Maintaining a swimming pool is no easy feat. Keeping up with your chemical and pH levels can be frustrating, as little things can throw off the whole balance. Spending money on industrial pH balancers or pool stabilizers can also get expensive, so you may ask yourself: are there any household products you could use to stabilize your pool?
Baking soda is a common 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.
- Baking soda is a cheap household option that can be used as a pH buffer in your pool.
- Baking soda has a few different uses for your pool, such as: balancing the alkalinity, spot-cleaning algae, and preventing corrosion.
- You will have to use lots of baking soda as a balancing agent, requiring chemical testing.
- Baking soda is not necessarily a substitute for chlorine or algaecide, but can be used alongside these products.
- Baking soda and soda ash are commonly mistaken as the same thing, but are different chemical compounds with different uses.
Is Baking Soda a Good Option for Cleaning Your Pool?
While baking soda can be used to clean counters, drains, and even teeth, it is not practical to use it 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 be used to stabilize the pH levels in your pool.
What Does Baking Soda Do to Your Pool Water Chemistry?
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is an alkaline substance with a pH of 8.3. If your pool water is acidic, you can use baking soda in large quantities to stabilize the water. This is a much more cost-effective option than buying specialized alkalinity stabilizers.
How Does Baking Soda Affect pH?
The ideal pH for a pool is 7.4 in the summer and 7.8 in the winter. Higher pH levels are alkaline, meaning the water is a base, while a lower pH level indicates acidic water, with 7.0 being neutral.
If you test your pool water and find the pH to be less than 7.4, you will need to bring the water back to a neutral level. Water with a low pH can irritate the skin and eyes. And since acidic water is caustic, it can erode your pool equipment and damage certain liners.
Baking soda can be used to increase the pH level. I recommend adding the baking soda little by little (2-3 pounds at a time), testing as you go, to prevent adding too much and making the water alkaline. You can use my pool alkalinity calculator to determine how much baking soda you need.
How Does Baking Soda Affect Alkalinity?
Pool alkalinity is described as pool water’s ability to neutralize acids. When you raise the pH level, you will also generally raise the alkalinity.
Baking soda is an excellent tool for making the alkalinity higher, but it is important to look out for how much baking soda is being added to not create a high alkaline environment.
High alkalinity levels can create some issues in your pool. 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 and alkalinity levels to 7.8 or less. You can also use baking soda to counteract it if there is too much muriatic acid in your pool. You can read my complete research on what muriatic acid does for your pool to see a step-by-step guide on using this chemical.
Pros and Cons of Using Baking Soda in Your Pool
Baking soda can correct many common problems in your pool. In this section, I list some pros and cons of using this substance.
- Baking soda can reduce corrosion in your pool
- After using an algaecide, baking soda can normalize pH levels
- Baking soda is a naturally occurring compound (NaHCO3)
- Sometimes used to 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 swimmers
- 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. Here are a couple of ways to use it with step-by-step breakdowns.
Raising the Alkalinity and Preventing Corrosion
Step one: Test your levels
Begin by testing your pool’s pH and total alkalinity levels. The pH should be at least 7.2, but ideally around 7.4-7.6. Your alkalinity should lie between 80 to 110 ppm. If the levels fall outside these ranges, you should add baking soda.
Step two: Determine how much baking soda to use
The ideal alkalinity is 100 ppm. Every 1.25 pounds of baking soda you add raises 10,000 gallons of water by ten ppm of 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.
Step three: Add the baking soda
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.
Using Baking Soda to Remove Algae
Pools with slimy walls, green water, and slippery surfaces may have algae. Baking soda can spot-treat the algae when combined with an algaecide. However, baking soda cannot be used to clear green pool water entirely.
Widespread pool issues require hyper-chlorination or shock 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 afterward. And, yes, it is okay to shock your pool after adding baking soda.
Step one: Purchase algaecide
Purchase an algaecide meant for the type of algae you are dealing with (green, yellow, or black).
Step two: Pour the algaecide into the water
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when putting the product in your pool. Make sure not to add too much, as it can decrease the pH and alkalinity of the water.
Step three: Allow the algaecide to circulate
Let the algaecide circulate for 6-10 hours, depending on your pool’s capacity. Then it is time to use some baking soda.
Step four: Use baking soda to spot clean the algae
Sprinkle some baking soda directly on your pool brush, pour some around the algae spot, and scrub it with your pool brush.
Using Baking Soda to Clear Cloudy Pool Water
There are a few causes of cloudy pool water, including:
- High total alkalinity
- Imbalanced chlorine and pH levels
- High calcium hardness levels
- Too much phosphate or bromine
- Frequent cyanuric acid use
Low pH makes chlorine readily reactive and depletes it quickly. Acidic water harbors chloramine, which can make the water cloudy, preventing the chlorine from killing microorganisms. Adding baking soda using the above steps can balance the pH and make the chlorine effective again. Check out my article on how to clear a cloudy pool for all the steps you should take.
Baking soda’s primary use in swimming pools is its ability to balance low pH levels, but it can also kill algae spots.
Any imbalance can hinder water clarity. On the other hand, excessively high alkalinity levels lead to calcium and pH scaling, which creates cloudiness as well. This means that adding too much baking soda can create the same problem that it is trying to fix and make the water cloudy. Make sure to calculate the amount of baking soda to use and add the baking soda in increments to prevent raising the pH level.
Unfortunately, baking soda does not decrease calcium hardness. You will need to partially drain and refill the pool to fix this.
Baking Soda vs. Soda Ash
Pool owners often get confused between baking soda and soda ash and which to use in their pool. Soda ash (sodium carbonate) does a slightly better job adjusting pH levels vs. total alkalinity, while baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) does better at adjusting alkalinity than pH. Read my complete guide on baking soda vs. soda ash in your pool for more information on their major differences.
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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 also boost total alkalinity, making it a low-cost tool for maintaining your pool.
Whether dealing with corrosion, algae, or cloudiness, baking soda can help you get your pool back to standard, healthy conditions.
Baking soda can even help you neutralize a muriatic acid spill.
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 lying around your house could help with your pool, check out my complete guide on household products you can use in your swimming pool.
Do you have questions? Let me know; I’m always happy to help in any way I can.