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 61)

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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!

User: InyoPools

Dallas - If your cell readings are tracking with the store reading and both are showing large drops in salt levels, you have an operational problem. The only way you can drop salt levels is through dilution - adding water to your pool. This could happen if you have heavy rains over most of the week or if you have a leak in your pool and are constantly adding water.

User: Dallas

Recently my salt reading was 2600 to 2700 so I added salt and it went back to normal range of 3000 to 3500. A week or so later it is back down, so I add more salt. I have verified these readings with the pool store so I know my cell sensor is ok. Any idea why the salt levels decrease like that? Cell is less than a year old. It is getting cold so pool temp is in the 60 degree range. Thanks for any input.

User: InyoPools

Dave - On some Salt Chlorine Generation Systems, a fixed salt reading of 2400 or 2500 usually means it has to be reset or there's a problem with the LCD. Have a pool store check your salt level. If it's around 3500, you'll have to give your manufacturer a call for instructions.

User: Dave

I added half a bag of salt yesterday when the system read 2400ppm. I checked it today and it still reads 2400ppm. I need to get it around 3500ppm. What should I do?

User: InyoPools

JEG - The salt needs water flow to dissolve. If your Spa drains at the top though overflow and does not have a bottom drain, you will have to stir the water in the bottom of the Spa to dissolve the salt.

User: JEG

I am having trouble with the salt dissolving in the pool. For some reason the salt is hanging out in the spa and not dissolving. Any suggestions?

User: InyoPools

Bob - All the salt cell reps I talk to say the salt cell should be turned off until the newly added salt is completely dissolved. Running the cell with un-dissolved salt puts a high load on the generator and can burn it out. The only reason for adding salt to the shallow end instead of the deep end is to make it easier to push it around to help dissolve it.

User: InyoPools

James - We are told that the concentrated salt content puts a higher load (amperage) on your pool's motor. It is also very abrasive to the internal parts of the motor.

User: Bob

I am reading some suggestions and find your points very interesting. I have always added my salt to the deep end where it dissolves within about 30 minutes? Is this wrong? Also, I never was told to turn off my salt generator when adding salt so I never have. Now my salt generator has failed but it lasted for 8 seasons which seems to be normal. Is there anything I should change in the way I take care of my pool?

User: James

Why shouldn't the salt be added to the skimmer? It would seem to be a good way to get it dispersed quickly.

User: InyoPools

Paula of Chipley - If I understand correctly that you are dropping the salt chlorine generation system to go back to chlorine tablets, you do not have to continue adding salt to your pool. The only system that relies on the salt is the salt chlorine generation system and you are turning that off. Adding chlorine tablets is fine.

User: Paula of Chipley

I recently moved into a home that has a salt water inground pool. We hired someone to clean it because it has been sitting dormant and covered for two years. They advised us that if we wanted to just put chlorine tabs in the pool, rather than put money into the replacement of parts and what not, that it would be okay. I am afraid that due to the system being salt water that it will be ruined if we do not add salt to the pool and use only chlorine tabs? Any advice?

User: InyoPools

Diana - You need to have the filter on to circulate the water in the pool and to dissolve the salt. There should be a switch on your Jandy system to turn the salt chlorinator off.

User: Diana

Ok thanks for that info. Next question how do I turn off salt chlorinator for 24 hours? I have a jandy system. Do I just leave filter off? Thank you for your help and advice.

User: InyoPools

Diana - The salt you are buying from Home Depot or Lowes is good as long as it's labeled pool salt. Two side issues that may be affecting your cells: when you add salt, let it dissolve for at least 24 hours before you turn on your salt chlorine generator. Move it around on the floor of the pool once or twice in that 24 hours to help it dissolve; and two, make sure you keep your pool water balanced. When the pH gets below 7.2 or the alkalinity gets below 90, the water becomes more corrosive and eats up you cell's plates faster.

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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.