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St George Landscaping, Masonry and Excavation

Considering A Chlorine vs. Saltwater Backyard Pool

The CDC reports that swimming is the fourth most popular recreational activity in the United States and it is the most popular recreation activity for children and teens ages 7-17. However, the CDC also reports that Recreational Water Illnesses are on the rise. Most RWI infections are preventable by good pool maintenance and appropriate hygiene practices. Nobody wants family, neighbors, or friends to get sick while using their pool. That is why how to keep your pool water healthy and clean should be one of your top concerns when you install one in your backyard.

What are the options when installing a pool?

Here at STONETREE, we’ve worked around many different kinds of pools while landscaping for our clients. There is the traditional chlorine pool or the increasingly popular saltwater pool. When you compare the two choices you’ll find that one isn’t automatically better than the other. The advantages and disadvantages are simply different.

To clear up any confusion, it is important to make the distinction that both types of pools use chlorine to keep the water bacteria free. Only the method of delivery is different. In a traditional pool, chlorine is introduced into the water in the form of tablets or poured in liquid form. A saline pool uses electricity to extract chlorine from salt and delivers it into the pool.

Saline or Chlorine: The More Popular Choice

A traditional chlorinated pool has historically been the most popular type of pool built in the US. Saline pools have come in and out of popularity but generally the chlorine pool has stood the test of time. However, Australia has converted to saltwater pools almost exclusively with 80% of pools there being of the saltwater variety. Some statistics say since 2007 that 75% of new pool installations were salt water. So, saline pools are gaining a bigger market in the US than in the past.


  • A chlorine pool has an initial installation that is less expensive.
  • A chlorine pool can be installed anywhere and out of a variety of building materials. In contrast, the water in a saline pool contains salt, which is corrosive. Consideration should be taken to use materials that are non-corrosive.
  • Clearing up bacteria in a chlorine pool is a much quicker process. The process takes about 24 hours.
  • Many sources say that chlorine pools require more maintenance than salt water pools, but it’s more correct to say that it requires a different type of maintenance. Some homeowners find maintaining the chemical balance of a chlorine pool more straight-forward than a saline pool. They rather throw in chlorine tablets than tinker with salt levels.
  • Many swimmers complain that chlorine pools are harsh on their skin, hair, and swimwear. If your skin or hair is especially sensitive you might want to consider a saline pool.


  • The initial cost and setup of a salt water pool is more money upfront because an electric converter must be installed with the pool. This converter processes the salt into chlorine, which is then distributed throughout the water in liquid form.
  • This system produces a bacteria killing effect with a smaller amount of chlorine. For this reason, saline pools are considered more environmentally friendly.
  • Fans of salt water pools say that they find the maintenance to be easier, but since the chlorine is produced through salt it can take days to get pool chemicals balanced. Pool and Spa news lists a number of ways a saline pool can fail to produce enough chlorine so it is not foolproof and must be monitored.
  • Many people say that the water is softer against their skin and easier on their hair and swimwear. The quality of the water does have a different feel but some people complain the salt-content sticks on their skin all day. It essentially comes down to personal preference.
  • The main drawback to a salt water pool is that saltwater is corrosive and breaks down materials. Things that come in constant or frequent contact with the pool water must either be made out of a non corrosive material or be rinsed with freshwater frequently. This should be considered part of good maintenance for this type of pool.
  • It is true that chlorine treatments can be more expensive than salt water pools but you need to take into account that since electricity is used to produce chlorine from the salt that your electricity bill will go up. The expense of electricity will vary from state to state, area to area so only you can calculate which is more cost effective.
  • In addition, some saline converters must be replaced after several years. So, be sure to check how long your equipment is good for and how long the warranty extends. In some cases it is also necessary to purchase and replenish your salt supply.

More Things To Consider

Many proponents of saltwater pools are excited that about the idea that less chemicals need to be added to the water. However, both methods use chlorine and it is important then to realize that chlorine levels need to be stabilized with cyanuric acid. If this is not done the chlorine will escape from the water. Chlorine levels are sensitive to UV rays and the php levels in the water. Chemicals are also used to balance php levels so the chlorine will remain effective in clearing out bacteria.

Saltwater pools need to be chemically maintained in the same way that chlorinated pools do. However, If your pool has a harsh chemical smell that stings your eyes that it is not a sign of too much chlorine. That smell is the byproduct of the chlorine killing off bacteria in the pool. It is a sign that the pool is in need of maintenance. Both types of pools require regular inspections to check php and chlorine levels to insure the pool stays within the guidelines set by the CDC.

As the top landscaping service in Southern Utah, we have encountered both saline and chlorine pools and have learned the best way to landscape around either type of pool. We hope this information helps you decide which pool you would prefer to add and stay healthy and safe.

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