Pool Salt Vs Water Softener Salt

Clover Dane

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Salt plays a crucial role in various aspects of our lives, from enhancing the flavor of our meals to preserving food. In addition to these familiar applications, salt is also used in pool maintenance and water softening. While both pool salt and water softener salt share a common ingredient, sodium chloride, they serve distinct purposes and are not interchangeable. In this blog, we will explore the differences between pool salt and water softener salt, their unique properties, and their best uses in maintaining pool water quality and facilitating water softening processes.

pool salt and water softener salt are distinct products with specific purposes. Pool salt is essential for saltwater pools equipped with salt chlorine generators, ensuring effective chlorine generation and promoting a more enjoyable swimming experience. Water softener salt, on the other hand, is used to combat the negative effects of hard water, preventing scale buildup and improving the efficiency of plumbing and appliances. Understanding the differences between these salts and their best uses will help you make informed decisions when it comes to maintaining your pool or softening your water supply.

I. Understanding Pool Salt

1.1 Composition and Purpose

Pool salt, also known as salt chlorine generator (SCG) salt or swimming pool salt, is specifically formulated for maintaining the cleanliness and sanitation of pool water. It is typically 99.9% pure sodium chloride, free from any additives or anti-caking agents that could harm pool equipment or affect water balance.

1.2 How Pool Salt Works

In a saltwater pool, a salt chlorine generator converts the dissolved pool salt into chlorine. This process, called electrolysis, releases chlorine gas and hypochlorous acid, which disinfect the water by eliminating bacteria, algae, and other contaminants. The chlorine produced by the generator is milder and less irritating compared to traditional chlorination methods.

1.3 Benefits of Pool Salt

  • Reduced Chlorine Handling: Unlike traditional chlorination methods that require the manual addition of chlorine, saltwater pools generate chlorine on-site, reducing the need for storing and handling potentially hazardous chemicals.
  • Softer Water: Saltwater pools tend to have a softer and silkier feel on the skin, making swimming more enjoyable.
  • Lower Cost in the Long Run: While the initial investment for a salt chlorine generator may be higher, the long-term cost of maintaining a saltwater pool is often lower due to reduced chemical usage.

II. Unveiling Water Softener Salt

2.1 Composition and Purpose

Water softener salt, also referred to as ion exchange salt, is primarily used in water softening systems to combat the negative effects of hard water. It is available in three common forms: rock salt, solar salt, and evaporated salt, each with varying levels of purity and performance.

2.2 How Water Softener Salt Works

Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to remove calcium and magnesium ions, which cause water hardness. The resin beads in the water softener tank attract these ions and exchange them with sodium ions from the water softener salt, effectively softening the water.

2.3 Benefits of Water Softener Salt

  • Prevents Scale Buildup: Softened water helps prevent scale buildup in pipes, fixtures, and appliances, extending their lifespan and improving their efficiency.
  • Softer Skin and Hair: Soft water is gentler on the skin and hair, reducing dryness and irritation.
  • Increased Efficiency: Softened water allows soap and detergent to lather more effectively, resulting in cleaner dishes, laundry, and a reduced need for cleaning products.

III. Key Differences and Best Uses

3.1 Sodium Levels

While both pool salt and water softener salt contain sodium chloride, the required sodium levels for their respective applications differ significantly. Pool salt requires a higher concentration of sodium chloride to ensure effective chlorine generation, typically around 2,000 to 4,000 ppm (parts per million). On the other hand, water softener salt requires lower sodium levels, usually around 300 to 500 ppm.

3.2 Purity and Additives

Pool salt is generally more pure, as it does not contain any additives that could interfere with the chlorine generation process or affect water chemistry. In contrast, water softener salt may contain impurities or additives that are not suitable for pool use.

3.3 Equipment Compatibility

Using the wrong type of salt can have adverse effects on the equipment involved. Pool salt is specifically designed for salt chlorine generators and is safe for pool surfaces and equipment. Water softener salt, however, may contain impurities that could damage pool equipment or cause staining.

3.4 Best Uses

  • Pool Salt: Pool salt is exclusively used in saltwater pools with salt chlorine generators. It ensures effective chlorine generation, maintaining water clarity and sanitation.
  • Water Softener Salt: Water softener salt is used in water softening systems to remove hardness-causing minerals from water, preventing scale buildup and improving the efficiency of plumbing and appliances.


1. Can I use pool salt in my water softener system? No, pool salt is not recommended for use in water softener systems. Water softener salt is specially formulated for ion exchange processes in water softeners, while pool salt is designed for chlorine generation in saltwater pools. Using the appropriate type of salt ensures optimal performance and prevents potential damage to your equipment.

2. Is it possible to convert a traditional chlorine pool into a saltwater pool? Yes, you can convert a traditional chlorine pool into a saltwater pool by installing a salt chlorine generator. This device converts pool salt into chlorine through electrolysis, providing a more comfortable swimming experience with reduced irritation and the convenience of on-site chlorine generation.

3. What is the recommended maintenance for water softeners using water softener salt? Regular maintenance of your water softener includes adding water softener salt to the brine tank, cleaning the resin beads periodically, and checking the overall system for any issues. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific maintenance instructions to ensure optimal performance.

Comparison Table: Pool Salt vs. Water Softener Salt

AspectPool SaltWater Softener Salt
PurposeMaintaining pool water sanitation and clarity.Softening water to prevent scale buildup.
Composition99.9% pure sodium chloride, no additives.Variants include rock salt, solar salt, evaporated salt.
Sodium LevelsHigher sodium levels (2,000 to 4,000 ppm).Lower sodium levels (300 to 500 ppm).
Equipment CompatibilitySafe for salt chlorine generators and pool equipment.Designed for water softeners to prevent damage.


Understanding the distinct roles of pool salt and water softener salt is essential for maintaining the quality of your pool water and ensuring the efficiency of your water softening system. By utilizing pool salt in saltwater pools and water softener salt in water softening systems, you can enjoy the benefits of clean, sanitized pool water and softened water throughout your home. Make informed decisions based on these differences to enhance your swimming experience and improve the longevity of your plumbing and appliances.