Lately, we’ve had a lot of calls regarding saltwater pools which is interesting because they were introduced in the 1930’s! (Believe it or not!) 1998 brought us the first enclosed salt cell, but I digress… In 2003, I moved back to TX from Southern California, where saltwater pools had been an industry staple for much longer and what I found was that lots of pool builders were using natural stone as the pool coping, which does not work due to the chemical breakdown of the stone by the saltwater. Although I tried to warn people about their finishes when building a salt pool, it seemed no one was listening. I think after 10+ years being back in the TX market, people are finally seeing what I was trying to explain and thus lots of questions about saltwater pools. So what’s the deal? I will explain…
The main advantages to a saltwater pool are: They provide a constant delivery of pure chlorine as compared to a traditional chlorine pool which only delivers chlorine when manually introduced. Secondly, the softening effect of electrolysis. In laymen’s terms, you are swimming in water that has been softened, just as you would add a water softener to your home. Thirdly, most people are less sensitive to saltwater than they are to traditionally chlorinated water. This means less itchy, dried-out skin, and hair, not to mention, you don’t have the smell of chlorine or the burning eyes that also come with a traditional pool. Another benefit is that the cost of chemicals is much lower. You also don’t have to store chlorine which is a corrosive, instead you are storing earth-friendly salt.
The disadvantages are (as mentioned above) breakdown of certain stones, which I don’t recommend nor do I use on saltwater pools. Saltwater pools are also more corrosive on metals than traditional pools. A saltwater pool requires a salt cell and control box (which obviously a traditional pool does not have) and it is costly to replace. Finally, the chemical reaction in a salt system causes the pH to go up, so adding acid is imperative each week in order to lower the pH; and, if you are maintaining your own pool, a saltwater pool takes a little more time to understand and perfect the chemistry.
One is not necessarily better or worse than the other, it is more a matter of preference. In the long run, there will not necessarily be tremendous saving or spending on either pool, they both cost about the same over the life of your pool. My personal preference is saltwater and I am in the process of building a saltwater pool in my own yard. I prefer it because I think it is better for my children (easy on the eyes, the nose, the hair & the skin), and my wife also prefers it to traditional chlorine for the same reasons. Either way, it is important to do your research and find out which type of pool is a better fit for you and your family.
Do you have experience with a saltwater pool? What do you prefer?