Using Baking Soda to Raise Alkalinity in a Pool
Understanding your swimming pools water chemistry is a critical part of keeping you pool water balanced. This balance is the key ingredient to maximum swimming pool satisfaction! When you water is balanced everyone is happy. Losing this balance can lead to many different issues. However, all of these issues can be easily prevented. Simply put, just maintain balance and go with the flow.
In order to understand alkalinity we must also have a basic knowledge of pH. Your pool water's pH is a simple chemical measurement of it's acidity. You may recall from high school chemistry that pH is recorded on a scale from 0 - 14, 0 being the most acidic measure and 14 being the most basic. In fact, a 0 solution would be a pure acid and a 14 would be a pure base, both are theoretical. pH as a measure represents the solutions potential Hydrogen.
Healthy swimming pool water should measure between 7.2 and 7.6 on the pH scale. Considering a scale of 0 - 14, this is a pretty small window and should be checked at least a twice a week. It is important to maintain your swimming pools pH for many reasons. Balanced pH will support the action of other pool chemicals insuring your pool is clean and safe.
How are pH and alkalinity related when it comes to keeping your pool happy? Put
simply, pH is a measure of acidity and alkalinity represents the waters ability to resist changes in pH. This is important because Chlorine requires a stable pH in order to sanitize you swimming pool water. Low alkalinity decreases your pools Chlorine efficiency and can prevent Chlorine action completely.
A normal pool alkalinity will measure between 80 and 120 parts per million (ppm). Any water testing kit can easily give you and accurate alkalinity reading. I always test my alkalinity before anything else because all other aspects of your pool chemistry depend on stable alkalinity.
Increasing Your Pool Alkalinity
As your pool's alkalinity dips below 80 ppm, your pH will begin to swing up and down. This pH instability can lead to many water quality issues such as reduced Chlorine efficiency, pool surface staining, and scale (mineral build up) which can clog plumbing and cloud your water.
You can raise your pool's alkalinity by adding the chemical sodium bicarbonate. That's fancy language for baking soda. Start by adding 1 lb. per 10,000 gallons of water. Run your water circulation for 12 hours and test the water again. Repeat this process until you get a reading between 80 and 120 ppm. Once you achieve this goal, you can test and adjust your pH and Chlorine levels.
Decreasing Your Pools Alkalinity
As your pools alkalinity increases above 120 ppm, your pH levels will increase to higher than recommended levels. High pH levels can cause swimmer discomfort and skin rashes. Cloudy pool water is a good indication that your pool's alkalinity is too high.
You can decrease your pools alkalinity by adding an acid like muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate. Add either of these two products as directed until your pool pH measures 7.0. Recheck your pH after a few hours to make sure pH is stabilized. This is important because pH can tend to drift a bit before it stabilizes.
As you care for your swimming pool, remember, alkalinity is the foundation of your pools chemistry. Stabilizing alkalinity will help you keep all other pool chemistry stable as well.
If you ever have any questions about your pool chemistry, please reach out to us at the Great Backyard. We can get you back on the road to good clean swimming pool fun!