Is a Salt Water Pool Healthier for my Family?

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Swimming might be the least impacting, most complete exercise there is — and the most zenlike. But the idea of submerging oneself into chlorinated water is a turnoff for those with sensitive skin and $300 hair-color treatments.

A saltwater pool is a way of bringing the beach into the home. Saltwater has fewer toxins, it’s softer on the skin and it won’t cause red eyes or green hair. Converting your pool to saline involves a chlorine generator cell and a few bags of salt to produce electrolysis, which keeps the water sanitized by vaporizing algae and bacteria. The cells last from three to five years and can range in price from $600 to $1,800 for those willing to take the plunge.

There are so many opinions when it comes to salt water pool systems versus chlorine pool treatment. Most of the focus is on cost and maintenance. However, for me, it was the health benefits.

Chlorine is the chemical most often used to keep swimming pools and jacuzzi's free of bacteria that can be hazardous to humans.

Chlorine kills bacteria through a relatively simple chemical reaction. The chlorine solution you add to the pool water breaks down into many different chemicals, including hypochlorous acid(HOCl) and hypochlorite ion (OCl-). Both kill microorganisms and bacteria by attacking the lipids in the cell walls and destroying the enzymes and structures inside the cell, rendering them oxidized and harmless. In the effort to kill bacteria using chlorine in pools, there are health concerns such as gasses that are inhaled and the damage it does to skin, hair and eyes. Most green parents are concerned about overexposure to high levels of chlorine absorbed through the skin.

Many people don't know the human body has 0.15 percent chlorine by weight, but overexposure is toxic.

There is a slight misconception about saltwater pools systems: they do have chlorine. When the salt is electronically zapped through electrolysis, it naturally turns the salt into chlorine. So, one might ask, why then the debate?

Chlorine you purchase to add to your pool is far more concentrated and is chemically produced through various methods. It is harsher than the chlorine produced by a salt water generator. Ever notice when swimming in a public pool the harsh chemical smell on your skin lingers on long after leaving the pool? That is due to higher levels of chlorine as well as other components from the chloramines that are produced. Chloramines aren't produced with a salt water pool system.

One of the great reasons I chose a salt water pool system for my pool is the salt generated chlorine is so much milder. The initial salt added to the pool was food grade salt (pickling salt) and therefore wasn't harsh on my child's eyes and skin. When swimming in the pool, one can barely detect any salt in the water at all, and you cannot detect any chlorine in the water by taste or smell. Our skin feels softer after swimming in our salt water pool. Swimming in an all chemically-produced chlorine pool, we come out smelling of chlorine, burning red eyes and skin irritation and having to shower to get the smell off.

A salt water pool system has one-tenth of the salt that the ocean has and yet the pool stays clean and clear. Depending on what system you have, you may still have to add other products for pH balancing. Because salt does not evaporate, you do not have to continuously add salt, unlike chlorine. The salt water generator continuously uses the salt in the pool and electrically turns it into chlorine. Cutting the cost to you and impact on the environment from packaging materials from buying chemically-produced chlorine. 

Once the system is in place, there can be a huge difference compared to chlorine pools.

Amanda Rogers