Some people suggest using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to alter pH and total alkalinity levels.
However, you may have a swimming pool with adequate alkalinity levels but perhaps a low pH. In that scenario, soda ash is more effective (sodium carbonate). Soda ash is also used in very small portions to modify the pH without affecting the total alkalinity.
As an example:
To raise the pH of 10,000 gallons of pool water from 7.2 to 7.6, 21 lbs of baking soda would be required. Unfortunately, this would raise the total alkalinity to about 150 ppm, which is far too high for a pool.
It just takes 12.2 ounces of soda ash to raise the pH of 10,000 gallons of pool water from 7.2 to 7.6 and add just under 10ppm to the overall alkalinity.
Baking soda has a pH of 8.3, so it takes a lot of it to raise the total pH level of a pool. The advantage is that baking soda will never raise the pH of a pool above 8.3 (and if the pH is higher, baking soda will drop it), but it is better at changing the overall alkalinity of the water.
Soda ash has a pH value of 11.4. This means that it just takes a small amount to modify the pH levels, but it isn’t particularly good at balancing the overall alkalinity.
In other words, while baking soda can be used to change the pH of a pool, it is preferable to use it to increase overall alkalinity. Soda ash is preferable if you only need to change the pH level and have little impact on total alkalinity.
The industry norm has always been to employ sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to increase total total alkalinity and soda ash (sodium carbonate) to increase pH, with the exception of when both pH and total alkalinity are low.
Despite the fact that it is difficult to alter one without chemically affecting the other, there is still a “proper tool for the job” analogy at work.
Sodium bicarbonate has a more detectable influence on total alkalinity while only slightly altering the pH of the water. Sodium carbonate has a significant impact on both total alkalinity and pH.
Using baking soda to raise pH is analogous to pushing a nail into a wall with a screw driver – this can be accomplished, but a hammer would accomplish the job more successfully and at a lower cost.
16 ounces of sodium bicarbonate raise the total alkalinity of 10,000 gallons of water by 7.14 parts per million (ppm). The same dose will also elevate the pH by an amount that current industry test equipment cannot detect.
12.2 ounces of sodium carbonate, on the other hand, will elevate the pH of 10,000 gallons of water by 0.4 and the total alkalinity by approximately 8.6 ppm. This assumes a pH of 7.2, a baseline total alkalinity of 60 ppm, 1 ppm free chlorine, 0 ppm cyanuric acid, 300 ppm calcium hardness, 900 ppm TDS, and an ambient temperature of 80° F.
A dosage of 6 ounces of soda ash per 10,000 gallons is typically used, producing in a 0.2 rise that allows for fine-tuning of pH modifications. This 6 ounces will however result in a 5 ppm increase in overall alkalinity, which is why sodium carbonate is used for the correction if both the pH and total alkalinity readings are low.
Increasing a pH reading of 7.2–7.6 in 10,000 litres using a screwdriver and a nail would require roughly 21 lbs of baking soda in our real-world scenario. This dose also resulted in a rise in total alkalinity of 149.8 ppm.
In our hammer-and-nail scenario, the same 0.4 increase in pH can be achieved with 12.2 ounces of soda ash, increasing total alkalinity by only 8.6 ppm.
Check the pH of your current water. Place the strip in the water for 10–30 seconds and then remove it. The length of time you have to keep the strip in the water may vary depending on the type; if in doubt, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. To compare colors and determine the pH, use the chart that comes with the pH strips.
Fill your pool with baking soda. If the pH is less than 7.2, you would need to add 3 pounds of sodium bicarbonate per 10,000 gallons of pool water. Add 2 lbs. per 10,000 gallons if somehow the pH is somewhere between 7.5 and 7.2. Unless the pH is higher than 7.5, don’t add any.
Where to Get Baking Soda in the Pool
You won’t have enough sodium bicarbonate in your kitchen cabinet to treat your pool; about 7 to 9 pounds is normally required to cure 10,000 gallons of water. While certain supermarkets may have large containers of baking soda, you may be able to find large amounts at pool supply stores.
Buying from a pool provider is advantageous because the container will state just how much of substance to apply to your pool. Make sure the label states that the substance is really sodium bicarbonate anywhere you purchase baking soda.
How to Use Baking Soda
When testing the pool pH, make sure to check the total alkalinity as well. If the pH is low, the alkalinity is likely to be low as well, and the amount needed to raise it influences how much baking soda to add.
If you buy the baking soda from a pool supplier, the directions on the bottle will tell you how much to apply based on your pool’s existing alkalinity concentration and volume. Make certain that you purchase a enough quantity of the product. For most applications, 10 pounds or more is required.
With test strips or a test kit, determine the pH and total alkalinity of the water. If the pH is less than 7.2 and also the total alkalinity is less than 80 ppm, add baking soda. If the pH is low but somehow the alkalinity is within the acceptable range, boost the pH using soda ash.
Stick to the directions on the container. Some manufacturers advise diluting the sodium bicarbonate with water before pouring it into the pool, whereas others simply pour it in. If you buy baking soda at the store, you can normally just dump it into the pool. To help the substance dissolve faster, spread it across the surface instead of dumping it in single location.
Circulate the pool water for approximately an hour to distribute the substance, then switch off the pump & leave the pool alone for almost 6 hours. Retest the water and put additional baking soda as necessary till the pH and alkalinity are within acceptable limits.
Can Baking Soda Really Be Used To Clean A Pool?
You may have heard tales how you can clean your swimming pool simply by adding baking soda, which appears to be a simple and quick remedy. Is this true?
Even though a baking soda scrub is an excellent method to clean pool floors, furnishings, and grout, it does not “clean” a pool. Baking soda, instead, helps to keep the pH levels of the pool water, which makes a pool healthy and attractive.
How Does Baking Soda Work In A Pool?
When the water in your pool is overly acidic, it can be corrosive and uncomfortable, similar to an acid reflex in stomach problems. Baking soda, in the same manner that it may neutralize acids in the body and be used to treat heartburn, can also reduce acids in the pool and bring them to a safe neutrality.
In a pool, baking soda can perform wonders like;
- Assisting in the removal of murky (cloudy) water and the restoration of its luster.
- Algae treatment
- Making the water more gentle on your skin.
- Pool equipment should be protected from corrosion and damage.
- Enhance the efficiency of chlorine
The pH of baking soda is 8.3, and the bicarbonates in baking soda operate as a pH buffer. They have both a negatively and positively charged end. When negatively or positively charged ions attach to these ends, a compound forms that solidifies and floats out of the water.
It’s termed a “buffer” because it can raise pH to 8.3 or drop pH to 8.3 by using its positive and negative ends. In other words, depending on the environment, it can act as an acid or a base, making it an excellent way to stabilize water and “buffer” it from quick changes.
How Does Baking Soda Work With Chlorine To Clean A Pool?
Chlorine does clean a pool even though the pH drops and the water becomes highly acidic, but you’ll get significantly more mileage out of it if the pH is slightly basic.
Even if the chlorine is operating and the levels are correct, a pool can have hazy water or be unpleasant to swim in. And acidic water frequently contains too much chloramine, which hurts the eyes and gives off that “pool smell.”
To put it another way, maintaining the proper levels of chlorine and pH is essential for a healthy pool. These two values complement each other, but they are not the same thing.
Are There Any Risks From Using Baking Soda In A Pool?
It’s normal to question whether there are any risks to the quality of water, pool equipment, or pool health when you hear of people putting pounds of sodium bicarbonate into a pool. Baking soda, on the other hand, is both safe and natural. It poses a very low danger of harming people or pools, which is why many folks use it to modify alkalinity and pH levels.
If you apply too little, it will simply not work and the levels will be too low. If you add excessively, raising your pH outside the recommended range, especially if you already have hard water, calcium can start to build up in the pool. Too much calcium may cloud the pool, cause scaling on the pool walls, and clog the filters.
Since pool water tends to be more acidic over time, the water only becomes really alkaline when it is incorrectly adjusted. That is why you should add the proper quantity of sodium bicarbonate, stir to incorporate, and then test it the next day to see whether any corrections are required.
How To Use Baking Soda To Clean A Pool
The following is how to use sodium bicarbonate in your pool:
Step 1: Measure the pH and total alkalinity of your pool’s water. If the pH is less than 7.2 and the total alkalinity is less than 80ppm, you should add baking soda.
Step 2: Calculate how much sodium bicarbonate you’ll need. This section necessitates some math. 1.25 pounds of baking soda will typically elevate the pH of 10,000 gallons of pool water by 10 ppm. Because you want your total alkalinity to be 100 ppm, you can calculate the amount of baking soda needed based on the total alkalinity and pool volume.
Step 3: Collect the baking soda. You won’t be able to buy a box of baking soda at the supermarket because you’ll need many pounds. Rather, you will need to purchase a large bag from a pool supply store or shop online.
Step 4: Pour the baking soda into the pool. Do not use more than 2.5 lbs of baking soda in one day. Begin by putting in 1.25 lbs (or the minimum quantity required to increase the alkalinity by 10 ppm). Sprinkle the baking soda on top of the water or pour it into a skimmer in a circular motion to help it dissolve faster. To avoid cloudiness, keep the pool water moving.
Let the baking soda circulate for 5 minutes. Depending on the size of the pool, it may take 6-10 hours to thoroughly circulate the water.
Step 6: Re-test the water and, if necessary, add more baking soda.
Will Baking Soda Clear Up a Cloudy Pool?
Not immediately, but it can be beneficial. If your water is cloudy because it has been under-sanitized, ensure your pH and alkalinity are adjusted before adding sanitizer.
However, if you add an excessive amount of baking soda all at once, your pool water will get cloudy. Don’t be worried when you have to wait for this to completely dissolve. Cloudy water can also be caused by high alkalinity.
Does Baking Soda Kill Algae in Pools?
No. However, managing the pH and alkalinity levels appropriately aids in the maintenance of a consistent chlorine level, which aids in the killing of pool algae and the removal of it from the water. You might also try applying an algaecide.
How to Spot-Treat Algae in a Pool with Baking Soda
Baking soda can also be used to treat algae in a pool on a spot-by-spot basis. Here’s how to use sodium bicarbonate to treat brown or black algae stains in a pool:
Step 1: Make use of an algae product. Purchase an algae-killing product and apply it to the pool according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Step 2: Let the product circulate. This could take about 6 to 10 hours based on the size of the pool.
Step 3: Then apply baking soda to the affected region.
Step 4: Scrub the area with a pool brush.