What Does Baking Soda Do for a Pool?

what does baking soda do for a pool

The Magic of Baking Soda: What Does Baking Soda Do for a Pool?

When it comes to pool maintenance, the list of chemicals and tools you need can get quite overwhelming. From chlorine to algaecide, the pool supply store often feels like a chemistry lab. But amidst all the complex names and solutions, there lies a simple household item that can work wonders: baking soda. So, what does baking soda do for a pool? Let’s dive in (pun intended) to discover the surprising benefits and uses of baking soda in pool care.

What Does Baking Soda Do for a Pool? The Secret Ingredient: Baking Soda

What is Baking Soda?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of pool maintenance, let’s clarify what baking soda actually is. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a natural, non-toxic substance that’s found in all sorts of household products. It’s a white, crystalline powder that’s slightly alkaline. And while you might know it best for its role in baking or deodorizing your fridge, it has some serious uses in pool maintenance too.

Balancing Act: Baking Soda and pH Levels

Why pH Matters

First things first, let’s talk about pH levels. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. For pool water, a pH level between 7.2 and 7.8 is ideal. If the pH is too low (acidic), it can cause corrosion of pool equipment, skin irritation, and can even reduce the effectiveness of chlorine. If the pH is too high (basic), it can lead to scaling on pool surfaces, cloudy water, and also decrease chlorine’s effectiveness.

How Baking Soda Helps

So, what does baking soda do for a pool in terms of pH? Baking soda is a mild alkali with a pH of around 8.3. When added to pool water, it helps to raise and stabilize the pH level without making it too high. This makes it a perfect remedy for pools that are too acidic. The best part? It’s gentle on both the pool and the people swimming in it.

Alkalinity and Why It Matters

Understanding Alkalinity

In addition to pH, there’s another important factor to consider: total alkalinity. Total alkalinity refers to the concentration of alkaline substances in the water, which act as a buffer against drastic pH changes. The recommended range for total alkalinity in a pool is between 80 and 120 parts per million (ppm).

Baking Soda to the Rescue

If your pool’s alkalinity is low, the pH level can swing wildly, making the water uncomfortable and potentially harmful. Baking soda, with its alkaline nature, can increase the total alkalinity of your pool water. This helps stabilize the pH, making it easier to maintain that perfect balance.

How to Use Baking Soda in Your Pool? What Does Baking Soda Do for a Pool?

Testing Your Water

Before you start dumping boxes of baking soda into your pool, you’ll need to test your water’s pH and alkalinity. You can use test strips or a liquid test kit to get accurate readings. Make sure to note both the pH and the total alkalinity.

Adding Baking Soda

Here’s where the fun begins. To increase the alkalinity, you’ll need to add baking soda to the pool water. As a general rule of thumb, for every 10,000 gallons of water, adding 1.5 pounds of baking soda will raise the total alkalinity by about 10 ppm. To add it, simply sprinkle the baking soda across the surface of the pool and let it dissolve. Make sure your pump is running to help it circulate.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Measure the Baking Soda: Based on your pool’s volume and current alkalinity levels, measure the appropriate amount of baking soda.
  2. Distribute Evenly: Slowly add the baking soda to the pool, sprinkling it across the surface. Avoid dumping it all in one spot.
  3. Let it Circulate: Allow the baking soda to dissolve and circulate for at least six hours. It’s best to run the pool pump during this time.
  4. Retest the Water: After about 24 hours, retest your pool’s alkalinity and pH levels. Adjust as necessary.

Additional Benefits of Baking Soda

Clarity and Cleanliness

Aside from balancing pH and alkalinity, what does baking soda do for a pool in terms of cleanliness? Baking soda can help keep your pool water clear. Its mild abrasive nature can assist in scrubbing off algae and other debris from pool surfaces without causing damage.

Gentle on Skin and Eyes

Another great benefit is that baking soda is gentle on the skin and eyes. Unlike some harsher chemicals, baking soda won’t cause irritation, making your swimming experience much more pleasant.


Let’s not forget the cost factor. Pool chemicals can be expensive, but baking soda is a cheap and effective alternative for maintaining your pool’s chemistry. You can buy it in bulk for a fraction of the cost of specialized pool chemicals.

Common Myths and Misconceptions

Myth: Baking Soda is a Chlorine Substitute

Some folks believe that baking soda can replace chlorine. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. While baking soda helps maintain a balanced pH and alkalinity, it doesn’t disinfect the water. You still need chlorine or another sanitizer to keep your pool free of harmful bacteria and algae.

Myth: Baking Soda Can Fix All Pool Problems

While baking soda is a versatile tool in your pool maintenance arsenal, it’s not a cure-all. Issues like calcium hardness, metal content, and organic contaminants require different treatments. Baking soda is best used as part of a comprehensive pool care routine.

Comparing Baking Soda to Other Pool Chemicals

Let’s take a quick look at how baking soda stacks up against other common pool chemicals:

Baking SodaRaise pH and alkalinityGentle, inexpensive, non-toxic, multipurposeDoesn’t sanitize
Soda AshRaise pHEffective at increasing pH quicklyCan cause cloudiness, raises alkalinity minimally
Muriatic AcidLower pH and alkalinityStrong and effectiveHazardous, requires careful handling
ChlorineSanitizeKills bacteria and algae effectivelyCan cause irritation, strong odor
AlgaecidePrevent and treat algaeKeeps algae at bayCan be expensive, specific to algae control

Tips and Tricks for Using Baking Soda

Regular Maintenance

Make baking soda a regular part of your pool maintenance routine. Check your pH and alkalinity levels weekly and adjust as necessary.


Store baking soda in a cool, dry place. You can buy it in bulk and keep it sealed in an airtight container to prevent clumping.

Combination with Other Chemicals

While baking soda is great, it’s important to balance its use with other pool chemicals. Ensure you’re also managing chlorine levels, calcium hardness, and other factors for a well-rounded approach to pool care.

A Word of Caution

While baking soda is generally safe, it’s important not to overdo it. Adding too much can lead to excessively high alkalinity, which can cause other problems like cloudy water and scaling. Always measure carefully and make incremental adjustments.


So, what does baking soda do for a pool? In summary, it’s a fantastic, cost-effective tool for balancing pH and alkalinity, keeping your pool water clear, and ensuring a more comfortable swimming experience. While it’s not a magic bullet that can solve every pool problem, it’s certainly a valuable addition to your pool care routine. By understanding and utilizing baking soda correctly, you can maintain a healthier and more enjoyable pool environment without breaking the bank. Dive in and give it a try – your pool (and your wallet) will thank you!

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