Pool upkeep can be a daunting task even for homeowners that have owned them for ages. Cleaning, filtering, and chlorination are the three main jobs you have to deal with when you own a pool. However, chlorine is not always necessary, as you can use pool salt instead.
Many people are slowly switching to pool salt to avoid chlorine's many shortcomings, such as drying out the skin and hair. Pool salt will not leave your hair dry or irritate the skin. However, you need to know what pool salt is all about before making the switch.
What is Pool Salt?
Pool salt is standard sodium chloride, NaCl just like regular table salt. The primary difference between pool salt and ordinary table salt is that the former comes in larger crystals, making it easier to add to the pool water.
Since sodium and chlorine are the two main components in pool salt, dissolving it in the pool water leads to chloride and sodium ions forming as it dissolves in the water.
A chemical reaction then occurs and converts the chloride ions to hypochlorite acid, which cleans and sanitizes the pool water.
What is Pool Salt Used for?
Pool salt is used for cleaning and sanitizing the pool water. It does this by chlorinating the pool water, just like pool chlorine. However, the amounts are smaller and in hypochlorite acid form, making the pool water safer for the skin and hair.
A typical saltwater pool will have a salinity around 3,000 parts per million (ppm), and the water is less harsh compared to chlorinated pools.
Read More: Saltwater Pool vs. Chlorine Pool
Many pool owners will also use pool salt to protect their filter and other pool equipment while still keeping the water sanitized.
Why is Pool Salt Important?
Besides helping keep your pool water clean and sanitized, pool salt is vital for ensuring the salt chlorinator maintains efficient operations. If your pool does not have enough salt, your chlorinator will produce little chlorine, so the water will not be clean enough.
Good quality pool salt does not have any organisms or compounds that can be harsh on the pool fixtures and cause other problems like scaling or staining.
But, while pool salt is crucial for saltwater pools, it is essential to note that having too much of it can shut down the chlorinator, which dramatically affects the pool's sanitation.
Kinds of Pool Salt
1. Solar Salt
Solar salt comes from the sea. During its manufacture, seawater is put in large ponds and allowed to evaporate, leaving behind salt that is often just packed and sold as it is.
However, impurities from the seawater, such as microorganisms and bacteria, can damage your pool equipment like the chlorinator. Therefore, many pool salt manufacturers will refine their solar salt further to remove these contaminants before packaging.
2. Mined/Rock Salt
Mined or rock salts come from the earth. This pool salt type is one of the purest you can get, as it will typically be at least 95% sodium chloride. Given its purity levels, this salt type goes through very little processing.
3. Mechanically Evaporated Salt
Mechanically evaporated salt comes from seawater, just like solar salt. However, instead of relying on the sun to evaporate the water and leave behind salt, water is heated in a mechanical evaporation system.
Unlike solar salt, most contaminants like microorganisms and brine shrimp are killed off, leaving behind a pure salt. However, it still contains more minerals like calcium and copper, making it vital to monitor mineral levels in your pool water if you opt for this salt.
How to Buy Pool Salt
There are plenty of pool salt options to choose from out there. Hence, it is crucial to make sure you choose one keenly. Here are a few essential points to keep in mind when buying pool salt.
- Purity Levels: Any pool salt you choose needs a purity level of 99% for the best results. Although anything over 95% can still work, it will contain minerals and other compounds that can scale and stain the pool and require regular chlorine generator clean-up.
- Granulation: The best pool salt should have grains larger than table salt but still even to ensure they dissolve faster.
- Color: Pool salt color is a good indication of its purity level, and here you need to make sure what you choose has a pure white shade.
- Additives: Pure pool salt with no additives is always the best. Some will include anti-staining or anti-clumping additives, but they sometimes do not work well with a chlorinator, and it is best to avoid them.
How to Use Pool Salt
Step 1: Check Your Chlorine Generator Manual
The first step should always be to check your chlorine generator manual to determine the salt level it operates in, which in most cases is between 3,000 and 4,000 ppm.
Step 2: Test the Current Pool Salt Level
Next, you need to test the current salt level in the pool. For new pool installation, it should be zero, and so you need to take the salt up to at least 3,000 ppm. Saltwater test strips like the AquaChek 561140A Salt Water Test Strips can be handy here.
Step 3: Calculate How Much Salt You Need
Once you determine the current salt level, you should calculate how much salt you need to add based on the size of the pool.
Step 4: Turn Off Chlorine Generator.
Before adding salt, you need to switch off the chlorine generator but allow the pump to keep running as it helps circulate the salt in the water.
Step 5: Add Salt to the Shallow End
You should then pour the salt directly into the pool, preferably on the shallow end, for the best results and leave it to circulate for at least a day. Do not pour the salt into the skimmer.
Step 6: Turn on the Chlorinator and Measure Salt Levels Again
The last step is to switch on the chlorinator and test the salt level again to check whether it is at the ideal point and if not, you have to repeat the steps above.
Pool salt provides a better alternative to chlorine for those who want something less harsh on their skins and hair but still effective enough to sanitize your pool water.
You need to ensure you only use good quality pool salt for the best results without damaging your chlorinator.