Having an inflatable pool is like bringing a slice of a beachside vacation into your own backyard.
But just like any other pool, it requires regular maintenance to keep the water crystal clear and hygienic. This is where saltwater systems come into play.
Here is how to keep inflatable pool water clean with salt:
Keep inflatable pool water clean with salt by pouring salt into the pool water or installing a saltwater chlorinator to convert salt into chlorine. Maintain salt levels of 2,500-4,000 ppm. Regularly test the water for salt, pH, and chlorine levels.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to keep inflatable pool water clean with salt.
Understanding the Saltwater System
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Saltwater systems offer a gentler, more sustainable way to keep your pool clean.
Before we know how to use salt to purify inflatable pools, we need to understand a little bit about how they work.
What Is a Saltwater System?
A saltwater system is essentially a chlorine generator, but it doesn’t require you to handle large quantities of commercial chlorine.
Instead, it uses salt as the base material for creating chlorine naturally.
This process involves the use of electrolysis, where saltwater passes through an electric current to produce chlorine gas.
When this chlorine gas dissolves in water, it becomes sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient that cleans pool water.
Understanding this basic chemistry is vital to appreciating the effectiveness and convenience that a saltwater system brings.
In a saltwater pool system, the main component responsible for the electrolysis is called a “salt cell.”
As water passes through this salt cell, the electric current breaks down the salt into sodium and chloride ions, which then convert back into chlorine gas.
The chlorine gas dissolves in the water, effectively sanitizing it.
With a salt water system, you don’t need to store hazardous chlorine chemicals, making the process safer overall.
Why Choose Salt Over Traditional Chlorine?
Choosing a saltwater system comes with a slew of benefits that traditional chlorine pools simply can’t offer.
One of the most prominent advantages is the reduced maintenance effort.
A saltwater system continually generates chlorine, so you’re not stuck with the periodic chore of adding chlorine to the pool.
Additionally, salt doesn’t evaporate like chlorine, meaning you’ll have to replenish it far less often.
Another major benefit is that saltwater is much gentler on your skin, eyes, and even your swimsuits.
It doesn’t have that overpowering chlorine smell and is less likely to cause skin irritations or fade your swimwear.
On top of these lifestyle benefits, saltwater systems are also more cost-effective in the long run.
Setting Up Your Saltwater System
The first step in cleaning inflatable pool water with salt is setting up your saltwater system.
Here are the steps you need to take.
Choosing the Right Salt Chlorinator
To kick-start your transition from a chlorine pool to a saltwater pool, you’ll need a salt chlorinator.
Several models are designed specifically for small to medium-sized pools, including inflatable ones.
When choosing a salt chlorinator, size compatibility should be your first consideration.
The device you choose must be capable of handling the volume of water in your inflatable pool.
Besides size compatibility, also look for advanced features like digital displays for easy monitoring, self-cleaning capabilities to extend the device’s lifespan, and adjustable chlorine output levels for greater control.
While pricing is a factor, don’t compromise on essential features and quality just to save a few bucks.
An ineffective or unreliable salt chlorinator could end up costing you more in the long run.
Personally, I like the Saltron Mini Salt System Drop-In Saltwater Chlorine Generator.
You can also get it at WalMart or the SpaDept.
Installing the Salt Chlorinator
The installation process is generally straightforward, but it’s crucial to follow each step carefully.
First, ensure all electrical components connected to the pool, including the pump, are turned off.
Then proceed with attaching the salt chlorinator to your pool’s existing pump and filter system. Each model will come with a specific set of instructions, so refer to the manual for details.
After connecting the chlorinator, double-check all the connections to ensure they are securely fastened.
This avoids any potential leaks or malfunctions later on.
Once you’ve verified the connections, you’ll need to configure the initial system settings.
Most modern salt chlorinators come with a digital panel that allows you to input your pool size and desired chlorine levels.
After setup, perform a test run to ensure that the chlorinator is functioning as expected.
Adding Salt to the Pool
Now we get to the salty part of the process.
At this point, you probably have a few questions about how much salt you need and the specific steps for adding salt to your pool water.
How Much Salt Do You Need?
Determining the right amount of salt for your pool is crucial for effective chlorination.
The standard salt concentration for a saltwater pool is usually between 2500 and 4500 ppm (parts per million).
However, always refer to your salt chlorinator manufacturer’s guidelines for specific recommendations.
Online pool salt calculators can also be useful for determining the right amount of salt based on your pool’s volume.
To ensure accuracy, it’s best to start by testing the existing salt level in your pool water.
You can find pool water testing kits designed specifically for saltwater pools.
These kits will provide an accurate reading of your pool’s current salt concentration, allowing you to figure out how much more salt you need to add to reach the ideal levels.
Steps for Adding Salt
Adding salt to your pool isn’t complicated, but it does require a methodical approach.
The first step is to measure the amount of salt you’ll need using a scale.
This ensures you don’t overshoot the recommended salt concentration.
Once you’ve measured the salt, the next step is to evenly distribute it across the pool. To do this, walk around the pool slowly pouring the salt in. Try to avoid dumping it all in one spot.
Here is a simple video that shows you how to add salt evenly to your pool water:
After distributing the salt, use a pool brush to help distribute and dissolve the salt more evenly across the pool floor.
The salt should dissolve relatively quickly.
But it’s a good idea to let the pool pump run for at least 24 to 48 hours to ensure the salt is evenly distributed.
Make sure to test the salt levels again after this period to confirm they are within the desired range.
Maintenance Tips for a Saltwater Inflatable Pool
Even after you finish your first cleaning with salt, there are a few additional things you should probably do.
Maintenance will help you with how to keep inflatable pool water clean with salt long term.
Here are my top recommendations.
Maintaining a saltwater inflatable pool requires consistent monitoring.
Most experts recommend testing your pool water at least once a week.
This allows you to keep an eye on important parameters like pH levels, chlorine concentration, and of course, salt levels.
The ideal pH level for a saltwater pool is usually between 7.2 and 7.8, chlorine levels should be between 1 and 3 ppm, and salt levels should be maintained within the 2500 to 4500 ppm range.
When testing these levels, make sure to use a saltwater pool test kit for accurate results.
These kits are easy to use and come with clear instructions.
Regular testing will also help you understand how factors like weather, pool usage, and time affect water quality, enabling you to make timely adjustments.
While a saltwater system will take care of sanitizing your pool, it doesn’t eliminate the need for other forms of cleaning.
A weekly vacuuming session can help remove debris that sinks to the pool floor, while brushing the walls can help to remove or prevent the buildup of algae.
The salt chlorinator cell also needs periodic attention.
Calcium deposits can build up on the cell, reducing its efficiency.
Even though many modern salt chlorinators come with self-cleaning features, it’s still a good idea to inspect and manually clean the cell periodically.
Usually every 2–3 months, or as advised by the manufacturer.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
If you run into any problems with cleaning you inflatable pool water with salt, here is what to do.
Low Chlorine Levels
If you notice consistently low chlorine levels in your pool, several factors could be at play.
First, verify that your salt levels are within the recommended range.
Low salt levels can result in inadequate chlorine generation.
Another potential culprit could be the chlorinator cell.
Over time, scaling and calcium deposits can build up, reducing its efficiency. In such cases, removing and cleaning the cell can resolve the issue.
Low chlorine levels can also be due to high levels of pool usage.
That, or environmental factors like heavy rainfall diluting the water.
If your salt and chlorinator cell are in good condition, try boosting the chlorinator’s chlorine output settings.
For persistent problems, consider seeking professional help to troubleshoot and diagnose underlying issues that may require more intensive solutions.
Cloudy water is often an indicator of imbalanced water chemistry.
Your first step should be to test the pH, chlorine, and salt levels.
Imbalanced levels can often be corrected by adjusting the amount of salt or using pH increasers or decreasers.
However, if all your levels appear normal and you’re still facing cloudy water issues, the problem might be with your pool’s filtration system.
Check to see if your pool filter is working efficiently.
A clogged or dirty filter can hinder water circulation, leading to cloudiness.
If your filter is clean and functioning well, consider using a water clarifier.
This will coagulate tiny particles in the water, making it easier for your filter to remove them.
Alternatives to Salt Cleaning for Inflatable Pools
While saltwater systems are gaining popularity for their effectiveness and gentleness on the skin, they’re not the only game in town.
This guide will provide you with various methods to keep your inflatable pool clean and safe for use.
Chlorine tablets are one of the most common and traditional ways of keeping pool water clean.
They’re easy to use.
You just need to drop the required number of tablets into a floating chlorine dispenser that moves around the pool and dispenses the chemical evenly.
The tablets dissolve gradually, releasing chlorine that acts as a powerful disinfectant.
Chlorine tablets come in different sizes and strengths.
Be sure to read the manufacturer’s guidelines to understand how many tablets are appropriate for your pool size.
Note that over-chlorination can lead to skin irritation and potentially damage the pool material.
Hence, it’s critical to test chlorine levels regularly with a pool test kit and adjust the number of tablets as needed.
Another form of traditional chlorination is liquid chlorine, which is basically bleach at a higher concentration.
It offers the advantage of quick action and is often used for shock treatments when the pool water becomes notably dirty.
However, it does require more frequent application compared to tablets.
When using liquid chlorine, you’ll have to measure out the correct amount and then pour it around the edges of the pool for even distribution.
Always wear gloves and eye protection when handling this chemical, as it’s highly corrosive.
Regular testing for chlorine levels is also essential when using this method to ensure that you maintain a safe swimming environment.
Using Pool Ionizers
Copper ionizers are a chemical-free way of keeping your pool water clean.
These devices release copper ions into the water, which are effective at killing algae and bacteria.
Copper ionizers are generally easy to install, requiring you to just drop the ionizer into the pool and wait for it to do its job.
However, too much copper can stain your pool and possibly turn your hair green if you have blonde or light-colored hair.
It’s crucial to keep an eye on copper levels in your pool, which should ideally stay below 0.2 ppm.
This means you will still need to conduct periodic water tests, similar to other cleaning methods.
Another option within the ionizer category is a silver ionizer.
Silver ions are effective against bacteria but not as effective against algae.
Some pool owners use silver ionizers in conjunction with other cleaning methods like minimal chlorination.
This provides an extra layer of protection against bacteria.
Just like with copper ionizers, you’ll need to monitor the concentration of silver ions in your pool, although the risks of overexposure are generally less concerning than with copper.
Many people opt for a unit that releases both copper and silver ions, offering a broader range of disinfection.
Ozonators use ozone (O3) gas to sanitize pool water.
They are usually installed in the pool’s return line, where water passes through before re-entering the pool.
The ozonator injects ozone into this line, where it instantly kills bacteria, viruses, and other harmful microorganisms.
Ozone is extremely effective but dissipates quickly, meaning it won’t replace the need for some residual sanitizer like minimal chlorine or ionization.
Ozone generators are relatively easy to install but usually require an electrical outlet nearby.
The units come with guidelines for sizing based on your pool’s capacity.
It’s essential to follow these guidelines to choose an ozonator powerful enough to treat your pool effectively.
Operating costs are generally low, especially since ozonation reduces the need for other chemicals.
Other Natural Methods for Cleaning Your Inflatable Pool Water
Salt is not the only “natural” way to clean your inflatable pool water.
Some people opt for a completely natural swimming experience by using plants to purify their pool water.
This method usually involves setting up a separate regeneration zone filled with aquatic plants that naturally filter the water.
While this may not be practical for small, inflatable pools, it’s an interesting and eco-friendly concept that’s worth mentioning.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
For smaller inflatable pools, some people use baking soda to control pH levels and vinegar as a natural cleaner.
However, these substances are not powerful disinfectants and should only be used as supplementary cleaning agents.
If you opt for this method, it’s crucial to test your water quality frequently and understand that these substances won’t replace the need for stronger sanitizers.
Final Thoughts: How to Keep Inflatable Pool Water Clean With Salt
Making the switch to a saltwater system for your inflatable pool can significantly enhance your swimming experience.
With the right setup and consistent maintenance, you can enjoy a sparkling clean pool with less hassle and more peace of mind.
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ResearchGate (Research on salt water chlorination)
WalMart (Recommended Salt Water Chlorinator)