Saltwater Pools: A Better Way to Swim?

Ditch the chlorine for a healthier option

Burning eyes, green hair and bleached bathing suits are all just part of a day at the pool...right? Now, that may not be the case. Given the many side effects of chlorine, it's no surprise that an alternative to traditional swimming pools is booming in popularity.

Saltwater pools were first introduced in Australia in the 1960s, but have been gaining popularity in the United States over the last decade. In 2007, saltwater pools made up three-quarters of new pool installations—a massive spike from the 15 percent in 2002, according to research by Pool & Spa News.

Today, even gym chains are catching on, including New York Health & Racquet Club in New York City. The company recently replaced eight of its nine chlorine pools in Manhattan with the new technology. 

“It’s the healthier way to go [and] the right thing to do,” said Kim Manocherian, President and CEO of NYHR. “We’ve had incredible feedback from our members. They notice the difference.”

But what is the difference? And why make the switch? Here’s the gist on what gets saltwater pools their rave reviews.

They’re Better For You
According to a host of studies, the chemicals in chlorinated swimming pools could cause asthma, respiratory problems and even cancer. Even unkeep—which involves handling and storing manufacted chlorine—requires some exposure to chemicals.

Automatic Sanitation
While traditional pools require you to add chlorine and other chemicals regularly to keep them clean, saltwater pools have a seperate chlorine generator that produces natural chlorine from salt. After sanitizing the water, the chlorine converts back to salt before it re-enters the pool, making sure you don’t get that chlorine smell or feel.

You'll be More Buoyant
Not only will the salt make you feel lighter in the water, but it won't have an overwhelming ocean taste. Salt concentration in the pools tops out at about 2,800 to 4,000 parts per million compared to 50,000 parts per million in the sea. They're even less salty than tears. The low concentration also means that the water will not be corrosive to pool equipment, construction materials, decks or other surrounding structures.

But is it More Expensive?
Although the initial costs of installing a saltwater system can be two to four times as much as a standard pool, you’ll save money on chlorine pucks and other chemicals, as well as maintenance and repairs for wear and tear caused by chlorine. In this way, the upgrade can pay for itself in as little as three years.