If you have a chlorinated saltwater swimming pool, then the most important measurement you’re going to want to keep track of is the level of salt in your pool water. Maintaining the right level of salt is important because if you let the salt level in your pool get too low, your salt chlorine generator will produce lower chlorine levels, which will lead to bacteria and algae.
But the logic here works both ways. If you let the salt level in your pool get too high, you’re throwing money away on expensive chemicals for your pool, and you risk damaging your pool’s internal components. If you want your saltwater pool to last, then it’s essential to know the proper way to measure your pool’s salt level.
Ideal salt levels should be around 2,700-3,400 ppm (parts per million). Use our pool salt calculator to figure out 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.
Whatever kind of saltwater swimming pool you have, 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.
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 are capable of determining the salt level in your collection. Some digital salt chlorinators don’t use a physical sensor but use an algorithm.
Digital salt chlorinators that determine your pool’s salt level using an algorithm consider several variables such as volts, cell amperes, and water temperature. When monitoring your pool’s salt level, a digital salt chlorinator is the most effective way.
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 full 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, you fill the included vials with samples from your saltwater pool and 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 how to interpret 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.
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 with a digital pool meter is that they perform 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. Handheld electronic meters are most effective when you use them alongside pH and liquid reagent tests.
Use Salt Test Strips
There are two different kinds of salt test strips. The first one is a dip-and-read test, where you dip the test strip into the water, hold it there, and then lift it out and interpret the results against an included color chart. The second type of test strip uses a vial, into which you pour an inch of pool water.
With vial tests, you dip the test strip into the vial which contains your pool water and leave the end of the test strip submerged for 10 minutes. After removing the test strip from the water, you then compare the colored test strip against a chart included with the manufacturer’s instructions.
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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 testing method that is easiest for you and best for the long-term health of your swimming pool. If you find from your test result that you added too much salt, 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 we’ve discussed here, feel free to drop us a line.