In recent years, salt water (Saline) pools have been growing in popularity vs their Chlorinated pool counterpart. In hotels across the US, we are seeing more and more hotel owners that are exploring salt water as an option. When most people hear ‘salt water pool’ they have visions of a 5-star luxury resort with water that is safer, healthier and rolls like butter across the skin. Because of this, we wanted to debunk a few of the most common myths about these types of pools.
Myth #1: Salt water Pools Are Chlorine Free.
1. This is by far the most common misconception. A salt water pool and a Chlorinated pool both use Chlorine to kill bacteria. The main difference is simply in the way the sterilizing agent is added to your pool. With Chlorinated pools, chlorine is added directly to the pool water. In contrast, salt water pools use a Chlorine generator and create the chlorine on site.
Myth #2: Salt water Pools Are Extremely Salty.
1. Despite their misleading name, salt water pools are not similar to salt water found in the ocean. Salt water pools typically only have 1/10 or less the salinity of sea water.
How They Work:
Salt water pool technology has actually been around for over 50 years when it was first used in Australia. (Today over 80% of all pools in Australia are salt water) Salt water pools work by converting salt to chlorine through a process called electrolysis. This is done using a chlorine generator which is part of a salt water pool system. The byproduct from this reaction is the same bacteria-killing chlorine that is found in a traditional chlorinated pool. The generator produces a constant stream of chlorine which means the chlorine level is typically much lower in a salt water pool than a traditional chlorinated one.
1. Less Maintenance – Chlorinated pools require constant surveillance and testing, whereas salt water pools typically require much less upkeep. Chlorine and pH levels must still be monitored, but since the generator is producing the chlorine at a steady stream, there is no need to add regular doses to the pool. This is one of the main reason so many hotels have started making the switch to salt water.
2. Softer Feel – Those that have swum in a salt water hotel pool describe the water to be ‘silky’. This is similar to the effect of a water softener in your home where the addition of salt makes the water feel ‘softer’. Many people prefer this to chlorinated water.
3. Easier On The Clothes, Eyes, and Skin – Because of the way chlorine is generated in a salt water pool, the chlorine levels are generally much lower. The lower chlorine levels means salt water pools are less drying on the skin and eyes and won’t fade colors as quickly from bathing suits. Hotel guests that experience irritations from chlorine will likely have fewer problems.
4. Safer And Lower Liability – At higher levels, traditional liquid or tablet chlorine can be dangerous. Earlier this past year, a hotel in Maryland had to be evacuated when guest were complaining of eye irritation in the pool area. It was later found that a 5 gallon container of chlorine tablets had gotten wet in the chemical storage area and the odor spread, negatively effecting guests. A salt water pool does not require large doses of Chlorine be stored on site which can greatly reduce the potential for environmental, health or legal concerns for owners.
1. Initial Cost – The biggest drawback for most hotel owners in the initial investment required for salt water pool equipment which can run thousands of dollars. It should to be noted that many times some or all of this cost can be recouped due to the savings on maintenance and purchasing/storing of chemicals.
2. Complexity – Most chlorinated problems can be solved by taking a sample of your pool water for testing at a local store and adding the necessary chemicals. Salt water systems are a bit more complex and when problems arise, it is more likely that you will need to reach out to a professional for assistance.
3. Corrosivity – Although you are not dealing with concentrated chlorine, salt by itself can be extremely corrosive and damaging. Pool professionals often report damage to ladders, pool decking, fixtures, etc from salt water. Salt water that leaks out of the system can also kill surrounding landscaping. These issues mostly arise due to improper maintenance or outdated equipment, but the risk still exists.
Hoteliers considering a salt water pool need to evaluate the initial upfront investment, maintenance, and ultimate end guest experience they want to give their customers. If you have a salt water pool at your hotel – we’d love to get your feedback on both the benefits and drawbacks you’ve seen!
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