(BPT) - As summer temperatures rise, backyard and neighborhood pools become more attractive for old and young alike. The one thing most folks don't like, however, is the smell of the chlorine or how it burns your eyes or feels on your skin once you get out of the water. The chlorine is there to help keep the water clean and clear, and most pools require a lot of regular maintenance to maintain the proper levels.
Saltwater pools, however, offer a better way to enjoy a dip without the smell or feeling of chlorine. They work by converting salt to chlorine using an electrolytic converter. This produces the same type of bacteria-killing chlorine found in a traditional pool, but in a radically different fashion.
How saltwater pools work
Instead of dumping a bunch of chemical chlorine all at one time and letting it dissipate until more is needed, a saltwater pool adds chlorine to the water at a constant rate. This displaces the bad smell and burning irritation we normally associate with chlorine, while maintaining the right amount at all times.
As the water exits the converter and enters the pool, the sanitizing chlorine eventually reverts back to salt, and the process repeats itself, conserving salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced. However new salt does need to be added occasionally as salt levels can drop due to splash-out, rain and filter back-washing. Pool owners still should test weekly for pH and chlorine, and monthly for other water balance factors.
Lower maintenance, less expensive
The other good news for home owners and pool managers is that saltwater pools require far less maintenance than traditional pools and are much less expensive to maintain as pool salt is far cheaper than traditional chlorine. This is a big reason why so many hotels and water parks in the United States have already made the switch. The initial construction and installation of an electrolytic converter is very small and easily made up in maintenance savings. Even converting an existing chlorine pool to saltwater can pay off quickly.
The technology for a saltwater pool was first developed in Australia in the 1960s, and today, more than 80 percent of all pools Down Under use this system. In the United States, saltwater pools first began to see use in the 1980s and have grown exponentially in popularity. According to data published in Pool & Spa News, today there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide and an estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are salt water, compared with only 15 percent in 2002.
Some may be concerned about the effect of salt on pool equipment, construction materials, decks and surrounding structures. However, the actual amount of salt used is very low, less than .01 as salty as sea water. You may be able to barely taste the salt in the pool, but much less so than you can taste and feel the chlorine in a standard pool. When pools are properly constructed and normal maintenance is followed, saltwater has no effect on pool finishes, equipment and decks.
To learn more about saltwater pools and other uses for salt, visit saltinstitute.org.