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Beating the Heat with Mineral Pools

Processed salt is an alternative to chlorine to sanitize swimming areas.

Friday, August 26, 2011
Ron Word
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Hotels around the country are boasting about their new mineral swimming pools, claiming they are the perfect solution to the burning eyes and fading swimsuits from the chlorine traditionally used to sanitize pools and spas.

One of those pools is located at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel, northwest of Chicago.

The indoor pool uses a processor, supplied by EcoLab, to break down salt into its core components, sodium and chlorine, said Robert Lang, director of engineering at the hotel.
“We then use that naturally derived chlorine to sanitize the pool, proving the same scale of sanitation without the harsh chemical chlorine tablets or liquids,” Lang said.

“We are still using chlorine, but the fact that it’s in its natural form is what takes away the harshness. I’m told that the taste of the water is similar to a tear drop, and it’s softer on your skin,” Lang said.

Another advantage is cost, Lang said. Salt costs about 15 cents a pound, while chlorine starts at about $3 per pound. So, a 40-pound bag of salt would be about $6, compared with $120 for chlorine.

Lang said he has not calculated how much money the hotel has saved by switching from chlorine to salt. The initial cost was about $8,000 to change the equipment and get into a contract with the current vendor.

Another plus for using the processor, is you don’t have to worry about storing and dispensing chlorine, he said.

It took about half a day to train employees how to use the new equipment and to learn how to monitor the pool’s chemical makeup.

Disadvantages of a salt water pools are the initial high cost and installation of the equipment, dealing with 40-pound bags of salt and salt can leave unsightly salt rings on concrete and walkways.

What is the reaction of guests to the mineral pool?

“From what I hear, they love it,” Lang said

While many tout the benefits of a salt water pool, claiming the reduced amount of natural chlorine can benefit those suffering from skin conditions and help for those with stiff joints, the health claims should be taken with a grain of salt.

Ron Word
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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