Salt water chlorination is a process that uses dissolved salt as a store for the chlorination system. The chlorine generator (also known as salt cell, salt generator or salt chlorinator) uses electrolysis in the presence of dissolved salt to produce hypochlorous acid and sodium hypochlorite, which are the sanitizing agents already commonly used in swimming pools. As such, a saltwater pool is not actually chlorine-free, it simply utilizes a chlorine generator instead of direct addition of chlorine.
The benefits of salt systems in swimming pools are the convenience and the constant delivery of pure chlorine-based sanitizer. The reduction of irritating chloramines versus traditional chlorinating methods and the “softening” effect of electrolysis reducing dissolved alkali minerals in the water are also perceived as benefits. For some people that have sensitivities to chlorine, these systems may be less offensive. Salt water pools are cheaper to maintain through out the year, since salt is significantly cheaper than the commercial chlorines.