Baking soda is one of the most commonly used substances when it comes to pool water chemistry. However, since a lot of chemicals are used for different purposes, many pool owners find it difficult to know the specific function of these compounds.
Well, in this article we will discuss what baking is used for and the chemicals that are used to lower alkalinity whenever it becomes high. You will also learn how to use these chemicals.
To start, we need to address the topic, which is what brought us here. Baking soda is an alkaline compound and can only increase the alkalinity of water. So, baking soda doesn’t lower the alkalinity in the pool; rather, it increases it.
The chemical compounds you can use to lower alkalinity in a pool are acidic compounds like muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) and dry acid (sodium bisulfate).
Using these compounds to lower alkalinity will make things a lot easier for you. But before we start using them, we need to understand why alkalinity goes up and why it is not good to have high alkalinity in your pool.
Why is my pool alkalinity high?
Understanding the possible causes of high alkalinity in a pool will help you know how to prevent future occurrences. However, high alkalinity can be caused by several factors, so it is nearly impossible not to encounter it.
But preventing certain things will help you not to battle with alkalinity all the time. From my experience so far, the common factors that cause an increase in pool’s alkalinity are:
Debris and foreign compounds: allowing foreign particles into your pool can lead to an increase in alkalinity. Some of the skincare products we use are alkaline, while some produce alkaline byproducts when they react with water.
So, swimming in your pool without having to shower outside before entering is a possible risk of high alkalinity in your pool.
Your pool water source: it is good that you test your pool water once in a while. Some folks complain that they get water with high alkalinity from their local water suppliers. Such water, coupled with other factors, will definitely make your pool water alkalinity high.
To prevent this, ensure you test the water before adding it to your pool.
Too much alkalinity increaser: if you just increased the alkalinity in your pool recently, it is possible that you used an excessive amount of the compound. If you check very well, you might have used too much baking soda or other alkalinity-increasing products.
Someone asked me one day if he could add too much baking soda to a pool. Yes, it is possible to have too much baking soda in your pool. Though baking soda has a pH value of about 8, it doesn’t mean that the alkalinity can’t get overboard.
Alkalinity and pH are not the same thing. Having too much of it in your pool will raise the alkalinity.
Not rinsing your swimsuit properly: most of the detergents and soaps you use to wash your swimsuits have high alkalinity, while some produce highly alkaline byproducts.
So after washing with them, you need to rinse the swimsuit very well to ensure you don’t have any residues left on it. If you swim without rinsing properly, you increase the chances of having dissolved alkaline substances in the pool.
When they accumulate the alkalinity of your pool water will eventually increase.
Effects of high alkalinity in pool water
It’s not safe to have high alkalinity in your pool. A lot of things are affected when the pool water becomes high in alkalinity. Even the swimmers get uncomfortable using it.
Below are some of the negative impacts high alkalinity can have on your pool:
Cloudy water: a lot of people ask me if high alkalinity can cause cloudy water. Yes, high alkalinity is one of the major culprits behind cloudy pool water.
The increase in the amount of calcium present due to high alkalinity, coupled with other contaminants, can result in murky water.
Increased pH: with high alkalinity, the pH of your pool water will never be stable. You will continue to experience an incessant increase in the pH value of the pool water.
The disturbing fact is that the pH is not easily controlled when the alkalinity is high. And having a high pH is also a problem on its own. To be able to control the pH easily, you will first have to lower the alkalinity to the recommended range of 80 ppm-120 ppm.
Calcium buildup: if you have used your pool for a long time now, you will understand that you need to prevent scaling by all means.
Allowing calcium deposits due to high alkalinity to build up in your pool can cause scaling on the pool surfaces and components.
More so, your pipes and filters are not safe because the calcium deposits can clog them when they start to build up. If this is not controlled, it can cause damage to the filter and other pool components when pressure builds up.
It renders the sanitizer ineffective: one of the disturbing issues with high alkalinity in a pool is that it makes the chlorine used as the pool sanitizer ineffective. This can lead to poor disinfection, which will allow contaminants and microbes to enter the pool easily.
Swimmers’ health: if you are asthmatic, it is very risky to enter your pool when the alkalinity is high. High alkalinity can irritate the nose, cause itchy skin and burning eyes, and make you uncomfortable in the water.
Is it safe to swim in a pool with high alkalinity?
If high alkalinity can make your swimsuit and goggles wear fast, imagine what it can do to your health.
High alkalinity is not safe for your health, especially when you have health challenges like respiratory issues.
So, avoid swimming in the pool when the alkalinity becomes high. It can cause dry and itchy skin and a burning sensation in the nose and eyes.
Prolonged exposure can cause eye problems, skin reactions, and respiratory issues.
Does muriatic acid lower alkalinity?
Yes, muriatic acid is the most commonly used chemical compound for lowering pool water alkalinity. Another acid you are likely to see in the pool owner’s home is dry acid (sodium bisulfate).
Almost all pool owners are familiar with these two compounds, and they are the most common in pool supply stores. Moreover, they are not too expensive and are very effective, unlike the other alkalinity increasers.
How much muriatic acid do I add to lower alkalinity?
If you have a pool with a 10,000-gallon capacity, you need 25.6 ounces of undiluted muriatic acid to lower the alkalinity by 10 ppm. So you need about 128 ounces of full-strength muriatic acid to lower it by 50 ppm.
How do I bring the alkalinity down in my pool?
You can lower the alkalinity of your pool water by using any of the acidic compounds mentioned above. They can be found in almost all the pool stores in the neighborhood. You can also get them online.
But you need to know that these compounds are strong acids, especially muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid). So, handle them with care. Ensure you have your personal protective gear on before using it.
Warning: it is important to note that when using acid, you don’t add water to the acid. If you must dilute the acid, add the water to a bucket before adding the acid.
Below are the general instructions on how to use the acids. However, the instructions here do not overwrite the ones written on the product packaging. This is just to make things clearer and guide you further.
So, you need to read the manufacturer’s instructions first.
How to use muriatic acid to lower alkalinity:
- First, test the pool water with test kits or test strips to determine the current level of alkalinity. Knowing the alkalinity level will help you calculate the amount of acid to use.
- Turn off the pool pump and other components. Wait until the pool becomes still.
- Calculate the right amount to add to the pool according to the directions on the package.
- Dilute the acid to be added in a bucket of water and add the solution to the pool. Endeavor to add the solution to the deeper ends of the pool if there are any.
- Let the solution circulate for about an hour.
- Turn on the pool pump for further circulation.
- After a while, retest the alkalinity levels. If it is still high, repeat the process until you get it right. Remember to add a small amount in the subsequent steps to avoid having low-level alkalinity.
How do I lower the alkalinity in my pool without chemicals?
Are you looking for a home remedy to lower your pool’s alkalinity? Well, there is no other remedy you can easily get from home except using rainwater.
Some have suggested using vinegar, but vinegar is not the right compound to lower alkalinity in a pool. Though it’s not advisable, you can manage to use it to lower the pH. However, you don’t have to try using it to lower alkalinity.
The only natural remedy that is safe is to use rainwater. Though it is not as effective as the acids discussed above, rainwater, as a weak acid, can help lower the alkalinity of pool water.
How long do you have to wait to swim after adding muriatic acid?
Some package instructions might recommend waiting for about 30 minutes or so before using the pool again.
Well, that is not bad at all since muriatic acid reacts very fast in the water.
However, remember that the acid can potentially create a hot spot in the pool. If that happens, it can burn the skin when you come in contact with it.
So, it is advisable to wait for about 3 to 4 hours before swimming in the pool. Waiting for that long is to ensure that the acid has completely reacted with the water.
Does high alkalinity cause cloudy water?
As we discussed earlier, high alkalinity can cause improper disinfection and calcium buildup. These alone are enough to make the pool water cloudy.
When you have a lot of calcium compounds deposited, coupled with other contaminants, your pool is likely to get murky with time.
Does chlorine lower alkalinity?
Chlorine is used as a sanitizer in the pool. Though it doesn’t react so fast in the water, it can alter the alkalinity and pH of the pool when its amount is too high.
This does not mean that chlorine can be used to lower the alkalinity in your pool. Having an excessive amount of chlorine in your pool is not safe for your health.
Moreover, it can cause cloudy pools and damage some pool components. So, stick with the right chemicals.
Does pH reducer lower alkalinity?
When both the pH and alkalinity of your pool are high, using a pH reducer will help to lower the pH and alkalinity.
This shows that pH Minus can also lower alkalinity.
Nevertheless, pH reducer is not the best compound to use when your interest is in lowering alkalinity. You can use it to lower pH, but not alkalinity.
Attempting to use it to lower alkalinity will not give you good results like muriatic acid and dry acid will.
So, stick with the right chemicals for the right purposes. Since pH reducers are meant for pH, use them when you want to lower pH.
Does alkalinity affect algae?
We use sanitizers in pools to prevent microbes and pollutants from entering the pool. Algae is one of the microbes we ward off with pool sanitizers.
But if the sanitizer becomes ineffective, algae and other microbes can make their way into the pool water.
Since high alkalinity renders the chlorine sanitizer ineffective, it means that high alkalinity can also lead to the growth of algae in the pool.
Will high alkalinity make the pool green?
Yes, high alkalinity makes pool disinfectants ineffective, causing algae to thrive in the water.
Remember, algae is the major cause of green pool water. This means that high alkalinity makes the pool green since it helps the algae grow in the pool.