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People often call chlorinated pools regular pools because they’re so common. Most swimming pools use chlorine tablets, granular, or liquid chlorine to purify the water. Salt water pools use a system that converts the salt in the water into chlorine.

Neither of these pools is better than the other, but each has its pros and cons. Traditional chlorinated pools are more widely understood and cost less upfront. But a salt water pool is easier to manage once the water is balanced but is a higher initial investment.

We’ll help you learn all the ins and outs of these unique pool varieties and make the right choice based on your needs!

What’s the Main Difference Between a Salt Water and a Chlorine Pool? 

The first, perhaps noticeable, difference between saltwater pools and chlorine pools is the water chemistry. Saltwater pools systems combine salt and sanitizer with a salt chlorine generator.

Chlorine pools are the same as traditional ones since they use fresh water. Aside from some that may accumulate due to mineral deposits from the added shock treatments or other pool maintenance, there is no salt in the water.

In a saltwater pool, the pool’s chemistry is regulated through an electrifying mechanism. These small electrical shocks transform the sodium molecules into chlorine sanitizers. On a basic level, sanitation in these pools is the same since both pools use chlorine.

However, they differ in how they add chlorine. In a traditional chlorine pool, chlorine is added directly to the pool filter and water to adjust the water chemistry. The chlorine reacts with particles in the water, neutralizing them and transforming contaminants into chloramines.

Salt is added and modified in salt water pools through the salt chlorine generator, which sanitizes the water. Salt is converted to chlorine in salt water pools to sanitize the pool water. In a freshwater pool, owners must add chlorine to the pool water.

What is a Salt Water Pool? 

Salt water pools are swimming pools that use salt rather than chlorine to sanitize the water. A salt water chlorinator converts salt into sanitizer, making the water chemistry safe and balanced.

Some pool owners assume that it must be safe because their pool water has salt. But sanitizing your pool water with salt isn’t just adding salt to your pool water and hoping for the best. Instead, you need to use a chlorine generator to convert salt into sanitizer for the pool.

If the salt in the pool is too high, it can impact chlorine levels in a salt water pool. Ideally, your salt levels should be around 3,200 parts per million. To calculate the amount of salt to add to your water, test your current saline levels and multiply it by the capacity of your pool.

Pour the appropriate amount of salt into the shallow end of your pool. Let your pool pump run for at least eight hours, and run your chlorine generator. Running the pump and generator will help convert the salt into chlorine and ensure all the salt particles dissolve.

The conversion time usually takes about 24 hours. After one day, test your pool’s current pH and chlorine levels to determine if you need to add salt.

What is a Chlorine Pool? 

Chlorine pools are also known as traditional chlorine pools. They’re called this because most pools are chlorine pools. While some people add bromine instead of chlorine, these pools don’t convert salt into chlorine or bromine. Pool owners must add these chemicals to the water. 

Salt water pools have pure chlorine, while traditional chlorine pools use chemically enhanced chlorine. Chemically enhanced chlorine is more potent, which allows it to kill bacteria and parasites much faster. Chlorine and bleach are the preferred water sanitizers for drinking and industrial water purification.

Since chlorine pools use an enhanced variety of chlorine, it can dry hair and skin. Salt water pools don’t have this problem since pure chlorine is much softer and gentle on the body.

Adding chlorine is relatively straightforward. You must consistently test your water’s pH levels every other day. Chlorine can be added directly to your swimming pool. Run the filter for at least eight hours to evenly distribute the chemicals.

While most people use granular chlorine, you can also use liquid chlorine or chlorine tablets. Liquid chlorine won’t impact your pool pH, which makes it a safer option. However, you’ll also need to add more stabilizers to the water to ensure UV rays do not destroy it.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Saltwater Swimming Pool? 

The main downside of a saltwater pool is the cost. Saltwater pool maintenance costs more since the chlorine generator and salt is more expensive than traditional chlorine pool chemicals.

A saltwater chlorinator costs between $1,500-2,500 on average. While these can be expensive, they last for years, making them an excellent long-term investment. Pool salt can also be costly, especially since you’ll need to use 40-60 pounds on average to adjust your pool’s salt level.

There are several benefits to saltwater pools, though. The water is a natural moisturizer and is much safer for your skin, eyes, and hair. Whereas chlorine pools dry out your hair and skin after long-term exposure, a saltwater pool is soft and acts as a natural moisturizer.

A salt chlorine generator also helps keep the water balanced and prevents the need for constant maintenance. You should test your water regularly, but saltwater pools don’t require the continuous chemical adjustments often required by chlorine pools.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Chlorine Swimming Pool? 

The main benefits of a chlorine pool are its popularity among pool owners and relative affordability. However, an in-ground chlorine pool will cost nearly $30,000-50,000 for installation. Saltwater pools vs. chlorine pools don’t have much of a difference when it comes to the cost of installation.

Above-ground pools are much cheaper, costing around $10,000-20,000 to install. Although, when it comes to day-to-day pool maintenance, a saltwater pool is the more affordable option. The reason a saltwater pool is considered more expensive than a chlorine pool is the price of a salt chlorine generator.

But this machine will last you years and bring down the day-to-day cost of chlorine and other pool chemicals. Chlorine pool maintenance is more expensive because the chemical usage is higher and costs more than pool-grade salt.

The costs of these different pools vary on the initial and long-term investments. Chlorine pool-grade salt is cheaper than chemical chlorine in a regular chlorine pool. However, a chlorine generator will cost much more upfront.

A chlorine pool will cost you less upfront. The maintenance of the pool water chemistry is more widely understood, so there’s less of a learning curve.


There isn’t a straightforward answer to the comparison between saltwater pools vs. chlorine pools and which you should get. To recap, a saltwater pool is softer on the skin and more affordable over the long term.

However, a chlorine pool is more widely understood with cheaper upfront costs. While you’ll end up paying more long-term for chlorine chemicals, the cost is more affordable upfront.

It comes down to your needs and preferences. Both have pros and cons, but you should choose the one that best suits your budget and needs. If you already have a chlorine pool and struggle to balance your water chemistry, check out our article on the topic!


What Exactly is a Salt Chlorine Generator? 

Saltwater pools don’t use chlorine chemicals to balance the pool water chemistry. Saltwater pools use machines known as salt chlorine generators, also known as a salt water chlorinator.

The electrical charge produced by the machine electrifies the salt, altering the molecules and turning them into natural chlorine. Saltwater pools require this machine to make the water safe and sanitary.

How to Test Pool Salt Levels? 

Digital salt testers are the best option for testing your water’s salinity. Saltwater pools require a balanced amount of salt to keep the salt water system working optimally. A digital tester will help you quickly determine how much salt your pool has and whether the chlorine levels are correct.

Keep your saltwater pool salt levels between 2,700-3,400 parts per million. Testing how much salt is in your water is the best way to determine whether your swimming pool needs more salt. However, you can also test your pool’s chlorine levels to see if the salt water system works properly.

How Often Should You Add More Salt in Saltwater Pools?

You don’t need to add salt to your saltwater pool every day or week. Saltwater pools don’t lose saline unless your pool loses water or you experience heavy rainfall. Test your pool water every week to ensure the water’s chemical levels are proper and balanced.

There are two main ways of knowing whether your saltwater pool needs more salt. The first is to test the water, determine the current salt levels, and see how much salt your pool needs.

The second way to determine if your pool needs more salt is to test the chlorine levels. If your pool has too much or too little salt, it will impact how the chlorine generator works. Saltwater pools require the correct salt balance so the chlorinate generator operates appropriately.

Should You Mix Chlorine and Salt in Chlorine Pools?

You shouldn’t add salt to chlorine pools. Traditional chlorinated pools have separate systems from saltwater pools and thus won’t convert salt to produce chlorine. Adding salt will likely just make your pool water salty and unpleasant.