How to Add Salt to Your Pool

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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.

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Things You'll Need

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Step by Step

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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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Comments

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(1 to 40 of 227)

 Posted: 3/9/2023 

Hello, a pool servicer said if the salt level in the pool is a bit low that we need to add a full 40lb bag to the pool, not half a bag or a third of a bag. Our pool only has 5600 gallons and what has happened is we go from too little salt to too much salt when adding a 40lb bag. Any input on this?
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 3/10/2023 

To know how much salt you need to add, first, you need to know the pool's gallonage and the current salinity level of the pool water. A "bit low" could mean 50 ppm to one person and 300 ppm to another. You can estimate the salt needed when you have those two information coordinates. Most Salt System manuals show salinity tables as low as 8,000 gallons. So 5600/8000 is 70%. Use the 8,000-gallon column, find the salt needed for your current salinity level, then multiply that number by 0.7 to find the amount required for your 5600-gallon pool.
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Anonymous  Posted: 3/10/2023 

Thanks. I realize you need to know the current salt level in the pool but my main question is about my servicer saying you can only add 40 lbs at a time, not 20 lbs or 12 lbs. Seems dead wrong to me. What say you?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 3/10/2023 

He likely said one 1/2 bag at a time to ensure you don't oversaturate the pool with salt. You could add the salt one pound at a time; it doesn't matter. The main thing that matters is adding the right amount of salt.
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 Posted: 3/10/2023 

Appreciate the feedback on this. It made no sense to me and I am not joking about him, the company owner, saying they have to add salt in 40 lb increments. I am going to phone them to discuss. Seems nutso. Our pool water went from 2300 salt to 4800 after they added salt and has stayed at 4700 since. Not good.
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 Posted: 5/27/2022 

I have an Aquarite Chlorinator. We just had a liner installed and filled the pool. The pool is 20k-22k gallons of water and calls for 13 40lbs bags at 0 ppm. My questions is with fresh water would it truly be at 0 ppm? Also should I put salt in over a span of a few days 1/2 the amount of bags needed one day and then the other 1/2 the day after?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/2/2022 

Fresh water usually means little to no salt, so a 0 ppm salinity level would be normal. However, some areas of the country might have higher metal content in their water which could register on a test if you're using well water to fill a pool.
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 Posted: 4/26/2022 

I have a 16,000 gallon pool What is the ideal salt level? Thanks, Patrick Dagsboro, DE
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/26/2022 

The specific salt chlorine generator model determines the required salt level. Various salt chlorine generators will use 3100ppm, 3200 ppm, or 35ppm. Check your owner's manual for the right salt level for your system.
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 Posted: 11/25/2021 

No matter how much I clear my swimming pool the green does not change color. What to do
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 11/29/2021 

This is a guide about adding salt to a pool. Adding salt to the water isn't going to change the color of your water. If you want an in-depth look at how to clear up an algae problem, go to this guide: How to Clean a Green Pool? 
 Reply

 Posted: 5/24/2021 

Does it really take 24 hours to dissolve the salt? I used 5 bags of Leslie pool salt in a 18k gal pool
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/4/2021 

It may be quicker depending on the amount of salt added. But if your salt dissolves quicker than that 24-hour timetable, feel free to start the system sooner.
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 Posted: 5/14/2021 

I am converting a 24000 gal in-ground gunnite pool to salt. When winterizing, I have to drain out down to the returns to blow out the plumbing, which is about 6000 gallons that is pumped out onto the grass in the back yard. Is the salt going to kill the grass? I have not had problems with the chlorinated water affecting the grass.
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/4/2021 

I can guarantee you it won't be great for the grass. I am not a botanist, so I can't predict the outcome, but I would try to direct the siphon towards a drain rather than the yard. Salting the earth, was never a good thing back in the day.
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 Posted: 5/1/2021 

My pool is about 30,000 gallons. After shocking it and adding salt, the salinity is at 2600 ppm. I added 2 more 40 lbs bags of salt 2 days ago but the salinity has not changed (from my estimate it should be around 3000 ppm by now). Should I keep adding salt? Is my reading wrong? The water is clear and pH and chlorine are right. Thanks for your help!
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/13/2021 

How are you testing the salinity level? Are you relying solely on the cell's salt reading? If so, you should get a sample tested by your local pool store, or a salinity home test kit. You need to be able to verify the cell's reading somehow.
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 Posted: 4/5/2021 

After the plaster finish on my new saltwater pool had cured for 30 days, my pool builder came back to add the salt, which he poured the directly into the skimmer, with the PureChlor system running. I've since learned that this was not the correct way to add the salt and that the PureChlor should have been off until the salt dissolved. A few days after the salt was added, I noticed a heavy crust in the skimmer basket, on every interior surface of the pool, and in folds of the filter. After 2 months, the crust has still not dissolved and the surfaces feel like coarse-grit sandpaper. Brushing does not remove this crust and I'm hesitant to use something abrasive. The builder has been unresponsive, so I am seeking some education on how the crust happened and what to do about it. Thanks in advance!
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/9/2021 

Have you tried using a brush with poly and steel bristles? That is usually enough to smooth it out without doing any damage to the surface. If not, you may have to do a wet acid wash which would require lowering the pH quite a bit. My suggestion before doing that would be to contact the company again and make sure it wouldn't void the warranty.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/4/2021 

We just had a 27x54 above ground salt water pool installed. Our pool seller had me add 14 bags of salt yesterday Of course they told me to turn the cell on 80%. They did not tell me to turn the cell of for 24 hrs ???????. But my low salt indicator is still on and its been almost 24 hrs since adding the salt. How long after adding salt are my levels suppose to start going up? And how long after adding it should I wait to add more and recheck? Thank you for any help!!!
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/5/2021 

Give it another 24 hours and get the water tested either with salinity test strips or take a sample to a local pool store.Getting the sample tested by another method will confirm whether your control is reading the salt accurately.
 Reply

 Posted: 12/21/2020 

Could I or should I dissolve the salt prior to placing in pool ?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 1/4/2021 

No, you do not need to pre-dilute the salt before putting it in the pool. 
 Reply

 Posted: 9/10/2020 

Does the filter have to be plugged into the control box of the aqua trol? Right now I have a dedicated outlet for the filter with a timer and convenient on/off switch I would hate to loose. So will the system work properly if I don’t use the aqua trol timer. Thank you
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 10/27/2020 

No, you do not have to plug the pump into the aquatrol
 Reply

 Posted: 8/15/2020 

I shocked my salt water pool this evening, when can I add salt? I saw one article that said 20 min & another that said 24-48 hours HELP!
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/20/2020 

Is this a new installation? Or is this just adding salt because the control says low salt? Have you resurfaced your pool?You should be able o add salt 20-30 minutes after adding the shock. This time is just to allow the shock time to dissolve into solution.
 Reply

 Posted: 7/19/2020 

Hi, is it safe to swim during the 24 hour period after adding the salt to the water but before turning on the salt water filter and testing levels?
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/9/2020 

You can swim, but if the water does not have any sanitization chemicals in it, there is a small chance of getting a bug. It is rare, but there is a chance.
 Reply

 Posted: 7/16/2020 

My salt level is around 2500 after adding salt to bring my salt to 3200 what percentage do I set the salt output percentage dail at 30%, 40%, 50% etc? Thanks.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/25/2020 

That is going to vary according to the pool size, cell size, and chlorine demand. I would start at 50%, let it run for a couple of days then test the chlorine levels. If the water is looking good, and the chlorine is higher than it needs to be, knock down the percentage to 40%. Vice versa if the chlorine is low.
 Reply

 Posted: 3/27/2020 

“Before adding salt to your pool, be sure to TURN OFF the Salt Chlorine Generator at the Control Unit.” No one told me this step. How do I do that? Oh and I’m reading this article after already adding three bags. Salt level was at 800 ppm and I installed a new salt cell today before I started adding the salt. Have I screwed up badly? Does that mean just unplug the salt cell from the board? Thank you.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 3/31/2020 

Most salt chlorine generator control have a simple off switch. If the off switch can't be found, turn it off at the breaker.As long as you know your current salinity level, and follow the salt chart on how to get to the desired level, you should be fine.
 Reply

 Posted: 8/14/2019 

I have 5,310 gallons of water in my pool how much salt bags would i need
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/15/2019 

As Step 4 in the guide covers, a Salt Table can be used to determine the amount of salt needed to meet the desired ppm. The chart starts at 10,000 gallons, but you could reasonably presume if you half the number you would reach the amount of salt needed for your 5,000 gallon pool.
 Reply

Anonymous  Posted: 7/25/2019 

Got a new pool 3 weeks ago. Been using chlorine. About to do my saltwater startup. Guy said to add the salt today and turn on pentair intellichlor tomorrow. Is this right? Seems odd
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/31/2019 

The manufacturer recommends adding the salt and circulating for 24 hours before turning on the salt system.
 Reply

 Posted: 7/2/2019 

I have emptied my pool to start from scratch..its about 20,000 gal..can I test my faucet water for salt content so I know how many bags of salt to buy ahead of time?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/3/2019 

I guess you could do that; most tap water does not contain much salt. Or you could just wait until the pool is halfway filled or more and test it then. 
 Reply

 Posted: 6/9/2019 

I have a 14,000 gallon rectangular pool with 0 salt how many 40lb bags do I need? Thanks
 Reply