Can You Add Salt to a Pool While Swimming?

There is nothing worse than realizing that some type of chemical needs to be added to your pool when everyone is already swimming about. We know not to add chemicals to the pool when swimmers are using it, but what about adding salt? 

Salt should be treated as any other pool chemical and cannot be added while people are in the pool. Although it is a more natural component, the high concentration required for the purpose of keeping your pool clean will cause severe skin irritation and should not be added until the pool is empty.

It can be a real damper to have to wait to add salt to your pool, but the safety of friends and family is much more important than getting your pool’s levels back in balance. Continue reading to understand the reasoning behind not adding salt while people are swimming in your pool, and when and where to add salt to your pool when the time comes. 

Why You Shouldn’t Add Salt While People Are Swimming 

So here’s the deal, the salt levels are off in your pool and they have been for a few days now. You are completely aware of this, but life has been crazy and you have not gotten the chance to add any into your water just yet. Then, out of nowhere, you look in your backyard and see a pool full of football players (your son’s buds) and gasp. “When am I going to be able to add this stuff?! Can I just throw the salt in with the boys?!” If only you could, but you can’t. 

You should not add salt to a pool while swimming because the salt can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, hair, etc. Salt requires time to dissolve, and the pool needs to be empty for this to happen. Avoiding putting salt in the pool while people are swimming helps your pool and the people in it.

I know that salt may seem like the most harmless of all pool “chemicals” because it is not even a chemical, right? It is a naturally occurring substance that we use every day and exists in all the greatest oceans on Earth. So, why would adding salt while people are swimming even be an issue? 

Here’s the thing, although salt is natural, you are adding concentrated amounts to your pool in one big dump. This is not a gradual add of only a few teaspoons at a time. Because of this large addition going straight into your water, this means that it is going to come into direct contact with those people who are in your pool as soon as it is added. 

If you have ever watched salt in water, it takes time to dissolve. It does not immediately fade away as soon as water hits but needs a bit of resistance against it in order to break it down and get it integrated into the water. With people in the water, this can be an issue. 

Since salt takes time to break apart, when it is added, that concentrated salt is going to come in contact with skin, eyes, hair, and mounts. All of the people in your pool are going to become pegged with salt as they swim about and this can cause some serious skin irritation. 

Along with its ability to really irritate swimmers’ skin, the salt will also end up clinging to skin and swimsuits. For your pool, this means that some of the salt it really needs is no longer in the water and this can result in wonky levels once again. For the swimmers, this can mean destroyed clothing, hair, skin, and more. Plus, imagine the chaos that the salt stuck to your bathing suits would cause on your washing machine.

You want to ensure that every single salt crystal has dissolved in the water as it should in order to maintain the proper levels for your water. This allows the salt to serve its purpose as it relates to pool maintenance and not get attached to the swimmers, instead. If your friends want to get salty, head to the beach, not your backyard. 

When to Add Salt to Your Pool 

You don’t want salting your pool to be something you are doing to fix a major salinity imbalance. If you go too long without paying attention to the salt levels, you will be looking at more of a fix-it job rather than a very easy regular maintenance job. You want adding salt to your pool to be as regular as adding chlorine and shock. This should be a step that happens often in order to maintain the salinity levels without letting them get too out of whack. 

Adding salt to your pool should be done through routine pool maintenance. Run a system test to determine a salinity cut-off point. Then, ensure that your daily or weekly tests show that your pool has maintained this amount. If the salinity is too low, then it is time to add salt to your pool

One of the most important things with this then is to always test your pool. You can either use a digital meter or a salinity test strip, the choice is up to you. Whichever you choose, you need to test your pool at least once a week. 

Record your measurements and then be sure to have a salinity cut-off point. This means that if your system runs optimally at 3,500ppm, you’ll want to make a cut off point that your water must reach before you add more salt (say, 3,000). Then you need to figure out how many pounds of salt you need to bring your water from 3,000ppm to 3,500ppm. 

After this, you can add the amount of salt needed and then use this to go off to keep regular maintenance to make life easier on you and your pool’s equipment. You have your numbers, your required salt poundage, and you can now add that regular amount without having to worry about recalculating. 

Where to Add Salt to Your Pool 

Knowing where to add salt to your pool can sometimes take people off guard. Does it really matter where you add your salt? It is all going to the same water anyways, why would it make a difference if you add it to the shallow or the deep end? Well, as it turns out, if you add salt to the wrong spot in your pool, it can mean inadequate circulation and this means that your salinity levels will still be a bit off. 

You need to add your salt to the deepest end of your pool. The deep water helps to give the salt plenty of room to roam about in the water and not along the sides of your pool. This helps the salt to disperse in a larger body of water while also keeping it from damaging your lining due to high concentrations in one shallow area. 

If you don’t have a deep end, consider adding your salt in smaller amounts so that it has time to dissolve. If you have a larger pool and are adding big amounts of salt, try adding small amounts in one at a time rather than dumping them in all at once. Big bags can be added slowly if you want to either dump them slowly on your own or make a cut in the bottom of the bag that will pour out at a slow, continuous rate. 

If you choose the latter of the two, grab yourself a margarita and watch your salt do all the work. Salting can be your new vacation moment! I am joking, but you can see how the excess of salt would build up if it is not poured in the right spot in your pool. 

What to Do if the Salt is Building Up at the Bottom of Your Pool 

As I mentioned earlier, salt needs time to dissolve, and often, it takes its sweet time doing so. This means that salt can tend to pile up at the bottom of the pool no matter how slowly you added it or how deep your deepest point is. 

If you find the salt is building at the bottom, don’t leave it there to dissolve over the course of a few days. It needs to dissolve the day that it is added and sometimes, this requires a bit of work from you. Find the piles that need to be dissolved and gently brush them off of the floor of your pool. 

Continue with this motion until it is no longer settling and all your work will be done! Don’t worry, no heavy labor is required here, just a bit of brushing and stirring. You can also add the salt at a point where water is jetting into the pool to help speed up the dissolving process. Just be sure that all the salt is completely dissolved before going on to your next project. Then, you can allow the swimmers to return to your pool.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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