2+ Reasons Why Alkalinity is Important for Your Pool

Alkalinity in pools stabilizes pH, prevents water imbalances, and maintains a safe environment for swimmers. Balancing alkalinity is crucial for pool health and clarity.

what does alkalinity do for a pool

As everyone knows, swimming pool chemistry is vital to owning a pool. Alkalinity is a prominent part of swimming pool chemistry. You may wonder: what does alkalinity do for a pool? Look no further. You have found the answer to all of your questions. 

Whether you are a new pool owner or have owned one for years, tips and tricks about alkalinity never hurt anybody. 

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What Is Alkalinity? 

Alkalinity is a crucial part of owning a pool. It can prevent rapid pH changes in your pool. The total alkalinity of your pool is the measure of an alkaline mass known as an ionic compound. 

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Ionic compounds are crystalline solids formed from tightly packed ions of positive and negative charges. These ionic compounds function as a cushion to fight pH level changes. When non-metals react with metals, it makes these compounds. 


Many issues can occur from a low or high alkalinity level. It would help if you kept your alkalinity level to 7 to 7.8 on the pH scale to avoid any problems. The recommended total alkalinity range is between 80 and 120 ppm, or parts per million. 

Using a pool test kit, you can quickly determine your pool’s total alkalinity. You should test your pool daily to maintain a neutral pH balance. Then, add chemicals as needed to increase or decrease your alkaline levels. 

What Does Alkalinity Do for a Pool? 

Alkalinity measures your pool’s ability to fight becoming acidic. If your alkalinity level is too high or low, it can cause increased and decreased acid levels and other issues. 

Alkalinity will neutralize acids, saving you money and avoiding many problems. A pH scale will gauge your pool’s capacity to neutralize the acids and bases while keeping a precise pH level to maintain your water.

The suggested alkalinity level is 80 to 100 ppm or parts per million. 

What Does Low Alkalinity Do to Your Pool? 

Your pool’s alkalinity level can and will vary from too high, just right, or too low. It is common for these numbers to go drastically up and down. When your alkalinity levels fluctuate, it can cause an imbalance in your pool’s pH levels. 

When calcium carbonate builds up in your pool, it can cause pool scale to form. It crystallizes on the surfaces of your pool, like the walls and floor.

Troubles like ineffective chlorine, pool staining, metal decay, or scale are all problems that could arise with a low alkalinity level. 

What Does High Alkalinity Do to Your Pool?  

High alkalinity can cause problems that cost you money and time. If your pool water is murky, ensure that you test your pool water. If your pool water is cloudy, chances are your alkalinity level is too high. 

If your pH balance is high, your alkalinity is also high. High alkalinity could cause several issues, like pool scale build-up on your pool surfaces or equipment, a plugged filter, or less pool circulation. 

These problems could cost you avoidable money, time, and effort. To bypass these issues is simple, maintain your pool and keep a neutral pH balance. 

How Can You Raise Your Pool’s Alkalinity? 

Chemicals are vital to keeping a pool; they balance your pool’s water. You can only negate your pool water using chemicals like sodium bicarbonate or sodium bisulfate. 

You can raise your pool’s alkalinity level using a chemical, sodium bicarbonate. You may know this chemical by the name of baking soda! 

The advised amount of sodium bicarbonate is 1.5 pounds per 10,000 gallons of water. Ensure you add your chemical while your pool’s pump is running. The pump will help the chemicals you put in circulate throughout the entire pool. 

You can do this process once every four days until your pool’s alkalinity balances. 

How Can You Lower Your Pool’s Alkalinity? 

Alkalinity in a pool is basic chemistry. No need to worry; you need not be a scientist to balance your pool’s pH levels. To fix high alkalinity, use an acidic chemical, such as muriatic acid. Muriatic acid will lower your pool’s alkalinity. 

You can find essential chemicals to balance your pool and any pool or spa store. If your pool’s alkalinity is too low, use an alkaline chemical, like sodium bisulfate. Your best bet is to add enough acids to your pool water to bring the pH level down to 7. 

Once it climbs back up to 7.2, add an acidic chemical to bring it down to 7, and repeat until you stay at a constant 7. Seven is neutral on the pH scale.

Ensure you do not add too much acid, as you can throw it off the opposite way and cause high acidity. It would be best if you followed the product bottle’s instructions. High acidity can cause a whole number of avoidable issues. 

Why Is Alkalinity Vital in Your Pool? 

One of the most vital parts of owning a pool is knowing how to balance your pool’s alkalinity. Keeping your pool’s pH stable will prevent a dirty pool and future issues. 

It would help if you learned the basics of swimming pool chemistry to balance your pool successfully. Poor pool maintenance can cause your alkalinity levels to go up or down, which could cause problems. 

Your best bet is to keep your pool’s total alkalinity level between 80 and 120 ppm for the best results. Suppose you go over or under that number, no worries. You can vary your pool’s total alkalinity level a bit on the condition your pH balance stays within the 7 to 7.8 pH range.  

1. Keep Your Pool’s pH Balance Stable

how to bring ph down in pool

Alkalinity and pH go hand in hand. If your pool’s pH is high, your pool’s alkalinity level is likely high. An unstable pH balance can throw off your pool’s alkalinity. 

An uneven pH balance can cause issues like calcium build-up, grimy or cloudy pools, and unsafe conditions for the swimmers. 

With an unsteady pH balance, you could also experience circulation issues which can be challenging to fix, not to mention costly. Use the proper chemicals to balance your pool’s alkalinity. If your pH level is below seven on the pH scale, it is considered acidic, and you should add an alkaline. 

However, suppose your pool water is above seven on the pH scale. In that case, it is high alkalinity, and you need to add an acid. 

2. Prevent a Grimy Pool 

why pool water turns green

The second reason alkalinity is critical to your pool is to prevent gross pool water. Without proper care and balance of alkalinity in your pool water, your pool could have issues circulating or have calcium build-up.

Problems could arise from incompetent pool care, like high or low alkalinity and gross or cloudy pool water.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

If you still need clarity on what alkalinity does for a pool, refer to the frequently asked questions below.

How can you change your pool’s alkalinity?

Check your pool’s alkalinity levels daily using a pH test kit. Daily water testing will help you instantly catch your pool’s imbalanced levels. The faster you see an imbalance in chemicals, the easier it will be to balance it back out. 

You want to aim for alkalinity levels between 80 and 120 ppm. It is okay if you run into levels lower than 80 ppm. You can add sodium bicarbonate or baking soda. 

To balance levels above 120 ppm, you can decrease the alkalinity level by adding sodium bisulfate or muriatic acid. 

Why does your pool’s alkalinity increase or decrease?

Your pool’s alkalinity levels can quickly and drastically change. Your pH and alkalinity levels often rise when exposed to oils, alcohol, sunblock, or germs. The alkalinity will also rise or decrease if your pH levels increase or lower. 

Most people think that after a busy weekend of people in and out of your pool, you must shock it. That is not the case. You can easily over shock your pool which can cause your pH or alkalinity levels to rise. 

As well as increasing your pH and alkalinity levels, the levels will decrease. As it does with increasing, alkalinity and pH will reduce concurrently. 

Ensure you keep enough alkalinity in your pool water to avoid too much chlorine dissipating. Less chlorine in your pool will lower your pH and alkalinity levels. 

Reasons your alkalinity and pH could drop may include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Large amounts of rain
  • Urine
  • Sweat

How long should you wait to swim after adding chemicals to your pool?

After shocking your pool, you must wait for the chlorine levels to reach five ppm or lower. The suggested time you wait after adding chemicals to balance your pool is at least 20 minutes. 

So, you should avoid jumping into your pool immediately after balancing with chemicals. You could be risking your skin’s health. If you risk the swim before letting your chemicals filter through your pool, you could get skin rashes or stinging eyes and nasal passages. 

More FAQs

What happens if alkalinity is too low in pool?

If the alkalinity in a pool is too low, the pool finish may become etched and stained, metals can corrode, the water may turn green, swimmers may experience burning eyes, and the pH levels can fluctuate rapidly, either rising or falling seemingly at random.

Is it OK to swim with low alkalinity?

It is not recommended to swim with low alkalinity. A pH level of 7 indicates neutral water, while a pH above 7 signifies alkaline water and below 7 indicates acidity. It is advisable to maintain a pH level between 7 and 7.6. If the water pH exceeds 8, it can lead to skin rashes for swimmers, whereas a pH below 7 can cause eye irritation.

How do I balance the alkalinity in my pool?

To balance the alkalinity in your pool, you can increase the Total Alkalinity by adding an alkalinity increaser like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). For every 10,000 gallons of pool water, you can add up to 25 pounds of baking soda. On the other hand, if you need to decrease the Total Alkalinity, you can add muriatic acid or sodium bisulphate (dry acid).

Will raising alkalinity raise pH?

Raising alkalinity will indeed raise pH levels. If the total alkalinity in your pool is below 80 ppm, it can lead to unstable and erratic pH levels. To increase alkalinity, you can add alkalinity increaser at a rate of 1 lb. per 10,000 gallons to raise it by 10 ppm. It is important to note that this will also slightly elevate the pH level of your pool, although not to the same extent as the total alkalinity level.

How do you raise alkalinity without raising pH?

To raise alkalinity without impacting pH levels, it is recommended to utilize baking soda instead of soda ash. If using liquid solution kits, obtain a water sample from a depth of at least 18 inches (45.7 cm) below the surface. Then, introduce 1 drop of the sodium thiosulfate solution and gently swirl to ensure thorough mixing.

How do I increase alkalinity in my water?

To increase alkalinity in your water, you can add 1 tsp (4 g) of baking soda to 250 ml of water. This will raise the pH of the water, making it more alkaline. Another option is to use milk of magnesia, which is an alkaline suspension that neutralizes acidity. Adding milk of magnesia to water that is more acidic can help increase its alkalinity.

Do you want high or low alkalinity in pool?

The recommended range for a swimming pool’s total alkalinity is between 80 and 120 parts per million. It is important to test often using a reliable pool testing kit to determine the range.

What happens if alkalinity is high in pool?

If alkalinity is high in a pool, it can lead to an uncontrolled rise in pH levels, resulting in cloudy water, irritation in the eyes, throat, and ears, as well as scaling on the pool walls and accessories. Additionally, the effectiveness of chlorine and other disinfectant treatments may be reduced due to the high pH levels.

Will baking soda lower alkalinity in pool?

Baking soda does not lower alkalinity in a pool; in fact, it actually raises it. Conversely, muriatic acid is commonly used to lower alkalinity. It is important to note that when attempting to lower alkalinity in a pool, the introduction of more acids will also lower the pH levels of the pool water.

Will lowering pool pH lower alkalinity?

Lowering pool pH will also lower alkalinity. Additionally, high pH levels can be detrimental to your pool as it causes the water to become very basic, leading to scaling on the walls and other pool components.

Should I shock pool if alkalinity is high?

You should not shock the pool if the alkalinity is high. It is important to balance the pH and alkalinity before shocking the pool. Currently, both the pH and alkalinity levels are still too high. To bring down the total alkalinity (TA) to the recommended range of 80-120 ppm and pH to the range of 7.4-7.6, you can add more muriatic acid.

Does increasing pool alkalinity increase pH?

Increasing pool alkalinity does increase pH. If the total alkalinity (TA) levels in the pool water are low but the pH levels are above 6.8, it is necessary to add an alkalinity increaser such as sodium bicarbonate (baking powder/soda). When both the pH and TA levels need to be raised, a pH increaser like sodium carbonate (soda ash) is used.

What causes high alkalinity in water?

High alkalinity in water is caused by factors such as the presence of phosphates, limestone, and borates, which contribute to increased alkalinity and buffering capacity. Additionally, seasonal weather conditions, specifically spring snow melt and rain, can result in increased runoff that generally leads to higher acidity levels and subsequently decreases alkalinity.

Does high alkalinity cause cloudy water?

High alkalinity can cause water to become cloudy due to the presence of carbonate materials that cannot dissolve into the solution.

What is the difference between pH and alkalinity in a pool?

The difference between pH and alkalinity in a pool is that pH measures the concentration of acid ions (hydrogen) in the water, while alkalinity measures the levels of carbonate and bicarbonate in the water.

Does chlorine raise alkalinity?

Chlorine can lower the pH and total alkalinity of pool water when added in excessive amounts. This decrease in alkalinity makes it challenging to maintain a stable pH level.

Will low alkalinity make pool green?

Low alkalinity can contribute to a green pool. When the pH and alkalinity levels are unbalanced, the chlorine in the pool becomes less effective, leading to an inefficient filtering system. The presence of algae is the main reason for the green color, and this algae growth is often caused by an imbalance in pH and/or alkalinity, even when there is sufficient chlorine present.

Does alkalinity raise pH?

Alkalinity does raise pH, both from a water balance perspective and in practical terms. In a pool with high alkalinity, the pH will consistently increase, requiring the continuous addition of acid.

Will low alkalinity make pool cloudy?

Low alkalinity can cause cloudiness in a pool. When the alkalinity level is low, the water may become hazy. Acid rain can contribute to the decrease in alkalinity and pH levels. To raise alkalinity, use a product that balances alkalinity, and to increase pH, use a pH Up product. Additionally, if there is an issue with algae, adding algaecide can help resolve the problem.

Is pH and alkalinity the same thing?

The statement: pH and alkalinity are the same thing.Rephrased answer: No, pH and alkalinity are not the same thing. They are closely related and are often measured together. pH measures the concentration of hydrogen ions or the acidity of water, while alkalinity refers to the water’s ability to neutralize or buffer changes in acidity.

What happens when alkalinity is too high?

When the alkalinity is too high, the drinking water may have a taste similar to salt, soda, or chalk. It can also cause dryness of the skin and lead to the development of a chemical scale or precipitate. This scale can clog pipes and create a build-up on filters and heat exchange systems.

What is the difference between pH and alkalinity in a pool?

The difference between pH and alkalinity in a pool is that pH measures the concentration of acid ions (hydrogen) in the water, while alkalinity measures the levels of carbonate and bicarbonate in the water.

Does chlorine affect pH or alkalinity?

Chlorine can affect both pH and alkalinity. When chlorine levels are excessively high, the pH of the water will decrease, potentially causing corrosion. On the other hand, liquid chlorine, with its pH of 13, can elevate the pH of the water.

Will alkalinity decrease on its own?

Alkalinity will naturally decrease over time on its own, but it is important to address high alkalinity levels before they can cause further issues. High total alkalinity can result in problems such as high pH and ineffective chlorine, which can lead to the growth of algae. Therefore, it is advisable to take action to reduce high alkalinity levels to prevent potential troubles.

What is more important total alkalinity or pH?

Total alkalinity and pH are both important factors to consider when assessing water quality. However, in terms of overall significance, total alkalinity takes precedence over pH. While pH indicates the acidity, neutrality, or basicity of water, it does not provide information about the water’s buffering capacity. Buffering capacity refers to the ability of water or a compound to resist changes in pH. Therefore, when evaluating water quality, it is crucial to prioritize total alkalinity as it directly influences the water’s buffering capacity and its ability to maintain a stable pH level.

What happens if pH and alkalinity is high?

If the pH and alkalinity levels are high, it can lead to a decrease in the efficiency of chlorine, which is responsible for eliminating pathogens in the pool. Additionally, water with a high pH can result in skin irritations, cloudy water, and the formation of scale on pool equipment.

Will raising my pH raise my alkalinity?

Raising the pH level will increase the alkalinity. To achieve this, add the appropriate amount of pH increaser and run the jets. After about an hour, re-test the water and determine if further reduction is necessary. It is important to monitor the alkalinity level as well, as pH Plus can slightly increase it. Remember, total alkalinity acts as a buffer to maintain the desired pH level.

How do I balance the pH and alkalinity in my pool?

To balance the pH and alkalinity in your pool, you can add a buffer such as sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. A general guideline is to add 6 ounces of soda ash for every 10,000 gallons of pool water. This will increase the pH level by 0.2 and raise the total alkalinity (TA) by 5 parts per million (PPM).

Can you adjust pH and alkalinity at the same time?

The pH and alkalinity of the pool are both low. To simultaneously adjust the pH and alkalinity, it is recommended to first focus on increasing the alkalinity. Add enough alkalinity increaser to raise the alkalinity to 100 ppm. For every 10,000 gallons of water, add 1 pound of alkalinity increaser to raise the alkalinity by 10 ppm. As the alkalinity increases, the pH level of the pool may naturally rise without the need for additional pH increaser.

Does chlorine raise or lower pH?

Chlorine affects the pH of water in different ways depending on its form. When chlorine levels are excessively high, the pH of the water will decrease, potentially leading to corrosion. On the other hand, liquid chlorine, with a pH of 13, can raise the pH of the water.

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