Are Saltwater Pools Still “Just Chlorine”?

In Blog, Salt by Timothy Petsch

I just read a great blog by Dennis Gray discussing how the pool industry should embrace saltwater pools, instead of trying to talk their clients out of using them on their pools.  He likened their popularity to pool owners like that of an iPhone.  It is smart business to embrace customer trends, not push against the trend.

I get it… In the last 25 years (working within the commercial realm), I have seen the residential market embrace saltwater pools.  So much so, that it is now the fastest growing trend in residential pools in North America.  We are now starting to see this trend rise in the commercial market. Many high-end apartment complexes, health clubs, city pools, and all other types of commercial pools are now using salt systems to sanitize their water.

What I found most interesting about the blog were the comments. The comments were made from people in the industry and were mostly negative.  I believe that one claim was that salt systems destroy air movement systems (HVAC).  This is not true; we have literally, hundreds of indoor swimming pools with HVAC systems on salt with no problems.  The problem is not the salt systems but water chemistry, more specifically, combined chlorine and there are solutions to this problem.

Another commentator said saltwater pools are still ‘just chlorine’.  While it is true that saline generators create chlorine through electrolysis, this chlorine is 100% natural while ordinary chlorine has fillers, stabilizers and multiple other chemicals added to it to stabilize it for transportation and storage.  We have seen facilities with generators run their Cl (accidently) to 10 ppm and other than a stronger smell, there were no cases of injury or rashes. Try putting a group of people into a traditional Chlorine pool at 10 ppm and they will most definitely feel the effects in the worst ways. No wonder the public is asking for saltwater pools.

Saline generators have been allowed for commercial use for a few decades at this point. And yet there is so much misinformation on how these systems work, even amongst pool professionals.  Personal opinion is not the same as fact and yet many opponents of the salt system are quick to portray their opinions as fact.  If they did not work, they would not be allowed in commercial aquatics – which is far more regulated than residential. Lack of understanding on how a system works or the inability to correctly run the equipment is not a judgment on the equipment but on the operator.

Knowledge of both traditional chlorine and saline generators will never hurt anybody.  As suggested by Dennis Gray, embrace new technology (especially if the market, YOUR clients, are finding this the most attractive approach for their pools; research paths to solutions.  Don’t just deny your clients their choice of sanitizer because you don’t agree.