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Saltwater pools: everything you need to know

Are you thinking about getting a saltwater pool for your backyard? Saltwater pools are rising in popularity over chlorine pools, but are they worth the investment? Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of having a saltwater pool in your home or business, as well as some frequently asked questions.

How saltwater pools work

A saltwater pool uses a salt chlorine generator, also known as salt cell, that converts sodium chloride (ordinary salt) poured into the water to chlorine. The chlorine generated during the electrolysis process is not the same type used to sanitize common chlorinated pools. It’s actually a different form, free of chloramines, the byproduct of chlorine that causes skin and eye irritation.

Person testing the water of a saltwater pool

Pros of saltwater pools

  • They are cheaper in the long term

Although the upfront cost of installing a salt chlorine generator might look quite high, saltwater swimming pools are actually less expensive over time. That's because they use natural salt which is affordable and available everywhere instead of more expensive chemicals like chlorine tablets.

  • Salt water is softer to the skin and eyes

Salt water is safer and much more gentle on your skin when compared to heavily chlorinated water, which makes it ideal for those who use their swimming pool regularly or those who have kids. 

It’s also worth noting that saltwater pools are not as salty as the sea so you don’t have to worry about it stinging your eyes and nose. In fact, after you finish swimming in your saltwater pool, you will notice your skin feeling much softer and smoother because of the salt treatment. 

  • The water won’t smell like chlorine

As mentioned before, the chlorine that is generated through the salt cell does not contain chloramines, which is what causes the strong water smell. Therefore, saltwater pools are ideal for those who’d rather swim in a water that doesn’t have a chlorine smell.

  • They are easier to maintain

Saltwater pools are a lot easier to maintain compared to chlorine pools. Once the ideal water salt level is met, saltwater pools don’t need much maintenance. You simply need to keep an eye on the water pH and alkalinity and add salt whenever it’s needed, as well as monitor the salt chlorine generator for buildup. 

That being said, a saltwater swimming pool still needs to be properly prepared for the season, be it opening or closing.

Cons of saltwater pools

  • They have a higher initial cost

The saltwater pool system tends to be more expensive to install, mostly due to the cost of the salt chlorine generator. However, it’s cheaper to maintain in the long run compared to chlorine pools that need chemicals added on a regular basis.

  • Salt can damage some types of tiles 

Salt can cause corrosion in certain types of tiles and pool equipment, such as lights, ladders, and metal components. It’s also recommended to avoid using a saltwater pool system in vinyl liner swimming pools.

  • Repairs can only be done by a professional 

The parts of the saltwater pool system are complex, meaning that if there’s a need to repair them you’ll need to hire a professional technician.

Frequently asked questions about saltwater pools

What kind of salt can I use in the saltwater pool?

It’s recommended to go for salt of the highest purity (95 - 99%) to avoid damaging the generator.

How much salt should I add?

It’s important to keep the salt concentrated between 3000-4000ppm. This concentration allows the cells to have the right amount of salt to create chlorine, which keeps your swimming pool safe and running properly.

How often should I add salt? 

The salinity can go down over time due to leaks, backwashing, or evaporation. Each season, owners need to add about 10 percent of salt to their saltwater pool.

Do I need to test the water regularly?

Yes, you need to test your pool regularly to ensure the pH and alkalinity are balanced. Saltwater pools should have a pH of 7.6 and an alkalinity of 70-80ppm. If the water is not balanced, it will corrode the grout, which can cause the tile to crack and fade.

What about salt residue?

Chances are you have a big pool, so it will be almost impossible for salt to dissolve completely. To get rid of stubborn salt, use a brush and gently brush it off.

What is the best tile for a saltwater pool?

The best tiles for saltwater pools are glass or porcelain tiles. They are crafted to be durable and they will last longer. Try to stay away from natural stone, because the chlorine produced by the saline can discolor it, which means you will have to replace it sooner.

Will I need special grout?

Since saltwater swimming pools create chlorine naturally, the grout you choose needs to be chemical resistant, like epoxy grout. When you use epoxy grout on your swimming pool, the tiles will stay in place longer and will not be discolored as fast. The best way to make sure you have the right grout is to consult with a professional.

Will the water be really salty?

Swimming in a saltwater pool is not like swimming in the ocean. Ocean water has a salt content of 35,000ppm. Chlorine generators need a salt content of 3000-4000ppm. As you can see, the ocean has a much larger concentration of saltwater when compared to a typical, backyard saltwater pool.

Can a saltwater pool be heated?

Yes, a saltwater pool can be heated like all other types of pools, using electricity, gas, or the most environmentally-friendly option, solar energy.

Saltwater or chlorine pool? We can help you pick the right tile

Saltwater pools have many advantages over common chlorine pools, although they do come with some cons. For this reason, it’s important to consult with an expert to ensure you make the best decision for your home or business.

Here at Oasis Tile we can help you choose the right pool tile for your swimming pool, available in many colors and designs.
Order Tile Samples!