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Salt Chlorination for Swimming Pools & Spas

Updated on August 24, 2008

What is a "Salt Water Pool"?

Rather than traditional liquid or tablet chlorine, a salt chlorinator is a chlorine generator that takes salt water, and through electrolysis, seperates the chlorine from the chemical compuond. It then instantly turns into hypochlorous acid when it hits water.

Most people ask: "Will my pool taste like salt water?"

The answer is not really. I mean obviously there is salt in there, so you may taste it a little, but it is not like the salt water of the ocean. Ocean water has a salt content of roughly 35,000 parts per million (ppm). The average salt chlorinated swimming pool will hold a steady 3500 ppm. BIG DIFFERENCE!

The simple, normal salt (NaCl) is composed of sodium and chlorine, aka sodium chloride. When it passes through the low voltage electrical current in the genetator cell,it is split into 2 seperate molecules- Na + Cl.

Water (H2O) is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. When the NaCl molecule breaks apart, then mixes with the water molecule, Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) is the sanitizing product.

When you test your pools chemical balance for pH, Calcium Hardness, Alkalinity, etc. you will also test for your salt content. Many systems give a digital readout of your salt content in ppm. If it falls below where it should be (the manufacturer will provide an ideal range for each particular system) all you have to do is add salt to your swimming pool and let it dissolve. So simple!

Hayward Aqua Rite Salt System

Hayward is one of the manufacturers that offer automatic, in-line salt chlorination systems
Hayward is one of the manufacturers that offer automatic, in-line salt chlorination systems

Why You Want A Salt Chlorination System

Most people spend upwards of $25,000 to build their in-ground swimming pool, so it seems to me it would be silly not to splurge the extra $1000 to purchase a salt chlorination system and reap all of these benefits!

  1. Softer on your skin, hair and eyes - Swimming in a salt chlorinated swimming pool is a lot like taking a shower in a home with a water softening system. Rather than drying your skin, hair and eyes, it actually softens them.
  2. Resists algae growth.
  3. Easier on your budget - save on chemical costs in the long run

Pool Maintenance - cleaning your salt cell

Cleaning Your Salt Cell

The cellis typically located in-line with your plumbing. Over a period of time calcium and minerals will build up on the plates withing the cell, blocking the electric current, and preventint the cell from doing ts job-to turn salt into useable chlorine for your pool.

EVERY 3 Months

To clean your salt chlorinator cell, in a clean 5 gallon bucket mix:

1 part muriatic acid

3 parts water

The cell itself unscrews from the piping, so once you have it removed, soak it in the acid-water mixture. DO NOT SCRAPE ANY BUILD-UP OFF OF THE CELL OR PLATES. This mixture will dissolve the build-up by itself. You will ruin your salt chlorination cell if you attempt to scrape it.

If your swimming pool contractor installed a reverse polarity salt cell you will not need to do this as often. A reverse polarity salt unit reverses the flow of molecules through the cell, which causes mineral deposits to flake off.


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    • profile image

      Mark Garza 

      6 years ago

      Just bought an above ground pool, my friend told me to buy this pump to put on it:

      Do you think this will be a good buy? Any thoughts?

    • RachelOrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Ord 

      8 years ago from Palm Coast

      Amy, you are absolutely right...All pools and mechanical systems require regular maintenance.

    • profile image

      Amy Appleton 

      8 years ago

      Salt chlorination can be very beneficial to your skin. However, you have to properly maintain your pool tailored to a salt pool. Please do your research before you make a decision on what's best for you.

    • RachelOrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Ord 

      8 years ago from Palm Coast

      Thanks for the great comments! I work in the central Florida area, the average conversion from liquid or tablet to a salt chlorination system costs $ 1300 - 1500. We use and recommend Hayward products, so the pricing may be different in other areas, and for other manufacturers.

    • profile image

      Karen Reader 

      8 years ago

      How much does it cost to convert your pool to a salt water pool?

    • profile image

      Akinleye Olu. Ayodeji 

      8 years ago

      pls. send me the full detail of installation and maintainance sail water chkorination.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Interesting post. has a lot of the tools you would need for your pool and can help you answer any additional questions you have on upkeep. Hope that helps. Great hub.

    • profile image

      Casey Ollson 

      8 years ago

      If using salt to chlorinate my pool will save money, I am all for it. I will be researching this further. Is there an extensive process that goes into switching to a salt chlorination system?

    • jim10 profile image


      10 years ago from ma

      This sounds a lot healthier than all of the chemicals normally dumped into the pool.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Again, great advice! A win for everyone!


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