How Long After Adding Salt to the Pool can You Swim?

If you have just added salt to your swimming pool, you might notice that it hasn’t immediately dissolved. You have also correctly assumed that you cannot simply jump in right after you’ve poured swimming pool salt into the water.

You should wait for 20 minutes to let the pool salt dissolve. If granules are still visible, wait another 25 minutes while aiding the dissolving process by stirring with a rake. After that, the pool is safe to swim, but it will take another 24 hours of circulation for the saltwater to be homogenous.

In this article, you’re going to learn more about saltwater pools, including what happens at different time periods after adding salt to the water. You will also discover the best practices of maintaining a saltwater pool and whether having a standard pool is better. But first, we must explore the reason you have to wait before swimming in a saltwater pool.

Why Do You Have to Wait Before Swimming in a Saltwater Pool?

Salt in high concentrations can be dangerous to your skin as salt dehydrates the epithelial layer. That’s why you should allow the pool salt to dissolve before you decide to dive in. Scaling, dryness, and skin rashes can all occur if you have prolonged contact with salt.

If you’ve jumped in a swimming pool that’s too salty or one whether the salt hasn’t homogenized (evenly distributed), you should take a shower and apply moisturizer right after that. The best hydrating solution is Neutrogena Hydro Boost, which can instantly replenish your skin. You can use cheap moisturizers like Solimo Dry Skin Lotion for the rest of your body. 

Solimo is an Amazon-backed brand, which makes it relatively reliable. The product has over 470 reviews and ratings and has enough per container to cover your body multiple times. It has been given 4.2 out of 5 stars (global average) and is alright for standard use aside from the face. I prefer Neutrogena for the face because a small dab is enough, and it feels better as a premium product.

Hydroboost has over 31,000 reviews and ratings that average a 4.7-star collective rating on a 5-star scale. With fewer reviews, one can suspect that ratings could be manipulated, but since Neutrogena is an international brand that stands to lose more by executing such strategies, we can be sure that a majority of the reviews are genuine. The volume of these reviews lends credence to the patterns of appreciation.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost is appreciated for its moisturizing ability and scent, both of which are given specific ratings of 4.4 stars out of 5. The product also has a 4.4-star rating for its friendliness to sensitive skin. This is also why I believe it is better for your face than a standard body moisturizing lotion.

Saltwater pool waiting time: an in-depth view

Now that you’ve loaded up on your skin-hydrating products and are ready to enjoy your saltwater pool let’s look at the recommended waiting time so you can further decrease the chances of having dry skin. 

There are two waiting thresholds. The first is the waiting period that you must wait if you want to avoid immediate skin dryness. Then there’s a longer time limit that covers the circulation of saltwater to the point of homogeneity.

Must-wait Period: 20 Minutes for Saltwater to be Safe to Swim

It is safe to swim in your pool after 20 minutes of adding salt. Salt can be harmful before it has properly dissolved. Using a rake or a brush to promote dissolving can speed up the waiting time. You do not want the salt sitting at the bottom of the pool. 

If you’ve added too much salt, the pool isn’t safe to swim even after 20 minutes. In such cases waiting for at least 45 minutes is advisable. Eventually, the salt will get dissolved, after which it will be safe to swim. However, that doesn’t mean that the pool is optimal to swim in.

Optimal Waiting Period: 24 Hours for the Saltwater to be Evenly Distributed

You must run the pool pump for 24 hours in order to distribute the salt evenly throughout your pool. When salt gets dissolved in the pool (20 to 45 minutes in), a portion of the pool contains saltwater, but the rest of the pool doesn’t have the same level of salt. Just because the salt crystals cannot be seen as solids doesn’t mean that they are evenly distributed.

This is hard to grasp because the salt solution is invisible. But if you think along the lines of a visible solution like food coloring, you’ll notice that pouring a few drops in a glass of water doesn’t instantly and evenly make the water change color. 

Whether it is milk in coffee or saltwater in pool water, it takes time for one liquid to thoroughly be diluted across a larger quantity of the other liquid. In this case, the period is 24 hours, aided by the pool pump. After this, the pool is in optimal condition for swimming.

Maintaining a Saltwater Pool: the best practices.

There are certain things one must keep in mind when maintaining a saltwater pool. Of course, all the best practices of swimming in a standard pool still apply: you have to hold your breath underwater regardless of the type of pool you’re in. But when you’re dealing with salt water, you have to particularly watch out for:

  • Use sanitizers and balancers – Yes, saltwater pools require pool chemicals, albeit the concentration and variety are slightly different. Use the right pH balancers and regularly sanitize the saltwater pool.
  • Mandatory pre-swim showers – Make sure everyone showers before getting in the pool. This reduces the impurities that can get added to the water. Saltwater pools aren’t as good at getting rid of impurities as the standard “Chemical soup” pools, so you must be careful to avoid contamination.
  • Mandatory post-swim showers – Finally, you must take a step that’s essential for your health more than for the pool’s health. Even though the salt in a saltwater pool isn’t solid, it can still stick to your skin. Over a long period, this can be harmful, which is why a freshwater shower should be considered mandatory.

Pros and Cons of Adding Salt to Your Pool

Having learned the best practices of maintaining a saltwater pool alongside the recommended waiting period after adding salt, you’re ready to pour salt into your swimming pool. But before you go ahead with that step, you should know the pros and cons of having a saltwater pool.

Pros of Saltwater Swimming Pools

Let’s start by discussing all the benefits you stand to avail of by having a saltwater pool instead of going the traditional pool route. Some of these will surprise you as most saltwater pool owners aren’t aware of all the advantages of this pool type.

Saltwater isn’t Harsh on Your Skin.

If the possibility of dry skin has you concerned, this comes as good news because as long as you wait for 20 to 45 minutes before jumping into your swimming pool after adding salt to it, your skin will be in better health than it would be were you to get into an overchlorinated swimming pool. Still, you have to take a freshwater shower after getting into either type of pool, but your skin is better protected in saltwater.

Saltwater Pools Emulate Nature.

The reason our skin doesn’t react too drastically to salt exposure is that seas and oceans have saltwater. It is natural to swim in saltwater. In contrast, chlorine makes water safer to swim compared to a stagnant pond with algae growth, but the chemical can be corrosive. The worst-case scenario of both types of pools best illustrates why the more natural option is better.

If you get into a swimming pool that has excess chlorine, your skin can develop rashes, and you can even suffer from skin burns. In contrast, getting into a saltwater pool with too much salt leads to dry skin, and that too, only when you fail to moisturize afterward. 

The dead sea is famous for having such a concentration of salt that one cannot drown in it. Tourists from all over the world float in the dead sea without reporting rashes or adverse reactions, presumably, because they moisturize right after.

Saltwater Pools Require Less Maintenance.

As any swimming pool owner knows, a pool is easier to build and harder to maintain. Saltwater pools, then, are a breath of fresh air for swimming pool owners as they require less maintenance. Once you’ve added the right concentration of salt to the pool, you automate microbe-killing. 

Chlorine and pool chemicals can be added for extra safety but depending on how big the pool is and whether it has a saltwater chlorinator, you can skip the hassle altogether. Even hybrid pools that feature both salt and chlorine require less chlorine added at a lower frequency with a lower balance burden.

Saltwater is Softer on the Eyes.

Another key benefit of saltwater pools is that you don’t have to worry about opening your eyes underwater. This is particularly beneficial if you have kids. Children do not understand that it can sometimes be dangerous to open their eyes underwater for extended periods. 

Chlorinated water can cause redness and irritation. Saltwater can make your eyes dry. In both cases, one should avoid keeping his eyes open for a long period. But if you are to open your eyes underwater, the effects are likely to be less severe if you’re in a saltwater pool.

Saltwater Pools Allow You to Opt out of Chemical Hazards.

Having a swimming pool requires having enough chlorine to shock the pool. In smaller quantities, the chemical can be expensive, which is why many pool owners purchase pool chemicals, including chlorine, in bulk quantities. Storing these at home can be dangerous. The equivalent for salt water pool owners is stocking up on salt, which isn’t nearly as dangerous.

Cons of Saltwater Swimming Pool

The above section might have you excited to add salt to your pool water, but to ensure that you don’t regret going this route, you must have the full picture. Below is a relatively shorter list of drawbacks of a saltwater pool, starting with the expenses.

Saltwater Pools Cost More Money.

Whenever you look at the standard of doing anything, you have to assume that it is the cheapest way to do the said thing. Food is delivered on bikes because it is cheaper that way; packages are delivered in vans because it is cheaper that way. 

Applying the same principle to swimming pools, one can conclude that pools that have chlorine and chemicals are the global standard because they are cheaper. You don’t have to rely on deductive reasoning for this when this conclusion is supported by mathematics. The price of pool chemicals multiplied by the frequency at which they’re added comes up to $400 a year on average. 

In contrast, salt costs around $150 per year. However, what’s saved in maintenance cost is offset in the pool building costs. A saltwater pool is more expensive to set up and requires saltwater cell replacement every few years. Furthermore, whenever there is a problem, you need to call a technician who charges more than the average plumber who can help with traditional pool troubles.

A Saltwater Pool can Destroy Some Materials.

While saltwater feels softer compared to chlorinated water, it can affect certain surfaces more harshly. Among these are most sheet metals that can erode with constant contact with water. Even the salt cell gets worn out every 3 years because of excessive exposure to salt. 

If you want to pour salt into your swimming pool, make sure that there are a few metal items in the pool circuit. The alternative has a similar drawback too. Chlorine damages vinyl liner, which I discuss at length in a post dedicated to the subject.

Final Thoughts

Adding salt to your swimming pool is a good idea if you have a saltwater chlorinator. This saves you time and money in pool maintenance even though it might require an expensive setup, something that you have probably already invested in. As long as you’re willing to replace the cell when it is worn out, you’re free to enjoy the numerous benefits of a saltwater pool. Just make sure not to jump into the pool within 20 minutes of adding salt to it.

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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