Though salt water pools have a higher start-up cost, the cost of maintenance chemicals is much lower than for a chlorinated pool, allowing a pool owner to recoup the difference in a few years. Salt water is gentler to skin and eyes and does not discolor hair or bathing suits. No hazardous chemicals need to be stored or handled, and the salt is eco-friendly, being continually recycled by the pool.
The higher start-up cost of a salt water pool is due to the need to purchase an electronic chlorine generator. Electronic chlorine generators consist of a salt cell and a control unit. The control unit monitors and adjusts the salt cell. The salt cell uses electrolysis to separate the chlorine and sodium molecules that make up salt. Once the chlorine is separated from the salt, it is used to protect the pool in the same way that regular chlorine provides protection. However, the chlorine produced by salt water pools eventually recombines with the sodium molecules to be reused to produce more chlorine. Traditional chlorine dissipates into the air, requiring it to be continually replaced.
Though some people expect the pool water to taste salty, salt water pools contain one-tenth the salt of the ocean, leaving barely any taste of salt detectable by swimmers. As with chlorine pools, alkalinity, pH, calcium hardness and stabilizer levels should be checked regularly to maintain good sanitation.
There are some disadvantages to salt water pools. Experts believe that the salt water system is corrosive, expensive to maintain and creates a multitude of other problems. Other expert believe it is a fad that will not last.