When my parents put their pool in decades ago there were no options on the type of pool, there was only chlorine. I hated swimming in it on the day that my Dad added more chlorine. My eyes are so sensitive to water to begin with but add the chlorine in the pool and they would be red so quick. I remember watching my dad testing the pH of the water and adding the right amount of chemicals to balance things out. My parents neighbour put in a salt pool several years ago and I thought there were crazy. Salt? Like the ocean? Who would want that? But when it came time to make the decision for our pool I knew better. It is a very personal decision to make so I will just share with you the environmental impacts of both choices and what I feel is the best option.
First things first....salt is NaCl <------ Cl = Chlorine. So even with a salt pool you still have chlorine. The difference is how it gets into your pool, in what quantity and how it affects the environment and your health.
There is very little salt in a salt water pool. I have read that it is less than 1/300th the salinity of a human tear. You can't taste it, you can't smell it and you don't see it on your skin when the water dries. When our pool was first started up our contractor added 8 bags of salt to it to initially get it charged up. That salt water flows through our chlorinator which takes the salt in the water and through electrolysis converts it into a small amount of chlorine. When the chlorine comes into contact with algae, bacteria etc it oxidize it and then converts back into salt. In a salt water pool the salt is always present so the chlorinator is constantly producing chlorine to disinfect and clean the pool. With a chlorine pool you have to add chlorine yourself after testing the pH to determine what needs to be added. You can add it in a liquid or puck form. The chlorine is in a much stronger concentration than in a salt water pool. The affect on your skin and clothing is evident with a chlorine pool. Today I was in our salt pool and had no such impact. I didn't smell and my eyes didn't sting at all!
It is common for municipalities to ban the draining of salt water pools into their sewer systems out of fear of what the salt build up will do to the water ways. They do not have the same concern over the amount of chlorine being added to these same water ways (WHAT????). Our contractor helped us find a solution to this problem. New on the market in the last few years is a low salt system. This means that our pool requires half the salt to maintain itself. Municipalities now allow pools that use these systems to be drained into the sewer systems.
Plants and grass adjacent to your pool can die if they come in contact with water from a salt pool. Our solution is to test out the splash zone of the pool and to not have any vegetation within that area.
As you can tell we went with a salt system as we found that it was the best choice for our health and the environment. The added bonus is that in the long run (typically 3 years) it will be cheaper to operate and it is overall easier to maintain.
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