It’s a question we get a lot. And the answer is: No!
The “why” is a little more complicated. Put simply, table salt, rock salt and ice melt – all commonly available forms of salt – contain impurities and additives that can damage the electrode plates in your chlorinator. Instead, you’ll want to use either refined mineral salts or additive-free food grade (NOT table salt) salts. These contain the levels of sodium chloride you need to achieve the proper chemical reactions for clean, healthy water.
Salt systems are a wonderful way to keep your spa sparkling and sanitized, without using a lot of chemicals. They’re especially great for people with sensitive skin, who report little-to-no irritation after using a saltwater hot tub.
How they work
People are often surprised to hear that what keeps the water in a saltwater tub clean and safe to use is … chlorine. It’s just that with a saltwater tub, you don’t add the substance to your water. You generate it.
When the saltwater passes over the electrified titanium or platinum plates in your saltwater generator, it creates hypochlorous acid – chlorine. When the chlorine re-enters the water, the sanitizing begins. Eventually, it converts back into chloride, recombines with the sodium in the water, and the process begins again!
And that’s a great thing because chlorine does an amazing job keeping bacteria and other harmful stuff out of your water.
Things to remember
In addition to the right type of salt to use, there are a few other things you need to bear in mind when it comes to saltwater spa ownership:
- If the power fails, or the water temperature drops very low (below 60° F), the generator will stop producing chlorine.
- Overall water balance is important to the life of your salt cell. If the salt level is too high or too low, it can decrease cell life. If the pH, alkalinity or calcium hardness isn’t right, chlorine output is compromised.
- In a few years, you’ll need to replace the salt cell.