To most people, chlorine is the most important chemical in keeping pool water safe for swimming. However, after adding chlorine, your pool water pH and Total Alkalinity might drop.
If alkalinity fall, it becomes quite challenging to balance the pool’s pH. And as you already know, low pool alkalinity and pH can create some adverse effects to your pool and swimmers as well, such as itchy skin and stinging eyes. The problem could extend to pool equipment corrosion.
One way you can raise pool Alkalinity, and pH balanced is by using an alkalinity and pH increaser. And you know what, most of these products come with one thing in common, sodium bicarbonate. And guess what? The tough compound is baking soda.
Baking soda is an active base that can help you raise your pool alkalinity levels. The best part is, it’s cheaper than the available alkalinity increases.
It’s a cost-effective option that helps maintain a swimming pool, Alkalinity and pH, and cleaning and cloudy water management.
What Does Baking Soda in Pool Do?
I might have hinted at the benefits of using baking soda in a pool when introducing the topic. But this chemical isn’t ideal for one use only. Here are a few ways you can use sodium bicarbonate in your swimming pool.
Increasing Pool Alkalinity
Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate comes as a naturally alkaline compound with a pH of 8. When added to pool water, it can raise both the pool alkalinity and pH, thus improving the clarity and chemical balance.
That’s why most of the commercial pool products designed to raise pool alkalinity use sodium bicarbonate as their active ingredient.
How do you know if you need to increase your pool alkalinity?
You will need to test your pool water regularly. The best testing kit to use here is a digital model that gives you the exact values.
A balanced pool alkalinity level should be between 100 and 150 parts per million (ppm), and the pH must be between 7.4 and 7.6.
But, how much baking soda do you need to raise Alkalinity in a pool?
According to pool experts, you need around 1.5 pounds of baking soda for a 10,000-gallon swimming pool. The amount is enough to raise the pool alkalinity level by about ten ppm.
If you need to raise the alkalinity level by 20 ppm, you’ll have to double it. And if your pool capacity is 20,000 gallons, you will need double the quantity for the 10,000-gallon pool and then double it. Or you can multiply it by four.
Green, Blue, or Yellow Algae Control
One problem of low Alkalinity is the growth of pool algae. If your swimming pool gets infested by algae, you might notice slimy pool walls and bottom, slippery surfaces, and dull green water.
At this point, you will need to apply algaecide to kill the algae and super chlorinate your pool water to get rid of the cloudiness.
After shocking your pool, you’ll have to test the water pH and Alkalinity. If not balanced, add baking soda in a pool to raise pH to the ideal level. Regular balancing will help control the algae growth.
And since it’s an excellent cleaning agent, it will help loosen the algae from the walls during cleaning.
Scaling Buildup Removal
When your pool water has too much calcium and the pH, alkalinity levels are low; your swimming pool is prone to scaling.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to keep your pool chemistry balanced and avoid using calcium-based disinfectants.
Baking soda will help raise the pool pH and Alkalinity, while muriatic acid can help you reduce them.
If you need to clean the scaling, buildup, surprisingly, baking soda can help you loosen the stains and make it easier to get rid of them.
Cloudy Pool Water
When your pool water is cloudy, the culprits can be your filtration system or water hardness. When the water is naturally hard or when it contains lots of minerals, your pool water can get cloudy.
The same could happen if your pool pH and Alkalinity go too low that the water starts corroding pool equipment and accessories.
The best way to solve this problem is through super chlorination. After the shock is complete, it’d be best to balance the pool pH and Alkalinity by adding baking soda slowly.
Remember, higher pH could also lead to cloudiness. So, take precautions and add the compound slowly.
How to Use Baking Soda to Increase Pool Alkalinity and pH
Baking soda is undoubtedly a cheaper but effective way to balance pool water alkalinity and pH even after chlorination.
But how do you use it? Here are a few steps to follow to balance your swimming pool’s Alkalinity and pH.
Step 1: Test the pool pH and Alkalinity
You cannot solve a problem without knowing if it exists in the first place. Use a digital pool tester to get the exact pool pH and Alkalinity.
Balanced pool water should have a pH of 7.2 to 7.8 and an Alkalinity level of 110 to 150 ppm. If your tests show lesser values, you can proceed to the next step.
If the two tests show higher readings, you will need to lower the pH and Alkalinity by adding muriatic acid. Read more about using muriatic acid here.
Step 2: Get Enough Baking Soda
What is the capacity of your swimming pool? Do you know how to calculate it? If you don’t, you can use an online calculator to find out how much water your swimming pool holds.
Once you have the capacity, you can now calculate baking soda in the pool calculator to know the exact amount you need to reach the right level.
For a 10,000-gallon pool, you need 1.5 pounds of baking soda to raise the Alkalinity by ten ppm and 3.0 pounds to raise it by 20 ppm.
If you have a 20,000-gallon pool and want to raise the Alkalinity by ten ppm, you need 3.0 pounds of baking soda. Double the quantity if you want to raise it by 20 ppm.
Step 3: Add the Baking Soda
Start by taking a 1/2 or 3/4 of overall baking soda you measured out and distribute it across your entire pool in wide arcs. In short, broadcast it.
Remember to wear your chemical-resistant gloves and safety goggles. Avoid windy days as the wind will carry away your baking soda.
Step 4: Wait for the Baking Soda to Work
After adding your baking soda, wait for about six hours to allow it to dissolve in your pool water. It’s also best to turn on the pool circulation system. It will help disperse it to all corners of the swimming pool.
Steps 5: Retest and repeat if needed
After waiting for six hours or more, retest the pool water pH and Total Alkalinity. If the Alkalinity is still below 110 ppm and pH is below 7.2, repeat these baking soda steps in your pool.
How to Use Baking Soda to Spot-Treat Algae in a Pool
As aforementioned, apart from using baking soda for raising pH and Alkalinity, you can use it for spot-treating algae in your pool. Here is a step by step guide:
Step 1: Add Algaecide
If you used algaecide during your last pool maintenance practice, you might have remained with some. If not, get some and pour it inside your pool water according to the manufacture’s instructions on the label or manual.
Step 2: Wait
Give the algae some time to circulate. Like other pool chemicals, it might take some time for the algaecide to distribute to all the pool corners. You might have to wait for around 6-10 hours.
Step 3: Add Baking Soda
After waiting for the circulation, you can now get some baking soda and sprinkle it around the affected areas. Try and make sure the compound gets into direct contact with the algae bloom.
Step 4: Scrubbing
Take your pool brush (hard brush for tile or concrete pool and soft brush for vinyl surfaces) and scrub the affected spot and watch as the algae disappear. Leave the pool filtration system on overnight for the filters to do their cleaning work.
Note: Avoid adding too much baking soda in pool as it could raise your pool pH and Alkalinity above the safe range and causing a cloudy pool. If you’re unsure if the amount you used to clean the algae affected your pool chemistry, you can also retest the water. If too high, get muriatic acid and start lowering it.
What are the Best Baking Soda Alternatives for Raising pH Levels
Even though baking soda is an effective, most recommended solution for raising low pH and alkalinity levels in a swimming pool, sometimes, it might not be enough.
An example is a swimming pool with a balanced alkalinity level but a slightly low pH level. In such a case, the use of baking soda isn’t the best move.
You can use soda ash, or sodium carbonate is another naturally alkaline compound. It will work just fine. And the best part is, it will affect the pool pH and leave the Alkalinity level untouched.
Another alternative is Borax, a type of chemical or salt produced from boric acid. It’s a common ingredient in most cleaning recipes and small gold mining operations. The compound can also help clean and maintain pool water pH.
Unlike sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate, Borax can adjust pool pH slowly without affecting total Alkalinity. You can get it at a local grocery store near you and an affordable price.
One added advantage of Borax is, it does help prevent algae growth, and it acts as a natural water softener; it makes pool water softer, meaning you’ll get to enjoy a crystal clear pool.
Baking Soda vs. Soda Ash
Baking soda is best known for raising pool Alkalinity with a slight rising effect on pH, while soda ash is ideal for raising pool pH with a slight raising effect on Alkalinity.
If you want to raise both total Alkalinity and pH simultaneously, you could add both compounds but keep an eye on the quantity you use.
In short, use baking soda when you need to raise the pool alkalinity and soda ash when raising the pool pH.
Borax vs. Baking Soda in Pool
With baking soda being an alkalinity increaser that also affects the pH, Borax prevents pH fluctuation without affecting Alkalinity.
It works like sodium carbonate but with no effect on total Alkalinity. It does also prevent algae growth by keeping the pH level constant. That allows the sanitizer to protect your pool effectively.
When dissolving in pool water, Borax remains there permanently; it doesn’t evaporate. That ensures you get to enjoy softer, sparkling water and prevents chloramines from forming. It’s an excellent way to save on pool sanitizer.
However, you might need to add it after balancing the water pH and Alkalinity using baking soda. Borax is more of a protector than a stabilizer.
Can I Shock Pool After Adding Baking Soda?
One requirement of pool shocking is pool chemistry balancing. You have to balance the pool chemistry before you can shock it, and baking soda helps you balance the pool alkalinity.
So, yes, you can shock your pool after adding baking soda, and you might need to add it again after shocking the pool to keep the Alkalinity balanced.
Are There Risks When You Baking Soda in a Pool?
There are no risks involved when you add baking soda to your pool. However, there is a risk if you add too much and raise the Alkalinity too high.
When the pool pH and alkalinity levels are too low, and you get acidic water. It starts to feed on the pool ladders, tiles, liner, and other parts, causing corrosion.
When you try to solve the problem and add too much baking soda to your pool, you risk getting pool scaling buildup around the pool equipment.
Your pool water becomes hard and cloudy too. It’s not safe to swim in such water. Apart from getting skin rashes, you’ll get red eyes too.
That’s why it’s crucial to keep the pH levels between 7.4 and 7.6 and Alkalinity levels between 100 and 150 ppm. Try and test your pool water daily or thrice a week and balance the chemicals when necessary.
Another risk involved is when you spread the baking soda on a windy day and without wearing safety glasses. The feeling could be excruciating. However, it’s safe, and you can get rid of it by washing your face with water.
It’s not a new chemical; sodium bicarbonate use can be dated back to ancient Egypt, with ancient Egyptians using it to clean teeth.
After thousands of years, we use the same sodium carbonate for cleaning, including teeth cleaning. It’s even marked as a safe and direct food additive by FDA.
If you can use it as an ingredient in your baking recipes, what is the problem with using it to stabilize your pool chemicals?
Baking soda gives an easy way to raise pool Alkalinity and pH. You don’t have to waste your money on those commercial alkaline-increasing products anymore. Rush to your grocery store and pick two, three, or four bags of baking soda and balances your pool pH and Alkalinity instead. Use the above guidelines to use the compound correctly. If you run into any problem, leave a comment, and I will get back to you.