. So, companies selling the “salt” pool system claim swimming in salt water is like swimming in natural – soft, silky, chlorine or chemical free water…afraid not.

We wish, but NO. Again, chlorine is derived from salt and salt is corrosive. Does ocean water leave your hair and skin soft, supple and silky. NO! Just the opposite in fact. The additives in the “softener”- (often labeled Magic) is the solution that MASKS THE HARSH DRYING EFFECTS of salt, giving it the soft silky feel. Without it, you would have salt water – harsh, corrosive, drying, and damaging, like that of the ocean.

Salt water pools – WHEN CARED FOR PROPERLY – can offer bathers a good healthy swimming environment, with minimal upkeep. It also eliminates the by-products in the stabilized chlorine bought in granular form, which can diminish the itchy irritation swimmers experience bathing in a granular-chlorinated pool. As the chemical industry changes, and eliminates CYA, we go searching for an alternative. Salt, though corrosive in nature seems to be a good option for backyard pools in our opinion.

Here are the important facts you should consider before purchasing a salt generator.

First, the COST: You will need a salt generator, salt, and some plumbing to insert in existing system, and sometimes sacrificial anodes to capture corrosive build up that can occur in salt pools. The cost of a salt system installed without anodes is approximately $2000.00 or more to get started – depending on your pool size and various factors. It requires salt cell changes every 3-5 years. Those run approximately $500-$700 depending on the size and model. The salt cell also requires acid-bathing every 4-6 weeks.

Secondly: you should know your pool will still require weekly maintenance – pH, alkalinity, conditioner, hardness, etc. will all still need to be balanced regularly to maintain a safe swimming environment. Salt generators are only producing chlorine, not the other products needed on a weekly basis, regardless of what the store down the street is saying.

Thirdly: in case you didn’t catch it above, SALT IS CORROSIVE and damaging over time. The metals in your pool (lighting, inlet and outlets, and all metals in your equipment) are affected by salt. If you have an auto cover, metal components on the mechanism can corrode. Brick and stone decks can be damaged by salt. If you have a plaster pool, the plaster and grout in the tile can be damaged by salts long-term effects. Remember, a salt water pool is like a giant low voltage battery that slowly eats away at all metal, therefore a sacrificial anode is important to reduce galvanic corrosion in and around your pool. PLUS, our PROCHEM SALT SERVICE to ensure proper additives is applied to keep down the scaling and corrosive effects.
Bottom line, the natural mineral (SALT) is better than the potential health-damaging by-products in CHLORINE – right? Ultimately, yes.

Though you will not really have a “chemical- free” pool by converting to salt, you will have a naturally medicated one. A pool that eliminates the junk by-product in chlorine and will supply a constant chlorine feed to your pool, which will help combat algae and fungus. Please don’t get the notion you will be swimming in a chemical-free pool. That is called – A POND.
Many of us have swam in ponds and not keeled over, but I’d rather not if I have the option to see what is beneath my feet. And, have you heard of the brain-eating amoeba right here in Kansas? YIKES! Thus, regardless of your technique of chlorination, whether it be manually adding it, or through electrolysis via a salt generator, CHLORINE is necessary to maintain a safe, bacteria and waterborne disease-FREE environment. SALT OR CHLORINE. CHLORINE OR SALT…it all works and is essential in your backyard pool and any pool you put your head in.

We like to think we know pools. During pool season, we treat over 500 pools per week and have been doing it for the past 40 years.

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