What is Pool Salt?
Most commercial and domestic pools utilize chlorine to disinfect and remove potentially harmful bacteria from the water. Pool salt is essentially standard cooking salt or table salt however, it comes in large pieces instead of minuscule granules. In this article, we will provide you with an in-depth look into pool salt, how to use it effectively and its advantages and disadvantages.
More About Pool Salt
Pool salt consists of sodium and chlorine, when you sprinkle pool salt into the water it immediately begins to dissolve. It is subsequently broken down into sodium and chlorine ions, the compounds react with the water and the chlorine ions are converted into hypochlorous acid. The scent from the hypochlorous acid is mild in comparison to standard chlorine.
One other component found in pool salt is cyanuric acid, it prevents the degradation of the chlorine ions and hypochlorous acid. When these two components come into contact with the sun, they begin to break down or deplete. Cyanuric acid comes as standard with chlorine tablets however when using pool salt, it has to be poured separately.
How To Use Pool Salt?
This is a common question, can you just pour regular table salt into the water? The answer is no, there is a process. One misconception is that saltwater pools do not utilize chlorine to disinfect the water and reduce bacterial overgrowth. However, this is simply not true, using salt just reduces the number of harmful chemicals that you need to put into the water. When you use pool salt, chlorine is generated through a chemical reaction therefore, you do not need to put chlorine tablets or powder into the pool water. This means that whoever maintains the pool does not need to handle the chlorine.
If you want to use pool salt instead of chlorine tablets or powder, you need to utilize a special system. The pump pushes a consistent stream of water into the chlorine generator, a tiny electrical spark will then separate the water particles, they will eventually be transformed into hydrogen and oxygen. When the salt is added to the water, a chemical reaction releases hypochlorous acid. Hypochlorous acid is also produced when chlorine is added to swimming pool water. Hypochlorous acid is technically known as chlorine in standard chemically treated pools. In saltwater swimming pools, the hypochlorous acid converts back to salt.
Adding Pool Salt
Pool salt is similar to regular cooking salt, there are different types of salt available for use in saltwater pools. For example, salt pellets, which are suitable for soft water pools, also brine blocks, or salts that are specially designed and sold for saltwater pools. There are certain types of salt that should be avoided such as rock salt.
When adding salt to your pool, you need to think about the overall size of the swimming pool, this will help you to determine exactly how much salt you need to add to the pool. On average, if you want to adequately disinfect a pool and decrease the amount of harmful bacteria growth, you should be thinking about using approximately 2000 to 4000 parts per million. For pools that do not contain any salt at all, you would need approximately 50 lbs of pool salt per 2,000 gallons of water. To be sure, you would need to carry out tests on the water, the most effective way of doing this is to use special test strips.
Maintaining The Salt Water Pool
If you have never used pool salt before, you might be thinking that 50lbs of salt for 2000 gallons of pool water is too much, however, to give you some perspective, think about the ocean or the sea. They usually contain approximately 40,000 parts per million, so when you initially add the salt, you will only need to add about 50 lbs of pool salt annually because the salt is not fully utilized and it is recycled as the chlorine is produced. To determine the amount of salt left in the pool, it is necessary to keep testing the pool water on a regular basis.
Salt is Corrosive
Pay attention to the fact that salt is actually corrosive, it does depend on the amount of salt that is used, but anything in excess of 6,000 parts per million causes corrosion of certain metals. For instance, aluminum, copper and stainless steel corrode when they come into contact with large amounts of salt. To avoid causing issues with the pumps and filters, dilute the water on a regular basis by releasing some of the water and introducing non-salted water to the pool
Pros and Cons of Using Pool Salt
Here are some of the pros of using pool salt as opposed to regular chlorine tablets
Less Skin Irritation
Typically heavily chlorinated swimming pools can cause skin and eye irritation. With saltwater pools, their chlorine content is much lower therefore, making them suitable for people who have sensitive skin and eyes.
To convert a regular chlorinated pool to a saltwater pool will require some initial investment. However, after the initial investment, the overall cost of maintaining the pool will be significantly lower.
Saltwater pools require less maintenance than chlorinated pools.Yes, saltwater pools do contain chlorine but most of the chlorine is produced by the salt itself. You also only need to deep clean saltwater pools yearly. The cleaning process usually includes draining the water, changing the filter and scrubbing the walls and floor.
The water feels softer and smoother and it is less harsh on the skin. Heavily chlorinated water often makes the skin feel dry.
Suitable For Asthmatics
Heavily chlorinated pools can be potentially harmful to people who suffer from asthma or any other respiratory issue. Saltwater pools are safer for the lungs, ears, nose, and throat.
Stable Chlorine Levels
Stable chlorine levels provide better protection against harmful pathogens in the long run.
Cons of Using Pool Salt
Here are some of the cons associated with using pool salt:
We did mention above that in the long run, it will be cheaper to use pool salt however, the start-up cost of a saltwater pool is very high. It requires a significant initial investment but if you have the money, it is well worth it. The thousands that you might have to spend to set up your saltwater pool might act as a deterrent but eventually, you will save money as you will not have to spend money on chlorine powder or tablets. With chlorinated pools there is regular monthly expenditure however, with saltwater pools, the expense is minimal. The main disadvantage is the initial upfront start-up cost.
With chlorinated pools, you can deal with certain problems by adding more chlorine to the pool. Once you test the chlorine levels using test strips, you can decide to simply add more chlorine, however, with saltwater pools, it is not so simple, you can’t just simply add more salt. With salt-water pool systems, if there are any problems with sanitation, you might need to call in an expert to solve the problem for you.
Pool salt is a safe and healthy alternative to regular chlorine tablets or powder, as stated above, using pool salt as opposed to chlorine tablets is more expensive initially, however, it is more cost-effective in the long run. Suitable for people with sensitive skin or eyes, pool salt is less abrasive than heavily chlorinated pools. Also, using pool salt eliminates the need to store, transport and handle potentially harmful chemicals, which makes owning and maintaining a pool much safer.
Prior to investing in a saltwater pool, it is advisable to fully consider and weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of investing in, owning and maintaining a saltwater pool. There are many pros to using pool salt as opposed to the standard chlorine tablets however, as mentioned above, there are some disadvantages too, and they should be considered. Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? This is the question that should be posed when you are considering using pool salt as opposed to chlorine.
Generally though, pool salt is better for the skin,hair and eyes, using pool salt reduces the risk of health problems caused by heavily chlorinated water. For example, the high chlorine content in pool water can have a detrimental effect on the respiratory system, especially for those who suffer from asthma or any other upper or lower respiratory ailment. Saltwater systems are recommended for people with ear, nose and throat issues too because they are less harsh, however, as previously stated, it is vital that you weigh up your options and consider the initial cost. Also bear in mind that the initial investment might just be a small price to pay considering the fact that in the long run, you will save yourself time and money.