Salt Water vs Chlorine Pools

What’s the difference between a Salt Water Pool and a Chlorine Pool?

Technically, a salt water pool is a chlorine pool. Salt water pools use a salt water generator (chlorinator) to electrically convert salt into chlorine. Salt water pools come with many water quality and maintenance benefits. Chlorine pools, on the other hand, don’t require an expensive initial investment and can work with all pool types and equipment. 

Let’s take a look at which form of sanitation is best for your pool!

Chlorine Pools

Chlorine Pools use chlorine tablets, shock or liquid chlorine as the main source of sanitation. This has been the most popular sanitation method for over 50 years because each of these chlorine choices are fairly inexpensive and easy to acquire.

Pool owners have the option of using a floating chlorine dispenser or an automatic chlorine feeder to slowly distribute their chlorine tablets. Automatic chemical feeders range from around $50 to $200. The most common method for chlorine tablets is a floating chlorine feeder. These dispensers float around the entirety of the pool, distributing chlorine to all areas. If you use a chlorine tab floater, be cautious that the floater does not become stuck in one section of the pool or in the wall skimmer. We recommend tying the floater in front of the skimmer or a return jet to optimize the circulation of chlorine.

3 inch chlorine tablets

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Chlorine Tablets are affordable, easy to maintain and stabilized to be effective over a long period of time. Just drop the tablets in your chemical floater or feeder and let the chlorine do the work! We recommend the 50 Lb Bucket to get you through the swimming season (depending on the size of your pool).


  • Simple chlorine addition via floater or adding directly to water
  • Can work with all pool types & pool equipment
  • Small routine expenses, no one time big purchase needed
  • Variety of methods available to add Free Chlorine


  • Weekly, sometimes daily, addition of chlorine needed
  • Frequent store trips to purchase chlorine
  • Tablets and pool shock will contain chemical by-products, some of which can negatively impact your pool chemistry
  • Chemical levels are prone to move more drastically up and down, dependent on your attention to your pool

Salt Water Pools

First, we need to be clear – salt water pools are actually chlorine pools. Salt water pools have Free Available Chlorine automatically generated via the salt particles (NaCl) in your water from being exposed to an electric charge within the Salt Cell. This charge separates the salt particle into ready & available Chlorine (Cl). This is all happening automatically and without any manual work of mixing shock with water or lugging chlorine tablets out to your pool.

Aqua Rite Salt Chlorine Generator

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Ready to upgrade your pool to a salt water system? For in-ground pools, we recommend the popular Hayward Aqua Rite Chlorine Generator. This includes the salt chlorination unit, a T-Cell 15 salt cell and plumbing kit.


  • Easy automatic maintenance
  • No chemical by-products that can cause imbalances
  • More consistent Free Chlorine levels = less opportunity for algae growth
  • Soft, natural feeling water that won’t irritate your skin or eyes
  • Customizable settings to create the ideal amount of Free Chlorine
  • Save on weekly & monthly chemical costs & store trips


  • Large initial investment
  • Not ideal to use with certain pool equipment (Salt corrodes some metals)
  • Recommended to clean or replace your salt cell periodically, depending on usage.

Final Verdict?

It’s up to you! In talking with thousands of our loyal customers, we have heard strong opinions and great feedback for both Chlorine pools and Salt Water pools. For many, the low cost and routine maintenance associated with chlorine pools isn’t a big deal and perhaps they even enjoy it. And on the flip side, we know many pool owners that like to invest in a salt water pool and then sit back, relax and just monitor their chlorine output. We can’t tell you what is right for you, but we like to offer the facts and help you keep on swimming!

Interested in upgrading your pool to salt water? HERE are some helpful and easy tips to convert your pool to a salt water system in 5 easy steps!

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Brian Champ
When Brian isn't writing pool-related articles, he enjoys anything that will take him outdoors: hiking, biking and trail running name a few. Brian is excited to share his pool knowledge with helpful how-to guides, product reviews, comparisons, and more!