Salt consists of two basic chemicals: sodium and chlorine. Chlorine happens to be the chemical that keeps pools safe from organic infestations, and it also lends pools that unpleasant chlorine smell thanks to the chloramine compounds it sometimes forms. So what exactly does adding sodium do to change the situation? Here are some benefits of salt water swimming pools:
Salt water swimming pools use a special generator that electrolyzes the pool water to extract chlorine and use it to keep the pool clean. While you still need to test the water on a regular basis to make sure the system is working correctly and to add supplemental chemicals like cyanuric acid to make sure the chlorine can do its job, salt water pool owners typically wind up spending a third or less as much money on chemicals as those who stick with traditional chlorination. That means your salt water generator can end up paying for itself after a few years.
If you’re hoping for the smell of the sea, you may be disappointed because the salt levels of a salt water pool are many times less than the salt level of the ocean. At the same time, however, a salt water system uses much less chlorine on average than a normal pool, which means that fewer chloramines can form and stink up your pool. Still, some salt water pool users can detect a hint of the ocean, and the water certainly has a distinct taste that’s different from chlorinated water.
Chlorine isn’t just harsh to tiny one-cell organisms, it’s also harsh on swimmers, and so having a system that uses less of it while remaining sanitary can vastly improve your experience. People who otherwise can’t open their eyes underwater can do so in salt water, and those whose hair turns green after a long swim won’t have to worry about discoloration anymore. You do still need to shower off both before and after you enter the water, but overall swimmers are reporting a much better experience with salt water.
All that being said, it is worth mentioning that salt water does tend to corrode any unprotected surfaces it touches, including the sides of the pool themselves, so you should make sure that your pool and the areas around your pool are ready for a salt water system before you install a new generator. Corrosion from salt water doesn’t have to be inevitable, but you do need to make sure that you’re ready to handle it beforehand.