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Saltwater Vs Chlorine-Based Swimming Pool: Which is the Best?

Updated on April 5, 2017
Barack James profile image

Barack is a chemical engineer and pool water chemistry nerd. He has been in the commercial pool maintenance industry for more than 7 years!

Why Choose Saltwater Pool System
Why Choose Saltwater Pool System | Source

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Why Choose Saltwater Pool

Here is my short story why I converted to saltwater pool system: I have an outdoor swimming pool in a locality where sun is always the order of the day: You can imagine how this is cumbersome when it comes to balancing water chemically.

Free chlorine was being used up in abnormal way and I had to purchase stabilizer and chlorine in bulks and put in store; ready to shock my pool on a daily basis in the evenings: This got me tired, and was expensive too, and I considered buying saltwater chlorine generator for the first time.

May be you intend to build a home or commercial swimming pool; and you are divided between saltwater and regular chlorine based swimming pool: Or maybe; you are weighing whether converting your chlorine based pool into a saltwater pool system is a good idea.

Basically, there is no special difference in the general design of saltwater pool and regular chlorine based pool: Rather, in saltwater pool, chlorine generator is added in the system somewhere near the power source for convenience and after the pool’s pump, filter, and heater for maximum care on the chlorine generator.

Precisely; if you consider maintenance, cost, and health as the main issues why you need to have a saltwater chlorine generated system; then you are on the right track.

Ever since I converted my pool into saltwater pool system; I spend much time swimming and less time monitoring my pool’s sanitation since saltwater is generally stable chemically as compared to normal water and that is a fact.

However, it is very important to let you know that both saltwater and chlorine pools use chlorine as a sanitizer to kill harmful bacteria and organisms thriving in the pool water.

The only difference is that saltwater pools use a special chlorine generator together with salt water to produce chlorine through electrolysis, and then injects the required amount of chlorine automatically into the pool.

On the other hand, regular chlorine based pools need purchased chlorine to be added manually into the pool on a regular basis to maintain suitable free chlorine levels.

Just from the definitions above, you have already known before we say a lot that saltwater pools are easy to maintain as compared to non saltwater pools, and that is why I converted to saltwater pool system.

A saltwater chlorine generator is very easy to use; and nearly everyone can successfully maintain a swimming pool using the SWCG system, including a novice.

However, just maintenance alone cannot add up to choose saltwater over chlorine based pool either for home or commercial purposes; and this post includes all the benefits of saltwater over non saltwater swimming pool in relation to maintenance, cost, and health issues among others I have come across as a saltwater pool owner for more than three years.

I recommend: How to Shock a non Saltwater Swimming Pool

Reduced Chemicals Usage

Swimming pool chemistry is always the blood life of pool maintenance: The more chemicals you use in your pool, the more pool maintenance becomes difficult.

Ideally; saltwater pools require minimal usage of chemicals as compared to chorine based swimming pools.

Firstly; since chlorine level in saltwater pool is measured by Salt Water Chlorine Generator (SWCG) and added automatically, you don’t need to buy and add free chlorine into your pool on a regular basis like is needed for non saltwater pools.

Still on the positive side; the process of producing chlorine is recycling and you don’t need to add more salt medium or sodium chloride on a regular basis for chlorine to be produced.

Due to ever stable level of chlorine in saltwater pools; you don’t need to use chlorine stabilizer such as Cyanuric acid to prevent speedy chlorine consumption by UV light from the sun.

There is an added advantage of not using too much stabilizer in the pool: When added in excess, stabilizer will reduce effectiveness of chlorine and chances of algae thriving in the pool will be very high.

I recommend: Pool Chemistry 101: Effective use of Chemicals

Reduced Health Issues

Health issues should have been the first to consider here: Chlorine based pools have a number of health issues due to the harshness of manually added chlorine in form of bleach.

Firstly; chlorine bleach used in non saltwater pool has been associated with skin and lung cancers resulting when chlorine is absorbed through the skin or inhaled through the lung.

Moreover, the byproducts of chlorine are even more dangerous that chlorine itself; and this brings an extra cost of oxidizing the pool to remove the harmful byproducts of added chlorine.

Chlorine also used in non saltwater pools causes a lot of discomfort including; red and itchy eyes, irritation in the skin, and hair discoloration among others.

On the other hand; chlorine stabilizer used in chlorine based pools has been associated with the irritation swimmers complain about; which is not the case with saltwater pools.

I recommend: How to Clear Cloudy Swimming Pool Water

Cost Effective

The initial cost of installing saltwater is not very high: however you might consider the initial cost of putting up a saltwater chlorine generator system; the cost will definitely be offset with time since you will not have to buy chlorine on a regular basis to shock your pool.

Moreover, sodium chloride or salt medium used in the saltwater generator pool system is only put once; and you don’t need to add more since it recycles.

Sodium chloride; which is the same stuff you use on the table is cheaper and locally available as compared to all chlorine shocks and bleach you will use in the non saltwater pool.


Talking of comfort; saltwater pools have the highest level of comfort compared to regular harsh chlorine based pools.

Salt or sodium chloride used in SWCGs is very soft and tender to the skin and are most preferred for children’s swimming pools than the chlorine based pools; which are harsh to the skin and causes red and itchy eyes, itchy skin, and discolored hair.

Moreover, chlorine bleach also causes damage to swimming pool equipments, and usually results in fading away colors from swimming suits and others pool equipments

Easy Maintenance

Maintenance of saltwater pool is very easy as the most important chemical in the swimming pool; which is chlorine is automatically updated as required in a standard pool.

Having algae in saltwater pool is very difficult as compared to chlorine based pool; which may breed algae anytime when free chlorine goes down; resulting in a green swap.

On the other hand, cloudy or murky water is also common on pools without saltwater chlorine generators since chloramines or combined chlorine is very common.

As such; to maintain a non saltwater pool, you need to frequently do DTP test in the pool water to establish free chlorine and combined chlorine levels and ensure that they always balanced in the to avoid green and cloudy pool water.

I recommend: LaMotte ColorQ Pro 7: Pool Chemistry Made Easy

How to Convert into Saltwater Pool System

To convert your pool to saltwater pool system; you don’t need to alter any device such as filter, pump, and heater in your current pool. Rather, all that you need to do is to get and install a saltwater chlorine generator in appropriate location, and add some sodium chloride (same stuff you use on the table).

I recommend using Hayward Goldline AquaRite chlorine generator with 40000-Gallon cell series since it is a recognized brand worldwide; and the fact that it is available for different pool sizes including 15,000, 25,000, and 40,000; and you cannot fail to get one that will be suitable for your pool size.

If you are a swimming pool tech guy, you can do this all by yourself: If you prefer more complex SWCG system that will need lots of plumbing and electrical work, it is advisable to hire a swimming pool specialist to install the chlorine generator for you if you can’t do it properly.

The appropriate location to install the saltwater chlorine generator is always near the power source and after pool filters, pumps, and heaters to ensure that water that passes through the SWCG system is clean and will not course damage to the system: Here is a step by step do it yourself guide on how to convert to saltwater pool system.

Converting to Saltwater Pool


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