Having a pool has a way of turning you the owner into a chemist, without you knowing it. With so many tests and measurements needed to ensure the quality and safety of your pool, you will find yourself working almost like a chemist in your free time. With baking soda, however, you can maintain the quality of water in your pool, without having to go through the stress of running so many tests. Baking soda is safe and straightforward to use, while also providing your pool with a clean, clear, sparkling water that is pleasant to swim in. Baking soda does not sting the eyes; neither can it cause drying of the skin.
In case you are wondering how baking soda works, and how you can use it to improve the water quality of your pool, just keep on reading as I open you up to the many benefits of this excellent substance.
Can Baking Soda Be Used to Clean a Pool?
Maybe you have heard the rumors, and you are still in doubt about how you can clean your pool by merely adding a baking soda, then this article will help clear your doubt. To start with, let me help you understand how baking soda works. Baking soda doesn’t really “clean” your pool per se, what it does is to maintain the PH level of the water in your pool. Maintaining the PH level of the water means keeping your pool healthy. Baking soda scrub is used for cleaning pool tiles.
About the PH levels and Alkalinity of a Pool
PH level of water is one of the most important factors to consider when cleaning a pool. Maintaining the right PH will ensure that your pool is healthy enough to swim in. A high PH level indicates that the water is alkaline, whereas a low PH level signifies acidic water. Acidic water is a problem for both the swimmer and the pool itself. It can cause drying out of both the skin and hair and may also cause corrosion of pool tiles and fixtures.
Factors like rainfall, which have a PH level of 4-5, can sometimes change the PH level of your pool to make it more acidic and sometimes this causes damage to the pool, leading to repair or remodeling of the pool. Other factors that may influence the PH level of your pool include organic debris, body fluids, and chlorine. This goes to show how important it is to keep the PH level of your pool in check always.
Due to its ever-increasing acidity, alkalizing agents are always added to pool water to help maintain the PH level. Alkalinity is a measure of how much acid your pool water can absorb. It does this by absorbing hydrogen, which it uses to create neutral bicarbonate ions.
In other words, PH levels represent the current acidic level of your pool, whereas alkalinity measures your pool’s ability to break down acid. On a scale of 0-14 on the PH scale, with 7 being the neutral point, you would want your pool to lie between 7.2-7.8 (slightly alkaline).
How Does Baking Soda Work in a Pool?
Healthwise, baking soda is used to minimize heartburn, and it does this by neutralizing the acid content of the body. Due to its acid-neutralizing ability, baking soda can also be used in acidic pools to offset the acid content of the pool, such that they become reduced to comfortable neutrality (slightly alkaline) that is not harmful to the skin. An acidic pool is both corrosive and irritating.
Baking soda can work wonders in a pool. Baking soda can:
- Help to clear cloudy water and restore the sparkle
- Spot-treat algae
- Make the pool water softer on your skin.
- Prevent corrosion and damage to pool equipment
- Complement the effectiveness of chlorine
The PH of baking soda is 8.3, which means that it is highly alkaline. The bicarbonates contained in a baking soda are both positively and negatively charged. It can attract new ions and form a stable compound that settles outside of the water. The presence of positive and negatively charged ends allows the bicarbonates of baking soda to accept both acidic and alkaline ions, depending on what PH you are trying to achieve. In other words, baking soda can act both as an acid or a base in a solution depending on the environment you are subjecting it to.
How Does Baking Soda Work With Chlorine To Clean A Pool?
Due to the versatile nature of chlorine, it can also be used to clean an acidic pool with a low PH level. But, to get the best out of chlorine in cleaning your pool, your pool water needs to be slightly alkaline.
However, keeping the chlorine level of your pool in check does not necessarily guarantee a comfortable swimming pool. Your pool can still feel cloudy and uncomfortable to swim in because an acidic pool would most likely have too much chloramine present in it, which will end up stinging the eyes while also producing some “pool smell.” So, it is essential to keep the PH level and chlorine level of your pool water in check to achieve a comfortable swimming pool.
Are There Any Risks From Using Baking Soda In A Pool?
It is quite reasonable to find that those who haven’t tried using baking soda to clean their pool and those who don’t understand how it works will be concerned about the risk factor involved in using baking soda. However, I am here to reassure you that baking soda is safe to use for pool cleaning. Due to its inherent quality of being able to behave as an acid or a base, it can conveniently adjust the acidity and alkalinity of a pool without any harmful side effects.
Depending on what PH you wish to achieve, adding a little baking soda will simply not affect the PH level of your pool, thereby causing it to remain almost the same way (acidic). However, adding too much baking soda might also raise the PH level of your pool to an undesired stage (alkaline).
In the case where too much baking soda is added to hard water, it can cause a build-up of calcium around your pool. Too much calcium can cause cloudiness around a pool, while also building up scales on the surface of the pool. These scales that are produced by excess baking soda in hard water can cause problems as they tend to block your pool filters.
Remember, we discussed earlier how pool water is always tending towards acidic levels due to naturally occurring factors like rainfall? With that in mind, you need to understand now that the only factor that can make a pool water alkaline is when it has been adjusted incorrectly by adding too much baking soda.
Experts advise that you add the right quantity of baking soda and allow it to dissolve for about 24 hours, after which you can retest again to see if you have achieved the desired result or adjustments still need to be made.
How to Clean Your Pool Using Baking Soda
The following is a step by step guide on how to use baking soda in washing your pool:
Run a test to determine the alkalinity and PH level of your pool. A PH level less than the standard minimum of 7.2 indicates that you need to add baking soda to help move the PH towards 7.2 to avoid having acidic water in your pool.
The next step is to determine the right amount of baking soda that you can add to achieve the desired 7.2-7.8 range for your pool. Also, the desired alkalinity for the PH level mentioned above is 100ppm. As per standard, 1.25 pounds of baking soda is enough to raise the PH level of a 10,000-gallon pool by 10ppm, so to achieve a 100ppm alkalinity, you would need 12.5 pounds of baking soda for a 100,000 gallon of pool water.
This is the time to purchase your baking soda. You can get baking soda directly from suppliers, manufacturers, or online stores. Given the fact that you would need lots of it, you may likely not find your local grocery store packed with several pounds of baking soda.
This is the part where you add the necessary quantity of baking soda to your pool. However, you have to start small. You can’t afford to add the whole amount of soda that you feel might be enough (according to your calculation) at once, as this can lead to your PH level deviating far from the desired PH.
As a rule, you don’t add more than 2.5 pounds of baking soda in a day. Instead, start off adding the required amount (e.g., 1.25 for 10,000 gallons of water) of baking soda that can raise the alkalinity of your pool to 10ppm. You can sprinkle your baking soda over the surface of the pool, or you pour into a skimmer.
Once this is achieved, you stir the pool using a circular motion, as this will help the soda dissolve quickly and also prevent cloudiness around the pool.
After proper stirring, give it time to circulate, say 6-10 hours for adequate circulation. Although the time of distribution largely depends on pool size. A larger pool will take more time to stabilize, whereas a smaller pool will take less time.
Repeat the same process if, after testing, you did not get the desired PH.
How To Use Baking Soda To Spot-Treat Algae In A Pool
It is common to find some form of black or brown spots around the pool sometimes. These black and brown spots are a result of algae. However, there is no need for you to panic as I will show you how to spot-treat algae problems in a pool.
Visit your grocery store, purchase any algae killing product, and proceed to add it into your pool by following the manufacturer’s instructions written on the labeling.
Allow the algae to kill the product to circulate. Again, the time taken for this product to distribute is dependent on the size of your pool. However, it may take anywhere between 6 and 10 hours.
After proper circulation of the algae killing product, sprinkle your baking soda, allowing it to have direct contact with the problem area.
Now, scrub the affected area using a pool brush and watch how the algae disappear.
Alternatives To Baking Soda For Raising PH Levels
Although baking soda is effective and recommended by most for adjusting both PH and alkalinity levels in a pool, there are certain cases where other substances might work best. For example, a pool with the right amount of alkalinity level may possess a slightly lower PH level, in which case using baking soda may not be the ideal option. However, a compound like soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate, will work just fine for the scenario discussed above, in which case adding it in small quantity will only affect the PH, leaving your alkalinity level untouched.
E.g.: To adjust the PH level of a 10,000-gallon pool from 7.2 to 7.6 would require about 21 pounds of baking soda. However, a closer look would indicate that the amount of baking soda mentioned would only so more damage by increasing the level of alkalinity to 150 ppm, more than is required for a healthy and comfortable pool. With the use of soda ash; however, it would only take 12.2 ounces of soda ash in 10,000 gallons of the pool to move the PH level of the pool from 7.2 to 7.6. What is more, is that this soda ash process will only add 10ppm or less to the total alkalinity of the pool.
The pH level of baking soda is 8.3, so it takes a lot of it to raise a pool’s overall pH level. The upside is that using baking soda will never make a pool’s pH level higher than 8.3 (and if the pool’s pH level is higher, baking soda will lower it). Still, it’s better at adjusting the overall alkalinity of the water.
The Most Significant Advantage of Both Baking Soda and Soda Ash
Soda ash has a very high PH level of 11.4, thus making it ideal for increasing the acidity of water, without having much effect on alkalinity.
However, baking soda which has a PH level of 8.3, and can also be used for adjusting the PH level of a pool, but will have more impact on the alkalinity level as we saw in the example mentioned above. Overall, baking soda is ideal for adjusting the alkalinity of a pool, than it is for improving the PH level-even though it can also be used to an extent. Whereas soda ash is best at adjusting the PH level without impacting much on the overall alkalinity of the pool, as only a small quantity of it would be required to raise the acidity level of a pool.
Baking soda provides a simple and effective means to keep your pool neat and healthy, while also providing a safe and comfortable swimming pool for you. However, for a more technical approach to adjusting the PH level of your pool without having to affect the alkalinity, you may want to consider using soda ash.