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 which 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 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.

Comments (1 to 40 of 124)

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User: Inyopools

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.

User: Cathy

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?

User: AshleyJohanna

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

User: Machelle

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?

User: Inyopools

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.

User: Inyopools

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.

User: Tracie

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?

User: Mikewend

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

User: Inyopools

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.

User: Windy

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.

User: Inyopools

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.

User: Inyopools

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.

User: Judy

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

User: Dad2b

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

User: Jerry Moss

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.

User: Inyopools

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

User: Suzanne

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?

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.

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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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