Maintaining the proper pH level in your pool is essential for safe and enjoyable swimming. The ideal pH level in your pool is between 7.2 and 7.6, and to maintain this, you’ll need to use pH increasers and decreasers as well as alkalinity increasers and decreasers. But baking soda is often touted as an alternative. It’s a common household ingredient with a high pH level, so could you potentially use it to raise the pH level of your pool?
In this article, I will review everything a pool owner needs to know about baking soda, including how to raise pH with baking soda, how much baking soda to use, and more.
- Baking soda raises both pH and alkalinity levels.
- Add 1.25 pounds of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water to raise pH by around 0.1 units and the alkalinity by 10 ppm.
- Other ways to raise the pH in a pool include using soda ash, a pH increaser, or aeration.
- There are other uses for baking soda in a pool, including cleaning the pool, softening the water, clearing cloudy water, and helping chlorine effectiveness.
Will Baking Soda Raise pH In A Pool?
In short, yes, baking soda will raise the pH in a pool. Baking soda, AKA sodium bicarbonate, is naturally alkaline with a pH of around 8 to 9. When added to the pool, baking soda reacts with the acidic elements in the water and releases alkaline ions, which helps to slightly raise the pH levels. That said, it may not be the best option if you want to raise your pH by a significant amount.
What Happens If pH Is Too Low In A Pool?
Low pH levels in your pool can harm both swimmers and the pool. When the pH drops below 7, the water becomes acidic, irritating swimmers’ eyes and skin. Low pH levels can also damage the pool’s equipment and surfaces, leading to costly repairs.
In addition to the physical effects, low pH levels can also affect the effectiveness of pool chemicals, such as chlorine. When the pH is too low, chlorine becomes less effective at killing bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.
To avoid all of these issues, it is essential to regularly test the pH levels in your pool and make adjustments as needed. Check out my guide to raising the pH in your pool for more on this.
Will Baking Soda Raise Alkalinity In A Pool?
Yes, baking soda can also raise the alkalinity levels in a pool. Total alkalinity is the water’s ability to resist changes in pH. Maintaining your total alkalinity levels between 80 to 120 ppm is important to ensure your pool has a stable pH balance.
What Happens If Alkalinity Is Too Low In A Pool?
Low alkalinity levels can lead to a wide range of issues. When alkalinity levels are too low, the water becomes acidic, which can cause the water to corrode metal surfaces and damage pool surfaces.
Low alkalinity levels can also lead to a less stable pH balance, which means it will be more difficult to maintain proper chemical levels to keep the water safe for swimmers. When pH levels are unstable, it can lead to further issues, including the growth of algae and the ineffectiveness of sanitizers.
Baking Soda vs. Soda Ash
Baking soda and soda ash are similar pool chemicals commonly used to raise the pH levels in a pool, but they are not interchangeable. Soda ash, or sodium carbonate, has a much higher pH level than baking soda (between 11.3 and 11.7 in soda ash vs. 8 to 9 in baking soda)
The other major difference is that baking soda is more commonly used to raise both pH and total alkalinity (but more so total alkalinity rather than pH). On the other hand, soda ash should be used if you only plan on raising the pH levels.
For more on this topic, read my article on using baking soda vs. soda ash in your pool.
How Much Baking Soda To Add To A Pool?
So how much baking soda should you add to the pool to raise the pH to the proper level? The amount of baking soda to add will depend on the size and volume of your pool and the water’s current pH level.
As a general rule, add 1.25 pounds of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water to raise the alkalinity by 10 ppm and the pH by roughly 0.1 units. To help with this, use my alkalinity calculator.
How To Raise pH In A Pool With Baking Soda
Here’s my handy step-by-step guide to raising the pH in your pool with baking soda.
- Baking soda
- Liquid testing kit or test strip
- Bucket (Optional)
Step One: Test The pH Levels
First, test the current pH levels to determine how much baking soda you need. Use a pool liquid test kit or test strip, or take a sample of your pool water to your local pool store for testing.
Step Two: Calculate How Much Baking Soda Is Needed
Once you have your current pH levels, calculate how much baking soda is needed to raise it to the appropriate level. For every 10,000 gallons of water, add 1.25 pounds of baking soda to raise the pH by roughly 0.1 units.
Step Three: Add The Baking Soda
Slowly pour the calculated amount of baking soda into the pool as you walk around the perimeter of the pool. Either pour it directly into the pool or dissolve it in a bucket of water first.
If you’re unsure or want to take things slowly, only pour half of the amount of baking soda you previously measured out. You can always add more later.
Good old fashioned Arm & Hammer pure baking soda is a great option.
Step Four: Circulate The Water
After adding the baking soda, allow the pool pump to run for several hours to ensure proper circulation and distribution of the chemicals.
Step Five: Retest The pH Levels
After a few hours, retest the pH levels to ensure they have reached the appropriate level. If needed, add more baking soda.
Other Methods To Raise pH In A Pool
While baking soda is a cost-effective and easy solution to raise pH levels in a pool, there are other effective ways to increase the pH level in a pool.
Soda ash is another common pH increaser that can be used in pools. It is more potent than baking soda, so it can quickly raise the pH level by larger margins than baking soda. If your pH level is significantly below the recommended level, I recommend using soda ash over baking soda. However, keep in mind that soda ash is generally more expensive than baking soda.
Many pool supply stores will sell a product vaguely labeled as “pH increaser,” which may cost more than your standard baking soda or soda ash. Funnily enough, this product is almost always one of these two chemicals. So, always check the ingredients in the products you buy. Just because it has a fancy name doesn’t mean it is different from the baking soda in your pantry!
If you want to order online, In The Swim makes a reliable pH increaser (a fancy name for soda ash).
Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a popular alternative to traditional pool chemicals for pH control and water softening. Borax has a pH of 9.3, which is considered alkaline. Adding borax to your pool water can increase the pH level, making the water more basic.
Aeration is a natural method to raise pH levels in a pool. By adding more oxygen to the pool water, the pH levels can increase naturally. This method is particularly useful for those who prefer to avoid using chemicals in their pool. However, it can be time-consuming and ineffective for pools with severe pH imbalances.
So, What’s The Best Method?
When choosing the best method to raise pH levels in a pool, it ultimately depends on the severity of the issue and personal preference. Baking soda is an excellent solution for mild pH imbalances and pool owners looking for a more cost-effective and convenient approach. However, pools with more severe imbalances may need something stronger, like soda ash or borax. Ultimately, you must test the water and consult a pool professional to determine the best course of action for you and your pool.
Other Uses For Baking Soda In A Pool
Baking soda is an incredibly versatile product that can be used for various uses in and around a pool. Besides raising the pH and alkalinity, baking soda can also be used to:
- Clean the pool: Baking soda is a natural cleaner that can help remove stains and grime from pool surfaces. To do this, make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to any areas that need cleaning, including stains, tiles, and even the filter. Then, scrub the surface with a brush and rinse it off with water.
- Soften the water: When added to hard water, baking soda can help to neutralize some of the mineral content, making the water less hard. This can make the water feel softer and smoother on your skin.
- Help chlorine: Baking soda can help stabilize chlorine levels in a pool. When the pH is too low, chlorine becomes less effective at its job. By using baking soda to raise the pH level, chlorine can work more efficiently and effectively in keeping the pool water clean and clear.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you swim after adding baking soda to your pool?
Yes, you can swim in your pool after adding baking soda. Baking soda is a safe and natural product that will not harm swimmers. But before jumping straight into the pool, test the water to ensure the pH and alkalinity levels have stabilized.
Will baking soda clear a green pool?
Baking soda alone will not effectively clear a green pool. While it can help balance the pH and alkalinity levels, it will not kill the algae causing the green water. To clear a green pool, it’s important to use shock treatment, algaecides, and other methods specifically designed to kill and remove the algae from the water.
Have more questions about using baking soda in your swimming pool? Drop me a line! Always happy to help however I can.