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Salt Water Pools vs Chlorine Pools: Pros and Cons

“Should I get a salt water pool or a chlorine pool?”

If you’re asking yourself this question, the first thing you should know is that salt water pools do technically contain chlorine. The main difference between the two pool types is the process by which chlorine is added to the water. We’ll explain this more later.

For now, you can keep asking yourself the salt water pools vs. chlorine pools question because we want to answer it.

However, since we can’t honestly say one pool is better than the other on every level, we’ll break down this dilemma with some pros and cons for both the salt water pool and the chlorine pool.

Team Salt Water

The Pros
  • You’ll spend minimal time cleaning your salt water pool. In fact, other than routinely testing the pH levels and skimming, cleaning is only an annual ordeal.
  • You’ll save money on chemicals. For the science-savvy swimmers who care, a salt water pool’s sanitizing agents are salt (NaCl), hypochlorous acid (HClO), and sodium hypochlorite (NaClO). You don’t have to buy chlorine tablets.
  • Salt water heals your skin. Salt water isn’t just alternatively better for your skin; it’s actually very good for it! Salt’s anti-bacterial properties help to heal the skin rather than irritate it.
  • You don’t have to store chlorine. For some, the idea of storing chlorine around the house is a scary one — especially if you have kids. With a salt water pool, you can avoid the risks of storing chlorine.
The Cons
  • Salt water pools are not chorine- or chemical-free. Honestly, this is only a con if you thought salt water pools were completely free of chemicals. However, the difference between salt water pools and traditional chlorine pools is that instead of requiring you to add chlorine to them, salt water pools have an electric generator for creating chlorine through a process called electrolysis. Electrolysis leaves you with saline chlorination.
  • Salt water pools have a higher upfront cost. The generator is the major initial expense for salt water pools. Many argue that the generator pays for itself over time by saving you money on chemicals, but that claim is dependent on how much use you get out of your pool.
  • Sanitation is challenging. Saline chlorination doesn’t fight algae as effectively as traditional chlorine does. In addition, you can’t solve sanitation problems in a salt water pool by simply adding more chlorine. You’ll need to call in professional help.
  • Salt corrodes. While salt is a natural decontaminate, it’s also a natural corroder. Over time, salt water can corrode your pool deck, generator, and vinyl lining.

Team Chlorine

The Pros
  • Chlorine gets the job done. Nothing is quite as effective when it comes to killing algae and bacteria as chlorine is. And for anyone who wants a sparkling clean pool, that’s a big deal.
  • Chlorine pools cost less to install. Without a salt and chlorine generator, installing a traditional pool is more affordable than a salt water pool.
The Cons
  • Chlorine + humans = chloramines. When our sweat, saliva and cosmetic products mix with chlorine, the combination creates chloramines, which irritate the skin and eyes.
  • Chlorine really isn’t good for you. It’s been associated with some types of cancer, and since it’s so hard on the lungs, it can worsen asthma.
  • Chlorine pools require extra time and maintenance. Just like you have to add salt to salt water pools, you also have to add chlorine to chlorine pools. However, monitoring chemical levels in chlorine pools takes more time and should be done carefully.

And there you have it: the cold, hard facts on salt water and chlorine pools.

If you still have questions about which pool is right for you, call us at our SC location at (864) 676-9400 or our NC location at (828) 687-8080. You can also reach us online to find out more about our pools and spas. With more than 25 years of experience, Hot Springs Pools & Spas is your local expert.

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