FAQ Compiled by Blue Whale Pools – Copyright 2013, all rights reserved.
Blue Whale Pool Management specializes in modifying pools to be chlorinated with salt via electrolysis, instead of using traditional manufactured chlorine. Your salt (also called saline) water pool results in a cleaner and more environmentally friendly pool, easier maintenance, lower costs, and a higher quality experience for swimmers. The following Frequently Asked Questions & Answers have been compiled to respond to your concerns about switchover to salt water chlorination. If you have questions not answered here, please contact us here.
Answers in this FAQ came from the manufacturer of our salt chlorination systems AutoPilot, pool chemistry industry associations, and local county board of health resources.
Why is chlorine important?
Chlorine neutralizes contaminants from humans (such as sweat and sunscreen) and organic debris (such as bugs and leaves) so that you do not get sick from the pool. Without chlorine, the pool water eventually would turn green and become unsafe to swim in. A swimming pool is required to have a minimum of 1.0 ppm (parts per million) and no more than 5.0 ppm of chlorine. We check chlorine regularly. On average, pool chlorine is at 3 ppm.
What is the difference between maintaining a pool with traditional manufactured chlorine versus maintaining a pool with salt water chlorinators?
Manufactured chlorine contains chemical additives to increase its effectiveness and shelf life. It s these additives which cause your eyes to turn red, makes your skin sticky, and makes your hair feel brittle. This type of chlorine has to be added to the pool constantly because it evaporates with the water, and it is diluted with rain or when fresh water is added to the pool. Salt water chlorination generates natural chlorine on site by converting salt into free chlorine. More details on how this is done are below.
Why are pools switching to salt water chlorination?
Lower Chlorine Levels – A saltwater pool requires less free chlorine since it is creating chlorine around the clock. Traditional pools require chlorine to be added manually and in order to stay above safe levels, a higher amount of manufactured chlorine is needed. A salt water pool creates chlorine as needed and only when needed.
Controlled Stabilizer Levels In the past, chemical stabilizers are utilized in order to make sure the manufactured chlorine maintains its effectiveness. With a salt system, stabilizer is added only as needed and at a minimum resulting in more effective chlorine. Also county code requires the pool to be drained if and when the stabilizer level exceeds 100 ppm. The salt system avoids this problem.
Superior Algae Control – Saltwater pool systems virtually eliminate algae problems. This is because the chlorine in the pool is not inhibited by high stabilizer levels.
Safety – A salt-water chlorinator makes chlorine in the pool water, automatically and continuously, so you no longer have to buy, store or handle dangerous chemical liquid or chlorine tablets. Personal injury risks associated with the storage of chlorine are eliminated, as are the other risks of potentially harmful situations where accidental contact with these dangerous chemicals by swimmers or maintenance staff can occur. When using salt water chlorination, pump equipment failures no longer create a potential health risk.
Swimmer Comfort – Studies show that over 95% of swimmers prefer swimming in salt water pools to any other type of sanitized pools. Salt has a softening effect, just like a water softener, so hair and skin feels soft and silky rather than dry and brittle as with manufactured chlorine. The other very important factor is that when the water flows through the salt water chlorinator electrodes (see right caption), the chloramines (dead chlorine) that cause a strong chlorine smell and stinging eyes are destroyed thus leaving the water in pristine condition. Salt water pools are popular because some people who consider themselves “sensitive” or “allergic” to chlorine are not actually reacting to the chlorine at all. This problem arises from the use of manufactured chlorine due to additives contained in the chlorine. The same swimmers, who claim allergic reactions to chlorine, typically experience no problems when they are in a salt-water pool. The answer isn’t the absence of chlorine. Salt systems generate their own chlorine on-site! The answer is the absence of the by-products present in manufactured chlorine.
Environmentally friendly – Salt is a safe and naturally occurring element. A salt-water chlorinator recycles the salt over and over so there are no by-product wastes added to the environment. Due to high efficiency of the technologies used, on-site chlorine generation requires a far less energy consumption when compared to commercial chlorine plants. Reduced handling of chlorine means less environmental damage due to accidental spillages.
What is recommended for most homeowner association pools?
Aquacal s AutoPilot Professional series system. More information can be found at http://www.autopilot.com/our-products/category/9-Pool-Pilot-Professional.
How does salt water chlorination work?
A low concentration of salt is put into the pool. The AutoPilot commercial salt chlorination system consists of a control panel, and multiple electrolysis cells in the pump room on the return lines. These chlorinators sanitize the pool by converting salt into free chlorine. Salt makes the water conductive so that electricity can pass between the plates in the cell. Salt is also the raw material from which the chlorine is produced. A low electrical current splits the salt molecule into sodium and chlorine. The produced chlorine is chemically natural which means it keeps the PH and alkalinity levels stable over a longer period of time than if we were using manufactured chlorine. The produced chlorine from the salt chlorinator cells is like invisible chlorine it s there but you cannot taste it, you can t see it, and you can t smell it. It doesn t burn off in the water, it doesn t bleach your swimsuit, and it doesn t burn your skin or eyes. The salt cell chlorinators are controlled by computer control boxes installed in the pump room. The controllers are smart and advice if there is too little, or too much salt in the pool.
How does the chemistry of salt water chlorination work?
This is for those of you who love chemistry! The salt water system cell, by electrolysis, produces sodium hypochlorite (NaOCI). In water, sodium hypochlorite dissociates into sodium (Na+) and hypochlorite (OCI-) ions. It is the hypochlorite ions that form with the hydrogen (H+) ions (from the water) to form hypochlorous acid (HOCI), the active agent that destroys bacteria and algae, and oxidizes organic matter.
Is a salt water pool like swimming in the ocean?
No. For your reference, the ocean has about 20,000 parts per million (ppm) of salt in the water, while a saltwater pool has only about 3500 parts per million salt. At 3500 ppm, you generally cannot even taste the salt. Any water under 6000 ppm is still considered fresh water. Your eyes contain about 9000 ppm of salt!
Will the water taste salty?
No. The concentration of salt in the pool water is approximately 1/10 of the level in the ocean and is below the level of taste for most people. This level of salt is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt in a gallon of water.
Will the pool water still be blue?
Yes. Since the salt water system creates chlorine, the water is still blue and also very clear. This salt system will give your pool the best water quality you have ever seen.
Does this soften the pool water?
Yes, and this is another benefit of the salt system. Research shows most swimmers appreciate the soft feel of water in a salt system pool.
What type of salt is put into the pool? Is it ordinary table (edible) salt?
The salt we put into your pool strictly follows the manufacturer s specifications. The manufacturer suggests salt that is an evaporated, granulated, food quality, non-iodized salt. The salt is purchased from a commercial pool supplier experienced in salt water chlorination systems such as Leslie s pool supply.
Does the salt damage pool equipment?
No. Low levels of salt have relatively insignificant corrosive effects on pool fittings and equipment.
Where does the salt go?
We add granulated salt (it looks a lot like table salt, but without any additives) to the pool strictly according to the salt system manufacturer. Salt will be poured into the deep end of the pool. The salt quickly dissolves in the pool water and is then circulated through the main drains into the pump system and throughout the pool evenly.
When water evaporates from our saltwater pool, do we lose salt?
No. Salt does not evaporate (even when water does). Many pools that are large and not deep evaporates water faster than a deeper, smaller pool, resulting in a faster loss of manufactured chlorine. A saltwater pool is perfect for a shallow larger pool that evaporates water faster during hot summer months when we get less rain and experience hotter daytime temperatures.
What is the difference in running costs between a salt water and manufactured chlorine pool?
Annual running costs for salt-water pools cost less than half that of a manufactured chlorine pool because salt is so inexpensive.
Will we save money by switching to salt water pool?
Yes. The salt system allows you to negotiate lower maintenance costs since you do not have to use manufactured chlorine. You will save over $1,000 a year in expenses by switching to salt water chlorination.
Will we ever need to add manufactured pool chlorine (shock) again?
From time to time it may become necessary to add some manufactured chlorine to the pool. This may be due to heavy rain or if the chlorine level needs to be shocked back up due to a contamination. We check chlorine levels regularly to insure the proper chlorine level.
Please contact us for a custom quote or if you have any questions not answered here.