How To Shock a Saltwater Pool

Written by Michael Dean
September 21, 2023

shocking a saltwater swimming pool

It’s no secret that owning a swimming pool is a lot of work. Not only do you need to clean your pool daily, but you also want to ensure your chemical levels are balanced and that all of your pool equipment is in order. If you own a saltwater pool, some of the general maintenance work you would do with a traditional chlorine pool becomes unnecessary, as you don’t need to pour chlorine into the pool to keep your water clean and sanitized. However, as with chlorine pools, you still need to shock your saltwater pool.

In this article, I will explain why you should shock your saltwater pool, how to shock the pool, and give you my top tips for shocking a saltwater pool.

Main Takeaways

  • As with a chlorine pool, you should be shocking your saltwater pool.
  • Shock your saltwater pool once a week. And make sure that shocking your pool is a part of your regular maintenance routine.
  • Leave the pool filter running for at least 6 hours after shocking the saltwater pool.

Should You Shock Your Saltwater Pool?

Some pool owners might mistakenly think saltwater pools do not need additional chlorine. After all, the saltwater chlorine generator (SCG) converts the salt into chlorine. However, as with traditional chlorine pools, saltwater pools must be shocked regularly to remain healthy and clean.

Even saltwater pools are prone to contaminants and algae, so to get rid of these unwanted elements in your pool water, you will need to shock your saltwater pool. And don’t worry! The salt in your saltwater pool has absolutely no effect on the shock treatment.

Many SCGs have the option to super-chlorinate the pool, which can essentially work as a pool shock. However, although this mode can come in handy at times, try not to overuse it, as it can overwork the motor. So, as an alternative to super-chlorinating using the SCG, you should shock the pool in the traditional manner.

Step-By-Step Guide: How to Shock a Saltwater Pool

To ensure that you are shocking your pool correctly and effectively, follow this step-by-step guide on how to shock your saltwater pool.

Step 1: Clean the Pool

Before shocking your saltwater pool, you should clean it. You can do this by removing all debris on the water’s surface, brushing the pool surfaces (and loosening up algae spores), and vacuuming. Ensure your pool is as clean as possible before you shock the pool.

Step 2: Balance The Pool Chemistry

Once your pool is as spotless as it can get, you should test the pool’s pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels. You may not realize it, but unbalanced chemistry in the pool water can change the effectiveness of the shock treatment.

For example, if the pH levels are too high, it will slow down the reaction of the chlorine, making the “shock” less potent. On the other hand, if your calcium levels are too high, this can create crystalline deposits.

Use your pool testing kit to check that the levels are correct and balanced. Here are the ideal chemical ranges that you should aim for:

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.6 ( aim for slightly on the lower side before adding shock)
  • Alkalinity: 120 – 180 ppm
  • Total Hardness: 120 – 425 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness: 180 – 220 ppm
Taylor High Range Swimming Pool Test Kit

This expansive test kit includes nine tests for most pool chemical measurements you need.

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Step 3: Calculate the Shock Dosage

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the shock you are using. For saltwater pools, I recommend using dichlor or a non-chlorine shock when shocking the pool.

To correctly calculate the shock dosage, use my pool volume calculator to determine the volume of your pool, then use my pool shock calculator to help you determine how much shock you need.

Step 4: Turn Off Your Saltwater Chlorine Generator

Before shocking the pool, you should turn off the saltwater chlorine generator, as the excess chlorine can easily damage your salt cell. The last thing you want is to have to replace the salt cell after shocking your pool!

Step 5: Add the Shock

Once you have prepped the pool and the water, you can finally add the shock. First, make sure your pool pump and filter are running. Then, the best way to add the shock treatment is to dilute it in a 5-gallon bucket and then pour the diluted chlorine slowly around the edges of the entire pool. This way, the shock treatment can disperse throughout the pool and is not concentrated in just one area.

Step 6: Balance The Chemistry Again

After around 6 hours, test the water again and check the chlorine levels and other chemicals. For chlorine, you’ll want to aim for approximately ten times more free chlorine than combined chlorine. If chlorine levels are too low, you will need to shock the pool again.

When Should You Shock Your Saltwater Pool?

Here are some things to watch out for that indicate when you should shock your saltwater pool.


While many associate the smell of chlorine with cleanliness, the reality is that if you smell the chlorine in your pool, it means the pool is very dirty. It’s not the free chlorine emitting this smell; instead, it’s the chloramines. Chloramines, or combined chlorine, can irritate swimmers and can cause itchy skin and eyes. Plus, it indicates that you need to shock the pool to allow the free chlorine to sanitize it.


If you have particularly strong and stubborn algae on your pool surfaces, you may want to use a pool brush to brush off as much as possible. But to kill it entirely, you’ll also want to shock your pool water.


Contaminants in the form of unwanted bacteria, debris, or even fecal matter can enter the pool. Dirty swimsuits, sunscreen, and bad weather can bring a wide range of dirty contaminants to your pool that you will want to eliminate. In addition to skimming your pool water for debris, you will also want to shock the pool to make sure your pool is safe to swim in.

How Often Should You Shock Your Saltwater Pool?

As with traditional chlorine pools, you should shock your saltwater pool once a week to ensure it remains healthy and in good condition. If your pool is filled with debris and algae, I recommend shocking the pool as soon as possible. It’s also good practice to shock the pool after an extreme weather event, a big pool party, and at the beginning and end of the pool season.

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Tips For Shocking a Saltwater Pool

Here are some of my top tips for shocking a saltwater pool.

Run Your Pool Filter After Shocking

Leave your pool filter running for an absolute minimum of 6 hours after you have shocked the pool to ensure the shock is dispersed throughout the entire pool.

Use The Salt Cell To Shock The Pool (Use Sparingly)

Many saltwater chlorinators have a super-chlorinate button that effectively works as a shock treatment for your pool. This is an excellent alternative to shocking the pool the usual way, but note the following:

  1. Using this mode will overwork the motor, which will cause unnecessary strain and may cause your salt cell to retire earlier than you may want.
  2. The super-chlorinate option is not as effective as actually shocking the pool.

For these reasons, I don’t recommend using this method if you can avoid it, but it is something to keep in mind, as it may come in handy one day!

Use Dichlor or Non-Chlorine Shock

Try sticking with dichlor or a non-chlorine shock to shock your saltwater pool. Although you can use the more popular cal-hypo, I do not recommend it, as the higher chlorine content can throw off the chemical balance of the pool and can even cause scaling problems on your pool surfaces.

That’s it! For more saltwater pool research, check out my article on saltwater pool maintenance. Questions? Let me know; I’m always happy to help.

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