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Thread: Washing soda question

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    AimeeH's Avatar
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    Washing soda question

    Pool math mentioned using washing soda to increase PH. This question might be for Chemgeek. Due to the fact that I've been making my own washing machine detergent I learned that washing soda can be make by heating baking soda.

    Is this true? And can I heat my baking soda sufficiently to produce "washing soda" to affect the PH in my pool?
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    borjis's Avatar
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    Re: Washing soda question

    I saw articles about that and about 5 months ago tried it....didn't work. I posted the same question on this forum but I can't seem to find it.

    If I recall, it takes much more than the use of a home oven to make the conversion proper for pool use.

    20 Mule team Borax has been recommended to raise ph, unless you don't mind the TA going up too, then use washing soda.
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    Re: Washing soda question

    Thanks. I know borax will do the job but I was wondering about the baking soda conversion to washing soda by heat.
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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Washing soda question

    You can't do it properly in a home oven. You'll just wind up with a poor mixture of sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate and a small amount of sodium hydroxide. The conversion process requires very high heats not obtainable in a stove, proper containment (glassware) and a controlled atmosphere to avoid the formation of excess lye.

    It's cheap enough in Walmart, just buy it there.


    Matt
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    Re: Washing soda question

    All I've been able to find is that conversation occurs at 200c. I do this all the time for actual washing. What am I missing that this wouldn't work for pool?
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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Washing soda question

    Here's the thread Borjis was looking for: Anyone ever make PH UP (wash soda) from Baking soda? Post 9 explains it.
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    Re: Washing soda question

    Thank you for the link Richard. That helps explain some.

    I get the "cost is nearly the same" notion but not for me. I work in foodservice distribution and get large quantities of those products at cost. namely non iodized 99% pure salt for the pool as well as baking soda. My question stemmed from the notion that I already bake my baking soda for washing soda to make my own detergent for the washer.

    See, me learning here to take care of my own pool is an extension of things I already do to make life simple....if you will. Like making my own soap too out of palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil and yes.....lye (all except lye also below wholesale as an employee in foodservice).

    I wasn't planning on saving a buck by buying baking soda instead of washing soda but wanting to know if I could use what was on hand with that current PH question. It is solved now and PH is in line as I rarely need to correct my PH.

    Thank you for providing the link with further explanation.
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    Re: Washing soda question

    If you have access to a cost effective source of lye (sodium hydroxide) then why not simply use that to adjust pH up as needed?

    Lye is actually a much better source for increasing pH than washing soda as it raises pH with only a very small effect on TA. Lye adds no carbonate to the water at all. In your 29k gallon pool, ~6 oz of lye will raise your pH by 0.1 units and only add 2ppm to your TA. By contrast, it takes 15oz of washing soda to raise your pH by 0.1 units and it adds ~4ppm to the TA.
    Matt
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    Re: Washing soda question

    Matt,

    Chemically speaking, I would not have known that. I'm not a chemist type of Person. I do buy lye (sodium hydroxide) for making soap.
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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Washing soda question

    I guess it depends on how much it costs you relative to your cheaper source of baking powder. I was just thinking out loud since you said you have it on hand. Most people don't and it would be harder to get than washing soda so it's use in pools is fairly limited.

    As I'm sure you're well aware from your soap making, lye is pretty strong stuff by comparison to washing soda. If you were to use lye to increase your pH, then you would want to pre dissolve it in a fairly large quantity of water and pour it very slowly in front of a fast moving return. Like MA for dropping pH, you'd want to be cautious in using lye.
    Matt
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    Re: Washing soda question

    Yeah. I think I'll keep the lye for soap making and out of the pool

    I use a lot of caution with that stuff when making soap. I don't want to mess with more than necessary. And yes. It is hard to find (retail) 100% sodium hydroxide these days.
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    Re: Washing soda question

    Well, if reef aquaria it's common to make washing soda / soda ash. I'd imagine live coral is more particular than a pool so I'm a little confused why it would work fine in an environment tracked, managed, and maintained in much finer detail but not for a pool. I never bothered, I bought washing soda and didn't see how it was worth the effort compared to just buying it but many were concerned that washing soda is not a food product and possibly not as pure, so with our corals being so sensitive it was safer to make our own from baking soda. I only had to do it once when in a pinch during a mini-emergency.

    I DO recall that it was to spread it no thicker than an inch, thinner is better. 350 degrees, but more is fine/better, and one hour but longer is fine/better. Lower temps, or shorter times, could come up short.

    I'm no chemist though, just curious how it could NOT work in a pool when it works just fine in something much more sensitive. Cost difference between baking soda and washing soda is so minor though I'll just buy the stuff
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