Which should you choose?
Firstly, it’s essential to clear up a common misunderstanding; you’re not choosing between a chlorine pool and a saltwater pool. Both types of pools use chlorine to create a safe swimming environment. Both types of pools have salt. In saltwater pools, the taste of salt may overpower the taste of chlorine, but the chlorine is still there. And both types of pools need to be tested and maintained to avoid problems to ensure a safe swimming environment. Both traditional chlorine pools and saltwater pools will give you a similar swimming experience with only subtle differences.
Traditional chlorine pools are maintained by adding chlorine (or a similar chemical) directly to the pool. Saltwater pools are still chlorine pools, but the chlorine is added with a salt chlorine generator (chlorinator) that converts salt into chlorine. This creates water that may seem softer and silkier than regular pool water; but it’s not like the ocean, as it has only about 1/10th of the ocean's salt concentration.
Neither type is better than the other; there are pros and cons to both.
The initial investment for a saltwater pool is higher than a traditional chlorine pool, but only by the cost of the salt water system, which can vary widely depending on its features. You will pay more for electricity but less for chemicals throughout the year. But it’s not as simple as it seems. Saltwater systems need replacement cells, regular cleaning and don’t last forever. You also need a sacrificial anode, which will require replacing occasionally. A chlorine pool is less costly up front, but the costs of chemicals are more. It uses less electricity and doesn’t need replacement cells or chlorinator maintenance. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Investment alone may not be the deciding factor between the two.
UX and health considerations
One of the main benefits touted for saltwater pools is that they have less chlorine, making them more pleasant to swim in, healthier, easier on the eyes and skin and better for people with chlorine sensitivities. But if chlorine is needed to sanitize a pool to keep it safe, Why would a saltwater pool need less? That didn't seem logical. The two opinions discovered online were presented to the Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada.
- Saltwater pools have less chlorine making them healthier and easier on the eyes and skin. This opinion is pervasive and found online in blogs, pool supply sites, pool contractors’ sites, etc.
- Regardless of how frequently or what method you use to add chlorine to the water [manually like with a traditional chlorine pool or with a saltwater system chlorinator like with a saltwater pool], the chlorine level should stay between 1 and 3 parts per million (ppm), to maintain a healthy pool.
The Water Chemistry Instructor at the Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada responded.
The second answer is correct.
The reason a salt pool feels better is not because of the chlorine level, it is because the salt level is higher and closer to our body and eye's natural salt level. The osmotic pressure of salt level in the eye vs the water would be a determining factor in comfort, i.e. the closer the water is in salt level to the body, the more comfortable the water will feel… generally.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, chloramines “irritate skin, eyes, and the respiratory tract (including the nose) when they pull off gas from the water and into the air above, particularly indoors. In addition, chloramines can also contribute to corrosion of metals around the aquatic venue and in air handling systems.” Both chlorine and saltwater pools can have chloramine problems, especially given they both have the same chlorine concentration. It is not too much chlorine; it's the reaction between the chlorine and contaminants like sweat and urine that causes the unpleasant odour. Regardless of the pool type, it may need to be shocked with manually-added chlorine.
From a user experience perspective, a saltwater pool may offer a more pleasant swimming experience. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence to support that it is healthier.
Claims that maintaining a traditional chlorine pool is much more difficult and may be exaggerated. Testing kits make the process pretty simple. With saltwater pools, you won't have to buy and store as many hazardous chemicals. But both types need monitoring and regular testing to catch any issues before they become problems. Both types of pools may need to be shocked if there is a problem, especially if you can smell the odour caused by chloramines. If the need to add chemicals is much less with a saltwater pool, it does have its maintenance issues. The pool deck needs regular rinsing with fresh non-pool water because salt is corrosive. It can also be corrosive to pool fixtures, lights, ladders, and stonework. These need to be monitored and replaced as required. The cell in the chlorinator needs to be changed from time to time. And, if something goes awry with the system, you’ll probably have to call for a technician.
With a saltwater pool, chlorine may be more consistent. But, after heavy use, a chloramine problem, or contamination, it still may need to be shocked, just like a regular chlorine pool.
Regardless of the type of pool you choose, they both take some work to keep in tip-top shape. In the end, it may come down to personal preference. For years, there was a traditional pool at home. Checking the pool became a routine during daily relaxation. It was a source of enjoyment, perceived as effortless, and deemed worthy of the invested effort. If a saltwater pool is easier to maintain, then all the better. It just may not have all of the benefits touted online. So, do your due diligence, and choose the type of pool you think will work best for you.
At Action Home Services, we're here to provide you with all the information you need about chlorine and saltwater pools. With our expertise in pool maintenance and installation, we can offer detailed insights and answer your questions about the pros and cons of each option. Whether it's maintenance, water quality, or long-term costs, we're committed to equipping you with the knowledge you need to make an informed choice.
Contact us today via phone, email, or our online form and our friendly team will be ready to assist you promptly for expert guidance in choosing the right pool for your needs!