How Many Bags of Salt Should I Put in My Pool?

The number of bags of salt poured into a pool will influence its chemical balance. High salinity can result in the salt chlorinator shutting down and the water tasting too salty. A low salinity will reduce the salt chlorinator’s efficiency and cause low chlorine production.

How many bags of salt should I put in my pool? The number of bags varies depending on the size and salinity of your pool. Keep in mind that the ideal salt level ranges between 2,700 and 3,400 ppm, but 3,200 ppm is optimal.

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Read on and find out the steps in calculating the number of bags for pouring into your pool. We will also discuss a few tips in case you placed too much salt into it.

Check The Current Salinity Of The Pool

You should never pour bags of salt into your pool, no matter how tempting it may be. You may well end up with high salinity, and, unfortunately, it’s harder to decrease it than to increase it.

First off, you have to check the manual on your salt chlorine generator to determine the level of salt it operates. Most generators operate between 3,000 and 4,000 ppm, but it can be different for your salt chlorine generator.

Let’s assume that your unit operates at 3,500 ppm for illustration. In this case, your goal is to pour enough salt to your pool to achieve a 3,500 ppm-level.

Then, you should check the current salt level in your pool. The actual number will be different depending on its age and condition.

A new pool will have zero ppm because water itself doesn’t have salt. But for an older pool being planned for conversion from a standard chlorinator, it’s typically at 500 ppm or so.

But don’t just make guesses or estimates either because these won’t work well! You have to measure your pool’s current salt level using a saltwater test strip. You may also take a water sample to a pool store for verification purposes, and it’s free and more accurate.

Calculate The Gallons Of Water And Pounds Of Salt

As previously mentioned, the saltwater level required to maintain the chemical balance in a saltwater chlorinated pool is 3,200 ppm. But it is allowed to be as high as 3,500 ppm depending on other factors, such as the weather and pool location.

We don’t suggest using your tongue and taste buds to determine whether your pool is salty enough or not. The human tongue can only taste salt in water until it’s close to 5,000 ppm. There’s also the fact that every person has a specific salt tolerance, so the tongue isn’t an objective measurement tool.

Instead, you should use the following formula to calculate the pool’s size and the amount of salt needed.

  • Area of the pool (A) x Average depth of the pool (AD) x 7.48 = area of the pool in gallons (G)

To calculate for AD:

  • [Deep end (D) + shallow end (S)] / 2 = AD

The number of bags that should be added to achieve 3,500 ppm can be computed from these calculations. We suggest using the following table for reference purposes.

Pool Size In Gallons/Pounds Of Salt
Current Salt Level (ppm)10,00015,00020,00025,00030,00035,00040,000

(Source: INYO Pools)

Let’s assume your pool has 10,000 gallons of water, and its salt reading was 500 ppm. You should then add 250 pounds of salt. But if its salt level is at 3,250 ppm, it only needs 31 pounds of salt to get it to 3,500 ppm.

But don’t just pour any salt into your pool! You should only pour 99.8% pure sodium chloride for the best results. We strongly suggest using only food quality, granulated, evaporated, or non-iodized salt.

We don’t recommend using salt with sodium ferrocyanide, among other anti-caking agents, because it can cause discoloration. Avoid using calcium chloride in your pool, too.

Pool salt can be bought in hardware stores and online pool stores, too, even in Amazon when it’s in season. You can choose from different sizes – 20, 40, and 80 pounds – depending on your needs.

Tip: Choose pool salt with a finer texture since it will quickly dissolve in water. About 40 percent of granulated salt, poured into the pool, will dissolve before it reaches the bottom. If salt doesn’t dissolve well or doesn’t dissolve, it can cause discoloration on the pool’s lining.

Pour The Salt Into The Water

Many pool owners just pour the salt into the water and then wonder why things went wrong. The most common mistake is adding the salt into the water without turning off the salt chlorine generator. You have to turn it off first and then turn it on only when the salt has dissolved completely.

You should, however, keep the pump on so that it will circulate the water. It will also aid in completely dissolving the salt so your next salt test will reflect accurate results.

You should also never pour the salt directly into your pool’s skimmer! Instead, you should pour the salt into the pool’s shallow end and allow it to dissolve. The salt will circulate through the pool’s main drain, too, allowing it to attain the right salinity level throughout.

But don’t pour all the recommended number of bags of salt into the pool! If, for example, the recommended number is ten bags, just pour nine bags first. Wait for an hour, retest the pool’s salt level, and decide whether to add the last bag.

Why? You will find it easier to add another bag of salt if your pool’s salinity is slightly below 3,500 ppm. In contrast, it’s more challenging to reduce its salinity level since salt has already dissolved.

Take note that it may take up to 24 hours for the salt to dissolve completely. But if you pour granulated salt with a finer quality, it won’t take as long.

After around 24 hours, then you can put the salt chlorine generator at the control unit. You should also test whether the pool’s salinity is now at the optimal 3,500 ppm-level. Again, use the saltwater testing strips for accurate results instead of, say, tasting the water.

Tips On Reducing Salinity Levels On A Pool

What happens if the pool’s salinity is well over 3,500 ppm? While it’s a somewhat time-consuming job to reverse it, it isn’t a disaster! Perhaps you overestimated the size of your pool or added one too many bags of salt.

The only effective way of decreasing the salt level is dilution. You have to drain your pool so that freshwater can be added to it. You will then be able to adjust its salt level.

Does it sound like a waste of water and a waste of your time? You may think that you can just wait for the water to be reduced through splashing or evaporation. You believe that with less water in the pool, it won’t be as salty as before.

But it doesn’t work in that manner. The salt won’t evaporate from the water, so the salt level remains. The pool’s salinity will likely even increase! It is because the salt is still in the pool while the water evaporates.

Your next question is, “How much water should I drain?” Again, measures the salt level in your pool before making a decision. Let’s make a few assumptions for illustration purposes:

  • The pool’s salt level is at 4,000 ppm or 500 ppm above the ideal level.
  • The 40-pound bag of salt increases the salt level by 480 ppm for a 10,000-gallon pool.

In this case, you poured eight bags of salt instead of seven bags into your pool. You will then want to remove about one bag of salt from it. You should then drain 1/8 of the water in your pool.

How much is that in inches? Let’s go back to the computations on average depth (AD). Let’s say that your pool’s deep end is six feet, and its shallow end is three feet. So, 3’ + 6’ = 9’/2 is equals to 4.5 feet (or 54 inches).

Then, divide AD (in inches) by 8 to get the number of inches drained from your pool. In this case: 54 inches/8 = 6.75 inches. You can round it off to 7 inches.

It means you should drain off about 7 inches of water from your pool. Then, you can replace it with about the same amount of water to achieve the 3,500 ppm-level.


The importance of getting and maintaining the optimal salinity in your pool cannot be overemphasized! You shouldn’t make guesses and estimates since you will likely be wrong. Instead, you must use the right measuring tools and formulas to ensure that you’re getting the correct numbers.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with a too low or too high salt level in your pool. In either case, your pool and its equipment are at high risk of damage, including discoloration. Besides, you and your family members will not like swimming in it.  

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