Salt water pools are becoming increasingly popular in Australia, with more homeowners wanting to choose pool systems which are efficient, clean and kind to the environment. But are salt pools the right choice for everyone?
We have put together this guide to salt water pools, covering how they work, their benefits, potential salt water pool problems, and whether or not they are more effective than chlorine pools when it comes to pool sanitisation. This will help you make an informed choice about whether or not to purchase a salt pool.
Do salt water pools contain sea water?
We all love the idea of having a natural sea water pool in our backyard. However, this is not what is meant by a salt water pool, as it would be extremely difficult to recreate the conditions of the sea on your own property.
Sea water contains an extremely high concentration of salt, so it would be completely impractical to try to reproduce this in an artificial environment. Instead, in a salt water pool, salt is used to produce chlorine. All backyard pools need to keep the pool water safe, clean and healthy to swim in. This process is achieved using a salt water chlorinator.
How does a salt water chlorinator work?
A salt water chlorinator is plumbed into the piping that carries the water back to your pool from the pool pump. The salt water chlorinator contains plates which have a small electric current running through them. This causes electrolysis to occur as the salt water passes through the plates, producing a high quality form of chlorine.
Due to this chemical process, you do not need to add chlorine granules or liquid to a salt water pool. Instead, you just need to add small amounts of salt to the salt cell in the generator. The resulting concentration of salt in your pool water is extremely low, at approximately 3,000ppm.
This is just one-third of the salt levels we produce in our own tears, so your pool water will not taste salty. However, this small amount is enough to produce effective swimming pool chlorination.
What are the advantages of salt water pools?
Salt water pools have a number of benefits over traditional chlorine pools.
1. They can help you breathe more easily in the water
One of the main disadvantages of traditional chlorine pools is the unpleasant smell of bleach in the water. In a salt water pool, the chlorine produced is of a far higher quality, so it is completely odourless.
This makes salt water pools a much kinder environment for people who suffer from breathing problems. Respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies can be made worse by the odour of bleach which is always found in a chlorine pool.
2. They do not have a negative impact on your eyes, skin or hair
Pool chemicals such as granular or liquid chlorine, which are used in traditional chlorine pools, can be extremely harsh. They can cause serious irritation to the eyes and give you dry skin. This can be extremely uncomfortable for swimmers who have skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis.
Liquid and granular chlorine can also bleach your clothes and dry your hair out. Dyed hair can even change colour if it is exposed to too much chlorine. Salt water pools eliminate all these problems as the chlorine produced is much gentler and the levels are kept at a constant level by the salt water chlorinator.
As a result, you can safely swim in a salt water pool without suffering from any irritation or damage. The levels of chlorine in the water are so mild and pure that you can even open your eyes underwater without them stinging. And your hair and clothes will not suffer any chemical damage, even if you use your pool every day.
3. Salt water pool care is quicker, easier and safer
Maintaining a chlorine pool can be time consuming and difficult as you are required to add the pool chemicals yourself. This is something which you have to be extremely careful to get right if you want your pool to be a safe and healthy environment for swimming. It can take up a lot of time that could be spent enjoying your pool instead.
A salt water pool solves this problem, as it has an automatic pool chlorinator. It constantly makes its own chlorine from the pool salt you add to the chlorinator. Thus, there is no need to add any other chemicals to the water. This means you do not have to think about your swimming pool chlorination, as the pool system does it all for you. You can be free to spend more of your time enjoying yourself and relaxing in the water.
This also makes salt water pools safer as you do not need to store any dangerous pool chemicals on your property. This is a particularly important benefit if you have children because it gives you more peace of mind in the home.
Also, the chlorine in a salt water pool is being produced constantly, so you will not suffer any chlorine spikes. This ensures that your pool water is kept at a continuous level which is healthy and safe for swimming.
4. They can ultimately save you money
The initial cost of salt water pool systems tends to be high. However, over time a salt pool will save you money. This is because pool salt is far cheaper than chlorine granules or liquid. The overall cost of salt water pool care over months and years is far lower than that for a traditional chlorine pool.
5. Salt water swimming pool chlorination is just as effective
The chlorine produced by a salt chlorine generator has no obvious signs like a strong smell, but this does not mean it is not as effective. In fact, it is because it is the type of chlorine produced is of a much higher quality. It works just as well as chlorine liquid or granules for killing bacteria and algae. And it does so in a safer and healthier way.
In addition, because it is an automatic pool chlorinator, it means that your pool chlorine will constantly be kept at a safe level without you needing to remember to do anything. This improves the safety and hygiene of your pool.
Potential salt water pool problems
No pool sanitisation system is perfect. Despite their many advantages, there can be a few downsides of owning a salt water pool. It is important to be aware of these before you make your decision.
1. Salt water pools have a high initial setup cost
Salt water pool systems can be quite expensive to buy initially, depending on the size of the system you need. It is essential to choose a pool sanitisation system which is capable of handling the amount of water in your pool. So a larger pool will need a more powerful, more expensive system.
You will also need to pay a plumber to install your salt water system. It is a highly technical job which should always be carried by a fully qualified, experienced professional.
The salt cell will also need replacing roughly every three to five years depending on how seriously you have taken your salt water pool care and the climate conditions where you live.
However, it is important to remember that a salt pool can save you considerable amounts of money in the long term. Your investment will likely balance itself out over time.
2. You do still have to carry out some maintenance on a salt water pool
Salt water pools are safer, quicker and easier to maintain than chlorine pools. But there are some maintenance tasks you will still need to do.
For example, just like you would with a traditional pool, you will still need to check the pH levels of the water on a regular basis. This is done to make sure the levels are correct and the pool environment is healthy.
3. Some elements of salt pool systems can corrode over time
Some pool equipment can be corroded over time by pool salt, particularly any parts made of metal such as ladders and light fittings. It is important to check your pool and your salt water chlorinator regularly for any salt build-up or signs of corrosion.
However, to avoid this, you can purchase pool equipment which is resistant to corrosion and designed for salt water pools.
Is a mineral water pool the same as a salt water pool?
A mineral water pool is a similar concept to a salt water pool. However, the aim of a mineral water pool is to achieve the experience of bathing in a natural spa by adding extra minerals to the water.
Salt is one of the main minerals used as it is so effective at producing high quality chlorine. However, mineral water pools usually also contain a variety of other minerals such as magnesium chloride and borates. These are thought to have properties which reduce stress, as well as being beneficial for the skin.
A mineral pool enables you to recreate the experience of a natural spa on your own property. These are becoming increasingly popular in Australia.
Converting a chlorine pool into a salt water pool
It is possible to convert a chlorine pool into a salt water or mineral water pool by having a salt water chlorinator plumbed into your pool plumbing. This job should only ever be undertaken by a professional plumber, as it needs to be absolutely right in order to ensure your pool is a safe and healthy environment for swimming.
Converting your pool can be fairly costly. But it will save you plenty of money over time due to the lower running costs.
Salt water pools from Compass Pools Australia
At Compass Pools Australia, we have always been at the forefront of pool technology. If you want your Compass Pool installed with a salt water chlorinator, this is something we offer. In addition, if you would like your existing pool converted to a salt pool, we can also help you with this.
If you would like more information about our swimming pool chlorination options, including our salt water pool systems, please contact us. Our team will be happy to help.