Looking to save money on those pricey maintenance chemicals without sacrificing the well being of your hot tub? You might have heard that using baking soda is an easy remedy for balancing out your pH levels, but that’s a very vague recommendation.
How much baking soda is best to use? Is there any particular brand? When should you put it in, and how often? Does it even work?
Not to worry - we’ve thoroughly researched and consulted the advice of hot tub experts to answer all of those questions and more.
Proper hot tub care is essential if you want your expensive indulgence to last as long as it should and help you relax, as opposed to becoming a source of stress when something goes wrong.
What should my hot tub’s pH level be?
Consider yourself a responsible hot tub owner? Then you ought to know that the optimal pH level for your hot tub is somewhere between 7.2 and 7.8.
Water that is too acidic renders the sanitizer you use less effective, which may result in irritation of the eyes next time you take a dip, amongst other issues.
High levels of acid in your water can cause damage to the internal heating element, so if you want that tub to stay hot it’s a good idea to keep an eye on things.
In order to decrease the acidity, you need to increase your alkaline levels - is this reading like your high school chemistry classes yet?
However, a reading above 7.8 indicates levels of alkalinity in your water that result in scale (precipitated calcium carbonate) buildup and cloudy water. Not what you want when trying to relax!
What is the difference between pH and Total Alkalinity (TA)?
A common question when it comes to water level maintenance, your tub’s Total Alkalinity level measures the ability of your water to neutralise acid, and measured by parts per million.
The measurement of pH simply refers to the level of acid or base in an aqueous substance, bascity here referring to substances that react with acids in different ways, and adding alkaline to said substance will alter its pH.
Although it is a different measurement tool than the pH scale, total alkalinity is still important - if your alkalinity levels are out of whack, balancing your pH level will prove much more difficult, so it’s a good idea to balance your TA first.
Whether water is too acidic or high in alkalinity, both can dilute your chosen tub sanitiser (typically chlorine), causing it to become less effective, which means you’ll add more chlorine and increase the potential risk of bathing.
Does baking soda raise pH levels?
Sodium bicarbonate, supermarket name baking soda, can definitely be used to raise the alkalinity of your hot tub. As a substance it is naturally high in alkaline, with a pH level of 8, so when introduced to water, it consequently raises the water’s level too.
- First, you need to determine the water capacity of your hot tub - have a look in the manual, or check the tag that may still be attached to its exterior. Failing that, Google the model and see if you can find it out online.
- When your tub is nice and hot, turn off the jets and perform a pH level test using a strip, easily purchased in multipacks online or at your local showroom.
- As a general rule, for every one hundred gallons your tub holds, you should add a tablespoon of baking soda. If your tub holds four hundred gallons, that’s four tablespoons of soda. Simple, right?
- Once you’ve added the right amount, turn on the jets! Let the baking soda dissolve for between one and four hours, depending on the size of your tub and the amount you used.
- After this, turn off your tub and conduct a second pH level test - if the acidity level in your tub is too high, add more baking soda and let it run again. Be careful to do this a little at a time; should you accidentally add too much, the alkalinity will become a problem instead!
- Alternate between running the tub and adding powder until you have a pH reading between 7.2 and 7.8, at which point you’re good to go!
Remember - taking the time to regularly drain your tub, give it a thorough hose down and refilling it with fresh, clean water will help maintain your pH balance without the need for adjusting with chemicals.
How else can I raise pH?
Baking soda is a cheap and effective way to increase alkalinity, but it isn’t an exact science; it’s not likely to be as effective as products made specifically for hot tub maintenance.
Chlorine is probably the first chemical that springs to mind when considering hot tub sanitization, but owners who use it find they are consistently checking and balancing their pH levels to prevent potential issues.
When chlorine is dissolved in your hot tub water to clean it, an alkaline compound is formed, raising the pH. Should this level get too high, past 7.8, it loses its effectiveness, transforming into an agent for oxidation.
As a result, instead of working to fight bacteria and germs in your water, chlorine begins to corrode the metal of your hot tub and damage its integral components - not what you want for hundreds of dollars’ worth of equipment!
Using a non-chlorine based sanitizer, your pH levels should be maintained in the 7.2-7.8 sweet spot, so long as you’re still testing regularly and draining the water to replace it on a regular basis.
pH Balance Adjusters
Substances like PH Plus or PH Increaser work to increase your PH level, working in the same way as adding baking powder - simply add the recommended amount to your water, let the jets run, test and repeat until balanced.
These chemicals can also increase your Total Alkalinity measurement, so remember to be sparing. Remember, a high TA will impact upon your ability to balance those pH levels overall.