Pool Filtration: Chlorine vs. Salt

You’ve probably heard amazing things about the “new” salt water pool system (they’ve been around since the 1980’s), how they don’t dry out your skin, never burn your eyes, and feel like ocean bliss.  But are they really better? Salt water pools are not technically chlorine free, as the filtration systems convert the salt in the pool to chlorine. Which type of pool is easier to maintain, less expensive and more comfortable for the swimmer?  


The initial cost for salt water pools is greater than chlorine pools because you need to purchase a salt water generator, the cleansing system in a salt water pool.  It also will increase your electricity bill as it as to run 24/7 to keep the pool clean and algae free. For an entire season, the cost of chemicals for a salt water pool is $20-$30.  Per month, though, a chlorine pool will cost more as you need to continuously purchase chlorine to add to the pool.  This will cost a pool owner $50-$60 per month depending on the size of your pool.  Due to the upfront cost of a salt water pool, the savings are not seen for about 2-3 years.  Also, salt water generators, if not well maintained, only have a life of 3-5 years, and will need to be replaced, sometimes wiping out the savings from having a salt water pool.  


Salt water pools, at a glance, are easier to maintain.  You still need to ensure that the pH levels are balanced and you may have to add additional salt if the levels get low, but it is not as involved as a chlorine pool.  Many hotels and communities are switching to salt water systems due to their low maintenance.  You do not need to manually add chlorine the way you would if you had a chlorine pool.  However, pool equipment, toys, decks, etc. tend to become corroded over time due to the salt.  If you have a salt water pool, it is important to make sure that all equipment (including ladders and toys) need to be salt-resistant to prevent corrosion.  When it comes to cleaning out debris, the maintenance will be equal no matter what pool system you have.


Salt water pools are less likely to cause burning eyes, green hair, or itchy skin.  Swimsuits will fade less over time.  Salt water pools are safer for kids and pets, as there is no need to store chlorine, decreasing accidental exposure.    They tend to smell nicer, however, it is important to note that the strong chlorine smell, green hair, red eyes, etc. from a chlorine pools are typically caused by improper chemical balances, not the system itself.   

Which Do I Buy?

In the end, it doesn’t really matter if you purchase a chlorine or salt water system for your pool if you are educated on that system and are willing to put in the required maintenance to keep the pool clean and properly balance the chemicals.  While salt water pools are more gentle for the swimmer, and save money over time, their initial cost may not be worth it.  It is up to you which system you would like to have in your home.  

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