How To Test The Salt Level Of A Pool

Written by Michael Dean
November 15, 2023

testing the salt level in a swimming pool

If you have a saltwater pool, the most important measurement to keep track of is the salt level in your pool water. Maintaining the proper salt level is important because if you let the salt in your pool get too low, your salt chlorine generator will produce lower chlorine levels, leading to bacteria and algae growth.

There are several ways to monitor your pool’s salt level, as you will see in the following list. Read on to learn the best way to care for your saltwater swimming pool.

Main Takeaways

  • Salt levels in your saltwater pool should sit at around 2,700-3,400 ppm.
  • You can test the salt level of your pool by checking your digital salt chlorinator, using a liquid reagent kit, using a digital water tester, using a handheld electronic meter, using salt test strips, or going to a pool store.
  • You should test your pool’s salt levels every month, but keep an eye on your chlorinator in the meantime.

What Should Your Salt Levels Be?

If you want your saltwater pool to last, knowing the proper way to measure your pool’s salt level is essential. But, before I go over how to test your salt levels, it is important to look into where your salt levels should hover.

Ideal salt levels should be around 2,700-3,400 ppm (parts per million). Use my pool salt calculator to determine how much salt to add to your pool if you have low salt levels. You can also check out my guide on pool salt, in general, to learn about the different types.

How to Test the Salt Level of a Pool

There are many different ways to test the salt level of your pool. Whatever method you use is entirely up to you and your preferences.

  • Check your digital salt chlorinator: The most effective way to monitor your pool’s salt level.
  • Use a liquid reagent kit: An easy and reliable method to test the salt level that requires you to compare the color of the sample against a color chart.
  • Use a digital water tester: A great way to test all pool chemical levels in one go.
  • Use a handheld electronic meter: Simple to use but needs to be properly calibrated.
  • Use salt test strips: The least expensive option and is easy to use.
  • Go to a pool store: Time consuming method, but it has good accuracy.

Check Your Digital Salt Chlorinator

If your pool has a digital salt chlorinator, you can find the salt level in your swimming pool by simply reading your salt chlorinator’s digital display. All digital salt chlorinators can determine the salt level in your collection. Some digital salt chlorinators use an algorithm, not a physical sensor.

Digital salt chlorinators that determine your pool’s salt level using an algorithm consider several variables such as volts, cell amperes, and water temperature. A digital salt chlorinator is the most effective way to monitor your pool’s salt level.

Saltwater chlorine generators are widely available at many pool suppliers. They range from a few hundred dollars for lower-end models to the low thousands for more advanced, higher-end models. For more on this important piece of equipment, read my complete guide on salt chlorine generators.

Use a Liquid Reagent Kit

Testing your pool using a liquid reagent kit from your local pool supplier is another easy and reliable way to test your pool’s salt level. Although they cost a little bit more than salt test strips, liquid reagent kits typically run between $15 and $20; testing your pool with a liquid reagent kit is a simple process that will help keep your collection clean.

To test your pool water with a liquid reagent kit, fill the included vials with samples from your saltwater pool. Then, add the liquid reagent according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once you’ve mixed the reagent with your pool water samples, the samples will change color.

At this point, you should refer back to the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance on interpreting the test results, although this is a simple process that you’ll get better at with time. Most liquid reagent kits require you to compare your pool samples against an included color chart to determine their salinity.

Taylor Technologies Salt Water Test Kit

Taylor Technologies makes a simple salt water test kit that is accurate and affordable.

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Use a Digital Water Tester

When you use a digital water tester to test the salt level in your pool, you’ll dip a test strip into your pool water, hold it there, and then insert it into a specified place on the digital water tester. After 15 to 20 seconds, the digital water tester will return several different measurements, including the salinity of your pool water.

While digital pool test strips may need to be interpreted differently depending on the manufacturer, they all generally work the same way and take all the exact measurements. In addition to salinity, a digital water tester should also measure for “total hardness,” which refers to the amount of calcium and other minerals in your water.

A good digital test strip kit should also measure the “total chlorine” in your water, as well as the amount of “free chlorine” available to keep your pool water clean. Your test kit should also give you a pH reading, which lets you know your water’s acid-to-base ratio, and a “stabilizer” task that measures your cyanuric acid levels.

Use a Handheld Electronic Meter

You can also choose to test the salt level in your pool using a handheld electronic meter. In that case, you’ll turn the electronic meter on and then dip the pen-style meter into your pool water while your electronic meter analyzes it. Some handheld meter systems work by requiring the user to fill a small plastic cup with pool water fitted into the testing meter.

Electronic testing meters are a newer method of testing your pool water that is generally accurate as long as they are correctly calibrated before measuring your pool. The primary advantage of a digital pool meter is that it performs many other tests that many liquid reagent kits cannot, such as the total dissolved solids test.

Most electronic testing meters have a small margin of error, so if you choose to use one, you’ll need to remember that the numbers you see are directionally accurate, even if they are slightly off.

Digital Salinity Tester for Salt Water

You can use a digital salinity tester to get a reading and not have to worry about constantly replenishing test strips.

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Use Salt Test Strips

Salt test strips are an affordable method of testing your pool water. Simply dip the test strip into the water, lift it out, wait a few seconds, and interpret the results against the included color chart. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guide, as each test trip may have slightly different instructions.

AquaChek Salt Test Strip Titrators for Pools

These salt test strips from AquaChek should do the trick. Simple to use and accurate.

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Go to a Pool Store

For the most accurate results, take a sample of your pool water (get the sample from around elbow depth) to the local pool store. They should test your pool water for free and let you know what needs to be adjusted, including your salt, pH, alkalinity, and more. While taking a sample to the pool store might be annoying, a good practice is to always take a sample whenever you are headed to the store anyway!

How Often Should You Test the Salt Level in Your Pool?

Check the salt level of your pool once a month. The salinity of your pool must be between 2,700 and 3,400 ppm. However, on top of testing the salt each month, I recommend semi-regularly checking the salinity level by keeping an eye on your salt chlorinator in the meantime. But it’s still a good idea to check the salt levels further using one of the other methods listed to ensure your chlorinator is not displaying a false reading. It’s also good practice to test the salt level in your pool after rain or after a part drain-and-refill, as the extra water will have diluted the salt in your pool.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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Test the Salt

As you can see, there are several different ways to monitor the salt level in your pool; it’s just a matter of finding the easiest testing method for you and the best for the long-term health of your swimming pool. If you find that you added too much salt from your test result, head over to my article on what happens if too much salt is in your pool (and how to lower your salt level).

If you still have questions about any of the techniques I’ve discussed here, feel free to drop me a line.

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