Are There Salt Water Pool Health Benefits?

Who invented the salt water pool?

While swimming in general offers numerous health benefits, there are some additional benefits that a salt water pool offers specifically. The use of chlorine produced by a salt water chlorinator is different than the chemical chlorine found in many other pools.

And there are a few more advantages when you avoid swimming in traditional chlorine pools, which we’ll discuss below as well.

Salt Water Pool Health Benefits

Softer On The Skin

Chlorine pools use chemical chlorine to sanitize the water and keep it clean for swimming. Salt water pools on the other hand use a chlorinator cell which electrically converts salt into sodium hypochlorite (also chlorine) which is a cleaner version that doesn’t come with the associated strong chlorine smell that sticks to our skin and clothes.

Chlorine has a drying element to it. Over time, it can strip our skin and hair of natural oils and create a drying effect which is why you often hear people talking about taking a shower after swimming to get the chlorine off their skin.

Research has also shown that exposure to chlorine in pools can exacerbate skin problems such as dry skin in people who suffer from atopic dermatitis (AD). The study compared the water-holding ability of the stratum corneum (SD) which is outer layer of skin on both patients with AD and normal control (NC) patients who don’t suffer from this condition. Here the results:

These results indicate, first, that the water-holding capacity of the SC in patients with AD is more sensitive to free residual chlorine exposure than that in NC subjects without AD. Second, these results suggest that free residual chlorine exposure in patients with AD may play a role in the development or exacerbation of AD.

National Library of Medicine

So chlorine exposure to people who suffer from atopic dermatitis may help to develop AD further or exacerbate it.

There are numerous salt water pool benefits.

Easy On The Eyes

Along with the lack of chlorine smell, salt water pools tend to be easier on the eyes too especially if you like opening your eyes under water.

As a kid, if you spent any amount of time in a chlorinated pool you most likely ended at least one day with bloodshot eyes after swimming underwater with your eyes open. This is another side effect of chlorinated pools: Red, irritated eyes.

Research has shown that eyes can further be prone to infections when exposed to chlorinated water:

When your eyes are submerged in chlorinated pool water, the tear film that usually acts as a defensive shield for your cornea is washed away. This means that your eyes are no longer protected from dirt or bacteria that are not entirely eliminated by the treated pool water. So, swimmers can be prone to eye infections. One of the most common eye infections from swimming is conjunctivitis or pink eye, which can either be viral or bacterial.

Pelham Vision Center

Pink eye is not pleasant. I got it once in my left eye. A week later as it was finally getting better, the right eye got infected and it took me almost another week to get rid of that, too.

And if you wear contact lenses, you shouldn’t open your eyes in pool water unless you have watertight goggles or a mask on. When water gets into your eyes and behind your contacts, you may develop acanthamoebic keratitis which is a potentially dangerous eye infection. If you have worn contacts while swimming, take them out as soon as possible and rinse them well with lens solution and don’t wear them overnight.

Easy On The Joints

This isn’t a salt water pool benefit specifically as other pools offer this too but since we already spoke about the skin and eye benefits, we might as well mention this health one too.

Swimming opens up a new range of exercises that you won’t otherwise have access to without a pool. People of course think of actually swimming in a pool but walking in the pool, jogging on the spot or even treading water can offer health benefits in terms of low impact exercise.

Ever tried aqua aerobics? If not, you can now, now that you have a pool. It’s great exercise too and is done in a pool. And like the aforementioned exercises, it’s very easy on joints and your body in general.

One Final Word On Chlorine Pools

Chlorine has a warning sign with a skull and crossbones for a reason.

So we’ve discussed both benefits of salt water pools and also benefits of avoiding chlorine pools given some of the possible side effects. But there is at least some research that suggest that ongoing exposure to chlorinated pools could result in more serious side effects:

In water, chlorine reacts with sweat, urine, skin cells and other organic materials to produce all sorts of chemical byproducts. In animal studies, some of those chemicals have been linked with asthma and bladder cancer.


The results weren’t definitive enough to make a bold statement about how chlorine could cause cancer but a researcher did suggest at a minimum it should make us more focused on moving away from chemical chlorinated pool exposure to be safe.


  • There are several salt water pool benefits mostly related to the fact that the the chlorine produced doesn’t have the same side effects (strong smell, irritation to eyes) that chemical chlorine does.
  • Salt water pool water tends to be easier on both the skin and eyes than chemical chlorine pool water.
  • While longer term side effects have been suggested for exposure to chlorine, they aren’t definitive. In that regard, you might want to focus on the reduced cost and reduced maintenance that salt water pools have over chlorine pools.
  • Want to learn more about How Does A Salt Water Pool Work? I’ve written about that, too.

Carl Mueller

I bought a home with a salt water pool in 2006 and soon realized the benefits over traditional chlorinated pools. On this website I'll discuss all the tips and tricks I've learned over the years. I'll also help you troubleshoot various problems with pools in general and ones specific to salt water pools that I've experienced personally!

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