There have been many technological advancements made in the field of swimming pool maintenance.  With that there had been a steady increase in the amount of salt water pools.  Some people might think that a salt water pool will be similar to swimming in the ocean, but the truth is that with the proper amount of salt in the pool swimmers will not be able to detect it.  Today I want to give some information regarding salt water systems on swimming pools and how they work.

First of all the amount of salt in the pool will be very small even though it may seem like a lot at first.  You will add about 50 lbs. of salt for every 2,000 gallons of water.  I know this may seem like a lot but when it is all said and done you will not be able to tell its there.  This will give you about 3,000 – 3500ppm (parts per million) and that is the magic range.  If you have more than that then you will start to notice the salt content in the pool.  Also having the salt at a high level will increase the corrosion of any metal elements of your pool.  To maintain the correct amount of salt you will simply have to periodically check the salt content and make the adjustments needed if any.

The way this system works is actually very clever.  Before I get to that it is important to know that “salt” is sodium chloride which is a combination of sodium and chlorine.  The system breaks down the sodium chloride into its separate parts, sodium and chlorine.  Then the chlorine goes to work killing the contaminants in your pool.  After that it rejoins the sodium once again forming salt and the process repeats itself.  So ultimately you are getting clean water through the use of chlorine.  The difference is that you are not constantly adding chlorine to the pool which results in less potential skin irritation, and less of that chemical smell we all know so well.

So the salt water in the pool will flow through a chamber where an electrode interacts with the salt effectively separating the sodium and chlorine.  This process is referred to as electrolysis.  From there the two elements go back into the pool where the chlorine kills any contaminants before rejoining the sodium to again form salt.  After that the process repeats itself over and over again.  Over time through back washing and regular use of the pool you will inevitably lose some salt content.  This is why it is important to periodically check the salt level of your pool.  Usually the salt system itself will have some sort of indication letting you know that the salt level is low, and that you need to add more.

To add salt to the system the easiest way is to pour the salt directly into the pool.  Some people say that it is best to pour the salt directly over the main drain.  I actually disagree with this.  I think you will find that when adding salt a majority of it will settle to the bottom.  When this happens it is your job to help the salt dissolve by using your pool brush to move it around which can take a little bit of time but its better than just letting the salt sit there at the bottom of your pool not doing anything.  After that it is important to let your pump run for at least 24 hours to get all of the salt water circulated through the system.

You are now ready to sit back and let the salt system do what it does.  No noxious chlorine smell, no more itchy skin, and no more time and money spent on chlorine.  Just relax and enjoy your pool.

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