Chlorine vs Salt Water Pools

Australian Outdoor Living’s swimming pool expert, Michael Robinson, discusses the pros and cons of salt water and chlorine swimming pools…

There is enough to think about when it comes to installing a pool and it all can be very overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a helpful pool builder who can answer all of your questions! For those of you who don’t, hopefully I can help you out with one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to installing a swimming pool…

“Which is better? Chlorine or salt water?”

Using chlorine or salt helps to clean and sanitize the water in your pool so it’s safe for your family to swim in. There are pros and cons for each, and there’s no stand-out “better” option.  It really does depend on personal preference and how often your pool is used. But if you want my honest opinion – salt water is generally the way to go.

Why salt water?

Salt water systems are simple and economical way of producing chlorine for your pool. Salt water pools are basically a little chlorine factory in your backyard as the salt is turned into chlorine in a safe way (broken down via electrolysis) and added to the pool across the filtration process.

YES! – Chlorine is in salt, so even if you have a salt water pool, there will still be a small amount of chlorine present in the water. But the levels are lower and not as concentrated as they are in chlorine pools.

Salt-ChlorinatorChlorinator-Cell

When installing your salt water system, you’ll be set up with a “base” level of salt in the pool. From here, you must ensure the correct salt-to-water ratio is consistently maintained. Salt never disappears or evaporates from the water; you manage the salt as the water level changes through rain, backwashing, draining and how much water is “splashed out”. This is relatively easy.

Chlorine-Doser

Chlorine pools

With a chlorine pool, you have to buy chlorine chemical tablets from a pool shop and add these to the pump system or in a floating filter (which breaks down the chlorine tablet in the water over time). Chlorine kills mould and bacteria faster than a salt pool will; this makes the pool water clear, clean and safe to swim in. Your pool will have to be tested with a pH kit and chlorine tablets added as required to balance out the pH levels. Chlorine pools typically require more work and are more expensive as you are constantly buying and adding tablets to the pool to the maintain pH levels.

In a nutshell

Salt water pools are awesome because:

  • Salt is cheaper to buy
  • Less maintenance is needed
  • Having salt means you don’t have as many harsh chemicals lying around your yard (safer for families with younger children and curious pups!)
  • No sore, stinging eyes
  • The chlorine smell isn’t so strong
  • The chemicals aren’t as strong; salt is easier on our hair and skin
  • People think salt is more “natural”
  • Salt is easy to adjust
  • Salt water chlorinators also operate your pumps with timers turning them on and off when needed to maximise filtration
  • Salt is easier on your bikini or swimwear so they last longer! (and they are expensive nowadays too – save on sanitizing your pool and swimwear costs!)

It is worth noting that salt water systems can be a little more expensive to set up initially but within a few years they pay for themselves. Spending the extra dollars in the early days will pay off!

Typically throughout a year, you can expect to spend about $680 on chlorine for a chlorine operating pool and $90 on salt for a salt water pool. This does not include other acids and chemicals you’ll need to purchase for the pool. While you will need more acid in a salt water pool throughout the year, the expense of other chemicals for both pools will be similar. Of course these figures are dependent on the size of pool and how much the pool is used.

Of course, there are a lot of opinions out there and everybody has their own for and against arguments.

Please feel free to comment or leave your opinion on which type you prefer below.

– Michael Robinson
General Manager | Swimming Pools Department at Australian Outdoor Living

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