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How To Raise Your Pool’s Alkalinity with Baking Soda

by Matt Giovanisci | Last Updated: July 8, 2020

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Here’s a secret for pool owners. Some brands of alkalinity increaser have just one active ingredient: sodium bicarbonate. Well, guess what? Sodium bicarbonate is baking soda.

Baking soda raises alkalinity levels in your pool. AND it can be less expensive than Alkalinity Increaser.

How do you know if you need to increase your alkalinity? Test your pool water daily. Your alkalinity levels should be between 100 and 150 ppm or parts per million. And increasing alkalinity affects pH, which should be between 7.4 and 7.6.

How Much Baking Soda Do I Add To My Pool?

As a rule of thumb, use 1.5 pounds (680 grams) of baking soda per 10,000 gallons (37,854 liters) of pool water. This should raise the alkalinity by about 10 parts per million (ppm). Or you can use the chart below.

Baking Soda Dosage Chart

If you’re not sure how much water your pool holds, check out our pool calculator.

Once you know your pool’s volume, and you’ve measured out the baking soda, don’t add it all at once! If you adjust the alkalinity too much in either direction, it can affect the pH as well.

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How to Add Baking Soda to Your Pool

Start by adding just 1/2 or 3/4 of the baking soda you’ve measured out. Rather than just dumping it into the pool water in one spot, distribute it in wide arcs across the entire pool. This is also referred to as “broadcasting.”

You can also safely add baking soda through your skimmer. But it’ll take longer to fully incorporate in your swimming pool. We recommend the broadcasting method.

Be sure to wear chemical-resistant goggles and gloves. And it’s best not to do this on a windy day. An eyeful of baking soda does NOT feel good.

Let the baking soda circulate and dissolve for at least six hours. Keep the filtration system running during that time. Then using a liquid test kit or test strips, check both the total alkalinity and pH levels.

If the levels are still off, repeat the process. If they’re where they should be, congrats! You just saved money taking care of your swimming pool!

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What if the Alkalinity is Too High?

If you’ve added too much baking soda, don’t worry. You have a few options:

  1. Keep the filter system running and simply wait for the alkalinity to drop down to the normal level.
  2. Add some water to the pool to dilute the baking soda. This will also dilute your other chemicals.
  3. Use muriatic acid to lower total alkalinity fast. This will also lower pH.

Frustrated by adding chemicals and trying to keep your pool clear all the time?

We cut out all the confusion of pool maintenance in this easy-to-read illustrated ebook and video course. It'll help you save $100 right away on pool care!

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The Pool Care Handbook

Baking Soda Vs. Soda Ash

There’s a very distinct difference between these chemicals and the jobs they do.

For example, getting a pH reading around 7.2 to 7.6 in 10,000 gallons (37,854 liters) of pool water would take roughly 21 pounds of baking soda. This would also increase the Total Alkalinity by roughly 150 ppm (parts per million). And that’s way too much!

But if we wanted to increase the pH of the pool by 0.5, we could use roughly 12 ounces (340 grams) of soda ash. That would only increase the total alkalinity by roughly 8 ppm.

In other words, use baking soda to increase alkalinity and soda ash to increase pH.

Fixing Other Pool Maintenance Problems

While baking soda is mainly used for raising alkalinity, it can also be used for other parts of your pool. And there are also a few common myths we’d like to bust while we’re at it.

Does Baking Soda Kill Algae in Pools?

No. But keeping your pH and alkalinity properly balanced helps chlorine and other sanitizers to be more effective at killing algae. However, if you a green pool, then you need to follow our detailed instructions on getting rid of pool algae and keep it from coming back.

Will Baking Soda Clear Up a Cloudy Pool?

Not directly, but it can help. If your water is under-sanitized and causing cloudiness, then you want to make sure your pH and alkalinity are balanced before adding sanitizer.

That said, adding too much baking soda at once can cause your pool water to be cloudy. Usually, you just have to wait for it to fully dissolve, so don’t panic. High alkalinity can also cause cloudy water. Check out our guide to fixing cloudy pool water.

Are There Any Risks?

While there’s no risk using baking soda in your pool, there are risks to having high and low alkalinity.

You might notice corrosion in and around your ladders, liner, tiles, or other parts of your pool. This is likely due to low pH and alkalinity for long periods of time.

And if you see scaling or a build-up around your pool equipment, this could be caused by high pH and alkalinity. And it means your water is hard.

All you have to do is keep the alkalinity between 100 and 150 ppm and the pH between 7.4 and 7.6 as often as possible. Test your pool water daily and adjust your chemical levels when needed.

What About Health Risks?

We mentioned getting it in your eye if you add it to your pool on a windy day. That hurts like hell. But besides that, sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) is relatively safe.

Sodium bicarbonate has been used for thousands of years. Most notably by Ancient Egyptians who used it to clean their teeth. Just like we do today!

And it’s “Generally Recognized as Safe” by the FDA as a direct food additive.

Think of it this way, if it’s safe enough to use in cakes, then your swimming pool won’t be a problem.

Baking Soda In Pool Water Will Save You Money

The best part about all this is that baking soda is often cheaper than an alkalinity increaser. And you can buy baking soda in bulk just like the pool supply store brand.

On top of that, you can always use any extra baking soda to brush your teeth, make a cake, or clean your dishes.

Happy Swimming!

Matt Giovanisci is the founder of Swim University® and has been in the pool and spa industry since 1995. Since then, his mission is to make pool and hot tub care easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.

Frustrated by adding chemicals and trying to keep your pool clear all the time?

We cut out all the confusion of pool maintenance in this easy-to-read illustrated ebook and video course. It'll help you save $100 right away on pool care!

Click here to learn more
The Pool Care Handbook

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