Here’s How To Shock A Salt Water Pool (In 6 Easy Steps)


Today you’re going to learn how to shock your salt water pool

In six EASY steps.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know when to shock your salt water pool, how to choose a good pool shock, how to go about shocking your salt water pool, and some extra tips and tricks for getting rid of pool algae and clearing cloudy pool water.

Let’s dive in!

Salt water pools, just like chlorine pools, sometimes need to be super-chlorinated to take care of some common pool problems like algae.

And while a saltwater pool is still technically a chlorinated pool with roughly the same amount of free chlorine levels, its cleaning system (i.e. salt system) runs just a little differently.

A salt pool basically turns salt from its salt cell into chlorine instead of having to add straight chlorine to the water.

Should you add shock to a salt water pool?


It’s absolutely okay to shock your salt water pool, and is actually pretty important!

Even though your pool system is probably equipped with an electrical function to super-chlorinate the water, it should not replace a weekly shock treatment for a couple of reasons:

  • 1Running your pool’s super-chlorinate feature too often is hard on the motor and will cause it to wear out faster.
  • 2The super-chlorinate feature will not always kill all the algae or clean up the pool water as effectively as pool shock.

When should you shock a salt water pool?

I always recommend shocking any type of pool once a week, but there are a few reasons to shock your pool even if you’re not in this habit:

1. To remove algae

Chlorine is the most effective treatment to kill algae—black algae, a green pool, etc.—and it’s best to kill it at the first sign of a bloom.

Whether you notice small spots or a complete overgrowth, it’s time to shock the pool. 

For tough algae, be sure to scrub the spores off the pool surface first and then vacuum up when you’re finished.

2. To remove chloramines

You might think catching a strong bleachy whiff at the pool means you’re doing a good job keeping it strongly chlorinated.

But that smell is actually the result of chloramines, which are “chemical compounds that build up in pool water when improperly treated.”

In layman’s terms, what you’re smelling is a combination of chlorination and body fluids. Change your mind about the chlorine smell yet?

Test your pool’s chlorine levels to see if the total chlorine is higher than the free chlorine

If so, that means the combined chlorine is too high, causing a build-up of chloramine.

This means it’s time for a shock!

3. To remove contaminants

Poop happens, and unfortunately sometimes it happens in your pool! 

For fecal and other contaminants and organic matter, it’s extremely necessary to clean out the debris and shock your pool immediately. 

Choosing a good pool shock

DryTec 1-1901-24 Calcium Hypochlorite Pool Shock, 1-Pound, 24-Pack
  • One bag of this product per 10,000 gallons of water
  • Adjust and maintain pH at 7.2-7.6

There are a lot of good pool shock products out there (including liquid chlorine and non-chlorine shock), but here’s one we really recommend:

Calcium hypochlorite, or cal-hypo as it is often called in the pool industry, is the leader is shock products because is the most powerful and fastest working shock available.

This is a granular pool shock, which tends to work best with saltwater pools and it’s easy to use.

It’s also made with pure calcium hypochlorite, which means it doesn’t contain the chemicals that would normally raise the cyanuric acid levels in the pool.

6 steps for shocking a salt water pool

1. Test your pool chemistry

Use your pool test kit or test strips to test your pool’s pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels. 

It may seem unnecessary to do this before shocking your pool, but an imbalance of any of these levels along with an elevated dose of chlorine could cause staining, deposits or pitting on your pool’s surface.

2. Adjust chemicals as needed

If any of your pool water levels are off, balance them to within normal ranges:

  • pH: 7.4 – 7.6
  • Total Alkalinity: 80 – 140 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness: 200 – 400

3. Calculate the proper amount of shock

You might be wondering how much shock is enough.

Well, in order to reach breakpoint chlorination, you’ll need to achieve about 30 ppm.

If the chlorination does not reach this level, it won’t kill all of the algae in your pool or remove unhealthy chloramines.

In order to calculate the proper usage, you will need to know approximately how many gallons of water are in your pool and read the label of your product. 

For the cal-hypo product we recommend, that is about three pounds per 10,000 gallons of water.

4. Turn on your pool filter

The filtration system will help to distribute the shock more evenly, giving you much better results.

5. Add the shock to your pool

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adding shock to your pool.

Usually you can add the product directly to your pool, but if you have a vinyl or fiberglass pool, you will most likely need to dilute it to prevent staining.

6. Turn down the salt cell system

If you’ve reached the recommended chlorine level for your pool, the shock should last several days, so you can turn down your saltwater pool system—also called salt chlorinators or chlorine generators —for a while.

What happens next?

Assuming that everything went as planned, your pool water should now be a sort of cloudy blue.

Not to worry!

This means that you killed off some algae and it’s just hanging out waiting to be filtered out. 

Keep your filter running until the water is clear.

6 quick tips to prevent algae

If you’ve had any difficulty getting rid of algae at all, you already know how important it is to keep algae bloom out of your pool to begin with. 

Here are just a few quick tips to keep it from becoming a problem:

  • 1Keep your pool chemistry levels balanced.
  • 2Brush and vacuum your pool regularly.
  • 3Shock your pool once a week, especially during peak swim season.
  • 4Run your filtration system at least 8 hours a day.
  • 5Shock your pool after storms or large pool gatherings.
  • 6Clean your pool accessories often.

6 quick tips for clearing a cloudy pool

If you find that your pool is cloudy, you can check out our ultimate guide to clearing a cloudy pool, but here are six quick tips to follow:

  • 1Use a pool clarifier.
  • 2Clean out all pool filters.
  • 3Run your pool filters 24/7 until the water clears.
  • 4Balance your pool’s chemistry.
  • 5Consider adding more pool water if the CYA levels are off.
  • 6Remove all debris from the water.

Bottom line

There you have it: everything you need to know about shocking a saltwater pool!

Remember to never swim while shocking or super-chlorinating your saltwater pool, continue to test your pool’s water chemistry levels, and don’t allow anyone in until the chlorine level is between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm!

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