A regular salt water pool test is necessary to maintain the right level of salt to avoid algae and bacteria in the water. The saltwater swimming pool is sanitized by a chlorine generator known as a saltwater swimming pool chlorinator or a salt chlorinator.

For those who haven’t heard of a chlorine generator before, it’s a salt system that generates chlorine gas directly in the pool water. With chlorine generators, manual addition of chlorine or related chemicals to the saltwater pool is no longer going to happen. Instead, this equipment will create chlorine at an automatically regulated level. Chlorine generators come with perks such as easy transportation and storage of chlorine-based chemicals such as sodium hydroxide. However, it should be maintained often to prevent a breakdown.

What to Test for in a Salt Water Pool?

Water doesn’t instantly change appearance to being clear or cloudy or green or blue. Certain factors are at play, including salt levels to maintain or measure. The most significant factors to test regularly include:

Total Alkalinity

This has to do with ensuring the pool water has a proper pH to ensure the pH levels are not prone to fluctuating easily.

Free Chlorine

This factor determines the overall state of your pool water, whether it’s safe and sanitary to swim in or not. It’s the most significant thing to test for in your water, and other factors complement it.

Optimum chlorine levels range from 1 to 3 ppm. So you’re testing your water to ensure that your pool is within this range.

pH Level

This is specifically about the alkalinity or acidity of your water. You’re testing for a balanced pH. Anything aside from that will interfere with the role of the above factor. The pH can also mess with swimmers’ comfort and trigger erosion (for highly acidic water) or scaling (highly alkaline water) in the swimming pool.

An ideally balanced pH is 7.5, so try to keep your water between 7.2 and 7.8 to balance acidity and alkalinity.

Salinity

This has to do with the salt level of your pool water. A good salt level helps your chlorine generator function efficiently in maintaining the levels of free chlorine in the swimming pool.

The range of the salt level usually depends on the model, but an ideal range for salt levels will range between 3000 to 4000 ppm (parts per million). The salt level of the swimming pool is the only unique factor of saltwater.

Stabilizer

This factor protects your free chlorine level from diminishing because of heat. However, the stabilizer should not exceed a certain level. Otherwise, it will render the free chlorine useless. The ideal range for the stabilizer is between 30 to 50 ppm.

Ways to Test a Saltwater Pool

There are several ways to test salt pool water. Opting for one of them will give you accurate readings concerning the salt level (how much salt) and other vital parameters.

Test Strips

how to test salt pool water with test strips

This is the most affordable testing option. It can test the salinity of your pool and other vital parameters such as liquid chlorine, alkalinity, and pH.

Using test strips comes with specific instructions such as:

  • Dip your test strip into the pool for a few seconds and take it out.
  • Please wait for a few more seconds for it to generate its readings.
  • Compare the color it changes into with what’s displayed on the packaging or usage instructions on the strip.
  • The color indicates the overall state of your water, and you’ll know what to adjust to balance the readings or parameters.

This method is very fast, as you can see. It can take you less than a minute to complete.

The product label of every strip always comes with a color reference. However, subtle color variations on the test strip may involve some measure of guesswork with this testing option. Therefore, it may require you to double-check.

Digital Salt Water Pool Tester

test salt pool water with digital salt water pool tester

This testing option is more precise and convenient than testing strips. It’s the perfect balance between convenience and precision. Digital water testers also have more range when it comes to their readings.

It can test for salinity (if there’s too much salt or not), pH, water temperature, chlorine, electrical conductivity, etc. Some water testers are combined with a liquid reagent kit, but they are still simple to use and give highly accurate test results.

Saltwater Pool Test Kit (Liquid Reagent Kit)

saltwater pool test kit

Vials and reagents usually accompany pool water testing kits. It’s a more complex testing method than a digital water tester, and a testing strip will consume more time. However, like a digital water tester, it’s way more precise than a test strip. Make sure you get a pool test kit that can test saltwater swimming pools. Some of them are only suitable for testing freshwater pools.

The precise testing option can vary depending on the parameter you’re measuring. It will require you to count the number of reagents drops you add and be alert for a color change. Not exactly convenient, right?

Sampling Your Water at a Pool Store

Pool stores are known for testing pool water and providing digital rest results for a broad range of parameters. While some offer this service at no cost, others charge for it.

There are also cases of having different readings from different pool stores. So it’s not exactly reliable as the other methods.

If you decide to opt for this method to test your salt pool water, we recommend finding out how recently they calibrated the testing equipment of the store. This will ensure accuracy in the readings.

Why Should I Regularly Test My Salt Water Pool?

Saltwater pools are easier to maintain, thanks to chlorine generators. However, it’s still important that pool owners know why and how to test salt pool water properly.

If the level of salt in your pool water is too high, you will need to get chemicals to lower the salt level. However, this could damage your pool. On the other side, if the salt level in your pool water is too low, you will most likely find bacteria and algae in your water as the salt chlorine generator will produce lower chlorine levels.

Knowing how to test your pool water properly will help you notice certain anomalies before they develop into a significant issue. It will also help you understand what to do in terms of pool maintenance to make your pool safe and usable.

But before we go into how to test your swimming pools, you should first know what you’re testing for.

About the Author

Lucas Greer

Lucas vs. Wild - Lucas is a true nature lover and survivalist. When he's not teaching science at school, he can be found in nature, hiking, climbing, camping, and rafting. He knows all the tricks and DIYs for making unclean water drinkable with simple means in an emergency. At school, his students love him for his exciting water filtration projects.

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