How To Add Salt To Your Pool

Written by:  Danny Rhodehamel

You've installed a new Salt Chlorine Generator to your pool and you've reached the point where you have to add salt. This guide tells you what salt to use, how much to add, and how to add it.

Tips & Warnings


Step by Step

Step 1

First check your Salt Chlorine Generator's Owner's Manuel to determine what level of salt your Salt Chlorine Generator operates at. They generally operate at target levels between 3000 to 4000 ppm. For this example we will assume that your Salt Chlorine Generator operates at 3500 ppm. So you will want to add enough salt to your pool to bring salt concentration level to 3500 ppm.

Step 2
add salt into pool

Your next step is to determine the current level of salt in your pool. If you have just installed a new pool, your salt level will be 0 ppm, but if you have an older pool and are converting from a standard chlorinator, your pool will have a low level of salt concentration, typically around 500 ppm.

Step 3
pool salt water test strip

Measure your pool's current level using a Salt Water Test strip. Assuming you have an older pool, your reading will be around 2.0. The table on the back of the test strip container equates a reading of 2.0 to 500 ppm. If you have a pool store nearby, take a water sample into them to verify your salt level.

Step 4

To determine how many of pounds of salt you need to bring your salt level to 3500 ppm, calculate the number of gallons in your pool and add salt according to the Salt Table. For our example, if your pool has 10,000 gals of water and your current salt level is 500, you need to add 250 lbs of salt. If you don't know the number of gallons in your pool, see the first steps of How To Size a Pool Pump. for instructions.

Step 5
swimming pool salt

Salt is typically packaged in 40 pound bags so in our example, if you have to add 250 pounds of salt you will need to add about 6 bags. Use a salt that is at least 99.8% pure NaCl. The preferred salt is an evaporated, granulated, food quality, NON-iodized salt. Avoid using salt with anti-caking agents like sodium ferrocyanide, also known as yellow YPS (prussiate of soda. These cause some discoloration of fittings and pool surface finishes. DO NOT use calcium chloride.

Step 6

Before adding salt to your pool, be sure to TURN OFF the salt chlorine generator at the Control Unit. The generator should not be turned on until the salt is completely dissolved. Leave the PUMP ON to circulate the water and help dissolve the salt.

Step 7
salt pool skimmer

When you add salt, DO NOT pour it directly into the skimmer. For best results empty the required salt into the shallow end of the pool and let it dissolve and circulate through the main drain. The salt may take about 24 hours to dissolve completely. Finer grades of salt will dissolve faster.

Step 8

After the salt has dissolved, turn on the salt chlorinator. Check to see that the salt level is around 3500 ppm. Your pool should be maintained at around this level. A low salt level below 3000 ppm reduces the efficiency of the salt generator which results in low chlorine production. A high salt level above 4500 ppm can rapidly reduce the longevity of the cell.

Step 9

A word of advice. If you think you need 6 bags according to your calculations, add 5 first. Let it dissolve and retest your salt level before adding your last bag. It's a lot easier to add another bag if required than to have to reduce the salt level if you've overshot your target salt level. If you do end up with too much salt in your pool, see How To Reduce the Salt Level In Your Pool for instructions.

Comments (1 to 40 of 76)

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User: Brad

Great article. Thank you.

User: Inyopools

Sue - I would recommend that you use a unit that hangs on the side wall of your pool like ChlorEase Salt Chlorine Generator A/G Pools. Note: this will not work on a soft-sided pool. Your pool must have a rigid wall to hang on. You only have ~1800 gallons of water so you would operate this unit at a very low level and you won't need more than about 50# of salt.

User: Sue

I have an above ground pool 10ft x 3ft. I want to use salt rather than chlorine. Is it an easy process for such a small pool?

User: Inyopools

Gunny's Honey - You will still need to add chemicals to maintain the pool water chemistry including levels of Ph and Hardness. See our guide on "How To Maintain A Swimming Pool Part 1 (Chemicals)" for a full list. Ignore references to Chlorine since your Salt Chlorine Generator will provide that.

User: Gunny's Honey

I've just purchased a 22'x52" pool. I've calculated how much salt I need. Are there any other chemicals I need to add as well?

User: Inyopools

marciejoy23 - Sounds like your Salt Chlorine Generator wasn't calibrated correctly before you added salt. You may just have to reset your SCG and possibly recalibrate it to turn off the error lights. All SCG instructions say to turn off the SCG until the salt dissolves so hopefully that has not damaged your unit. I suggest giving Jandy a call at 800-822-7933 to see what they say. Hopefully it's an easy fix.

User: marciejoy23

I'm a first time pool owner and have a Jandy ProSeries Aquapro salt chlorinator in a newly built home. I've been monitoring my levels with strips and going to the Pool Store to check levels over the past month since I moved in. It was found that my salt level was 2800 last week (despite a reading of 3300 on the chlorinator) and then was 2600 at the store this week. I was told to add a bag of salt. Prior to doing so, I checked the chlorinator which said 0.4gpl, and add salt. The pool store directed me to pour the salt in the deep end and leave the filter on for 24 hours. I did that, but when I rechecked the box this am, it still stated service and add salt. As this seemed incorrect, I browsed the manual and it stated that I was supposed to turn to the chlorine production to 0% for the 24 hours and was supposed to pour the salt in the shallow end. Great...too late for that. After 14 hours, with the production set at 85% instead of zero, I set the production down this am. Have I ruined the salt chlorinator now by just listening to the pool store and not reading the manual? I didn't brush the pool during this time frame either. What should I do now? How do I get rid of the error lights, or does that resolve after the salt production is set to zero for 24 hours?

User: Inyopools

Jay - You should be able to get an accurate reading after you have run the pump continuously for 24 hrs. If you still see undissolved salt at the bottom of your pool, run the pump for another 12 hours while moving the salt with a brush.

User: Jay

We just put up an Intex 18'x48" pool. We have a sand filter and also a Krystal clear salt water system. We added 120lbs of salt and a start up for salt water. The salt is dissolved and the SWS running. How long before we test the levels for an accurate reading?

User: Inyopools

tkaudi - Assuming you are starting with no salt in your pool and your pool has about 11,000 gallons, according to the Salt Table access in Step 4, you will need a little over 300 lbs of salt or just under 8 bags of 40# salt. I would put in the 6 bags, run the pump 24 hours with the SCG off, check the salt level and add another bag if required. Run another 12 hours and if your salt level is in range operate at that level. Add 8th bag only if you are on the lower end of the acceptable range.

User: tkaudi

Hi we just put up a 22x52 above ground pool and we haven't put the salt in yet! We bought 6-40lb bags of Morton pool salt and were going to put it in and let only the pump run for 24 hours till its all dissolved and then test it to see if we need another bag! Is this the right procedure?

User: Inyopools

Limeyness - That's about the right level of salt if you had no salt residue in your pool initially. It adds up with time. I would have a pool store check a sample of your pool water to see what the salt level actually is. Also call your SCG manufacturer and see if 2100 ppm is an error indicator. You may have a bad printed circuit board.

User: Limeyness


I have a big in ground pool 42/45,000 gallons. I just converted to salt yesterday, added 24 bags of salt @ 50lbs a bag, and I am showing 2100ppm. everything I have read has me at the right amount of salt but my SWCG is not even generating. does this seem like a lot of salt to you guys?

User: Inyopools

Jaq - Your calculations are correct. For a 5,000 gallon pool you will need approximately 150# of salt, so 2 1/2 bags of 40# salt is a good place to start. Then add 1 more bag is needed. Note that your salt chlorine generator should be turned off while the salt is dissolving.

User: Jaq

We are putting up a 15 foot round above ground intex pool for our kids. We would like to avoid chlorine and use water softener salt. Am I right in my calculations that this pool would be 5,000 gallons and would need 2 1/2 40# bags of salt to get started?

User: Inyopools

Wallace - 4300 ppm is pushing the acceptable range of salt. The only way to reduce the salt level is to drain a portion and refill the pool with fresh water. This will happen somewhat naturally with rain and splashing, but, if the level of salt continues to stay at 4000+ for another couple of weeks, I would drain some of the water in the pool. See our guide on "How To Reduce the Salt Level In Your Pool". When the salt level is too high, the SCG draws more current and runs hotter which decreases the life of the unit.

User: Wallace1314

I have a new 12,500 gallon in-ground pool.
Got water sample analysis report and it says the ph level is good at 7.4, total alkalinity ok @ 90ppm.
The FAC and TAC levels are a little high @ 5 but the big issue is the salt content.
Content is 4,300 ppm vs 2,500-3,500 recommended range.
Bought salt test strips and this backs up the report indicating > 4,000ppm.
Strangely enough the indicator light on the Intellichlor cell is solid green and good.
Pool builder says "The only way to lower is to drain and re-fill with fresh water. I would not advise doing so if the generator is working and with the indicator lights all green. I would say its working. It will come down on its own as you produce chlorine. They harm it could do is to your stone if it was not sealed. I would be more concerned if it was not sealed. My recommendation would to be, leave it as is…. And when it drops to about 3500, try to maintain that level.
Question- Will the salt content really come down without draining as more chlorine is produced??

User: Inyopools

Patty - Adding salt to your pool water will not reduce the hardness of the water. Softening water with a water softener involves a chemical process with the resin in the softener.

User: Patty

I just bought some equipment from your company and I spoke to a pool guy in the neighborhood. I have a problem with my pool water being overly hard and chlorinated and this pool guy said to add salt to our pool to help make the water softer. Have you ever heard of this? This is a normal chlorine pool, not a soft water pool. Please let me know what you think. thanks

User: Inyopools

Sharon - If your pool store has been in business for awhile, I would assume they know what they are doing and your pool will clear up with their additives. Your situation is not that uncommon. Here's a link to our guide on "How To Get Rid Of Algae In Your Swimming Pool" for general information.

User: Sharon

We took a sample to a local pool supply store. They told us what we needed to put in and how much. The problem I have is that now the water is very green. Tomorrow we are supposed to add two more ingredients but they told us to add the salt today when we added the other ingredients. I thought I woUld take another sample to them Tuesday just to make sure everything is ok. Does this sound like it is working ok? Will the green eventually go away?

User: Inyopools

Sharon - Before you add salt to your pool you want to be sure the chemicals in the pool are at their correct levels. These include pH, Alkalinity, Stabilizer, and Calcium, plus you will want to know hat your current salt level is to know how much salt to add. All pools have some salt in them. See our guides on "Pool Maintenance" for more information.

User: Sharon

We just put up an Intex 16 x 32 above ground ultra frame pool. It came with a sand filter pump and we have added a salt filter pump. As of now, we have filled it up with well water and added a product we got at the local pool supply called Stain X for removing minerals. Our well has a lot of iron (don't know what else. They told us to bring in a sample of water to test, and then they would let us know what we would need to add to get the water right. When do we add the salt and should we add anything else to it? I saw where something about shocking was mentioned----could this be what they are talking about? Help please. Sharon

User: Inyopools

salt and shock - There is no sequence to adding salt and shock. You could do them together. Dissolving salt in your pool water will not affect shocking your pool. Make sure your pH is balanced and remember to turn off your SCG unit while dissolving the salt.


If your chorline level is so low that you need to shock your pool as well as add a number of bags of salt, is there an order to do things in? Salt then shock or shock then salt? Is there a certain amount of time you should wait after you do the first step (ie add salt) before doing the next step?

User: Inyopools

adding salt - I need to know the average depth of your pool to calculate total gallons of pool water. Assuming an average depth of 6 ft (4' shallow & 8'deep), your pool has 17,648 gallons of water. To increase this pool from 2800 ppm to 3500 ppm, you will need to add about 120 # of salt or three (3) 40# bags. If the average depth of your pool is 4 ft, it contains 11,760 gallons and you would have to add about 80 # or 2 bags of salt to get the pool's salt level to 3500.


I have a salt water pool and the salt is down to 2800 my pool is 14w x 28 length. The ppm should be between 3000-4000 how many bags of salt do I add?

User: Inyopools

vinegar - Vinegar is a weaker acid and should work, but it will probably take much longer to clean the cell.

User: Inyopools

16x48 pool - You have added the right amount of salt to your pool to see some results in chlorine generation. I suspect that your salt chlorine generator is not working. Check the wiring and if you are getting power to the unit. If this doesn't work, give the SCG manufacturer a call. Their technical staff should be able to pinpoint your problem.


Can you clean cell with vinegar for build up


I have a 16x48 round pool & can't get it clear. Added 3 bags of salt as it filled & I run the pool pump nonstop. I ran boost & didn't help. Had water tested. It was brown & had to add shock, mur. acid, phos., & stabilizer. Had it retested & had to add more shock & phos. Now its green & reading low salt. What do I do???

User: Inyopools

Tina - It sounds like your Salt Chlorine Generator is not working properly. Check the installation to make sure it's installed correctly then call the manufacturer.

User: Tina


I have an 18' x 48" intex above ground pool. The guide indicated to add 16lb ( 4 bags) of Morton Pool Salt. Did that and ran the filter pump for 24 hours. Tested the pool water and no chlorine produced. Took water to be tested. Professional had me buy liquid shock and ppm down. Did that as directed. When I get a bit of copper then chlorine goes away and ppm goes up. Should I just try putting more salt in the pool instead of using more chemicals. That is the reason I got the system to get away from having to put all these chemicals in the pool. Please reply.

User: Inyopools

La - 3500 is just the upper limit of salt concentration. Operating at 2600-2800 is fine. You just have to watch your salt level a little closer so that you don't fall below 2600.

User: La

New to a salt water pool, my pool guy says I am good at 2600-3500. I have been running 2600-2800, water looks great, took sample to pool store, they said I needed nothing. Why would I need to get to 3500?

User: Inyopools

Michelle - Three 40# bags is about the right amount of salt for you size pool. It sounds like your salt chlorine generator is not operating correctly. I would suggest calling your SCG manufacturer. He should be able to get your particular SCG working. Give us a call if you need their number.

User: Michelle

I have a 5000 gal pool and just switched from chlorine to salt water added 3 bags of salt like it said to, and now my water is green, what do I need to do? PLZ help

User: Steve

Thank you. Since posting, I have verified that the popular brand of test strips I've been using have been..and continue to be... significantly in error. More than a month ago I compared the test strips to a pool store analysis and they seemed to have been reasonably accurate. But, at this moment they are still showing 2,500 ppm when in fact the reading is 6,400. I am in talks with the manufacturer regarding this inaccuracy. But, you're right. I will have to replace a significant portion of the water to correct the situation. Thank you for providing a formula to follow.

User: Inyopools

Steve - If you have added 46 bags of salt to you 20,000 gal pool, your salt level is 3 times what it should be. You have one of two problems: either your salt readings are wrong or you have a huge operational issue. If you can, have another pool company measure your salt level to confirm your current readings. The operational issue is dilution and significant dilution. The only way to reduce your pool's salt level is by dilution. You would have to have a large leak in your pool that would require you to add at least half a pool's volume of water to reduce your salt readings to the levels you are reading. This seems unlikely so I would go with re-verifying your salt readings.

User: Steve

My problem has confounded every pool expert I've consulted so far. I switched to a salt system when relining the pool last February. Calculations said to add 15 bags to the 20,000 gallons pool, which we did. Water was cold so did little else until end of March. Since then have added AT LEAST 25 bags, maybe more. Have NEVER reached 3,000 ppm. (Generator requires 4,000 to 4,500). Yesterday, added 6 more bags. Reading before was 2,490 ppm; reading after is 1,960. DOWN! Generator mfgr said they've never experienced such a problem. New test strips reasonably accurate compared to pool store readings. Am desperate to solve. Please help!

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Tips & Warnings

Pool salt water systems operate at around 3500 ppm or about 1 tenth the salt concentration of ocean salt water. A person doesn't taste salt in water until it reaches 5000 ppm - well above the operating range of salt water generators.

Please Note:

Inyo Pool Products is not responsible for any injury or damaged equipment
while using our guides. Using our guides is doing so at your own risk.
These guides are suggested use of your pool or spa equipment and may vary
depending on which product you are using.