Saltwater Pool Shocking

How To Shock A Salt Water Pool - Complete Guide

Salt water pools have many differences and similarities with traditional chlorine pools.

Like traditional chlorine pools, salt water pools are prone to the occasional algae outbreak that may require the use of stronger sanitising agents. In these cases, it is important to learn the proper way to shock your saltwater pool.

In this article, we will talk about whether or not salt water pools need shock treatments, the correct shock products to use for salt water pools, and step-by-step instructions for shocking your salt water pool.

We also include information about using the superchlorination setting on your pool’s salt chlorine generator, and the pros and cons of this approach. Let’s jump in!

Do You Need To Shock A Salt Water Pool?

Some pool owners believe that salt water pools function entirely differently than chlorine pools. In reality, both saltwater pools and traditional pools use chlorine molecules in their sanitation process. The only difference between these two types of pool is the source of the chlorine.

In short, yes, you can still use shock treatments in a salt water pool.

This will function the same as a shock treatment in a traditional chlorine pool, by temporarily raising the chlorine concentration to more intense levels in order to kill off growths of microorganisms such as bacteria and algae.

The salt content of your pool does not have an impact on the effectiveness of chlorine based shock treatments, nor do these chlorine based shock treatments have any effect on the salinity levels of your pool water.

Correct Shock Product For Salt Water Pools

For the most part, you can use the same shock treatment products for salt water pools that you would use in traditional chlorine pools. Our favourite choice for shock treatments is Shock N Swim, which is noted by the manufacturer to be an excellent choice for saltwater and freshwater pools alike.

Cal hypo shock products, known by their chemical name calcium hypochlorite, is one type of chlorine shock product that we recommend avoiding in salt water pools.

The calcium released by this shock product can tend to leave behind unsightly calcium scale buildup if used in saltwater pools due to the high concentration of dissolved minerals that is already present in the water.

All types of pool shock products other than cal hypo are perfectly safe for use in saltwater pools and should not cause any stains or related damage.

Many pool owners prefer liquid chlorine for their shock treatments for its ease of use. These types of products also make a great choice for shocking salt water pools.

How To Shock Your Salt Water Pool

Before shocking your pool, you will first want to balance other aspects of your pool’s chemistry.

We recommend ensuring that your pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness are all within the ideal ranges before introducing a shock treatment to your pool in order to prevent the development of unwanted stains that may be caused by chemical interactions.

Next, you will want to figure out the correct amount of shock product to use for your pool by following the instructions provided on your product label. You can also use this pool shock calculator to help you work out the right dose for your pool.

Because different varieties of shock products have varying concentrations of active ingredients, the amount you need for your pool may differ between brands.

When performing a shock treatment, you are aiming to create free chlorine levels that fall between 10-30 parts per million (ppm) depending on the severity of your contaminant problem.

As you prepare to add your shock product to your pool, you will want to ensure that your filter and pump system is running. You should also turn your salt chlorine generator to a low setting, or consider turning it off completely.

Then, add your shock product to your pool according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Many shock treatments that consist of granules can be broadcast across the surface of the pool, but others need to be pre-dissolved in a bucket of pool water before being added.

After shocking your pool, you should wait for your chlorine levels to return back to their normal range before turning your salt chlorine generator back on to its regular settings.

The amount of time this takes can vary depending on the shock product you use, but typically takes 24-48 hours.

Using Your Salt Chlorine Generator To Shock Your Pool

Most salt chlorine generators come equipped with a superchlorination setting. This setting allows your equipment to run on overdrive, producing a higher amount of chlorine than normal.

While this superchlorination setting can be effective when used on occasion as a preventative measure, it is unlikely to be very effective when used in place of a shock treatment for more complex pool conditions.

Shock treatments are typically used to eradicate visible problems with pool sanitation, such as algae. By the time an algae infestation has developed, much larger quantities of chlorine are likely to be required than what your salt chlorine generator can produce, even on its superchlorination setting.

Using a traditional chlorine shock rather than your saltwater chlorine generator’s superchlorination setting also allows for you to create a sharp rise in chlorine levels in a short space of time, which is more effective on chlorine resistant strains of algae.

In most cases, we recommend using a chlorine shock treatment in your salt water pool rather than using the superchlorination setting on your chlorinator. This method is more effective at treating pool conditions, and it also puts less stress on your chlorine generator.


Shock treatments are perfectly acceptable in saltwater pools, because saltwater pools also achieve sanitation through the use of chlorine. Most types of chlorine shock treatment can be used in saltwater pools as a concentrated disinfectant.

When compared with using the superchlorination setting on a chlorine generator in your saltwater pool, using a shock treatment allows you to create higher concentrations of free chlorine while putting less overall strain on your equipment.

The shock treatment approach also sanitises your pool faster, because chlorine levels rise immediately.

Do you have any questions about how to shock your saltwater pool? Leave us a comment down below, we would love to help you out!

Louis from Pool Advisor


A chemical engineer by trade, Louis is committed to debunking myths in the pool industry by explaining the underlying chemistry and making it accessible to all.