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What Is a Salt Water Pool, and Is It Right for You?

Salt water pool installation is growing in popularity around the country, and especially here in Maryland. But just what is a salt water pool? And is one right for you? Let’s take a look.

How a Salt Water Pool System Works

Let’s begin with how a salt water pool system works. These pools use what is called a salt chlorine generator. Instead of adding chlorine you your inground pool water, you add salt, and the generator converts it to chlorine. So it’s not a chlorine-free pool, but by using salt to the water instead of chlorine, the salt chlorine generator makes the water feel silkier, just like the ocean does.

You should only use salt that’s specifically intended for salt water swimming pools. It should be food-grade, granular, and non-iodized. The water will, of course, have a slightly salty taste. But it is very mild. The “salt water” has only about 10% of the salinity level you would find in the ocean.

Pros and Cons of a Salt Water Pool

There are pros and cons to everything, and a salt water pool is no exception. You will want to consider the advantages and disadvantages before you decide if one is right for you.


We see these as the main advantages:

  • Clear, smooth water
  • Lower annual cost (due to fewer chemicals used)
  • No chlorine smell
  • Gentle on skin and eyes

But there are disadvantages as well:

  • Higher upfront cost
  • More expensive to replace parts
  • Easy to forget about water testing because the water stays clear
  • Salt water is corrosive

Salt Water Pool Conversion

If you have an existing pool that you want to convert to a salt water pool, it’s actually pretty easy. You will need to buy a salt water generator. A salt chlorine generator works with fiberglass pools and concrete pools that have a tile lined interior surface. Salt water is too abrasive for a concrete/gunite pool with plaster. While you can set up the salt water pool system yourself, you may want to hire a pool contractor with experience in salt water pools to do it, to ensure a professional job.

It’s important for you to know that once the salt chlorine generator starts doing its thing, you will need to test your pool water chemistry more frequently. Chlorine levels can creep up unnoticed, and you may have a faster calcium buildup as well. A good pool care company can make sure everything is as it should be, all the time.

And happy swimming! We have never met a customer who regretted getting a salt water pool.

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