Salt Water Pool Truth & Myths:
There are a lot of things about a Salt Water Pool also referred to as a Salt System or a Salt Water Generator that fall into the category of a myth. Other things that are true are false and some things that are myths are truths. Confused yet? Sounds like the intro to "Lord of the Rings" in fact ;). I will briefly touch on these and explain the truth about a Salt Water Pool. I will refer to a Salt Pool here as a Salt Water Generator (SWG).
The first thing you need to know is that an SWG uses regular table salt - specifically made for your pool to remove any impurities. It is sold in 40 lbs. bags and labeled "pool salt." This is the only salt you want to add to your pool. All other types could stain the pool surface as some have additives. So, stick with clearly labeled bags that say, "Pool Salt."
Myth: Salt Water Pools don't use chlorine
The process is quite complex but the SWG will take the salt and convert it into chlorine. Yes, I did say chlorine. A Salt Pool is a Chlorine Pool. It just adds chlorine to your pool in a way that is safe and non-toxic. No chemicals to handle or add.
Myth: Swimming in a Salt Pool will be like swimming in the Ocean
The salinity level of the Ocean is 35,000 ppm. A Human tear is 6,000 ppm and your average salt pool is 3,100 to 3,400 ppm. Technically you can barely taste the salt in the water. So, no, it won't be like swimming in the ocean.
Not even anywhere close. It does look daunting when you initially charge your pool with salt. Depending on your pool size you will need to add 400-800 lbs. of salt.
Seems like a lot but in reality, it is not. At least not like the Ocean. One ppm is like a single penny in $10,000 dollars. So, the salt in your pool will be like $34.00 in $10,000.
Myth: A Salt Water Pool will save me money
No, the only way to save money on your pool is to fill it with dirt and plant grass over it. Having a pool is an expensive venture no matter how you look at it. An SWG will run you anywhere from $1,000 and up and every five years you will be swapping out the salt cell and dropping down another $400-$700. If you are even slightly proficient in math you will see that over a course of five years you could have bought a ton of pool chemicals for that amount. So, no it is not a money saver, quite the opposite.
Myth: My decking will be destroyed, and my equipment damaged by all that Salt
My Sister-In-Law lives right on the beach in Newport Ca. all of her light fixtures, iron fencing and even her LCD T. V’s need to be replaced every three or four years. The salt is so powerful from the Ocean that her house 100 yards away is dramatically affected. The T. V’s are safe in the house you would think, but the electronics inside still get destroyed. Not so with your salt pool. The salinity level will not reach such a level to damage your deck or your equipment. So, relax and stop hosing off your deck after the kids go swimming. Even if they cry on your pool deck don't panic ;).
Myth: Salt Water Systems are always breaking down and are hard to use
They are amazingly reliable except for a few brands that you should avoid. The only issue is if the cell gets calcium build-up it will stop producing, but simply cleaning the cell will get it working again.
The SWG control panels have gotten more user-friendly over the years and most will tell you the salt level along with LED lights to let you know it is operating correctly.
Truth: The pH in a Salt Water pool is always rising and high
Yes, this is a drawback with the SWG production. the pH does rise dramatically in your pool. There are ways to counter this. You can add Borates to your pool to achieve a level of 50 ppm and this will prevent rapid pH climb as the SWG is working. You can also invest a few hundred dollars in a pH (Acid Pump) and let that keep your water in balance. Not a major drawback but something you need to know.
Truth: Salt Pools make your pool easy to maintain and the water is softer
This is one of the best benefits of a Salt Water Pool - your pool will be easy to maintain as the SWG adds chlorine to the pool for you. No more handling of harsh chemicals or your chlorine zeroing out allowing your pool to turn on you. Plus, the water is much softer, and you won't have any harsh chemical smells to deal with.
Bottom line is that there are a lot of benefits of converting your pool to a SWG with very few drawbacks.