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Formerly Silver Bullet Water Treatment Company is now a part of Clear Comfort.
Silver Bullet Water Treatment Company is now a part of Clear Comfort.

Pool System Comparison: Chlorine vs Salt

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When people research new pool sanitation systems, they usually start by looking at chlorine and salt, which are the traditional, most common and oldest way to clean pool water.

From maintenance time to health impacts to price – there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right pool sanitation system for your home. While chlorine and salt are just two of the five popular pool sanitation methods, it’s important to know their pros and cons.

If you’re a first-time pool owner or researching your pool sanitation options, here’s everything you need to know about chlorine vs salt pools.

Salt Water Pool Systems

How Do Salt Water Pool Systems Work?

There’s a common misconception that salt water pools don’t contain chlorine, but sanitize water by producing its own chlorine with an electrolysis process.

Commonly referred to as chlorine generators, salt water pool systems make an electrolysis process with a control box and a salt cell. As pool water passes through the salt cell its exposed to a low voltage of electric current sent from the control box, which turns dissolved salt into sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid. Hypochlorous acid is the same sanitizing component produced when any type of chlorine is added to pool water.  

Salt Water Pool System Pros:


  • Less frequent shock treatment
  • Slow release of chlorine can stop algae buildup
  • Full cleaning is only required once a year, i.e.: draining the pool, changing filters, scrubbing surfaces and inspecting the chlorine generator

Pool Environment Quality:

  • Lower chlorine levels create “softer feeling” water
  • Kind to eyes, hair and swimsuits
  • Softer feeling skin after swimming
  • Salt does not need to be stored with special consideration


  • Pool salt is inexpensive in the short term
  • Less expensive day-to-day chemical needs
  • Install the system with a fiberglass pool surface to avoid damage costs

Salt Water Pool System Cons:


  • Storing, handling and dosing heavy salt
  • High pH levels in the pool require continuous monitoring
  • Regular doses of muriatic acid are required to clean salt cells
  • Salt cells need to be removed, inspected and cleaned at least once a season
  • May require a pool professional to fix issues with the system   

Pool Environment Quality:

  • Salt is extremely corrosive and can damage pool equipment, surfaces, lighting and liners
  • Salt water can ruin deck, grass and other areas around the pool
  • Dark surfaces surrounding the pool can acquire “salt rings”
  • With chlorine still present in the water, chloramines can cause asthma, allergies and other lung issues
  • Small amount of chlorine can cause eyes and skin irritation
  • Slight chemical “pool order” from chloramines creation
  • Does not destroy Cryptosporidium or other chlorine-resistant parasites


  • Expensive salt cells need to be replaced around once a year
  • Salt water systems use high amounts of electricity
  • The initial cost of salt to start the pool can be expensive
  • Since salt can corrode other pool equipment, you may need to replace: heaters, pumps, filters, etc.

Chlorine Pool Systems

How Do Chlorine Pool Systems Work?

Since the early 1900s, chlorine has been the most common way to sanitize pool water. With a chlorinated pool, you directly add or pour chlorine directly into the water and it breaks down into various chemicals, including hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. While these chemicals are effective at killing bacteria, algae and viruses, they can create chloramines that have harmful-health side effects to our bodies.

Chloramines are the result of chlorine reacting to organic material like sweat, skin oils, saliva and urea. For chlorine pools, additional chemicals are required to remove chloramines and keep the pool water pH, alkalinity, and calcium balanced. Pool owners and operators of a chlorine pool need to constantly test and monitor chemical levels to ensure their pool stays clean and safe.

Chlorine Pool System Pros:


  • Storing, handling and dosing of toxic chlorine chemicals
  • Easily accessible and understood by many pool service companies

Pool Environment Quality:

  • Will not damage pool equipment or surfaces
  • Chlorine is the most effective way to kill bacteria, algae and viruses


  • Installation and initial costs are cheaper than salt water systems

Chlorine Pool System Cons:


  • Requires a weekly adjustment of chlorine levels with chlorine tablets, sticks, etc.
  • Needs shock treatment every three to four weeks to maintain algae and consistent chlorine levels  
  • Due to inconsistent pH levels, alkalinity levels and calcium require constant surveillance to ensure the chlorine is effective
  • Chlorine must be stored in a cool, dry and well ventilated area to ensure effectiveness and prevent hazards
  • Required use of cyanuric acid to stabilize chlorine levels
  • Handling, storing and dosing of toxic chemicals

Pool Environment Quality:

  • Chlorine dries out eyes and skin and can cause redness and irritation
  • High amounts of chloramines can cause asthma, allergies and other lung issues
  • Strong chemical “pool order” from chloramines creation
  • Does not destroy Cryptosporidium or other chlorine-resistant parasites


  • Additional maintenance chemicals can cost $300 to $800 a year
  • Potential extra water use, in case you need to drain and refill to remove cyanuric acid (needed to maintain chlorine)

Remember, salt water and chlorine are just two of five popular ways to sanitize pool water.

If you’re looking for a salt-alternative that doesn’t produce or need chlorine to operate, Clear Comfort advanced oxidation (AOP) systems use an award-winning technology that offers the best water quality with minimal system maintenance.

Read our blog on how salt water pools and Clear Comfort pools compare here.



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