How to Add Salt to Your Pool

WRITTEN BY:  Inyo Pools

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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 which salt to use, how much to add and how to add it.


Step by Step


Step 1

First check your Salt Chlorine Generator Owner's Manual 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 the salt concentration level to 3500 ppm.

Step 2

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. 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

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 converts the reading of 2.0 to a salt level of 500 ppm. If you have a pool store nearby, we would also recommend taking a water sample to them to verify your measured salt level. This service is generally free and more accurate.

Step 4

To determine how many pounds of salt you will 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 gallons 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

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 six bags. Use a salt that is at least 99.8% pure sodium chloride  (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 Prussiate of Soda (YPS). 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 has completely dissolved. Leave the PUMP ON to circulate the water and help dissolve the salt.

Step 7

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 life of the cell.

Step 9

A word of advice: if you think you need six bags according to your calculations, only add five bags at 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 our guide, How To Reduce the Salt Level In Your Pool, for instructions.


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Inyopools  Posted: 05/22/2017 22:22 PM  Latest Inyo Product Specialist

Butch - For a 45,000-gallon pool, you will need 1300 total lbs of salt. Look at the Salt Table referenced in Step 4 of this guide. Assuming your SCG requires a salt level of 3500 ppm and you are currently at 1500 ppm, you will have to add another 751 # of salt to get your salt level up to 3500. I would check your calculation for the number of gallons in your pool. For a rectangular pool, the formula is length x width x average depth x 7.5 gallons per cubic foot. For 45,000 gallons, your pool's average depth would have to be 7.5 feet. If your pool has a more standard average depth of 6’, your pool is only 36,000 gallons and you would then only need about 600 more lbs. of salt.

Butch  Posted: 05/21/2017 11:12 AM  Latest

My pool is a trueL 20x40. Holds 45000 gal.Have put 400 lbs of salt. Shows ppm is 1500. Why is it still so low? No major rain. My pH is extremely high. Off the charts

Butch  Posted: 05/21/2017 11:11 AM  Latest

My pool is a trueL 20x40. Holds 45000 gal.Have put 400 lbs of salt. Shows ppm is 1500. Why is it still so low? No major rain.

Inyopools  Posted: 05/19/2017 13:06 PM  Latest Inyo Product Specialist

Dave - It's a precaution. You may be alright.

Dave  Posted: 05/18/2017 17:16 PM  Latest

I added 2 bags of salt and then after an hour I remembered to turn off the system. Will that one hour throw off my calibration or damage the cell that fast?

Inyopools  Posted: 04/21/2017 16:28 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

CaliGirl - You actually have about 11,000 gallons of water in your pool and you will probably have some salt level in your freshwater. After you fill your pool, have it tested for salt. Assuming you start with 500 ppm, to get to a level of 3500 ppm, you will need about 275 # of salt or just under 7 bags of salt. I would put 6 bags in first and hold back on one. After 24 hours, test the water for salt again, then if you need another bag, add the 7th bag. It's much easier to add salt than to remove it. For an 11,000 gallon pool, 1 40# bag of salt increases the salt level about 425 ppm.

CaliGirl  Posted: 04/21/2017 6:51 AM 

Hi you guys! My pool is 22'x 52", 10,472 gal. This is newly setup, I haven't even added any water as yet, so I guess my salt level would be 0, right? So, how much salt am I going to need to for my pool for the ideal salt level?

Inyopools  Posted: 04/08/2017 12:06 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Stephm - If you don't know the history of your pool's maintenance, your salt generation cell may need to be cleaned. Try cleaning it first. See it that improves the salt reading. If not, I would add a bag of salt to see if that brings the reading up. Even if your store reading of 3000 is correct, your system can handle another bag of salt.

Stephm  Posted: 04/03/2017 18:45 PM 

We just purchased a home with an in ground sslt water pool. The monitor is showing low salt level, check system, 2300 ppm. I took a water sample in & the pool company said it read 3000 ppm, but they said their reading might be off. Their test showed the phosphate level at 2500, so I purchased a product to lower that. Should I try to add salt to try & raise level? I believe our pool is 15,000 gallons.

Inyopools  Posted: 08/13/2016 11:33 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Aquikine Cl2 - It could be a bad cell reading. As cells age (3-5 years depending on chemical maintenance) they deteriorate and lose capability to measure salt levels accurately.

Anonymous  Posted: 08/12/2016 18:01 PM 

My aquiline Cl2 generator reads low salt (shut down generation) but I know my salt levels are actually around 4000 ppm, a bit high (had it measured at a local store). This is even after cleaning the cell. Anybody have an idea what is going on? I plan on taking the cell to the local store to have them check it. It does generate for a short while but then shuts down due to low salt levels.

Inyopools  Posted: 07/19/2016 18:22 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

AL - One bag of salt (40#) should bring your salt level up to 3000 ppm for your 6670 gallon pool. A bag and a half will bring it up to ~3400 ppm. Add one bag first to see where your salt level actually is. Then add a partial bag after 48 hrs if you want to raise your salt level higher.

Inyopools  Posted: 07/19/2016 11:23 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Skg - The residue in your cleaner bag would not be salt unless you have several times the limit of salt for your pool. Any salt in your pool would dissolve in 24 hours. It's more likely a chemical like a Stabilizer or the result of adding a clarifier to precipitate small particles to the bottom of the pool. If there is a residue on the bottom of your pool, try vacuuming it out manually to the Waste line.

AL  Posted: 07/17/2016 9:43 AM 

I have a 18x48 pool. My salt reading is at 2490ppm. Should i just add one bag of salt. Thanks.

Skg  Posted: 07/15/2016 23:39 PM 

The cleaner bag in my saltwater pool is filled with what I think is salt now. I have to empty it every two days. Readings are normal. Problem?

Joe  Posted: 06/29/2016 16:19 PM 

In my last post, I referred to my SWG unit as an Aqua Tech. It should have been an Aqua Rite.

Joe  Posted: 06/29/2016 13:42 PM 

As the Aqua Tech has a high and low salt level shutoff based on the reading of the Aqua Tech sensor, isn't that the commanding salt level regardless of the pool store or test strip readings. The generator is going to operate only within that range. I would agree that the pool store or test strip readings can be an indicator of a problem if there is a gross difference from the reading at the salt generator control unit display.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/28/2016 15:16 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Steph09 - Yes, you can swim in your pool while the salt is dissolving. You may taste the salt a little but nothing like the salt taste in the ocean which is over 10 times as concentrated.

Steph09  Posted: 06/28/2016 14:43 PM 

Are we still able to swim around in the pool while the salt is dissolving?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/26/2016 12:33 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Cathy - You will be alright with having salt in your pool. The low salt content will not affect your existing or future patches to your lining.

Cathy  Posted: 06/24/2016 8:44 AM 

Hi. I just bought a house with a pool (my first time) and it has a salt generator already attached, but was never hardwired in. Just had it hardwired in. My question is there are a few patches in the pool lining (repairs) if I start using the salt generator, will it do any more damage (than traditional chlorine) to the patches or any potential leaks I may be unaware of?

AshleyJohanna  Posted: 06/23/2016 23:27 PM 

Love this website ! One of the most helpful and user friendly website for pool owners and beginners ! Thank you !!!!! :)

Machelle  Posted: 06/15/2016 8:36 AM 

I am converting my above ground pool to the salt water system. My I have a I have SFS Electric Filter Pump system along with my 12x30 pool. It holds about 1600 gal. Do I need a generator?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/07/2016 13:19 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Tracie - Your pool holds about 7000 gallons of water. Have a pool store measure your salt level. If it is at 1600 ppm and your ideal operating level is 3500 ppm, you will need 111 lbs of salt to raise you pool's salt level from 1600 to 3500 ppm. I would only put in 2 bags first. Let it completely dissolve for 24 hours, and then have a pool store re-measure the salt level. Add the last bag if needed. It's a lot harder to remove salt from your pool that to add it.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/07/2016 13:03 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Mikewend - If you have a 24' x 52" deep pool, we will estimate that your water level will be 4" down from the top of the 52" wall or 4'. That gives you a water volume or ~ 13,500 gallons. Have a pool store check the salt level of your fresh water. Assuming your fresh water has no salt in it, you will need 394 lbs of salt or ten 40lb bags to raise your salt level from 0 to 3500 ppm. I would only put in 9 bags first. Let it completely dissolve for 24 hours, and then have a pool store re-measure the salt level. Add the last bag if needed. It's a lot harder to remove salt from your pool that to add it.

Tracie  Posted: 06/07/2016 11:10 AM 

My pool is 18 x 48 and my salt level is reading about 1600 ppm. How much salt do I need to add to bring it to the ideal salt level?

Mikewend  Posted: 06/06/2016 20:41 PM 

I have a 24x52 pool and just starting the salt system this year. Can anyone tell me how much salt I need to add to start with. Thanks,much appreciated

Inyopools  Posted: 05/30/2016 9:48 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Windy – The salt will dissolve completely as more water is added to the pool. The pool company should have at least checked the cell and then have cleaned it if required.

Windy  Posted: 05/25/2016 12:05 PM 

The pool company I use for start up and shut down-put the salt on the bottom of the pool before it was filled. Doesn't that hamper the salt from dissolving. I am also not sure that they cleaned the salt cell before start up.

Inyopools  Posted: 05/23/2016 12:34 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Judy - The only reason to add salt to your pool is if you have a salt chlorine generator system. Salt by itself does not purify your pool. You need a SCG system to convert the dissolved salt into chlorine.

Inyopools  Posted: 05/23/2016 10:32 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Dad2b - The best Salt Chlorine Generator for your money is the Crystal Pure Salt System. This SCG comes in two sizes: 20,000 gallons and 40,000 gallons. We recommend getting the 40,000-gallon size for your 20,000-gallon pool. It will require less frequent cell cleaning and gives you more flexibility in adjusting to chlorine output requirements.

Judy  Posted: 05/21/2016 23:28 PM 

I just got an Intex soft side pool 16' 48" deep 5000 gallon with a sand filter system I want to add salt to the pool but do not want a salt filter system I like the sand filter how much salt would I add for my new setup

Dad2b  Posted: 05/20/2016 15:49 PM 

What system will you recommend for a 20k gallon pool?

Jerry Moss  Posted: 04/30/2016 15:19 PM 

Check for Phosfate. Most pool company,s do not. You can have this in your pool after a storm. Phosfate will eat your chlorine and make you add more salt or chlorine. You can buy very cheaply a product from a pool company to correct this condition and solve the problem.

Inyopools  Posted: 03/18/2016 11:48 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Susanne - Our table shows that you would need about 10 bags of 40 lb salt to bring your salt level from 1700 to 3500 ppm. Since you only want to go to 3200 ppm you would only need about 9 bags. Two words of caution: Have a local pool store check your current salt level. The readings displayed on the SCG's are not always accurate. And when adding salt, hold one bag back - add eight - and check your salt level after 24 hours. If you need the other bag, then add it. It's a lot easier to add salt than to reduce it

Suzanne  Posted: 03/17/2016 18:46 PM 

Have a 30k gallon pool and need to add salt to bring it up to 3200. Right now my instant pool read is 1700. If I do the math correctly, I think I need about 10 40 gallon bags of salt? Can someone please check my head?

Mike  Posted: 10/01/2015 21:57 PM 

I covered to salt about 14 months ago. Since then I have had to add several hundred pounds of salt. The pool store that checks the level says that it is still too low (about 2200). I have put in about 200 pounds in the last month alone. I believe the pool does have a leak and the water hardness is pretty high. Are these contributing to the salt issue? What other factors could be contributing to it losing salt so quickly?

Poolman  Posted: 08/06/2015 16:15 PM 

Loved the article bro - clear, concise and easy to follow. Thanks for taking the time.

Inyopools  Posted: 08/04/2015 17:13 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

carlos - I have not used this meter myself. I'm a little confused about it measuring TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) which includes more than salt and increases with time. But it does have good reviews for accuracy from people who have used it.

carlos  Posted: 08/04/2015 11:03 AM 

I am considering to use an electronic salt meter for my salt pool, do you have any opinion about using HM Digital TDS-4TM meter?

Thank you!