The first misunderstanding that people have about saltwater pool systems is that they are a new technology. While they have only recently gained popularity in the United States, saltwater-based purification systems were invented more than 30 years ago in Australia and have long been in use there for commercial and backyard swimming pools. Today, 90 percent of Australian pools use saltwater systems.
But an even bigger misconception is that saltwater pools are chlorine-free. They are not. Even in a saltwater pool system, chlorine is the element that keeps the water clean and safe by killing algae, bacteria and viruses. The difference is the chlorine’s source. Instead of requiring the addition of chlorine in granules, tablets or liquid, saltwater pools continually manufacture their own chlorine.
To understand how this is possible, remember one of the first bits of chemistry that you probably ever learned. The salt on your table, like the salt in the ocean as well as the salt used in pools, is a compound called sodium chloride, represented by the symbol NaCl. That Cl and the chlor in chloride mean that salt contains chlorine atoms. Saltwater pools simply employ a piece of equipment that sets the chlorine atoms free from the salt molecules. In fact, this device is actually called a “chlorine generator.”
In a saltwater pool, the pump drives water through the filtering system and through the pool’s chlorine generator. Using electric current passed through plates made of titanium and the rare metal ruthenium, the generator constantly breaks apart the salt molecules that pass through it. The freed chlorine goes on to form other compounds such as hypochlorous acid and sodium hypochlorite, which are what actually disinfects the water. These compounds are no different than the ones that form in a “regular” pool system from the direct addition of chlorine.
So if the end result is basically the same, what’s the point in installing a chlorine generation system in the first place? Actually, the end results are not quite the same. Standard chlorination also produces chemicals called chloramines, which are what can make pool water smell “chloriney” as well as drying the skin and burning the eyes. Chlorine generators do not produce chloramines as a byproduct. And there are several other advantages to this method of pool sanitization as well:
- The water feels “softer” to the skin because the same process that produces chlorine from salt also removes dissolved minerals, reducing the pool’s alkalinity.
- By the same token, calcium buildup on the pool is reduced.
- There’s no need to buy, store and handle chlorine products. And even the necessary salt is added to the pool water once, because it’s recycled by the system.
With a saltwater system, you can have a true luxury pool that not only looks good but feels good to the skin and eyes of swimmers. With our expertise in custom pool design and construction, Hop Cassidy Pools can help you achieve the swimming environment of your dreams. We’ve been a trusted and respected Scottsdale swimming pool builder for more than 25 years, performing some of the most unique Phoenix swimming pool construction and remodeling projects. Call Hop Cassidy today at 480-905-8780 for a free initial consultation and quote.