Salt Water Pools

Pool Deck

How do they work?

We often get asked about “salt water pools” and how they work. Many think of a saltwater pool and think that it might be like swimming in the ocean. Many think that the salt does the job of the chemicals and that the pool no longer needs chlorine.  Some have suggested that a salt system would be better for them because they are allergic to chlorine. 

  • The water of the ocean has a salt content of approximately 35,000 ppm (parts per million), while the proper content of a salt water pool is around 2,800- 4,500 ppm.
  • If you have a saltwater pool and have the proper amount of salt in it, you should not even realize there is salt in it, or at least very little.

Something we see all the time with new customers that already have a salt system installed on their pool is that there are no other chemicals in the pool. Salt pools do in fact need chemicals just like every other pool.

  • The salt system isolates the chlorine (more about this later) and sends this back to your pool, but that’s it. 
  • The salt system does not manage your total alkalinity, pH, calcium hardness, or stabilizer levels.

It is important to provide regular care to your pool so that these levels can be checked and managed appropriately.

 How the salt system works-

  • Inside your pool, you have your water and your salt (we’ll exclude other chemicals for explanation purposes)
  • When your pump is on, it is pulling this saline solution (salt water) into the pump. It goes through your pump and comes out through the return and then moves toward your filter.
  • Nex it will pass through the “salt cell” or “salt generator” which is where the magic happens.
    • It’s inside this cell where “electrolysis” occurs, taking the saline water in the cell, separating the Sodium from the Chlorine (salt is made up of Sodium and Chlorine).
  • Then the free chlorine is released back into your pool which is why there is chlorine in all pools that operate with a salt water system.

Pros and Cons


  • The chorine levels are typically lower than in traditional pools which means there is little to no chlorine smell.
  • It’s softer water which can mean the water is nicer to swim in and it’s less damaging to your skin than chlorine.
  • The costs for maintaining a salt water system can be less as well.
    • Saltwater pools really just need to be topped off with new salt from time to time which is less expensive than chlorine.


  • They can be expensive to install depending upon the make and model,
    • It may range from $1,400- $2,000.
    • This equipment needs to be maintained.
      • Periodically, the salt cell will need to be cleaned so that it can perform properly and the control unit (computer) is an expensive piece of equipment that can fail without proper maintenance.
  • If you ever need to partially drain or completely drain your pool, you need to be careful where you do it.
    • After the water evaporates, the salt is still left behind. If you drain into gutters or storm drains, they eventually lead to a river, lake, or other nearby streams. You could increase the salt levels to a dangerous level killing off local plants and animals.
    • Draining into one area of your yard in small quantities will not kill the grass, but large amounts of salt could absorb all the moisture and nutrients in your lawn preventing it from growing.

If you have any questions about salt systems/saltwater pools or how to maintain them properly, don’t hesitate to call Blue Water at 904.500.POOL, we are here to help.