How To Raise Alkalinity In A Swimming Pool


Maintaining proper alkalinity levels in a swimming pool is crucial for ensuring clean and healthy water, as well as preserving the longevity of pool equipment. This article aims to provide a step-by-step guide on raising alkalinity in a swimming pool, emphasizing its importance and the effects of low or high alkalinity levels on water quality and equipment.

Understanding Alkalinity

Alkalinity refers to the ability of water to resist changes in pH levels. In pool water chemistry, it acts as a buffer against sudden shifts in acidity or basicity. The ideal alkalinity range for a swimming pool is typically between 80-120 parts per million (ppm). Various factors can affect alkalinity levels, such as rainwater accumulation, carbon dioxide presence, and the presence of certain compounds like nitrogen compounds.

Testing Alkalinity

Regular testing is essential for determining the current alkalinity level of your pool. There are different methods available for testing alkaline substances, including test strips and liquid test kits. To perform an alkaline substance measurement test:

  1. Collect a sample of your pool water using either test strips or by following instructions provided with your liquid testing kit.
  2. Follow product label instructions carefully when performing the test.
  3. Use appropriate protective equipment if necessary.
  4. Compare color readings or numerical values obtained from the test with recommended ranges for optimal results.

Determining Required Alkaline Adjustments

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Once you have tested your pool’s current alkaline substance measurements, it’s important to interpret these results accurately before proceeding with any adjustments needed based on desired target ranges specific to maintaining proper alkalinities within acceptable limits:
  1. Identify whether your current reading falls within normal range (80-120 ppm).
    2a) If below this range: Calculate how much Sodium Bicarbonate (also known as baking soda) should be added per 10k gallons based on incremental increases required using acid ⇌ bicarbonate (aka soda) equations.
    2b) If above this range: Determine how much Sodium Carbonate (also known as soda ash) should be added per 10k gallons based on incremental increases required using acid ⇌ carbonate equations.

It is important to note that when adjusting alkalinity, you may also have an impact on pH levels. It is recommended to balance pH first before making any adjustments to alkalinity.

Raising Alkalinity

Raising alkalinity in your pool involves a step-by-step process:

Step 1: Balancing pH Levels

Before adjusting the alkalinity, it’s crucial to balance the pH levels of your pool water. This ensures optimal effectiveness of any further chemical adjustments. Methods for adjusting pH include using sodium bisulfate or muriatic acid for lowering acidity and using soda ash or sodium bicarbonate for increasing basicity.

Step 2: Choosing the Appropriate Alkaline Substance Increaser Product

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There are different types of products available in the market that can increase pool alkalinity. The most commonly used ones are sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate. Factors such as cost, availability, and compatibility with other chemicals need to be considered when selecting the right product for your pool.

Step 3: Calculating Required Amount of Alkaline Substance Increaser

To determine the necessary dosage of alkali substance increasers like baking soda or soda ash, guidelines exist based on desired target ranges specific to maintaining proper alkalinities within acceptable limits:

  1. Calculate how much baking soda/soda ash should be added per gallon/10k gallons.
    2a) For raising below-normal level (80-120 ppm), add pounds/ounces accordingly.
    2b) For raising above-normal level (>120 ppm), add amounts gradually until desired range reached incrementally over time following safety precautions while handling these substances properly according instructions provided by manufacturers since they can cause irritation if mishandled.

Step 4: Adding Alkaline Substance Increaser to Pool

Add the calculated amount of alkaline substance increaser to your pool water. Ensure even distribution by adding it in multiple locations around the pool or using a brush or pole to help spread it evenly.

Step 5: Retesting Alkalinity Levels

After adding the alkaline substance increaser, allow time for it to dissolve and circulate within the pool water. Wait at least 24 hours before retesting alkalinity levels. Follow testing instructions as mentioned earlier in this article and compare results with desired target ranges.

Maintaining Alkalinity Levels

Regular monitoring and maintenance are key factors in maintaining proper alkalinity levels in your swimming pool:

  • Test your pool’s alkalinity levels regularly using a reliable testing kit.
  • Prevent fluctuations by keeping up with regular pH balancing and adjustments when necessary.
  • It is recommended to test and adjust alkalinity every week during peak swimming season, while once every two weeks is sufficient during colder months when pools are not used as frequently.


Maintaining proper alkalinity levels is vital for clean and healthy swimming pools. By following this step-by-step guide, you can ensure that your pool water chemistry remains balanced, prolonging the life of equipment while providing a pleasant swimming experience. Remember to always follow safety precautions when handling chemicals, consult professional advice if needed, and enjoy your well-balanced pool!


  • Alkalinity: The measure of the ability of water to resist changes in pH levels. In the context of a swimming pool, alkalinity refers to the level of bicarbonates and carbonates in the water.
  • Chlorine: A chemical compound used for disinfection by killing bacteria and other harmful organisms present in pool water.
  • Scale: Deposits formed on pool surfaces due to high calcium hardness or imbalanced water chemistry.
  • Skin: The outermost layer covering our body that can be affected by chemicals and imbalanced water chemistry, leading to dryness or irritation when exposed to certain substances.
  • Dry acid: Also known as sodium bisulfate, it is an acidic substance used for lowering both pH levels and alkalinity in swimming pools.
  • Solution: A mixture formed when one substance dissolves into another; often referring to a liquid mixture with uniform composition throughout.
  • Pool owners: Individuals who own or are responsible for maintaining a swimming pool.
  • Pool surfaces: The various materials (such as tiles, concrete, vinyl) that make up the walls, floors, and other areas within a swimming pool structure.
  • Ideal range: The optimal or recommended range within which a specific parameter should be maintained for proper functioning. In this case, it refers to the desired level of alkalinity in a swimming pool.

Please note that this glossary provides definitions only related to raising alkalinity in a swimming pool.

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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