Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Salt Water Pools System vs. Chlorine Pools

Which system is healthier?
July 2013

There are so many opinions when it comes to salt water pool systems verses chlorine pool treatment. Most of the focus is on cost and maintenance. However, for me, it was the health benefits.

Chlorine is the chemical most often used to keep swimming pools and jacuzzi's free of bacteria that can be hazardous to humans. 
Chlorine kills bacteria through a fairly simple chemical reaction. The chlorine solution you add to the pool water breaks down into many different chemicals, including hypochlorousacid (HOCl) and hypochlorite ion (OCl-). Both kill microorganisms and bacteria by attacking the lipids in the cell walls and destroying the enzymes and structures inside the cell, rendering them oxidized and harmless. In the effort to kill bacteria using chlorine in pools, there are health concerns such as gasses that are inhaled and the damage it does to skin, hair and eyes. Most green parents are concerned about over exposure to high levels of chlorine absorbed through the skin.

Many people don't know the human body has 0.15 percent chlorine by weight, but overexposure is toxic.

There is a slight misconception about salt water pools systems: they do actually have chlorine. When the salt is electronically zapped through electrolysis, it naturally turns the salt into chlorine. So, one might ask, why then the debate?

Chlorine you purchase to add to your pool is far more concentrated and is chemically produced through various methods. It is more harsh than the chlorine produced by a salt water generator. Ever notice when swimming in a public pool the harsh chemical smell on your skin  lingers on long after leaving the pool? That is due to higher levels of chlorine as well as other components from the chloramines that are produced. Chloramines aren’t produced with a salt water pool system.

One really great reason I chose a salt water pool system for my pool is the salt generated-chlorine is so much milder. The initial salt added to the pool was food grade salt (pickling salt) and therefore wasn't harsh on my child's eyes and skin.  Actually, when swimming in the pool, one can barely detect any salt in the water at all, and cannot detect any chlorine in the water by taste or smell. Our skin feels softer after swimming in our salt water pool. Swimming in an all chemically produced chlorine pool, we come out smelling of chlorine, burning red eyes and skin irritation and having to shower to get the smell off.

Our salt water pool system has one-tenth of the salt that the ocean has and yet the pool stays clean and clear. Depending on what system you have, you may still have to add other products for pH balancing. Because salt does not evaporate, you do not have to continuously add salt, unlike chlorine. The salt water generator continuously uses the salt in the pool and electrically turns it into chlorine. This cuts the cost to you and the impact on the environment from packaging materials when buying chemically produced chlorine. 

Once the system was in place, there really was a huge difference compared to the chlorine pools we have used, and it felt great. For me, I can say it was well worth the switch.