4+ Simple Ways to Raise the Alkalinity in Your Pool

Maintaining pool alkalinity is crucial for a safe swim. Use baking soda or soda ash, shock the pool if needed, test levels, and repeat steps if necessary to ensure clean and balanced water.

what raises alkalinity in a pool

Being a swimming pool owner can quickly change from a dream to a nightmare when facing upkeep tasks.

Learning about which chemicals to use, the filters, the pump–and the abundance of products claiming to be the “perfect fix,” there is a lot of information to handle.

Swimming pool care and upkeep can become a daunting task that can make you not want to swim at all rather than trying to fix it. 

Going to the basics can save you time, money, and sanity. One of the most basic, but also one of the most important steps in pool maintenance, is maintaining the alkalinity level.

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What is alkalinity?

Alkalinity keeps your pool’s pH (acidity) at the correct level. There are a lot of factors that can cause this alkalinity level to dip below healthy levels. However, it is easy to get these levels back up again. 

Have you found yourself needing to raise the alkalinity in your pool? Are you ready to fix it yourself? Here is some information you will find helpful in getting the job done. 

1. Add Baking Soda To Your Pool

Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda, 8 Ounce (Pack of 3)

Sodium Bicarbonate – commonly known as Baking Soda – is the first method we will go over. Raising the alkalinity as quickly as possible-baking soda is the way to go.

The Baking Soda method is fairly simple, add 1.5 pounds of baking soda for every 10,000 gallons of water in the swimming pool. Add the baking soda evenly in several locations throughout the water, not just in one place. 

After adding the baking soda, it needs to dissolve completely. Accomplishing this will take approximately 6 hours; do not enter the pool until everything is dissolved. Test your levels after the 6 hours have been completed to ensure swimming safety. 

A wide range of products will appear when you look up “raising pool alkalinity.” From different chemicals–such as acids and neutralizers, to “fix-all” products. Looking at many results can make it easy to get confused about which “right” option is for you. 

Experts across the board seem to agree that the easiest, and quickest way, is the sodium bicarbonate– again, baking soda– way.

Scientists have done several studies to confirm this, and all findings point to Sodium Bicarbonate.

When you look at commercial pool products on the market, you will find that, almost always, the main ingredient is baking soda. This is because it is proven to work and bring back the stable, healthy environment needed to swim. 

Purchasing straight baking soda, which is easy to find, will be much more affordable than these commercial products. Most of these products have high price tags, despite being baking soda with a fancy name. 

2. Add Soda Ash To Your Pool 

Jacquard Soda Ash for Fabric and Tie Dyeing, 1 pound bag

Another option to help slightly raise your alkalinity levels is Sodium Carbonate- or Soda Ash. Soda Ash is an option used when the PH balance of your pool is low because soda ash is an acid. 

Soda Ash will raise the PH level of your pool while slightly raising the alkalinity. Therefore, this would be the go-to option if you have issues with PH levels more than alkalinity.

Soda Ash will still raise your alkalinity levels, even if slightly, so it is a good option to know about. 

When adding soda ash, you will want to add 2 pounds of the ash for every 10,000 gallons of water. As with baking soda, you don’t want to pour it all in one location.

Begin at the deep end of your pool, then work your way to the shallow end is the way to do it. One quick reminder that this option raises the PH level more than alkalinity levels, so test often. 

Soda Ash should not be put in the water when people are swimming because it can burn the skin and eyes- and cause other severe irritations.

These, and other irritations, can occur due to high acidity. The amount of product added will determine how long to wait until swimming- a minimum of 20-60 minutes. Continue to ensure safety by testing levels often. 

3. Shock Your Pool

Green pool water (algae growth) can also be another symptom of low alkalinity- in this case, you are in for a shock, a “Pool Shock.”

“Shocking” is a process of adding a chemical, often chlorine based, to the pool, to quickly change the overall chemical balance of the water. 

The chemicals in these Shocks are designed to quickly raise the PH and alkalinity in the pool to get it back to that clear color. Shock products can be found online or at retailers specializing in swimming pools. 

Shocking your pool takes a little bit of preparation. To begin, mix the Shock in a 5-gallon bucket of pool water and stir until it dissolves completely. Double-check to verify your pool pump is running- this is crucial. 

To add the Shock, you will slowly pour the pre-mixture around the entire pool, along the edges. Once you have added the Shock, continue to let your pump run for at least 6 hours; you should then test levels again.  

4. Test and Repeat

EASYTEST 7-Way Pool Test Strips, 150 Strips Water Chemical Testing for Hot tub and Spa, Accurate Test Bromine, Total Alkalinity, pH, Free Chlorine, Total Hardness, Cyanuric Acid, and Total Chlorine

If, after completing one, or more of the steps listed above, the alkaline levels are still low, you can repeat them. Try more baking soda in the water, or moving on to the next step listed may fix the issue.

Continue to test until your level numbers are in the correct range. If any issues persist, it is always an excellent option to call an expert. 

Remember that the amount of baking soda, ash, or Shock that needs to be put in is determined by how much water is in your pool.

This information is crucial in ensuring you get your levels where they need to be as quickly as possible. 

Again, testing and correctly diagnosing which levels in your pool need fixing will be the most important when handling the issue.

Level tests often come in a strip form and can be found online or in stores specializing in pool upkeep and maintenance. A pool rule of thumb is the tests should be close at hand to monitor levels. 

What Is Alkalinity and Why Is It Important? 

Alkalinity is your pool water’s ability to resist change in PH (acidity) and maintain the PH balance needed. This PH is in place to keep a clean, safe water environment.

If the alkalinity of the water is too low, for too long, it can seriously damage the equipment. Low levels of alkalinity will also lead to an unsafe swimming environment. Results from low alkalinity may include:

  • Metal components rusting 
  • Polish protecting the pool floor and walls scratching off
  • Calcium build-up on the filters and walls

Frequently Asked Questions

It can feel overwhelming to fix something as large as a swimming pool. With the correct information and equipment- you can do it. We have provided the answers to some commonly asked questions to help you with your task.  

How quickly will the alkalinity levels rise?

How quickly can the issue be fixed, and how do you know if the problem is fixed? After adding your baking soda, soda ash, or pool shock- wait for approximately 6 to 8 hours, and then test your levels again. Ideally, you would like your PPM ranges to fall between 80 and 120. You are good to go if you test and are within these numbers.

What causes low alkalinity in pools?

Several factors can cause low alkalinity in pools. Rainstorms can dilute the pool water, causing the levels to change. Acid Rain- or rain containing a high amount of pollution- can raise the PH levels, lowering the alkalinity. More “natural” things like sweat, dirt, and urine can cause a change in the alkalinity levels. Preventative measures, like tarping the pool, or showering before swimming, will help keep the levels where they need to be.

How do I know if my alkalinity level is low? 

If the alkalinity in your swimming pool is low, you’ll start to see symptoms relatively quickly. You may notice irritation to your skin, your eyes turning red after swimming- even your nose and throat beginning to burn. These can all be signs that the PH has risen, and the alkalinity is no longer where it needs to be. Running a test with a strip test can confirm this.  

When to call a professional?

Following the steps listed above, you should be able to raise your alkalinity levels yourself. When handling chemicals, however, it is important to do your research. Planning to have a professional come in at scheduled times to do routine upkeep and maintenance is always a good idea and will help lengthen the life of your pool.

More FAQs

How long does it take for alkalinity to rise in pool?

The alkalinity in a pool takes some time to rise. After adding the necessary treatments to increase alkalinity, it is recommended to retest the pool water after six hours to assess the results. If you are unable to retest within six hours, it should be done within 24 hours to ensure accurate measurements.

Can you swim in a pool with high alkalinity?

You can swim in a pool with high alkalinity, but it is important to maintain a pH level between 7 and 7.6. If the water pH exceeds 8, there is a risk of developing skin rashes, while a pH below 7 can cause eye irritation for swimmers.

Does low alkalinity cause cloudy water?

Low alkalinity can result in cloudy water. When the alkalinity level is low, the water may appear hazy. Acid rain can cause both alkalinity and pH levels to decrease. To increase alkalinity, use Alkalinity Balance, and to raise pH, use pH Up. Additionally, if there is an issue with algae, adding algaecide can help resolve the problem.

How do I raise the alkalinity in my pool naturally?

To naturally increase the alkalinity in your pool, you can add approximately 1.5 pounds (680 grams) of baking soda per 10,000 gallons (37,854 liters) of pool water. This amount should raise the alkalinity by around 10ppm (parts per million). Alternatively, you can refer to the provided chart for specific measurements based on your pool’s water volume. If you’re unsure about your pool’s capacity, you can utilize our pool calculator for accurate calculations.

What causes pool alkalinity to drop?

Pool alkalinity can drop due to various factors. One reason is the presence of excessive urine and perspiration in the pool water, which can lower the alkaline levels. Another common cause is when heavy rainfall floods the pool with rainwater. Additionally, using an excessive amount of chlorine tablets can also contribute to a decrease in alkalinity as these tablets have a low pH level.

Do you adjust pH or alkalinity first?

The recommended approach is to adjust alkalinity first, as it plays a crucial role in pH levels. Alkalinity measures the water’s ability to neutralize acid, and achieving a well-balanced alkalinity is essential for maintaining a properly balanced pool.

Why is my alkalinity low and pH high?

Your alkalinity is low and pH is high because your Total Alkalinity levels are below 80 ppm and your pH levels are above 6.8. To address this issue, you can add Alkalinity Increaser (sodium bicarbonate) if only the Total Alkalinity is low. If both the Total Alkalinity and pH are low (TA less than 80 ppm, pH below 6.8), you can use pH Increaser (sodium carbonate) to raise both levels.

Will low alkalinity make pool green?

Low alkalinity can contribute to a green pool. When the pH and alkalinity levels are not balanced, the chlorine in your pool becomes ineffective, leading to an improper functioning of the 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 pH plus increase alkalinity?

The statement is: “pH plus increases alkalinity.”Rephrased answer: To raise the pH level, add the appropriate amount of pH Increaser and allow the jets to run. After about an hour, re-test the water and determine if further adjustment is necessary. It is important to note that pH Plus also slightly increases the alkalinity level, so it is essential to monitor this as total alkalinity acts as a buffer to maintain the pH level.

Can you put too much baking soda in pool?

Can too much baking soda be added to a pool? When an excessive amount of baking soda is added to hard water, it can lead to the accumulation of calcium around the pool. This excessive calcium can result in cloudiness around the pool and the formation of scales on its surface.

How do I balance the alkalinity in my pool?

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

What to do when pool pH is low and alkalinity is high?

When the pool pH is low and alkalinity is high, the alkalinity level is still too high, but the pH is decreasing below the recommended lowest level of 7.2 for a standard swimming pool. To address this, you should start by adding borax to raise the pH to around 7.8. After that, you can add muriatic acid to adjust both the pH (between 7.4 and 7.6) and the alkalinity (between 80 and 120ppm).

What happens if pool alkalinity is too low?

If the pool alkalinity 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.

Can too much chlorine cause low alkalinity?

Too much chlorine can cause low alkalinity. Sweating and even urine can contribute to the lowering of alkalinity levels. It is important to note that chlorine tablets used for pool shock have low pH levels, so excessive use of these tablets can result in a decrease in alkalinity levels.

Can you raise pool alkalinity without raising pH?

The alkalinity level can be raised without significantly impacting the pH level by using baking soda.

What if pH is high but alkalinity is low?

If the pH is high but the alkalinity is low, you will need to add Alkalinity Increaser (sodium bicarbonate) if the Total Alkalinity levels are below 80 ppm. If both the Total Alkalinity and pH are low (TA less than 80 ppm, pH below 6.8), you should use pH Increaser (sodium carbonate) to raise both levels.

Will low alkalinity make pool cloudy?

Low alkalinity can cause pool water to become cloudy. When the alkalinity level is low, the water may appear hazy. Acid rain can contribute to the decrease in alkalinity and pH levels. To raise alkalinity, you can use alkalinity balance, while pH Up can be used to increase pH. Additionally, if there is an algae problem, adding algaecide can help resolve it.

How do I know if my pool needs alkalinity?

You can determine if your pool needs alkalinity by using most swimming pool test kits, which can accurately measure alkalinity levels. The recommended range for total alkalinity in a swimming pool is between 80 ppm and 120 ppm, although an acceptable range falls between 60 ppm and 180 ppm.

Will shocking pool lower alkalinity?

The shocking of a pool will not lower alkalinity. Instead, it is important to note that chlorine-based pool shocks are highly alkaline and will actually increase pH and alkalinity levels. Therefore, after shocking your pool, you may observe higher pH and total alkalinity in the water.

Does too much chlorine cause high alkalinity?

Too much chlorine does cause high alkalinity. This is because the excess hydroxides from hypochlorite chlorines, such as sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine) and calcium hypochlorite (cal hypo), lead to a rise in alkalinity. When all components in the water are fully oxidized, there is a slight increase in total alkalinity.

Is it bad to swim in a pool with high alkalinity?

Swimming in a pool with high alkalinity can be detrimental. A pH level of 7 is considered neutral, with levels above 7 indicating alkalinity and levels below 7 indicating acidity. It is recommended to maintain a pH level between 7 and 7.6. If the water pH exceeds 8, it can lead to skin rashes for those who swim in the pool. Conversely, a pH level below 7 can cause irritation and stinging in swimmers’ eyes.

Does pH up raise alkalinity?

The statement is: “pH up raises alkalinity.”Rephrased answer: To raise the alkalinity level, add the appropriate amount of pH increaser. After adding it, activate the jets and retest the water after an hour to determine if further adjustment is necessary. It is important to monitor the alkalinity level as pH increaser can also slightly increase alkalinity. Remember that total alkalinity acts as a buffer to maintain the pH level.

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 patterns, specifically spring snow melt and rain, can lead to increased runoff and acidity, consequently reducing the overall alkalinity of the water.

How long does it take alkalinity to adjust in pool?

The alkalinity in a pool takes a minimum of six hours to adjust after adding baking soda.

Can you swim in a pool after adding alkalinity increaser?

The question restated as a declarative sentence: “You can swim in a pool after adding alkalinity increaser.”Rephrased answer: Swim-safe chemicals such as Alkalinity Balance, pH up, pH down, Calcium Balance, Water Stabilizer, and clarifier can be added to the pool. After waiting for approximately 20 minutes, it is safe to swim. It is recommended to add algaecide, Super Erace, and shock at night, once everyone has exited the pool.

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