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Thread: Should I add Borax?

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    langerking's Avatar
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    Should I add Borax?

    FC - 2.0
    CC - Not tested
    pH - ?? It is less than 6.8
    TA - 120
    CH - 100 pool store measured 10 days ago
    CYA - 100 pool store measured 10 days ago
    Borates - have not used yet

    I have been trying to balance my pool for about 10 days now. Just discovered this forum. I don't have the full test kit yet, will get one soon but I want to get opinions on whether I should add borax. I remember reading somewhere that it should be avoided, but it is also one of few ways to raise pH without affecting TA. The other method is aerating. I have constructed an aerator as described in these forums and have been aerating for about 25 hours.

    When the pool store tested my TA was 0 and pH was 6.8 (probably a lot lower than that). Well water here is very acidic, I have to add pH up and TA increase regularly. The pool store guy told me to add 33 lbs of Baking Soda. I added 25 lbs (3 lbs at a time over a period of about 4 days) and saw that my TA was almost 100. I don't trust that pool guy, I went and bought some Soda Ash and added about 2 lbs. This did nothing (measurable) to help pH but increased the TA a little more. That's when I googled and found this forum. I started aerating but have not seen an increase in my pH. I added about a lb more of Soda Ash and I am continuing the aeration. I am guessing that the pH is creeping up but I can't measure it.

    The water is very clear and feels softer than I can ever remember it being. The baking Soda didn't dissolve real well, I keep having to vacuum it up.
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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Borates are entirely optional. Using Borax to raise pH is a good idea.

    But frankly, I wouldn't add ANYTHING based on pool store results. Read the first post in this thread, and pay attention to the chart almost at the end showing the erratic, inconsistent readings.

    If they tested CYA at 100, it's almost certain it's higher than that. Have you been chlorinating with pucks or powders? Dichlor and Trichlor are both very acidic, and lower pH and TA dramatically while driving the CYA level up very quickly.

    If - huge if - those results are accurate, you need to raise the FC level A LOT. Bare minimum your pool should maintain is 8 FC.

    How soon until you get your test kit?
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard320
    Borates are entirely optional. Using Borax to raise pH is a good idea.

    But frankly, I wouldn't add ANYTHING based on pool store results. Read the first post in this thread, and pay attention to the chart almost at the end showing the erratic, inconsistent readings.

    If they tested CYA at 100, it's almost certain it's higher than that. Have you been chlorinating with pucks or powders? Dichlor and Trichlor are both very acidic, and lower pH and TA dramatically while driving the CYA level up very quickly.

    If - huge if - those results are accurate, you need to raise the FC level A LOT. Bare minimum your pool should maintain is 8 FC.

    How soon until you get your test kit?
    I am chlorinating with trichlor pucks. I know, bad! But I wasn't enlightened until recently. Confused by your FC minimum. I am testing with a basic kit and test strips and both show the OK range is 1-3 ppm.
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Quote Originally Posted by langerking
    I am chlorinating with trichlor pucks. I know, bad! But I wasn't enlightened until recently. Confused by your FC minimum. I am testing with a basic kit and test strips and both show the OK range is 1-3 ppm.
    You shouldn't be confused. The FC/CYA relationship is discussed in Pool School. pool-school/pool_water_chemistry

    Hey - if you want to maintain your pool according to the pool store's tests, recommendations, and methods, go for it! I wish I had that kind of money and patience.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    langerking's Avatar
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard320
    Quote Originally Posted by langerking
    I am chlorinating with trichlor pucks. I know, bad! But I wasn't enlightened until recently. Confused by your FC minimum. I am testing with a basic kit and test strips and both show the OK range is 1-3 ppm.
    You shouldn't be confused. The FC/CYA relationship is discussed in Pool School. pool-school/pool_water_chemistry

    Hey - if you want to maintain your pool according to the pool store's tests, recommendations, and methods, go for it! I wish I had that kind of money and patience.
    It's not that, I do want to switch to BBB method.

    I understand now, based on high CYA my FC needs to be higher. I don't think that my CYA is really as high as 100 (pool store measurement). The Aquachek test strips consistently measures it at about 20. Pool store guy said it is high, that is why you're measurement is so low .

    There probably isn't much I can do until I get a real test kit. Thanks for your replies though!
    1) 21,000 gallons
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Quote Originally Posted by langerking
    There probably isn't much I can do until I get a real test kit. Thanks for your replies though!
    YOU"RE WRONG!

    You can spend your time relaxing and reading POOL SCHOOL. All of it! Twice! Or Three times!

    You can familarize yourself with the Pool Calculator! http://www.poolcalculator.com/

    You can stop adding pucks and start using liquid chlorine. You can use the pool calculator to determine how much to add. Without test accurate test results you are flying blind, but you can make sure to keep some chlorine in the pool.

    Welcome! Glad you found us, it won't be long till you get your pool under control!
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    What equipment is missing from my sig?

    I will switch to liguid immediately (as soon as I get to the store and buy some).

    I just ordered a Taylor 2006 kit from Amato.

    Do you think continued aeration will get my pH up? I promise to keep reading POOL SCHOOL.
    1) 21,000 gallons
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    5) Hayward 1.5 hp DE 3600 72 GPM

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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    I understand your confusion. Been there done that. Get yourself the TF-100 test kit, and when you have all other chemicals in balance, go for the borax!! (In the meantime, yes, use Borax to raise your pH - but for the 50ppm Borax treament, wait til everything else is in balance.)
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Quote Originally Posted by langerking
    What equipment is missing from my sig?

    I will switch to liguid immediately (as soon as I get to the store and buy some).

    I just ordered a Taylor 2006 kit from Amato.

    Do you think continued aeration will get my pH up? I promise to keep reading POOL SCHOOL.

    Whoops my bad, changed my post. I'm concerned that your PH could really be lower than 6.8 PPM. It's my understanding that readings below 6.8 may show as 6.8.

    Here are some posts from mods i've copied pasted...

    " The common PH test shows PH below 6.8 as 6.8. The aeration is no doubt bringing up the PH, but hasn't gotten it to 6.8 yet.

    PH below 6.8 can damage your pool and equipment. I would bring the PH up to at least 6.9 with borax, and then continue with aeration. Aeration is slow, you don't want to wait that long with low PH."

    "Adjusting the PH is a top priority.

    Using tablets rapidly lowers the PH. Your PH is already too low. You should never allow PH to go below 7.2. PH below 7.0 can damage the pool, especially if the PH stays low for a long time or gets way below 7.2 for a shorter time."

    So in summary, i would attempt to raise your PH as you are doing, using the pool cal you can figure out how much Borax to add to get to 6.9, and then keep areating. It may take a few doses to get to 6.9, if it really is say in the 5's....so you may need to do the process a few times.
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    langerking's Avatar
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Thanks for your help! I just tested again using the very poor test instruments that I have available. Both the tests seem to indicate my pH is in the 6.7 to 6.9 range and not in the 5s. I am going to add about 120 oz of borax and see what I get.
    1) 21,000 gallons
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    3) IG (in ground)
    4) Vinyl
    5) Hayward 1.5 hp DE 3600 72 GPM

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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Quote Originally Posted by langerking
    I just ordered a Taylor 2006 kit from Amato.
    It may take a week for you to get the kit. Amato does not ship quickly. If you had ordered either the TFTestkits TF-100 or the Taylor K-2006 from TFTestkits, you would have received the kit in probably a couple of days (3 at most). The TF-100 is more economical since it has a much higher volume of reagents you use the most (see Test Kits Compared). Anyway, too late now, but just wanted you to know there's a reason we make the recommendations that we do.
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    There are 3 kit recommendations on this site and the Taylor 2006 was one of them. I didn't get your recommendation until after the order. Oh well....
    1) 21,000 gallons
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    OK, sorry we didn't make clear that TFTestkits has faster service and great prices, even for the Taylor K-2006 (the TF-100 uses Taylor chemicals repackaged in more logical amounts, but is only available from TFTestkits). This forum is not a commercial site -- there are no ads and commercial selling is not allowed -- but the owner of the forum site also owns TFTestkits so there's a delicate dance to not over-promote. On the other hand, nothing beats the service from TFTestkits and Dave is committed to keep it that way so individual forum users (both mods and regular posters) recommending kits will often recommend the TF-100.
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek
    OK, sorry we didn't make clear that TFTestkits has faster service and great prices, even for the Taylor K-2006 (the TF-100 uses Taylor chemicals repackaged in more logical amounts, but is only available from TFTestkits). This forum is not a commercial site -- there are no ads and commercial selling is not allowed -- but the owner of the forum site also owns TFTestkits so there's a delicate dance to not over-promote. On the other hand, nothing beats the service from TFTestkits and Dave is committed to keep it that way so individual forum users (both mods and regular posters) recommending kits will often recommend the TF-100.

    I second that.
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Quote Originally Posted by harleysilo
    Whoops my bad, changed my post. I'm concerned that your PH could really be lower than 6.8 PPM. It's my understanding that readings below 6.8 may show as 6.8.

    Here are some posts from mods i've copied pasted...

    " The common PH test shows PH below 6.8 as 6.8. The aeration is no doubt bringing up the PH, but hasn't gotten it to 6.8 yet.

    PH below 6.8 can damage your pool and equipment. I would bring the PH up to at least 6.9 with borax, and then continue with aeration. Aeration is slow, you don't want to wait that long with low PH."

    "Adjusting the PH is a top priority.

    Using tablets rapidly lowers the PH. Your PH is already too low. You should never allow PH to go below 7.2. PH below 7.0 can damage the pool, especially if the PH stays low for a long time or gets way below 7.2 for a shorter time."

    So in summary, i would attempt to raise your PH as you are doing, using the pool cal you can figure out how much Borax to add to get to 6.9, and then keep areating. It may take a few doses to get to 6.9, if it really is say in the 5's....so you may need to do the process a few times.
    I added a box of borax today and after a few hours I measured my pH at 7.2. Even if the accuracy of my test is poor, I can definitely see a significant color change so it's moving in the right direction.
    1) 21,000 gallons
    2) DE
    3) IG (in ground)
    4) Vinyl
    5) Hayward 1.5 hp DE 3600 72 GPM

    Taylor K-2006
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Well it went a lot slower than I thought but the aeration did raise my pH to the desired level by this morning. I had the pump running for a good 60-65 hrs and used 1 76 oz box of Borax to help things along. My test kit will get here on Thurs and I will be able to make more reliable measurements then, but the pH is in the 7.6 range. T.A. looks to be at about 140. I am using liquid chlorine and increased the T.C to about 7.0 for now, I will adjust that accordingly when I have a more trustworthy measurement on my CYA.
    I am a bit disappointed that the T.A. still rose despite all my efforts to increase only the pH. I am so glad I only put 25 lbs of the recommended 30 lbs of baking soda in before I started looking at things more closely and coming to this website and forum.
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Test kit came in last night, measured this morning and here are the results:

    FC - 9.0
    CC - 0.5
    pH - 7.4
    TA - 90
    CH - 130
    CYA - ~200!! It is so high it is way off the scale. I only filled the tube to 0.6 inches and the 100 mark is at 1.2 inches

    I am going to have to completely drain my pool to fix this.
    1) 21,000 gallons
    2) DE
    3) IG (in ground)
    4) Vinyl
    5) Hayward 1.5 hp DE 3600 72 GPM

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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Quote Originally Posted by langerking
    Test kit came in last night, measured this morning and here are the results:

    FC - 9.0
    CC - 0.5
    pH - 7.4
    TA - 90
    CH - 130
    CYA - ~200!! It is so high it is way off the scale. I only filled the tube to 0.6 inches and the 100 mark is at 1.2 inches

    I am going to have to completely drain my pool to fix this.
    No, not all the way. But close.

    1) The scale markings on that CYA tester are not equidistant. It's probably closer to 300. The way to know for sure is to dilute the pool water sample with an equal amount of tap water, then use that blend as the sample you test and double the reading. And if that's over 100, dilute it again.

    2) With a vinyl liner you don't want to empty it 100%, or the liner my shift and wrinkle. You should leave a foot or so in the shallow end.

    3) You might have to drain a bunch, refill, some, and drain again to get CYA down to a reasonable number.

    4) With that test kit, the pool calculator, and this website, this should be the last time such dramatic measures are ever needed.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    langerking's Avatar
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard320
    Quote Originally Posted by langerking
    Test kit came in last night, measured this morning and here are the results:

    FC - 9.0
    CC - 0.5
    pH - 7.4
    TA - 90
    CH - 130
    CYA - ~200!! It is so high it is way off the scale. I only filled the tube to 0.6 inches and the 100 mark is at 1.2 inches

    I am going to have to completely drain my pool to fix this.
    No, not all the way. But close.

    1) The scale markings on that CYA tester are not equidistant. It's probably closer to 300. The way to know for sure is to dilute the pool water sample with an equal amount of tap water, then use that blend as the sample you test and double the reading. And if that's over 100, dilute it again.

    2) With a vinyl liner you don't want to empty it 100%, or the liner my shift and wrinkle. You should leave a foot or so in the shallow end.

    3) You might have to drain a bunch, refill, some, and drain again to get CYA down to a reasonable number.

    4) With that test kit, the pool calculator, and this website, this should be the last time such dramatic measures are ever needed.
    "Drain my pool" was a meant kind of figuratively. We had an accidental draining a few years ago and it cost us that liner (it was an old one already). I understand the non-linearity of the scale. I am also seeing the foolishness of my ways by not buying the TF-100 from TFTestkits. After one CYA test my R-0013 reagent is down about 25%. I can do about 3 more tests. Guess I will be ordering replenishments soon.

    I think I will take some corrective action before I remeasure the CYA. At any rate I know that it is very high. I'll start draining the pool down and refilling during the next week or so and then see where I am at. This is going to throw off everything though, my well water is acidic (<6.8) and I will be continuously re-balancing.
    1) 21,000 gallons
    2) DE
    3) IG (in ground)
    4) Vinyl
    5) Hayward 1.5 hp DE 3600 72 GPM

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  20. Back To Top    #20
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    Re: Should I add Borax?

    Since the pH of my well water is < 6.8 I am diverting rain water into my pool. Went to Lowes and got the hardware, it's all ready to go. It is looking like rain this afternoon, it's been quite a rainy summer so far so this should work just fine. I'll take a sample of the rain water and measure once it starts so I will know what I am working with.
    1) 21,000 gallons
    2) DE
    3) IG (in ground)
    4) Vinyl
    5) Hayward 1.5 hp DE 3600 72 GPM

    Taylor K-2006
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