A chlorine generator is a relatively new type of support equipment for swimming pools that essentially eliminates the need to buy chlorine. Pools equipped with a chlorine generator, available in either stand alone units or in combination with a pump, generate chlorine automatically using the pool water itself, avoiding the cost associated with purchasing chlorine.
To use a chlorine generator, the pool water must be converted from a freshwater pool to what is referred to as a “saltwater pool.” This is accomplished by adding approximately 20 lbs of salt per 1000 gallons of fresh water. The salinity (saltiness) of the pool may be adjusted up and down according to the requirements of the manufacturer of the chlorine generator. From a technical standpoint though, this low level of salinity is still considered fresh water by drinking water standards.
The chlorine generator electrolytic cell is installed in the pool’s existing pump and filter system, or can be purchased as an all in one unit such. It is installed in the filter output, in an existing piping circuit. Chlorine generators create pure chlorine by passing the pool water (now a saltwater solution) between titanium plates that are electrically charged. When the saltwater passes through this electrical field, a chemical reaction produces pure chlorine and some hydrogen gas. This treated (chlorinated) water enters the pool and within minutes kills any biological or bacterial growth. The remaining chlorine decomposes and breaks down with exposure to sunlight, and the dead biological material is removed from the pool by the pump and filter system.
The main benefit here is the self-regeneration process making the purchase of chlorine unnecessary. The salt used during the process to generate chlorine is returned to the pool as salt when the chlorine breaks down. Salt is hence not consumed and does not need to be added. As is necessary to add water to the pool to replace water lost to evaporation and splash-out, it is also sometimes necessary to add a bit of salt every now of then to replace salt physically removed from the pool (e.g., splashed out of the pool). Still, since salt does not evaporate like the water does, you will not add salt very often.
Can this salt-water be irritating or kill your backyard grass and plants?. Not really. The final concentration of the salt in a saltwater pool is approximately one-tenth the salinity of ocean water, or roughly the same salinity as tears. This light amount of salinity in the pool is not only much easier on your eyes, skin, and hair than a freshwater pool with chlorine added, but also easy on your plant life.
Lastly, and probably most beneficial, swimming in a saltwater pool will not expose you to those extra chemicals that are added to purchased chlorine that make it possible to store and transport it. Purchased chlorine is not just chlorine, it also contains chemical stabilizers and binder agents. Without these stabilizing agents, you would not be able to purchase chlorine in the store because it would have decomposed weeks after leaving the manufacturer. And sunlight decomposes chlorine within a matter of hours. It is these by-products of purchased chlorine that cause most of the discomfort associated with traditional pools, resulting in the usual bleached hair and clothing, and irritation to the eyes.