Nothing is worse than having a swimming pool that is green from algae or has slime on its walls and floor. Most pool owners are content to add powdered chemicals day after day to keep chlorine levels high. But for some the chlorine generator has replaced the task of adding chemicals.
There are two types of chlorine generators used in residential pool systems. A brine unit uses a container of salt and by electrolysis produces chlorine which upon contact with water produces hypochlorous acid, which is then injected into the pool water as it is filtered. Hypochlorous acid is the active ingredient used in chlorine laundry bleach and is an effective sanitizer when used properly. The downside to this type of chlorine generator is that the electrolysis process produces large amounts of sodium hydroxide (lye) which must be cleaned out of the unit and disposed of properly. Due to this waste disposal issue, brine units are less commonly used today.
The most common chlorine generation unit requires that salt be added to the pool water, usually about 25 pounds per 1000 gallons. There are two different types of salted water chlorine generators. Both types use electrolysis like the brine unit, but instead of using concentrated salt use the salt in the pool water. The first type of salted water chlorinator uses convection to circulate pool water and makes chlorine even if the circulating pump is turned off. The other type of salted water unit is installed inline with the filtration system and only produces chlorine when the filtration system is active.
There are two benefits to this system in that slightly salted water often “feels” better than fresh water and that waste production is greatly decreased. However, it must be remembered that for optimal performance the units must be cleaned regularly, and some systems offer reverse polarity options that make the units self-cleaning and greatly minimize maintenance. Some users may be concerned about cost, as chlorine generation units are not inexpensive, but some costs are recouped in the fact that pool chemical expenses are greatly reduced in a salt system.
While traditional swimming pools have long made use of fresh water with chlorine and other chemicals added and monitored manually, salt water swimming pools offer a safe and enjoyable alternative as a swimming pool for your home.
The salt water used in typical salt water swimming pools is not the same as the ocean water you swim in on a trip to the beach. Ocean water has a much higher concentration of salt, as much as 35,000 parts per million. At ten times the human salt taste threshold of 3500 parts per million, this is why ocean water has such an unpleasant salty taste. Salt water swimming pools, by contrast, have a much lower salinity; the chlorine generators they employ usually require a salinity between 2500 and 6000 parts per million.
Salt water swimming pools employ the modern technology of chlorine generators to eliminate the need for a pool owner to purchase and handle chlorine as a part of the maintenance of their swimming pool. A properly functioning chlorine generator will be producing chlorine constantly, and so the chlorine level of your swimming pool will be maintained without your constant intervention. The presence of chlorine in the pool’s water is important to keep the water free of algae and harmful bacteria which can be both unsightly and dangerous to the health of those swimming in the pool. Chlorine generators use the water’s natural salt and convert it into chlorine to keep the swimming pool free of these unwanted growths.
While chlorine generators do greatly reduce the time and cost of taking care of your swimming pool, it is important that they be kept in good working order. This means as an owner you must ensure that your generator remains clean and free of calcium and other mineral build-up. With care, chlorine generators can be kept smoothly operating for years, but a calcified or clogged device cannot efficiently process the salt water and generate chlorine, causing a valuable system to go to waste. For many pool owners, a self-cleaning chlorine generation system can be well worth the added investment.
Salt water swimming pools offer other benefits beside lower time and maintenance costs as well. Pool owners who have switched to salt water have described the water as smoother and more pleasant, and swimming overall becomes that much more enjoyable. Swimming in a low saline content pool is in some ways similar to taking a shower in soft water. While traditional chlorine pools often leave swimmers with skin that feels dry and uncomfortable after swimming, the saline solution of salt water swimming pools will leave your skin feeling smooth and refreshed. Traditional chlorinated pools also may leave a whitish, flaking residual on the skin from the pool’s chemicals, which salt water pool swimmers do not experience. Salt water pool owners also avoid the unpleasant stinging sensation traditional chlorine pools often cause to swimmers’ eyes. Even hair, often lent an unpleasant greenish tinge by most swimming pools, will benefit from the change to salt water.