Maintaining a swimming pool can be challenging—and expensive at that. Spending money on industrial pH balancers or pool stabilizers may seem like a waste when you have baking soda at hand. Of course, you can use this household product for cooking and cleaning, but can it help your pool?
Baking soda is an alkaline substance that can reduce the acidity in your pool. Keep reading to learn how baking soda affects your pool’s chemistry and how you can use it.
Is Baking Soda Really a Good Option for Cleaning Your Pool?
While baking soda can clean counters, drains, and even teeth, it will not do much to clean your pool water. A baking soda scrub can brighten furniture, tiles, steps, and grout around your pool, but it cannot replace chlorine or other chemicals that make the water clean.
However, baking soda can stabilize the pH levels in your pool.
What Does Baking Soda Do to Your Pool Water Chemistry?
The ideal pH for a pool is 7.4 in the summer and 7.8 in the winter. Higher pH levels are alkaline, while lower ones are acidic, with 7.0 being neutral. The recommended pH shows slight alkalinity.
Your pool’s chemistry changes with chlorine, rain, and temperature, so you need to work to maintain a stable pH level. Chlorine can reduce your pool’s pH, and rain has a pH of 4-5. If your pool water is too acidic, it may damage your pool equipment. Furthermore, it can cause your eyes to sting or skin to itch.
Pools that lean towards acidic levels can experience pH bounce when you add more chemicals. Alkalinity creates stability, and reducing it hinders the chlorine’s efficacy and water’s comfort. You will need to add more chlorine to sanitize the pool, which can drive up maintenance costs.
One way to raise the pH level is to add baking soda. You will need pounds of it to affect the alkalinity, but it can inexpensively balance your pool’s chemistry. You can use my pool alkalinity calculator to figure out how much baking soda you need.
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, has an 8.3 pH. The bicarbonate ions have a negative and positive end. When oppositely charged ions connect to the bicarbonate’s terminals, they create a solid compound that behaves as a pH buffer. Technically, baking soda can act as an acidic or alkaline substance because it stabilizes the pH to approximately 8.3.
However, high alkalinity levels can create scaling buildup. Since baking soda attempts to bring the pool water to an 8.3 pH, too much of the substance may lead to pool scaling. You would need to add muriatic acid to lower the pH levels to 7.8 or less if that occurs.
Nevertheless, it would take a massive amount of baking soda to increase the pH that high. So, for the most part, you will remain in the desired range.
Pros and Cons of Using Baking Soda in Your Pool
Baking soda can correct many common problems in your pool. Make sure you contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of using this product before buying ten boxes.
- Baking soda can reduce corrosion in your pool
- After using an algaecide, baking soda can normalize pH levels
- You can find baking soda-based pool maintenance products
- Baking soda is a naturally occurring compound (NaHCO3)
- It can spot-treat algae
- When combined with chlorine, it can clear cloudy water
- Softens the pool water
- Reduces the amount of chlorine necessary to sanitize the water
- It poses little risk to the pool and people
- You need to add a significant amount, or else it will not increase the pH
- Adding too much can create calcium buildup, which leads to cloudy water, scaling buildup, and clogged filters
- You need to test the pH levels frequently to ensure you have added enough
How to Use Baking Soda to Clean Your Pool
You can use baking soda to clean your pool in multiple ways.
Begin by testing your pool’s pH and total alkalinity levels. The pH should at least be 7.2, but ideally, a little higher. Also, your alkalinity should lie between 80 to 110 ppm. If the levels fall outside these ranges, you should add baking soda.
The ideal alkalinity is 100 ppm. Every 1.25 pounds of baking soda you add raises 10,000 gallons of water by ten ppm alkalinity. Use this rule with your pool’s capacity to increase it by the desired amount.
For a more straightforward formula, multiply the gallon capacity of your pool by 0.000125 to determine how many pounds you should purchase. Many pool supply stores sell large bags of baking soda that should meet your needs.
When you add baking soda to the pool, start with the minimum amount to raise your alkalinity by ten ppm. Then, you can put it in your skimmer or sprinkle it over the surface in a circular motion. Ensure you keep the water flowing to prevent cloudy water.
Wait about 6-10 hours for the water to circulate and test the levels. If they are still too low, you can add more baking soda. Try not to add more than 2.5 pounds a day. It may take a few days to reach the desired alkalinity level.
Baking Soda to Reduce Corrosion
If your pool’s pH leans towards acidic, it may experience corrosion on the ladders, pipes, tiles, or liner. Test the pool’s alkalinity levels and pH, and add baking soda by following the above steps.
As a general rule, you will need about eight pounds of baking soda to eliminate corrosion; however, this value changes based on your pool’s volume.
Baking Soda to Remove Blue, Black, Brown, Green, and Yellow Algae
To start, purchase an algaecide and follow the product’s instructions when putting it in your pool. Let the algaecide circulate for 6-10 hours, depending on your pool’s capacity. Then, sprinkle in baking soda around the algae spot and scrub it with a pool brush.
More widespread problems require hyper-chlorination to sanitize the water thoroughly. Chlorine and algae killers both lower your pool’s alkalinity, so you can add more baking soda to boost the levels. Make sure you test the pH to keep it within safe levels.
Baking Soda to Clear Cloudy Pool Water
Cloudy water has many causes, including:
- High total alkalinity
- Imbalanced chlorine and pH levels
- High calcium hardness levels
- Too much phosphate or bromine
- Frequent cyanuric acid use
Any imbalance can hinder water clarity. For example, excessively high alkalinity levels lead to calcium and pH scaling, which create cloudiness. You would need to add muriatic acid and aerate the pool to balance the pH and alkalinity values.
High pH can cause calcium not to dissolve correctly, which leads to cloudiness and scaling. In this case, you would add acid to reduce the pH.
Contrarily, low pH makes chlorine readily reactive and depletes it too quickly. Acidic water harbors chloramine that can make the water cloudy, and it prevents the chlorine from killing microorganisms. Adding baking soda using the above steps can balance the pH and make the chlorine effective again.
If the calcium hardness levels are too high, you will get excess calcium that does not dissolve and accumulates in the water. This calcium causes cloudiness, scaling, and clogged filters. In addition, without a functioning filtration system, your pool will collect debris that dirties the water.
Unfortunately, baking soda cannot reduce calcium hardness. You will need to drain the water partially and refill it. Then, test the pH to see if you need to add baking soda. Try to keep the calcium hardness values between 200-400 ppm.
Accumulated bromine and phosphate require the same treatment as calcium to clear the water.
If you use too much cyanuric acid, you may get cloudy water. Make sure you balance your cyanuric acid and free chlorine levels to minimize the ammonia in the pool. Use a chlorine/cyanuric acid chart to guide you when adding chemicals to your pool.
As soon as you notice your pool becoming cloudy, make sure to use a chemical testing kit that covers free, combined, and total chlorine; pH; total alkalinity; calcium hardness; phosphate and bromine; cyanuric acid; and metals like biguanide, copper, and iron.
You can usually cure cloudy water by hyper-chlorinating it. Then, test your pH and add baking soda slowly to balance the levels between 7.2 and 7.8.
Baking Soda Vs. Soda Ash
Pool owners can often get confused between baking soda and soda ash and which to use in their pool. They are not the same thing and soda ash does a slightly better job of adjusting pH levels vs. total alkalinity. Read my full guide on baking soda vs. soda ash in your pool for more.
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Baking Soda Is a Powerful Tool for Your Pool
Baking soda is a miracle product: you can keep your fridge smelling fresh, bake cookies, brush your teeth, and clean almost anything with it.
Since sodium bicarbonate is a pH buffer, you can use it to stabilize your pool water’s pH levels. It can boost total alkalinity as well, making it a low-cost tool to maintain your pool.
Whether you have corrosion, algae, or cloudiness, baking soda can help you get your pool back to standard, healthy conditions.
Next time you visit your local pool supply store, see if they have any giant bags of baking soda. You never know when you might need a natural pH balancer. If you’re curious about what other products laying around your house could help with your pool, check out my full guide on household products you can use in your pool.
Have questions? Let me know, always happy to help any way I can.