Local News

Salt can take the chlorine sting out of swimming

Posted July 6, 2009

— Going green with your pool care can take the chlorine sting out of swimming.

Rex Wellness pool in Wakefield uses a saline-based system that r Get the chlorine sting out of swimming

The Rex Wellness pool at Wakefield, which opened in January, uses a salt-based system to keep the water clean and fresh.

"We actually get to keep our chlorine levels very low, because we're not manually adding chlorine and keeping it chlorinated that way," said Summer Phinney, with Rex Wellness.

Big generators in the pump room separate the saline solution. That produces a chlorine gas, which dissolves back into the water.

That overpowering chlorine smell, which can irritate lungs and trigger asthma attacks, is gone.

Swimmer Dorcas Holt said that change is exactly why she likes the Rex Wellness pool.

"I used to go to another place that had chlorine, and it bothers my eyes," Holt said.

Holt also found another benefit to the new chlorination system: "The salt water is much better for your skin, for your complexion," she said.

The switch to the saline solution can be made in home swimming pools, as well as public ones.

"About 90 percent of our in-ground pools, our new sales, are saline," said Tara Onthank, with Rising Sun Pools in Raleigh.

The saline system costs more upfront, between $600 and $1,300. It saves money in the long run, though, because its operating costs are about half of the chlorine system's, Onthank said.

Some pool care professionals caution that saline systems are corrosive and use more energy. But Onthank praised its health benefits.

"My son, when he was 6-weeks-old, I had him in our salt-system pool. I never would have had him in a chlorine pool," she said.


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  • Steve Crisp Jul 6, 2009

    Chlorine? Salt? Dessicated elephant dung?

    Who really cares what works or doesn't work. The only thing I wish is that government would not mandate which solution works for any given individual. And now that there are some studies to indicate that salt is perhaps as good as chlorine, the next thing we will see is Doctors Without Minds or Mothers Against Everything claiming that chlorine is a pseudo-estrogen which causes breast cancer and pancreatitis. Then they will demand that legislation be enacted to ban chlorinated pools.

  • spoonman Jul 6, 2009

    How's that HOPE and CHANGE working out for you?

  • discowhale Jul 6, 2009

    Z Man hit it on the head. I was a Life Guard in my teens, and learned pool maint. back then, he's 100% right.

    swimmers ear is caused by ANY water getting caught in the ear, and staying in there long enough for bacteria and grunge to grow. I used to get it from swimming or just taking a shower, and city water is plenty clean. Here's an old Life Guard trick I use twice a month, year round. Mix the following, in any small amounts (I use 3 tablespoons of each)

    1/2 part rubbing alcohol

    1/2 part white vinegar

    place in a cheap eye dropper bottle from the pharmacy.

    After swimming, two drops in the ear, wait 10 seconds, drain out, do the other ear. If there is already some irritation in the ear, this may feel both cool and hot at the same time. It's not harmful.

    The alcohol mixes with any water in the ear and helps chases it out of the ear canal, lessening chances of swimmers ear. The vinegar changes the ph inside the ear, making it harder for bacteria and grunge to grow.

  • Rick Davout Jul 6, 2009

    Come on auburnogre! You just ruined my day! I've been telling people that there is a "pee detector" for a few years and it's a great deterent! :)

    We have a salt system. As auburnogre states it is no different in the ultimate result. Chlorine is still doing the work. The best part of the system is much lower "maintenance" as far as keeping pool water stable and long term cost savings.

  • living the dream Jul 6, 2009

    We change our inground pool over to salt last year. It is somewhat corrosive I've noticed. But it's nice not having to buy chlorine. The only thing we buy is salt.

  • ConcernedNCC Jul 6, 2009

    Let's not forget that a salt-based pool also uses chlorine to clean the water. The difference is that the chlorine is taken from the salt rather than added at irregular intervals. An electronic monitoring system that adds chlorine according to levels detected does just as good a job.

  • auburnogre Jul 6, 2009

    I too am in the swimming pool business and, as I am guessing Z Man does, I hold both National and County CPO (Certified Pool Operator) credentials. This may be shocking to some of you but salt systems generate chlorine by separating the chlorine from the salt through electrolysis. Once the chlorine is introduced to the water it forms the same effective sanitizer (Hypochlorous Acid) as other forms of chlorination. You will have a softer feel of the water due to the average of about 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water that is required for the system to operate. The true difference in these systems is that they release stable levels of chlorine over time and greatly eliminate the sanitizer "peaks and valleys" that manual chlorine dosing contributes to. If you can smell a strong odor of chlorine, your facility needs to superchlorinate and probably has too little sanitizer available. On a fun note.....Sorry there is no dye that detects urine in a pool!

  • Subdivisions Jul 6, 2009

    A properly maintained chlorine pool doesn't smell and doesn't bother your eyes any more than tap water would.

  • SMR Jul 6, 2009

    The Eye sting is caused by improper PH balance, not chlorine or salt in the pool

  • neason2001 Jul 6, 2009


    You are not the first one that I have heard make the comment about the Swimmers ear being related to the salt filter system. I do think that the clorinated pools provide more defense to the bacterias that can grow in water.