Salt vs. Chlorine Pools: The Pros and Cons

Whether you already have a pool installed on your property or you’re planning to have one in the near or distant future, one of the decisions you’ll have to make will be whether or not to balance the pH levels of the pool’s water with salt or chlorine.

The decision is more difficult than it sounds, as there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both options with no clear cut winner coming out on the other end.


What works best for you will depend on where your pool is located, how much rain you get and how much use you’ll get out of your pool. The general assessment of the two is that salt is cheaper and better for your health, but still a highly corrosive substance that can cause problems for the areas around the pool, particularly if there are any soft surfaces nearby.

Chlorine chemicals, on the other hand, are a bit more expensive and time-consuming. They can also pose a greater health risk than the salt water based pools.

What we need to do is take a closer look at both options and look at all the pros and cons. Once everything is in front of you, it will be easier to make an informed decision based on your particular situation.

Pros and Cons of Salt Water Based Pools

Salt water is the cheaper of the two options; it’s also the more environmental and health-friendly choice. Since the salt is broken down and dissolved, it will be less harmful to your eyes and it won’t make the water taste salty (like you would experience in the ocean). It’ll also be less likely to fade your swimming clothes.

On the other hand, salt is still a corrosive substance, which is evidenced by the wear and tear that cars belonging to people who live near the coast go through. Thus, you’ll want to be careful about getting too much water on pool furniture or wooden decks that might be in the “splash zone” of your pool.

Salt water also takes longer to clean a pool and eliminate bacteria, where chlorine will do the job in a matter of a day or two. Salt can take up to a week to provide the same kind of effectiveness. Again, this depends on where you are and how much water you lose from the pool, but it’s definitely a double-edged sword.

Pros and Cons of Chlorine Based Pools

In contrast, your chlorine pools are going to be much more effective in terms of cleaning your pool and dealing with bacteria in a timely manner; however, it is more expensive and more time-consuming to make sure you’re pH levels are in check. The more chlorine you have to use, the harder the water will be on your skin and eyes.

While chlorine tablets don’t have negative short-term effects (aside from possible skin and eye irritation), being exposed to it for too long may cause some minor health issues. It’s just not as beneficial for you overall.

So, just like with salt, you’re dealing with something that has both positive and negative elements to it.

Making the Call

It is worth considering the fact that chlorine is a byproduct of salt, so even with the salt water pool, you’ll be dealing with a small amount of chlorine (though not enough for you to notice).

Salt gets you a cheaper and probably more organic solution than chlorine, but there is a tradeoff. You’ll just have to decide what’s more valuable to you. If easier maintenance and less exposure to chlorine are at the top of the list, then go with salt water. On the flipside, if having a more efficient cleaning solution is what you’re looking, then you’ll want to opt for chlorine.


Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer in Los Angeles who writes on everything from health and fitness, to tech and gaming to manufacturing. She enjoys swimming in her pool and participating in other summer activities with her family.