What is an ocean water pool?


The nice soothing feel of salt water on your skin as you float around enjoying the cloudless blue sky. Relaxing, soothing, wonderful. You can bring this feeling right into your swimming pool. But there is a few things you should consider first.

An ocean water pool is the original salt water pool before the invention of the salt chlorine generators. The water is pumped up from the ocean to provide all the benefits on being in the ocean.

What is the difference between man made salt pools, ocean pools and traditional chlorine and bromine pools?

Actually, ocean water is not very different from regular chlorinated pools just like man made salt water pools are quiet close. There are a few things of course that are extremely notable.

  1. Calcium. Calcium levels are extremely high in ocean pools (think unreadable on testing equipment). Pro: you don’t need calcium, but the con is high calcium causes scaling and if you start to see any sign of scaling you should be put in a descaling chemical. Scaling decreases the life of equipment (think clogged arteries)
  2. TDS. Total dissolved solids. Because we are using ocean water not only is there lots of salts there’s lot of “other solids” too. This slows down the reaction time of sanitizers, so it is something to keep in mind. At this time the majority of water testing equipment on the professional and consumer level doesn’t understand ocean water so it thinks we should drain the pool.
  3. Sanitizers. You still are required to use bromine or chlorine pucks in an ocean pool. The salt cannot provide an adequate 1-3ppm. However you will go through a significantly smaller amount compared to any of type of pool.
  4. Clarity- man made salt and ocean salt pools maintain better clarity due the low even level of sanitization. Water problems are usually resolved very quickly.
  5. Increased breakdown of equipment: salt in any form creates a more aggressive environment. Concrete and plastics wear faster if not properly maintained.

In comparison to the traditional chlorine or bromine pool and the salt chlorine generated pool the ocean water pool defies some of the pool chemistry “rules”. Having an experienced pool professional to guide you through the balancing is important as salt water can cause significant damage.

Minimizing chemical usage in an ocean water pool:

You still need to do everything the same, use chlorine or bromine (in lower levels), shock once a week and balance. Algaecide isn’t always used in this application but it depends on your pools history. Water balance becomes crucial in ocean pools and you should be on top of your monthly professional test and your own personal weekly strip or drop testing.

Although the ocean water has slight antibacterial properties it is not enough to satisfy Health Canada’s sanitizer recommendation of 1-3ppm of free chlorine or 2-4 ppm of Bromine. Salt does not turn into chlorine magically. You must use a chlorine or bromine stick or puck in conjunction with an ocean or fresh water pool, except when using a generator.

The most important part of maintaining a swimming pool is to ensure it is safe for everyone including those with the lowest immune systems- kids and seniors. Salt water alone just does not have that capability and will not be able to keep up with anything significant that gets into the water. Also, there is LOTS of algae in the ocean! So beware. A swimming pool is a large bathtub and needs to be treated accordingly no matter what type of water or application you use. I know I don’t want to swim in your bathtub!

Who should have an ocean water pool?

Ocean water is very high in salinity- approx. 28,000 to 35,000 ppm and even more in some places. This is a far cry from the little amount of 3400ppm from the salt generator. It provides a nice experience in the pool, combining the soft feel on the skin and the buoyancy we are all familiar with.

It also has healing and soothing properties and a strong salt solution has slight antibacterial and antiseptic properties. A good salt bath has even been said to flush out toxins as you sweat!

If you would like to put ocean water in your pool you should live on the ocean. Pumping water up can be costly for new salt water each year. There are many ocean water swimming pools in Nova Scotia and I am sure elsewhere.

Ocean pool

An aboveground pool should not be on the ocean. The majority of aboveground pool walls are metal and the corrosion risk is very high. Inground pools should have a polymer wall if the walls are at all exposed. This would be common with wooden decks and onground installations. Also be mindful of the chemistry on your swimming pool and the corrosion risks. This can quickly damage your leisure investment.

Ocean water feels wonderful on the skin and with the right professionals ocean water is a great add on to traditional sanitizers and makes for a wonderful experience.

For more information on ocean water swimming pools or any other question, please contact us or call 902 876 2773.


  1. Kara Redden

    Hi Charlotte,

    There is no special equipment made for ocean water pools. The equipment you require would be the same as any other pool. The chemistry would be different, as outlined in this blog. If you have any specific questions about maintaining the pool please give us a call at 1-902-876-2773 and we’d be happy to answer them for you.


  2. Don Melton

    I have built a pool on the beach by the ocean. I have made it 70 feet long and 35 feet wide. I plan to circulate the ocean water through it continuously. I have a perforated pipe extending into the ocean and am using a fine filtered cover over the ports to prevent sand and little critters from finding their way in. Since I am constantly circulating the ocean water through it, what type of filtering system should I use,

    • Kara Redden

      Hi Don!

      Good Question. There are no swimming pool pumps used specifically for pure Ocean Water pools that I am aware of. You may want to consider something heavy duty say from the Pentair Commercial line. I would contact the local pool company and see what they have to offer. Depending on your turnover rate you will need to be very careful using a chlorine or bromine sanitizer going into the ocean.

  3. betsy

    Hi Kara–
    I live in Baja California on the ocean. The previous owner of the home had an ocean water pool on the upper deck and pumped the water from a tide pool approx. 40 feet below. What type of pump would you recommend to pump that distance vertically? Also, the pool is currently tiled and I would like to plaster over the tile. Are there plasters that can be applied directly over tile or is it recommended to remove the tiles first? Thank you! Your input is greatly appreciated :)

    • Kara Redden

      Hi Betsy,

      As our climate doesn’t have many tile and plaster pools I am afraid I am not the best one to ask. I would highly recommend contacting your local pool dealer and asking them about the dos and don’ts of plastering over tile. As for pumping up the ocean water, we use trash pumps however we are not going vertically but more uphill. I do not know if a traditional trash pump would be of use to you. I would suggest contacting a manufacturer to see what the rating is on their pumps to see if it would work for your particular situation. Best of luck!

  4. Rich Howley

    I’m looking into putting in a sea water swimming pool here in Newfoundland. Unfortunately the ocean temperature around here is just slightly above that of liquid nitrogen. Looking at maybe a homemade solar heater, poly pipe under a black geo-fabric. Will warming the water cause increased growth of algae or other sea life….sea lice!?

    We used to vacation at cabins that had a pool filled with salt water but they changed the water every week or two. Usually had to wait a few days after the change before you could stand it.

    • Kara Redden

      Hi Rich!

      Our ocean sea water pools here are one time fills, meaning they “top” up each Spring and as needed. With that they are using chlorine or bromine for sanitizer to keep algae at bay and kill of contaminants. Also helps with the pool temperature :) As for heaters, any increase in the temperature will increase risk of algae formation but with a simple regiment including your chlorine or bromine sanitizer that should be no problem. As I am not familiar with sea lice I cannot speak to that. I highly recommend a good weekly regiment of water care products as well as standard balancing to keep everything safe, clean and lasting a lifetime! All the best, Kara

  5. cobus nieuwenhuizen

    Hi Kara,

    Im a pool designer in Cape Town South Africa.

    We are currently experiencing the biggest droughts in over 100 years.
    We are looking into doing sea water pools rather than using potable water that cold be used for drinking.

    All our pools are generally fibreglass, and we use Starite products from Pentair which have better mechanical seals etc.
    But which sanitation system would you recommend using in our warm climate. Ozone and UV?

    Cobus Nieuwenhuizen

    • Kara Redden

      Hi Cobus,

      Thank you for your question. We do not have much Ozone here in NS on swimming pools so I cannot speak to that recommendation. I would ponder on the efficacy of using UV on a body of water naturally filled with micro organisms and how that would fare long term for lifespan? Again I don’t have any Ocean pools with UV. In Nova Scotia we are required to use Chlorine or Bromine with every single swimming pool (or hot tub) so if we use UV or seawater it is in conjunction with Chlorine or Bromine. You could certainly ask the Pentair Rep for that area but from our experience they may be hesitant to provide a solid recommendation. Unfortunately I cannot guide you here. I would be concerned with lifespan. Best of luck!

  6. Michelle

    Hi Kara
    We have extreme water shortages in Cape Town due to unprecedented drought conditions. Most of our school and public pools have been closed as a result. With no end to the drought foreseen imminently I am wondering whether trucking in sea water to the various pools would be an option. Please could you advise if this would be possible or if conventional pool pumps etc would not sustain this?

    • Kara Redden

      Hi Michelle!

      That’s a good question. Trucking where we are is expensive so cost could be prohibitive. Ocean water reacts differently with different types of surfaces so you should be mindful on how the pool surface will fare with constant ocean water. On the ocean water pools in Nova Scotia homeowners use conventional pumps etc however anything touching seawater will not have the same life span. We have not noted anything crazy but we know overall the lifespan is decreased.

      Hope this helps and good luck!


    Dear Kara
    I work for the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Lebanon. We have a sea water swimming pool in our camp which is located next to the Mediterranean Sea. I would appreciate it if you provide me with the biochemical parameters and its limitations that should be observed for sea water to be safe for swimming.

    Thank you so much.

    Ayman ABDELWAHAB, Ph.D.,
    United Nations Environmental and Engineering Adviser,
    Email: ayman.abdelwahab@un.org
    Mobile: +961s70930780

    • Kara Redden

      Hi Ayman,

      I cannot speak to what your country would deem to be appropriate for safe swimming. No studies that I am aware of have been done to the biochemical parameters and its limitations that should be observed for sea water to be safe for swimming when used in swimming pools. I would reference the USA’s or Canada’s guidelines in regards to regular chlorinated swimming pools as ocean water pools require chlorine as its main sanitizer.

      All the best, Kara

  8. Johan jochems

    Hello, jut wondering what type of filter and pump I would need for an ocean pool, also to the filter needed to pump up the ocean water, what chemicals to descale, I have no other option than use ocean water since I am on an island with limited fresh water, please advice


    • Kara Redden

      Hi Johan,

      We use standard pumps and filters for our installations. You may be able to find something specific depending on the options available in your area. you local pool company can provide you with descaling chemicals.


  9. brian

    looking to do an ocean water pool here in colombia. i plan on pumping water in and out daily. I know in canada you have strick regulations but would you think it would be safe enough without using chlorine, bromine or any type of chemicals. just natural ocean water pumped in daily

  10. Daniel Phillips

    Hi there – I’m helping out with a seawater pool in the pacific – do you have any thoughts about using a salt cell within an ocean water pool? I can imagine the calcium build up would be fairly quick and the cell would require a lot of cleaning – at the same time there’s always going to be salt… due to evaporation it needs weekly top ups. Thanks

    • Kara Redden

      Hi Daniel,

      You cannot use a salt cell as the salt content is too high. You would need to use an approved registered sanitizer for your area.

      Thank you,

  11. Robert

    Guys i have a big 40 meter x 25 meter sea water filled concrete pool..there are no filters on the pool its too big ..sluce gate fills the pool at high tide and the sea water is retained for about 3 weeks chlorine and acid is added digitally but sgill get a build up of sea alge on walls and floor when pool is emptied it has to be power washed every time ..which is very time consuming…pool is used for waterpolo and triathlon training any tips on keeping the algee growth at bay and keeping the water clean and clear ..filters on gate stop any large debris getting inn but silt and sand get inn

    • Kara Redden

      Hi Robert,

      Unfortunately no. Where you are releasing the water back into the ocean the chemicals must be limited to not disturb the natural flora and fauna. Brushing and circulation is very important. You could increase the chlorine content but you woul need to ensure it is neutralized before releasing the water back into its natural habitat. I would consult your local pool company and government to ensure you are following government and environmental rules for your area.

      Thank you,

  12. Adam

    Hi, I’m thinking of making a large ocean pool by the sea on an Indonesia island. Can I add natural spring water to the ocean pool to reduce the salt levels in the water (to reduce equipment corrosion, calcium build up and provide a softer swimming environment for children) and if so, what minimum PPM figure would I need to achieve so as not to require a salt cell system?

    • Kara Redden

      Hi Adam,

      You cannot use a salt cell system with an ocean pool as the ppms are too high by 10 fold. You can dilute the ocean water with fresh water to help bring the ppm down. It may not make a notable difference however. Any salt in the water creates a more charged environment which can contribute to corrosion. Proper water balance is the key to prevention. All ocean pools require chlorine or bromine as a santitzer here in Canada. When using a salt cell it automatically makes chlorine. You would need to check with your local recommendations if you wish to deviate from the Canadian standards.

      All the best,

  13. Katharine Roth

    I have a similar issue to Robert’s. I have a family ocean water pool that is filled via a pump. It too gets filled with algae as it isn’t mechanically circulated. Our technique is to drain it once a week (according the tides), hose it down, scrub a bit and use some bleach to get rid of it. Very labor intensive and also means that it needs to be done by someone willing to do the job. Dealing with the algae, figuring out a good way to maintain the cement walls and keep it clean are all on my list. Anyone with any insights, please chime in

  14. Nevin Knowles

    I want to put in a ocean fed swimming pool . The pool will be right on the water edge and can be circulating ocean water continually can a regular swimming pool filter system work planning to use an endless edge for circulation