Splashing Out on a Pool? Salt Water vs Chlorine – Which Is Better?

September 3, 2019
Swimming pool

With long hot Summers in Australia, swimming pools are becoming more common. If you’re thinking of splashing out on a pool, the big question is which is best for you?

Here we look at salt water vs chlorine to decide which is better.

Research conducted by Roy Morgan in November 2018 found “nearly 2.7 million Australians these days live in a house with a swimming pool, equivalent to 13% of the Australian population”.

It’s a significant investment so it’s worth doing your research.

Is a salt water pool better than chlorine?

You may be wondering, what’s the difference between a salt water pool and a chlorine one? Look no further as we’ve done the research for you to uncover the key differences.

Many think salt water pools contain water from the ocean. They don’t. They’re also not chlorine free. Key facts about salt water pools:

  • They’re initially more expensive to purchase
  • They need a special salt chlorine generator to maintain chlorine levels, so you’ll be using more electricity
  • Lower chlorine levels mean pools remain disinfected and are better for those planning lots of pool time like children, athletes and those with sensitive skin
  • Lack of harsh chemicals mean it’s gentler on skin, eyes and hair and less likely to affect swimwear
  • If issues arise, maintenance is expensive due to the complex nature of the salt water system. Repairs (both minor and major) require services of a specialised and licenced technician
  • These pools need special accessories purchased, including underwater lighting, heaters, fixtures, liners and masonry work specific to salt water pools
  • Salt creates corrosion, so it’s best to avoid the use of certain materials like limestone as the salt water will erode it over time. Corrosion will likely also affect decking materials, pipes, handrails and ladders

Chlorine pools are popular because they’re cheaper to install and maintain. Key facts about chlorine pools:

  • They’re initially cheaper to purchase
  • Chlorine is available in tablet, stick and liquid form and must be stored in a specific environment, free from moisture to maintain effectiveness and reduce human exposure to toxic fumes
  • They require a pump to circulate water and aid in preventing dirt, bacteria and algae from multiplying in the water
  • They use less electricity, but require cleaning equipment
  • Swimming pool fixtures are not impacted significantly by chlorine
  • Chlorine is harsh on skin, eyes, hair and potentially painting on pool decks (subject to paint selected)
  • They require more maintenance and constant testing with a pH kit and monitoring of chlorine and chemical levels to guard against bacteria

What are the health benefits of a salt water pool vs chlorine?

Salt water pool health benefits include:

  • Gentler on skin, eyes and lungs
  • Less smell so they’re beneficial to swimmers suffering allergies or respiratory issues
  • Great for skin. Studies show it aids with skin disorders like eczema, acne and psoriasis
  • Salt water promotes relaxation and anti-stress aids in muscle and joint recovery

Chlorine health benefits include:

  • It kills bacteria and germs so swimmers aren’t easily exposed to these toxic substances
  • Chlorine pools also oxidize organic debris from perspiration and body oils and fight algae

Besides protecting against bacteria, it’s difficult to find many health benefits of chlorine pools. This may be why many hotels and resorts are now moving to salt water pool systems.

The verdict

If you’re thinking of splashing out on a pool, take the plunge. The cost to build a pool and maintain it is hefty and overall the long-term health benefits of salt water pools outweigh chlorine.

They’re also more economical in the long run, especially when looking at pool maintenance, but ultimately only you will know which is the right pool to match your wants, needs, lifestyle and budget.

For more information on pool maintenance, read our article on swimming pool maintenance tips for a healthy pool this summer.

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