Helping a newbie with a salt system


Well-known member
Apr 3, 2016
Baltimore MD
My friend just opened his brand new plaster pool. He was ready to run to the pool store but he decided to ask me!

I've been doing the TFP method for over a year now with A+ success. I was ready to run over to his house with my TF-100 test kit and a few gallons of bleach. Then he said "oh yeah I have a salt system." Ug!

So my question today is:

Here's a newbie with a salt system. Should I get him going doing the basic liquid chlorine method and then slowly let him turn his salt on once he gets the hang of it?

His pool company hasn't explained much. He said he was told to dump bags of salt directly into the pool (I seemed to have been under the impression that salt was provided in cartridges and provided a slow amount of chlorine to the water) - maybe I'm confused?

Anyway, if you have any thoughts on how to get me to get him up and running please chime in. I plan on doing a complete TF-100 work up and then balancing him. Then I would tell him to buy this kit and then slowly turn on the salt system (assuming this bag of salt dumped into the water thing won't change things).



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LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Apr 2, 2012
Columbia SC
Due to warranty issues I would say he really does need to follow builder instruction initially. But......salt does indeed go into the pool and should be brushed around to help dissolve. I would imagine several hundred pounds of it upon startup depending size of the pool. Usually you wouldn't turn on a SWG for 24 hours after salt addition, but again I think I'd defer to builder instructions.


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
Bedford, TX

A saltwater pool is a Chlorine pool... Instead of adding Liquid Chlorine, the salt in the pool is turned into Chlorine by the Saltwater Chlorine Generator (SWCG).

The best way to bring a SWCG on line is to do exactlay what you want to do.. Bring the FC level up to the desired level using Liquid Chlorine or plain bleach.

Once the FC is where you want it, then you can turn the SWCG on. SWCG's work best when all they have to do is maintain an FC level.

In fact, SWCG's don't work when the water temp is below about 55 degrees or so... If you keep your pool open year round, you will need to add Liquid Chlorine in the winter.

Make sure you use the SWCG setting in this chart...

Thanks for posting,

Jim R.


TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
Get it all balanced and running well and then add the salt. You might want to underestimate the amount of salt you need. The pool may not be as big as the builder estimates and it's easy to add more, hard to remove excess. When the Fc is right and the CYA has dissolved and everything is looking pretty, throw the switch and start making bleach onsite. If the water's not too cold for kids, a lot of people let the kids in when the salt is added. They can toss the crystals around and swim through them. They'll get the salt mixed better than an adult with a brush can.

Your friend will need his own test kit, because it may take some fiddling to get the right percentage setting dialed in on the SWG. If you know what it was when the system got turned on, the next day you can see if it was maintained or if it's too high or too low and adjust up or down. It'll make sense once you start doing it.