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Saltwater vs. Chlorine-Based Swimming Pools: Which Is Better?


Why Choose Saltwater?

Here is my short story of why I converted to a saltwater pool system: I have an outdoor swimming pool in a locality where the sun is always the order of the day, and all that sun makes it difficult to balance those pool chemicals. Free chlorine was being used up at an accelerated rate, and I had to purchase in bulk and maintain a supply of stabilizers and chlorine. Shocking my pool every evening got me tired, and it got expensive, too.

When I bought a saltwater chlorine generator, it helped me cut down my pool maintenance costs by over 50%.

Maybe you are installing a home or commercial swimming pool, or maybe you are considering converting your chlorine-based pool into a saltwater system. Either way, this article will help you decide.

Saltwater or Chlorine Pools: What's the Difference?

Basically, there is no special difference. Both saltwater and chlorine pools use chlorine to kill harmful bacteria and organisms in the water. The only difference is that saltwater pools use a special chlorine generator (installed somewhere near the power source) to produce chlorine through electrolysis and inject the required amount of less harmful chlorine automatically into the water, saving you from manually adding any chlorine shocks for pool sanitization.

So they are easier to maintain, and that is why I converted. Ever since I converted my pool, I spend much more time swimming and less time fiddling with the chemicals.

Pros and Cons of Salt Water


  • Salt water is less damaging to your hair, skin, and eyes than chlorine.
  • It will not damage or fade swimsuits quite so quickly and pool toys will last longer.
  • It has a softer feeling that many prefer.
  • Saltwater systems may be safer than chlorine ones that require owners to handle harsh chemicals.
  • They require less chemicals and maintenance.
  • Salt water occurs naturally and poses no health risks, but regular exposure to heavily chlorinated pools does.


  • They are more expensive and require a larger initial investment than traditional pools.
  • Salt water is not completely harmless and it might dictate which type of heater, lighting, and liner you use.

The Advantages of Saltwater Pools

Reduced Chemical Usage

Achieving perfect chemistry is always the blood life of pool maintenance. The more chemicals you use, the more difficult pool maintenance becomes.

  • Saltwater pools require fewer chemicals than chlorine-based ones since chlorine levels are measured and added automatically by your saltwater chlorine generator (SWCG). This means you don’t need to constantly buy and add free chlorine anymore.
  • You also don’t need to use a chlorine stabilizer such as cyanuric acid to prevent excess chlorine consumption by UV light from the sun.
  • When added in excess, stabilizers reduce the effectiveness of chlorine and heighten the chances of algae blooms. This is not a problem with saltwater.
  • The SWCG recycles, so you don’t need to add more salt medium (sodium chloride) on a regular basis for chlorine to be produced.

Reduced Health Risks

Chlorine-based pools involve several health risks due to the harshness of manually-added chlorine in the form of bleach.

  • Firstly, chlorine bleach has been associated with skin and lung cancers when absorbed through the skin or inhaled through the lungs.
  • The byproducts of chlorine are even more dangerous than the chlorine itself, and this triggers the extra cost of oxidizing the pool to remove the harmful byproducts of added chlorine.
  • The commercial chlorine used in pools can cause discomfort, including red and itchy eyes, skin irritation, and hair discoloration, among others.
  • The chlorine stabilizer cyanuric acid has been associated with irritation.

None of these issues apply when you convert to saltwater.

More Natural and Cost-Effective

The initial cost of putting salt water in is not very high. Although the saltwater chlorine generator system isn't cheap, the cost will definitely be offset by the time you save maintaining your pool.

Moreover, the sodium chloride (or salt medium) is applied only once, and it recycles and lasts for a long time before adding more salt.

Sodium chloride, the same stuff you use on the table, is cheaper and locally available than all that chlorine bleach you use in the traditional pool.

Easier Maintenance

Algae is less likely to bloom in saltwater, and cloudy pool water is also less common.

To maintain a non-saltwater system, you need to do a DTP test frequently. You no longer need to do that if you convert to salt.

How to Convert into Saltwater System

You won’t need to alter any device such as filter, pump, or heater in your current setup. All that you'll need to do is to get and install a saltwater chlorine generator in the appropriate location and add some sodium chloride (the same stuff you use on the table).

If you prefer a more complex SWCG system that needs lots of plumbing and electrical work, it is advisable to hire a specialist to install it for you.

The one I use, the Hayward AQR15 AquaRite Salt Chlorination System for in-ground pools, is very easy to install and use. Nearly anyone can follow directions and use it successfully.

The appropriate location to install the SWCG is always near the power source and after pool filters, pumps, and heaters to ensure that water that passes through it is clean and will not cause damage. Here is a step-by-step do-it-yourself guide for converting to salt.

More Comfortable Water

The salt or sodium chloride used in SWCGs is very soft and gentle to swimmers' skin, hair, eyes, and the fabric of bathing suits.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Which type of pool, salt water or chlorine, gets more bacterial growth?

Answer: Bacterial growth comes only as a result of poor sanitization or chlorination. That is why we use chlorine in all pools, salt or chlorine based pool.

Question: What causes a salt pool to become cloudy?

Answer: Cloudiness in pool whether saltwater or harsh chlorine-based pool is caused by low free chlorine level. Either your salt cell is faulty or you have low salinity level in your water. Make sure your salt cell is working properly and has no calcium build-up or salt cell is not expired, and salinity and cyanuric acid levels are within range.

You can also boost your FC level using liquid chlorine or regular bleach to clear cloudy water, here is more on how to maintain your saltwater pool:

Question: I've heard that salt water is less tiring to swim in. Is there any truth to that?

Answer: How one tires when swimming does not depend on Saltwater or chlorine pool. A saltwater pool is better since it has less maintenance work and one does not have to add chlorine manually on a frequent basis to sanitize the pool.

Question: Are salt water pools healthier than chlorinated ones?

Answer: Yes, this is because Chlorine produced by Salt Water Chlorine Generator is not harsh chlorine, while chlorinated pools use chlorine bleach which is harsh and has some negative effects on skin, hair, eyes, and our body in general.

Question: do you think a salt water pool will help keep frogs away?

Answer: Nope, salt water pool cannot help keep away frogs since they will still die inside the pool. The only solution to avoid dead frogs in your pool is to use Frologs: These are devices designed specifically to help keep away frogs from a swimming pool. You can use a number of them depending on the number of frogs you get inside your pool. They are placed at strategic places inside the pool, so that frogs can climb and get out of the pool hence avoiding dead frogs inside the pool. You can find more info and where to find Frologs through this link:

Question: What are the actual free chlorine levels in a saltwater vs. freshwater pool in ppm?

Answer: Ideal Free Chlorine level for any pool is 3ppm, with a Cyanuric acid level of 30-40ppm for a non-salt water pool and between 70-80ppm for a Saltwater water pool.


sizwe on February 05, 2018:

I am wondering if anyone can explain why the government is not using salt water in swimming pools?..There would be no need to use tap water..It seems to be making economic sense and will save money and allow all year operation

I am size from south africa cape town