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 107)

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User: Mike

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?

User: Poolman

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

User: Inyopools

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.

User: carlos

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!

User: Donzi1

Good idea to shut coordinator off when adding salt.
I did not and it screwed up my Hayward system. Had to call Hayward to recalibrate generator. Should have read your article first..Ed

User: Inyopools

Al - If your salt level won't display above 2000 ppm, you may have a bad Printed Circuit Board. I would suggest calling your SCG manufacturer and checking with them. Also have a pool store check your salt level. It may be too high if you added 6 bags.

User: Al

I've added salt to my pool but can't get the salt level to rise? Stays on 2000, added 6 bags of salt and waited 3 days and still hasn't changed? Is my cell bad?

User: Inyopools

wcob - According to the Aqua Trol Owner's Manual, your salt level should be between 2700 and 3400 ppm. Your reading of 2800 is within this range. Sometimes these readings are off a little. I would take a water sample into a local pool store and have them verify this reading to see how close it is. When your first start a Salt Chlorine Generation system, set the % output at 50% and monitor your chlorine levels for a couple of weeks to see if this setting has to be adjusted up or down.

User: wcob

We have a 27 round pool 4.5 deep. I've put a total of 11 40 lb bags of salt. I bought the Hayward Aqua Trol System.ive turned it on and it's reading 2800...I'm not sure what setting the system should be on to get a correct reading. Please help!

User: Inyopools

rain and low salt - It depends on how long your pool can go without your SCG producing chlorine. When the "low salt" light comes on, your SCG will stop generating chlorine. However, if you add salt now and have significant rain, you are going to dump some of that new salt when you have to lower the pool level. Salt is relatively cheap. I would add the salt to get the SCG running again and add more if I had to dump water later.


We have had a lot of rain my salt gen. Says low salt do I add it now or wait until rain let's up suppose to rain for a week

User: Inyopools

phosphates - White scale buildup on your cell plates is usually due to your pool's chemistry being out of balanced not phosphate level. Make sure your chemical reading, especially pH and calcium hardness, are within acceptable ranges.


I couldn't get my salt system to make chlorine and the cells kept getting white in a day or so. Figured out that the phosphate level was too high. The pool store I originally went to doesn't normally check phosphate levels so you might have to ask. I guess some less expensive salt systems can be very sensitive to phosphates.

User: Inyopools

Trapper1961 - If I understand the numbers: the pool store measured your salt level at 3600; your system reads 2800; and your test strips show 1100. Not sure why the inconsistency between the pool store and your test strips. Assuming your test strip reading is valid, your salt level is too low to generate chlorine. Level has to be above 2400. System should show "Check Salt", but I think you are saying the "High Salt" LED is lit instead. If the system is reading 2800, that's within acceptable range and it would be producing chlorine. I would guess that your salt level is low; the pool store is wrong and needs to retest the salt level before you add salt. There is something wrong yet with the system. It has two PCBs - main and display and I don't know which monitors the salt level. I would suggest calling Goldline/Hayward at 866-772-2100 to see what they say. You may need to replace the main PCB or your new display PCB is bad.

User: Trapper1961

Hello, I just had my water tested by a pool professional shop June 6th and had a salt reading of 3600 and NO chlorine in water (using Gold line salt generator system) My pool man put in a new board June 4th. I put in a new T-15 cell last fall 2014. My diagnostics keep showing high salt and stop the chlorine generating. The salt reading on the system is 2800ppm I have recalibrated multiple times and get the same results. I bought salt water test strips and it shows about 1100ppms of salt. I tested twice?? What is going on here? Can anyone help me?

User: Inyopools

Adding salt - You will have to add 96 lbs. of salt to go from 1850 ppm to 3000 ppm in a 10,000 gallon pool. With 40# bags, that's 2.4 bags of salt. I would add 2 bags first and let that dissolve for 24 hours, take another salt reading, then add the 1/2 bag if you need it. It much easier to add salt than it is to remove salt.


Hi my pool holds 10,000 gals of water my current ppm is 1850ppm how much salt should I add to reach 3000 ppm??? Any help is appreciated.

User: Inyopools

calimom - Your answer happens to be the same as Travis below since you have the same pool. You will need to add 150 lbs of salt for your 5,000 gallon pool to go from a 0 ppm to 3500 ppm salt level. Since fresh water has some small level of salt to start with, I would add three 40 lb bags (120 lbs) first, let it dissolve over 24 hours, check salt level again, then add half a bag or so if required. It’s much easier to add salt than it is to remove it.

User: inyopools

travis - You will need to add 150 lbs of salt for your 5,000 gallon pool to go from a 0 ppm to 3500 ppm salt level. Since fresh water has some small level of salt to start with, I would add three 40 lb bags (120 lbs) first, let it dissolve over 24 hours, check salt level again, then add half a bag or so if required. It’s much easier to add salt than it is to remove it.

User: calimom

I am converting my pool to salt this year. I have an intex pump with the salt pump (generator?) as well. I have read many sites to calculate how much salt to put in and it varies from half a 40lb bag to 9!! The bag that the salt comes in says to put the 40lb bag for 10,000 I put 1/2 the bag in for the 5000 lb. pool. Salt is reading low. Am going to test water in the pool store today. Thanks for any input!

User: travis

I have a intex 16x48 pool we are just in the process of filling. I am going to get a Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater System for up to 7,000 Gallon Above Ground Pools. The pool is 5,061 gallons according to the box.... I was wondering on how many bags of salt I would need to start. (sorry about the email address) My e-mail addresses keep getting hacked left and right.

User: Inyopools

Deb – If your pool is starting at 0 ppm salt level and you are going to 3500 ppm, I calculate that you would need 397 lbs of salt – ten 40# bags. Most pools have some level of residual salt in them so, if you are starting a 400 ppm, 9 bags is the correct answer. I would recommend adding only 8 bags first and let it dissolve for a couple of days. Check your salt level again and add the last bag if you need it. It’s a lot easier to add salt than it is to take it out.

User: Deb

This is my first year with a salt system. This was a great "how to add salt" article. I have just finished installing the system, added new water, and will be adding the chemicals tonight, and the salt tomorrow. Thank you for posting such detailed directions. My pool is a 24' round and I know it is 13,600 gallons of water. With my calculations, I need 9 bags of 40# of salt.

User: Inyopools

abeme - The salt level readings on these system is not always accurate. If your cell is generating chlorine (power and generating lights are on) and all other diagnostics are within range, I would say your system is working. Check the salt level at a local pool store to confirm the actual salt level.

User: abeme

I have an Acura Rite salt chlorinator that reads 1100 ppm pool salt level is 3300 ppm I have cleaned the cell twice. The instant salinity reads 600 ppm. Every other diagnostic display seem to be within range.
Do I need a new cell T-CELL-15

User: Inyopools

Cschaf - Sounds good. I would have a local pool store check your salt level to verify the test strip reading. Also the SCG reading is generally not accurate. Just use it as a estimated range.

User: Cschaf

That is correct. 2600 is what the test strip says. The reading on the display says 3200 but it is not making any chlorine. Going to add some and try re calibrating after.

User: Inyopools

Cschaf - You didn't say what the current salt level is for your pool. Adding 110# of salt to your 22,000 pool would bring your salt level up ~600 ppm. If your target is 3200 ppm,  I would calculate your pool salt level is currently at ~2600 ppm. [2600 + 600 = 3200] . If this is correct, 110# is the correct amount of salt to add to get to 3200 ppm.

User: Cschaf

We have an 18x45 above ground oval pool we put a salt system on last year, the test strip is showing a lower reading than the display on the system, a Hayward aquarite plus with a t-9 cell. Tried re calibrating but still get the same reading. Going to add salt and the chart that came with it says 110lbs to get to 3200 ppm. Does that sound correct?

User: Inyopools

jake - Assuming that your pool's average water depth is 42" [wall height is 48'] and that your salt system operates at 3500 ppm, your pool has 4047 gallons of water and you will need 120 lbs of salt to get the salt level up to 3500 - one more 40# bag.

User: jake

I have a 14 ft above ground pool and I went and bought saltwater system and 80lbs of salt.. Do I need more to get it started out.. How much more..?

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?

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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.

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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.