Is Salt Water In A Pool Also Known As Phosphate? [Updated!]

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Often, people are under the impression that salt water and phosphate are interchangeable terms. While there is some similarity in name, they are not exactly the same thing. When it comes to pools and spas, most people think about salt water when thinking about cleaning their pool. However, did you know that there are other ways in which salt water can pose a threat to your pool environment? Let’s explore the similarities and differences between salt water and phosphate so that you can better understand the implications of each substance in relation to your pool.

Saltwater And Phosphate Have A Similarity In Name

If you’re reading this, I assume you’re probably wondering why I used the term phosphate in the headline above. Believe it or not, despite their names being similar, there is more than one form of phosphate. In fact, there are three different forms of phosphate, which can be confusing to someone new to the subject. To make it simpler, I will use the terms saltwater, sea water, and lake water to represent the various forms of phosphate.

Like saltwater, you will find phosphate in many forms that vary in quantity and quality. The three primary forms of phosphate are:

  • Monohydrate
  • Dihydrate
  • Anhydrous

Each of these forms of phosphate has a different level of toxicity. The type of salt water you’re accustomed to seeing in a swim pool is typically monohydrate phosphate. You will not find any anhydrous or dihydrate phosphate in swimming pools. However, the anhydrous phosphate and the dihydrate phosphate can be found in certain water bodies and fish ponds where the water is not being cleaned by exposure to ultraviolet radiation or chemicals. These types of phosphate are considerably more toxic than the monohydrate.

Why Is Saltwater Cleaning Your Pool?

What causes most people to have saltwater pools in the first place is that saltwater is generally easier to clean. Let’s take a look at why this is the case.

In freshwater, organic matter and algae tend to accumulate at the bottom of the pool. As a result, the area around the pool becomes more concentrated with plant nutrients as time goes by. When this decomposition process reaches a certain point, it can begin to smell. This is why many people believe that freshwater pools should be cleaned at least once a month with chlorine-based chemicals and water changes. Frequent cleaning can keep your pool in good condition for years to come.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have saltwater pools. These are ideal for people who want an uncluttered pool space. The decomposition process of organic matter takes place at a much slower rate in saltwater due to the lack of organic matter in the water. This allows you to clean your pool more often.

This decomposition process does not pose any particular threats to human health, but it does lead to the formation of nitrates and phosphates which can accumulate in the soil and subsequently eaten by plants and animals. If you’re worried about the effect that this has on the environment, then you have two options: either keep your pool uncluttered by throwing out all the debris that builds up around it or filter the pool water so that it is free of particles.

Is Saltwater More Toxic Than Phosphate?

As mentioned above, saltwater and dihydrate phosphate are much more toxic than the other two forms of phosphate. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of this fact, and they continue to use the same cleaning products for their pool regardless of the form of phosphate they contain. This can lead to serious health problems.

Did you know that dihydrate phosphate is more toxic than sodium chloride? Yes, even more so than table salt. So if you’re using a saltwater pool cleaner, make sure that it is specifically labeled as being safe for freshwater pools. You should also consult with your pool maintenance professional to be sure that he is familiar with the different forms of phosphate and how to properly remove them from your pool environment.

Once you’ve established this familiarity, you can begin to see how important it is to monitor and clean your pool more often than usual. This is because the slower decomposition process of organic matter in saltwater pools leads to the formation of toxins that pose a threat to your pool’s ecology.

While there is some good news on this front, it is important to keep in mind that algae and bacteria love to grow in warm water, and this can lead to an unsightly and potentially dangerous situation. If you’d like to learn more, then you can contact our friendly and knowledgeable team by visiting

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