Baking soda is an alkaline chemical with a pH of 8, and it’s a cheap and effective chemical you can use for increasing alkalinity in your pool.
The chemical works by neutralizing the acidity of your pool.
It can feel quite uncomfortable to swim in a pool with a low alkalinity level, and using baking soda can help resolve this issue.
With that said, let’s talk about baking soda in more detail.
How to treat low alkalinity in your pool with baking soda
How to measure alkalinity in your pool
The initial step to adding any pool chemical into your pool is determining the amount of chemical your pool needs accurately.
You can either use test strips or use a smart test kit to test your pool chemical level. You can also take your pool sample to a local pool store to get it tested.
If you are using a product like the Taylor test kit, you can follow these steps.
1. Hold your container upside down and lower it into the water.
2. Flip it and bring it up to fill up your container with the pool water.
3. Add two drops of sodium thiosulfate and swirl the tube to mix it well.
4. Next, add five drops of the total alkalinity indicator reagent. Swirl the tube to mix.
5. You should see your water turn green.
6. You can now add sulfuric acid reagent, one drop at a time, while swirling your container after each drop.
7. Stop adding drops once the tube turns red from green.
8. You can then multiply the number of sulfuric acid drops added by 10, which will be your total alkalinity level in parts per million.
Your ideal alkalinity level should be anywhere between 80 to 100 parts per million.
Try to test your pool alkalinity level about once a month at least, and ideally around once a week.
7 steps to raising alkalinity in your pool using baking soda
Follow these seven steps to add baking soda into your pool after you’ve figured out the total alkalinity level.
1. Determine the amount of baking soda you’ll need to raise your pool’s alkalinity level to a normal range.
2. Put an empty bucket on a scale, tare it, and weigh the proper amount of baking soda.
3. With baking soda in your bucket, pour some of your pool water into the bucket to pre-mix.
4. Before adding baking soda into your pool, make sure your pump is on to help chemicals circulate.
5. Now, you can go ahead and pour baking soda on the deep end of your pool.
6. Let your pool sit for a couple of hours.
7. Re-test the pool and make adjustments if needed.
Do not test your pool water immediately after making the adjustments; it won’t give you accurate readings.
How much baking soda to raise alkalinity in a pool?
If you want to raise your pool’s total alkalinity by 10 parts per million, you’d want to add one ¼ lb of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water.
If you have 20,000 gallons of water in your pool, you’d simply add double the amount, which equates to 2.5 lb of baking soda.
Try to avoid adding too much at once. It’s better to add a little less than adding too much.
If you don’t add enough, you can simply add more after re-testing your pool.
But in case you add too much, you may have to add acid to lower the pH back to normal, which is an extra chemical that you probably don’t want in your pool.
How long to wait after adding baking soda to a pool?
In most cases, you’d want to wait at least a few hours before jumping back into the pool after you add chemicals.
But with baking soda, it’s fine to start swimming in your pool immediately after adding them.
It’s a very safe chemical that’s used in cooking and cleaning, so it doesn’t pose any threat to your bodily health.
If you are curious how long you should wait to re-test your pool’s alkalinity after adding baking soda, you should wait around five to six hours.
This will give some time for baking soda to dissolve and spread throughout your pool water fully.
Ensure that the pump is running during this time to help facilitate the process.
Advantages of baking soda for your pool
1) Pool owners sometimes add too much acid when trying to sanitize their pools.
The pool then ends up with a low pH and alkalinity, and a good way to restore balance is by adding baking soda.
2) It’s a sign of low alkalinity when your pool liner or pipes start to corrode, which you can also treat with baking soda.
3) Baking soda is also effective for treating a low alkalinity level that results from aggressive treatments of algae.
4) Although baking soda does not actually soften your pool water, it can make the water ‘feel’ smoother and more comfortable on your skin.
Risks of using baking soda in a pool
When you add too much baking soda to your pool, the change in pH and alkalinity that results from baking soda can cause slight discomfort to your body.
And although rare, baking soda overdose can also cause cloudy water due to increased pH level.
Moreover, it can contribute to a build-up of calcium in your pool if used in excess.
The ingestion of baking soda can cause problems, such as gas, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain.
But these aren’t problems you need to worry about when using baking soda for your pool.
Overall, baking soda really doesn’t have too many risks for your body.
They are used for many different purposes in our everyday lives, so there isn’t much to worry about.
Soda ash as an alternative to baking soda for raising pH
Soda ash can be a cost-effective alternative to baking soda.
Just like baking soda, it will raise pH and alkalinity by neutralizing acids in your pool.
That said, soda ash is much more effective than baking soda for raising pH. In fact, it’s more than 1000 times basic than baking soda.
So even a little bit of soda ash can have a much bigger impact on your pool pH than baking soda.
For this reason, it’s a preferred option if you are primarily concerned with increasing the pH level of your pool.
When you add soda ash into your pool, your pool can turn white and cloudy.
So I recommend you run the pool equipment for a few hours after pouring soda ash to help them disperse throughout your pool.
How much soda ash to add to your pool
Six ounces of soda ash will increase the pH level by about 0.2 per 10,000 gallons of water.
In other words, if your pool pH is around 7.0, you’d likely need approximately 24 ounces of soda ash to reach the pH level of 7.6
On the contrary, you’ll barely notice any difference in the pH level when you add a similar amount of baking soda into your pool.
If you want to see the same level of increase in pH using baking soda, you’ll need to add more than 20 lbs, which is a considerable amount.
But more importantly, soda ash makes a minimal difference to your pool alkalinity level, unlike baking soda.
So, if your pool has a low pH level with normal alkalinity, soda ash will be your best friend.
Drawbacks of using soda ash
As we’ve briefly discussed earlier, soda ash causes your pool to turn cloudy.
This happens because soda ash’s high pH causes the pH level of water within its vicinity to rise substantially.
When the pH level goes up, bicarbonate ions convert to carbonate ions more rapidly.
Calcium is drawn to carbonate ions and forms calcium carbonate. This chemical compound precipitates, which shows up as cloudiness in the pool.
Additionally, calcium carbonate compounds can attach to the wall of your pool, causing scaling.
Although water cloudiness is not something that should concern you too much, it can certainly look unappealing.
To fix this issue, you can chelate the calcium with a concentrated metal chelant to stop it from binding to soda ash.
It’s also important to make sure your free chlorine level is at an optimal level.
How long to wait to swim after adding soda ash
With soda ash, you don’t need to wait long until you can swim.
Usually, it suffices to wait twenty minutes to an hour before you jump back into your pool.
Don’t forget to turn your pool pump on after you pour soda ash to help them circulate better.
Soda ash is a chemical compound that can pose problems when exposed in large quantities.
For instance, when you inhale soda ash in large doses, you can experience problems, such as respiratory irritation and coughing.
If too much soda ash gets on your eyes, it can also cause eye problems.
That said, you normally don’t need worry about any of these with the amount of soda ash you add to your pool water.
Both baking soda and soda ash are effective chemicals for managing your pool chemistry.
Specifically, soda ash helps to balance out the pH level of your pool by raising the pH.
On the other hand, baking soda works better for raising the alkalinity of the pool water.
They are easy to handle and safe to use compared to many other chemicals.
Even better, there’s no reason to purchase an over-priced alkalinity increaser since you can easily buy baking soda from any store and get the same result for your pool.
Lastly, I want to emphasize that one of the fundamentals of taking good care of your pool is to accurately and routinely test your pool chemistry.
It’s the most important step to maintaining an ideal range of alkalinity between 80 to 120 parts per million and a pH level of 7.4.
So, I recommend you get a reliable test kit.
Otherwise, you can simply hire a pool professional to help you with weekly maintenance.