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The budding of sweet smelling flowers and fresh, gentle breezes are making way for warmer temperatures and an air of leisure that unmistakably marks the first signs of summer. Yes, it’s almost summertime in the All American city and residents of Fayetteville are flocking in droves to grab those last minute deals on bathing suits and swim trunks. Many of the pools in the area have already opened and, for the most part, it has been business as usual, with the exception of a trend that seems to be picking up amongst local pool owners, spa and wellness centers, and a few nationally branded hotels. Salt water pools are all the rage for many home owners across the nation and have been compared to taking a bath in soft water, leaving skin feeling smooth and refreshed. But are they safe? And are there any noticeable differences between chlorinated and salt water pools?

In a chlorinated pool, chlorine often morphs into chloramines when it gets intertwined with human saliva, sweat, and urine. This in turn requires even more chlorine to combat the harm that can be done to the eyes and skin. However, with saltwater pools, chlorine that automatically streams from the generator is able to destroy the chloramines much faster than a traditional chlorine pool. This also means a lot less work for pool owners who may be growing tired of adding the chlorine themselves. Terri and Rolf Wallin, of Fayetteville, have been enjoying the benefits of a salt water pool for more than four years. Nestled against a striking backdrop of lush greenery and autumn-inspired trees, their pool is a picture of charm and scenic beauty. They made the switch to salt water after nine years with a chlorinated pool.

When asked about the reason behind the change after so many years, Terri and Rolf did not hesitate to answer. It wasn’t the recent reports that have been surfacing about the health benefits of salt water pools that sealed the deal; it was the low maintenance and low costs associated with the pools that convinced the couple to try something new. “With our chlorine pool, we had a lot of problems with algae; it was more of a hassle and this is much easier. I don’t have to worry about constantly checking levels,” said Terri. The Wallins found that they had to replace the generator of the chlorine pool every few years and trying to preserve the pool became time consuming. Rolf and Terri are pleased with the freedom they have found, and have vowed to never return to chlorinated pools. “If you don’t have to spend so much time working on it (the pool), you have the time to enjoy it more,” said Terri.

One of the misconceptions about salt water pools is that they do not use any chlorine at all. A salt-chlorine generator separates the chlorine and returns it to the pool to keep the water clean. However, the chlorine is not put directly into the pool water and contains much less chlorine than regular chlorinated pools. This has been a major selling point for many pool owners. Once a chlorinated pool has been converted to salt water, the need for buying chlorine is decreased. The fact that buying a bag of salt costs less than buying chlorine is very attractive to those looking for alternative solutions. One of the biggest questions in the minds of current and potential pool buyers is what, if any, health benefits are available to those with salt water pools. Salt water pools lack the added chemicals that are often used in chlorinated pools to stabilize the chlorine. There are no toxic chemicals to handle and salt naturally reduces algae.

Meet Jenny Copeland, a well-spoken real estate agent who has seen and shown enough homes and pools in the area to know exactly what she wants and doesn’t want in a pool. “Well, I’m a real estate agent, and when I go in a backyard and see a green pool it’s like yikes! There’s got to be a better way! So I did a little research on the internet, and from what I read about the experiences of others, I felt that it would be easier to have a salt water pool rather than a chlorine pool, and it has been so much easier,” recalled Jenny. She has never had a chlorine pool, mainly due to the cost of maintenance and her desire to avoid the unhealthy aspect of ‘shocking’ a pool. ‘Shocking’ is a treatment that significantly increases the chlorine levels in a pool for a brief time. This healthy dose of chlorine is at such high levels that it literally burns itself up when mixed with previous chemicals.

Although Jenny’s saltwater pool was installed just last year and is still relatively new, she has been enjoying the benefits of her new pool to the fullest. She kept it open all winter long and insists it wasn’t much of a hassle; she simply threw the pool vacuum in and pulled the leaves out. “The salt water pool also feels a lot lighter than most chlorine pools. It feels more buoyant and floating seems to be easier. It’s a lot softer on the skin; it’s a different feeling than the chlorine pool. I notice that I don’t get that weird feeling in my hair,” gushed Jenny. The effect of saltwater pools on the environment and the health benefits of the pool have not been lost on the Copeland family. She believes that anything she can do to help the environment or improve the health of herself and her family is something she looks forward to doing. “My daughter also has eczema, and she has not had any problems with the salt water pool.

There might have even been some improvement; especially when she first started using the pool. Her skin did seem to get a little bit better,” she continued. “Hopefully when she starts using the pool again this summer, it will clear up again,” Jenny added. Any issues with the pool have been uneventful, that is, unless you include the time one of the Copeland family dogs got pushed into the pool by their other dog at six o’clock in the morning, waking the rest of the family and causing quite a ruckus. Humorous tales aside, the Copeland family eagerly awaits using their salt water pool during the ‘dog days’ of summer. By Dmita Hollie