Last Updated: May 27, 2022

How to Shock A Saltwater Pool

Written By: Pool Care Guide

Having a saltwater system in your at-home pool is becoming more common among pool owners because saltwater pools can provide positive benefits if you are careful to properly maintain the system, as with a traditional chlorine pool.  

Part of traditional pool ownership is maintenance, and shocking your system is an integral part of this. Shocking is also imperative to the health of a saltwater system. Let’s look at a few things you should understand about shocking a saltwater pool.

Shocking Shouldn’t Surprise You

It shouldn’t shock you to hear that saltwater pools need much of the same maintenance that traditional pools do – this means shocking your pool on a schedule.  

The shocking process includes adding chlorine to a pool so that the chlorine levels are about three to five times higher than normal. The chlorine is left in the pool to ensure sanitization, and then when it has dissipated, the water is ready for swimming.

Why You Need to Shock

Shocking is part of regular pool maintenance and is pertinent to the health of the pool’s water. Shocking a pool will remove any organic bacteria in the pool and sanitize it in almost the same way that bleach does. This process can also help neutralize the effects of any “accidents” that may happen in the pool

Basics of a Saltwater Pool

Saltwater pools can frequently be seen in home pools because they are a viable alternative to the traditional chlorinated pool that we all think of in the summer months; however, don’t be fooled as a saltwater system still contains chlorine. Here are a few saltwater pool facts.

How Is Saltwater Different from Chlorine?

A saltwater pool’s main difference from a traditional system is the saltwater pool utilizes a salt cell. The salt cell is used instead of adding chlorine directly to a system, so the delivery methods are slightly different. The process for saltwater systems is done with a salt cell, which converts the salt to chlorine in the system.

Salt Cells 

At its most basic, a salt cell is a chlorine generator, so instead of adding chlorine directly to the pool system, pool-grade salt is added to the pool. The chlorine is created at a steady rate so that there is a constant supply as long as there is salt in the water.

The generator then uses a chemical process known as electrolysis and redox reactions to convert the salt to chlorine. You pour salt into the pool, and it is sucked into the cell. There are charged blades inside that cause the chemical reaction and convert the salt into chlorine, specifically using oxidation. 

Key Benefits of Saltwater

The benefits of saltwater vs. chlorine include what many converts to saltwater pools say makes the swimming environment much more pleasant compared to a traditional chlorine pool. The benefits include:

  • Saltwater feels better and is less harsh on the skin and eyes
  • Minimal harsh chlorine smell
  • No Need to keep toxic chemicals around
  • Storing is safer
  • Less expensive

While the salt needed does require a larger space for storage, is heavier, and the initial cost of the salt cell generator can be a bit high, overall, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages for those who choose saltwater for their backyard oasis.

Shocking a Saltwater Pool

Shocking is a simple process that involves a bit of understanding and a reliable chlorine product. These things, along with a bit of patience, have your pool sparkling clean every time.

Products to Use

There are products on the market to help shock your pool, including granular chlorine and liquid chlorine. Most saltwater pool owners will choose granular for consistency and ease of dosage. Calcium hypochlorite is a favorite because it is fast-acting, and it contains no extra chemicals that could end up in your pool.

How Often Should You Shock

Shocking your pool should be performed about once a week in most cases – this is solely a recommendation. You and your pool might need something different, so it’s always best to understand your specific pool, and the one-week timeframe should be more of a guideline.

Testing Should Not Be Overlooked

Always test your water before shocking it. This step should never be overlooked. You need to know a few key parameters so that after dosing the pool you can tell when the water levels are back to what they should be. Alkalinity, pH, and calcium hardness. Test before and after your shock to ensure the accurate levels and health of the water.

Step by Step Saltwater Pool Shocking

Now, the important part. Get shocking:

  1. Test your water. pH should be around 7.4-7.6, calcium at 200-400, and alkalinity 80=120 ppm
  2. Wait until the sun has gone down. This will avoid the breakdown of free chlorine and ensure the cleanliness of the water.
  3. Calculate the amount for shock. Try to get the water to 30 ppm. This is about 3 lbs. per 1000 gallons of water volume. If you don't know many gallons of water your pool holds, you should click over to our pool volume calculator.
  4. Make sure your pool filter is on and that the salt cell generator has been turned down. To filter the water, but do not remove the shock too quickly.
  5. Add the calculated amount slowly and steadily to the pool. Add the entire amount.
  6. Now, wait. At least 8 hours should be enough to be safe for swimmers, but always test again when you are done!

Reasons for Shocking

Shocking will prevent the pool from getting, well, gross. It prevents the green algae no person wants to swim through. Shocking removes other organic bacteria from the pool as well.  

You also should aim to shock if you can smell the pool. The chlorine smell is an indicator of excess chloramines, which can be harmful. Also, any accidents, after a storm, or after large numbers of people have been in the water are good times to shock.

Shocking a pool is what keeps it clean, healthy, and swimmable. You will need to shock if you do your pool maintenance yourself. It is integral to health and safety, plus, it keeps the pool a sparkling blue oasis for whenever you want to enjoy a dip.    

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