Lyon Financial

Chlorine vs Saltwater Pools: Which to Choose?

saltwater pool vs chlorine pool

Installing a backyard pool is one of the best investments you will ever make. First of all, they add serenity to the space. Water views are soothing while creating a unique ambiance. And then you can frame that glistening liquid with dramatic fire bowls. The contrast between these two elements will make for a refuge you can call your own. Dress it up or go minimalist; your backyard pool is a reflection of your lifestyle while setting the stage to indulge it.

Besides making a statement, your backyard pool becomes a centerpiece for the special moments families share. Host your daughter’s law school graduation party, your son’s wedding, or plan the best staycation you’ll EVER have!

We could go on about the myriad health benefits, the confidence learning to swim will give your children, the opportunities to connect with your loved ones in a distinctive social setting, the ease of outdoor dining, the “Zen-ness” of communing with nature and disconnecting (at least a little!) from technology. But before you even think about whether you want interlocking pavers or stamped concrete to serve as your pool deck, you need to make the big decision: saltwater or chlorine.

Chlorine Pools

With chlorine pools being the enduring standard, this is certainly the more traditional option, whether it’s a backyard or public one. While this additive helps keeps pools clean and free of contaminants like algae, there are common criticisms: 

  • You need to exercise precision, so you don’t add too much chlorine or not enough.
  • This substance needs to be handled with care and stored in a place neither kids nor pets can access.
  • Chlorine is an irritant to eyes and skin and the odor can be a bit overpowering.
  • A close watch must be kept on your pool’s levels, so it is treated and shocked according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

According to,

“Chlorine can also cause health issues such as increased risk of developing allergies or asthma in kids. And among adults, exposure to chlorine in pools has been linked to bladder and rectal cancer and increased risk for coronary heart disease.”

They recommend:

  • Shower immediately before and after swimming using a natural, chemical-free soap.
  • Drink plenty of filtered water before you swim so that you’re as hydrated as possible.
  • Get fresh air into your lungs as soon as possible after you swim in an indoor pool (aka, go outside).
  • Eat plenty of dark-skinned fruits and veggies and consider using an antioxidant before swimming.

Although this chemistry keeps the water sanitized by fighting germs and keeping swimmers safe from harmful levels of microbes, make certain your pool employs a high-grade saline, ozone, or a structured water filter so you are not swimming in too much chlorine.

Saltwater Pools

This term is a little misleading. Saltwater pools do not “smell like the ocean” nor are they completely chlorine-free. These pools are designed to create their own chlorine using salt. It’s a process known as “electrolysis,” and it negates the need to manually introduce this additive.

So first, the plusses:

  • While you’ll still need to monitor levels (your contractor can recommend the best apps so you will always know what your pool needs), you won’t have to handle any chemicals.
  • With the salt generator, the chlorine levels are not as high, therefore the potential for skin and eye irritation are reduced.
  • Because it is treated, the water will actually be “softer” — similar to how in-home water treatment systems convert hard water by neutralizing minerals.

Like most decisions, there are pros and cons to any solution.

  • You’ll find that saltwater pools are more expensive. But if you weigh that against the costs of chemicals and your desire to not over-expose yourself to them, then the price tag may not rank as high on the “cons” list.
  • Just as you need to be careful with chlorine so it doesn’t splash and damage your clothes or your skin, salt is an element that can cause destruction to your pool’s moving parts and fixed components like lighting fixtures and railings. Your number one defense here is sticking to a structured pool maintenance schedule that includes periodically inspecting all metals and other vulnerable textiles in and around your pool.

Despite some of these perceived deficiencies, the pros at River Pool and Spa say the benefits of saltwater chlorine generators outweigh any of the shortcomings because “it’s tough to beat the superior water quality and low maintenance of a salt water pool.”

They do make some recommendations of note.

  • Be careful about potentially corroded handrail and ladder anchors: “The high salinity level of the water does cause galvanized deck anchors to corrode prematurely. We’ve found that within 4 to 5 years of installing a salt system, galvanized deck anchors will corrode to a point where it is difficult or impossible to remove the handrail or ladder. The solution to this problem is to use brass anchors as opposed to galvanized steel.”
  • Because the salt can be tough on the metal components of auto covers, they suggest “the best way to prevent premature corrosion of these components is to periodically rinse them with fresh water from a garden hose.”

UV Pool Systems

Designed for an even eco-friendlier backyard pool, these drastically reduce the need for chemicals because they use an ultraviolet system to neutralize microorganisms resistant to chlorine or salt generator sanitizers.

UV disinfection systems may be added to saltwater pools at installation or after to improve water quality, lower chlorine levels, and eliminate chlorine by-products. Consult with your pool contractor for the ideal fix. This could be just the addition that sways you to choosing a saltwater pool.

Your Backyard Pool

No matter your decisions, make certain to protect this investment like you do your home. You might wish to consider how you currently manage preventative maintenance. Do you hire someone to perform tasks like gutter cleaning and lawn mowing? If you like the hands-on aspects of home ownership, you may enjoy caring for your pool. If not, poll your pool-owning neighbors to get referrals for companies who can take this critical task off your hands!

One of the best things about creating an outdoor oasis is that you have SO many options. From pool shapes, to placement, to all the extras like changing cabanas, spas, hot tubs, gazebos, and trellises to add architectural interest, you can make your yard a one-of-a-kind haven.

Providing pool and home improvement loan solutions since 1979, Lyon Financial loves all kinds of pools. We also love the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information about creating your ideal backyard oasis.