If you want your home pool to be sparkling clean, free from contaminants and healthy, then it is extremely important to maintain the proper balance of the water chemistry. By looking at the pH of the pool, you can measure the water balance of your pool and determine how acidic or alkaline the pool water is.
The water in your pool should not be too acidic or too alkaline and when the pH level drops, the water becomes too acidic and you need to increase the water’s alkalinity.
The key component of the pool’s chemistry is its alkalinity and if you want to maintain your pool properly, it is extremely essential to understand the alkalinity of the pool and how it works. Alkalinity is essentially the measurement of all the alkaline substances that are dissolved in the pool.
The ideal alkalinity level of a pool is typically around 80 to 120 ppm (parts per million). If there are a lot of contaminants in your swimming pool, then this could cause the alkalinity to become low. And, if the alkalinity is too high, then it will reduce the effectiveness of chlorine, which means that the pool water will not be very clean.
So, how do you increase the alkalinity of your swimming pool? Most alkalinity increasers on the market have a key ingredient i.e. sodium bicarbonate or baking soda, which helps to increase the alkalinity of water.
So, you can use baking soda to increase the alkalinity levels and the best part is that it is less expensive than any branded alkalinity increaser.
Using Baking Soda to Increase the pH and Alkalinity in Your Pool
If you’re a pool owner, then you know that chlorine is an important chemical that helps to keep your pool water clean and safe for swimming. However, too much chlorine can lower the pH and alkalinity of the water and a lower pH causes several issues such as tingling eyes and itchy skin and also corrodes the liner, ladders and other parts of the pool.
When the alkalinity of the water is very low, any chemicals that you add affects the pH of the water exponentially and causes a “pH bounce” and you will need to add more chlorine to the water to achieve the same sanitization, which can cause problems for the swimmers.
Maintaining the alkalinity levels of your pool can be both cumbersome, as well as expensive and as we mentioned earlier, using baking soda is an easy and cost-effective way by which you can maintain the pH and alkalinity of your pool.
How Does Baking Soda Help?
Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda is alkaline in nature and has a pH of 8. By adding baking soda to your swimming pool, both the pH, as well as the alkalinity are raised, thereby helping to raise the clarity and stability of the water.
By using baking soda, you can maintain your pool in an inexpensive and cost-effective way.
All these chemical names can get confusing so I have created several guides covering the main chemical used in pools. Check out my guide on sodium hypochlorite for pools.
How Much Baking Soda Should I Add to My Pool?
Ideally, the pH of your pool should be between 7.2 to 7.8 and the alkalinity between 110 to 150 ppm. If the alkalinity is lower than 80 ppm, then you will need to raise the alkalinity.
Buy the baking soda in bulk. You will require between 1.5 lbs to 8 lb of baking soda, depending on the level of alkalinity.
You must determine how much baking soda must be added to the water. Typically, you will require 1.5 lb of baking soda for 10,000 gallons of water and this will raise the alkalinity by around 10 ppm.
If the pH of the water is less than 7.2, then you will have to add around 3 to 4 lb of baking soda.
If you’re not sure about the quantity, then begin by adding just ½ or 3/4th of the amount that is recommended. You can add more baking soda if you find that the level is low after retesting. Adding too much baking soda can affect the delicate pH balance of the water.
How to Add Baking Soda to Your Pool
Baking soda comes in a powdered form and can be sprinkled directly into the water. Spread the baking soda in wide arcs across the surface of the pool to prevent it from collecting in one spot.
This is known as broadcasting; however, avoid doing this on a windy day as the soda can get into your eyes. Also, make sure to wear gloves and goggles when sprinkling the baking soda.
Allow the baking soda to dissolve in the water and circulate for a minimum of 6 hours and during this time, make sure to keep the filtration system of the pool running.
Using test strips or a liquid testing kit, check the pH, as well as the alkalinity levels between 6-24 hours after adding the baking soda. If the alkalinity is less than 110 ppm and pH is less than 7.2, then repeat the steps.
What Should I Do If the Alkalinity Level Is Too High?
If the alkalinity level of the pool water is too high, then:
- Keep your pool filtration system running and wait for the alkalinity level to return to the normal level.
- Add more water to the pool. This will help to dilute the baking soda and also the other chemicals in the pool.
- To lower the total alkalinity quickly, you can use muriatic acid; however, this will also lower the pH level.
Using Baking Soda to Correct Common Pool Problems
While baking soda on its own does not kill algae, it helps to balance the pH and alkalinity of the pool, which helps the chlorine and other chemicals in killing the algae effectively.
To kill algae, you will need to make use of an algaecide and then clear the water by super chlorinating it.
Clearing Cloudy Pool Water
There can be many reasons if your pool water is murky or cloudy. There could be a problem with the pool’s filtration system. If the water is not sanitized properly, this could be causing the cloudiness. Also, if the water contains plenty of minerals or is naturally hard, this can make it cloudy.
Super chlorination is the easiest way to fix cloudy water. Test the pH levels after you super chlorinate the water and add baking soda to the pool.
Too much baking soda can also cause the water to become cloudy. However, there is no cause for panic. Simply wait for some time until the baking soda completely dissolves in the water.
If you see corrosion on your pool ladders or pipes or pits in the pool tiles or pool liner, it indicates that the alkalinity is very low. Adding baking soda to the pool water will help to increase the alkalinity levels and prevent corrosion.
Baking Soda vs Soda Ash
Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda helps to raise the alkalinity of the pool water and also raises the pH level slightly. On the other hand, sodium carbonate, commonly called, soda ash helps to raise the pH of the water and it also raises the alkalinity slightly.
For instance, to get a pH of 7.2 – 7.6 in 10,000 gallons of water, you would require 21 lb of baking soda; however, this will also increase the alkalinity by around 150 ppm, which is extremely high.
And, if you want to increase the pool’s pH by 05, then you will need around 12 oz. of soda ash, which will increase the alkalinity of the water by around 8 ppm.
So, if you want to increase the pH level, then you must use soda ash, whereas, if you want to increase the alkalinity, then you must use baking soda.
Is Baking Soda in the Pool Safe?
Using baking soda in your pool has no risks and is completely safe. However, there may be a risk of high or low alkalinity. If you notice build up or scaling around the pool equipment it could be because of high alkalinity and pH.
And, if there is any corrosion around the ladders, tiles, pool liner, etc., this is probably because of low alkalinity and pH. You can prevent all this by testing the water regularly and adjusting the chemicals as required to maintain the proper PH and alkalinity balance.
Baking soda is also very safe for health. In fact, people commonly use it to clean their teeth.
Baking soda is recognized as being safe by the FDA and it is often used as a food additive. However, you must take care to avoid getting baking soda into your eye, because this can hurt a lot.
In conclusion, a good swimming pool is one that has balanced alkaline levels. Maintaining the water chemistry of your pool can be tricky but extremely important.
Raising the alkalinity of your pool using baking soda is a straightforward, simple, inexpensive, yet effective method to keep your pool clean and healthy during the swimming season and even after.