Bromine and chlorine perform the same general tasks, which are to sanitize pool water by oxidizing contaminants and keeping harmful bacteria to a minimum. There are small differences between the two chemicals, which can help you to decide which one is better suited to your saltwater pool system.
Before deciding – check your pool!
If you have a new pool or you are looking to purchase a pool, check to see whether it already has a salt brominator or a salt chlorinator. These are not necessarily the same thing, and may not operate correctly with the wrong chemical.
If you already have a pool, but you are looking to make a switch, it is possible for some generators to still work with the opposing chemical (for example, using bromide in a chlorinator), but it is not recommended. Each system is designed for that specific chemical, and using an alternative chemical may have varied results, and is probably not worth the reduced effectiveness or potential damage to the system. If you do attempt this, make sure you clean your generator thoroughly before adding a different chemical, as chlorine and bromine together can be dangerous in certain situations.
If you do not yet have a system for your saltwater pool, then you are completely free to choose whatever system works best for you!
● Great for hot tubs as well as cold water pools
Bromine is not affected by heat, so this chemical is frequently used to clean hot tubs or spas. If you have a hot tub as well as a non-heated pool, it makes sense to utilize the same system for both, to avoid having to purchase two different chemicals, as well as all of the corresponding equipment.
Bromine still works great in cold water, so even if you just have a cold-water pool, this is a great option.
● Bromine is less harsh on skin and eyes
If you or a member of your family has skin that is incredibly sensitive to chlorine, then bromine is a great alternative. Although neither option can be considered natural, bromine is certainly far less harsh.
● Creates a better pH balance
Bromine works far better at working across a range of pH balances. When the pH level in pools gets above a certain point, chlorine ceases to work effectively, which can then create an unsafe environment for pool-goers. Bromine does not experience this and is fully functional in high pH levels, as well as more regular levels.
● Requires more product
It requires more bromine than chlorine to clean a saltwater pool. This is not an issue in terms of health or usability, but it does mean you have to spend more to maintain the upkeep of your pool. Bromine tablets also wear out much faster, meaning you have to replace them far more frequently than chlorine alternatives.
● Not the best for outdoor pools
UV rays from the sun have an effect on bromine and cause the chemical to be burned off faster. Because of this, outdoor pools that utilize a bromine system must change it much more frequently, creating more work and becoming more expensive.
If you have an indoor pool, you don’t need to worry about this. The bromine is not in direct contact with UV rays, and is, therefore, going to last a lot longer.
● Chlorine tablets last longer
Chlorine tablets last a lot longer than bromine ones, meaning that you have to maintain your system less frequently. Once you have your pool up and running, this will mean that you have more time to safely enjoy the water without needing to fix the levels.
● Helps to keep your water clear
Chlorine does a far better job of ensuring that your water is sparkling and transparent. Although bromine systems can adequately clean your pool, they can also create somewhat cloudy water. Although this is not necessarily a reflection of the water quality, it is certainly less inviting than a crystal clear chlorinated pool.
● Can be more irritating for eyes and skin
Chlorine is known to cause red, stinging eyes, and can also cause rashes on sensitive skin. Sometimes this is a sign that the pool has not been chlorinated correctly, but it might also just be due to skin sensitivity. When this is the case, no matter how much you check your pool, you or your loved ones might suffer each time you or they get in.
● Typical chlorine smell
Some people are not bothered by the smell of chlorine, and will happily spend hours in a chlorinated pool. On the other hand, the distinctive smell of chlorine can be incredibly off-putting for some, and can even cause headaches. If your pool has been chlorinated properly, the smell should not be too strong, but you are unlikely to get rid of the smell completely.
● Not effective for hot tubs or spas
Chlorine is not a great chemical for hot water, as the heat can destabilize the chemical. If you are just looking to purchase a system for a cold saltwater pool, then chlorine will work great, but if you are looking for a hot water pool, chlorine is not a great solution.
No matter how you look at it, bromine saltwater pools cost more than chlorine saltwater pools. This is generally due to a combined number of factors, which begin when you purchase your generator. Purchasing a bromine system costs roughly double the price of a chlorine system.
The upkeep of the system can also be more expensive. Bromine tablets are more expensive than chlorine tablets because of the difference in the cost of the raw materials. Bromine systems then require more bromine tablets, and the bromine dissipates at a quicker pace in comparison to chlorine tablets. In both cases, you are using bromine faster, which is going to rack up greater costs, which will only exponentially increase in the long run.
The cost of both systems will vary slightly according to your area and availability, but in general, you can expect to pay more for bromine saltwater pools.