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Thread: Confusion to share with all.

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    Confusion to share with all.

    Ok, being a somewhat savvy with chemistry I know that Baking Soda is a base therefore an acid neutralizer (baking soda is an antacid), so when I read the pool calculator and saw "soda" wash, I just assumed it was baking soda.

    After my TA numbers keep going up and the PH was not increasing as I wanted when adding the baking soda, I re-read in the pool school and went "oh ****."

    I realized I should be using Borates (Boraxo) for the PH.

    The pool calculator states that Baking Soda raises the PH in the Total Alkalinity section too.

    So what is the bottom line on this? The 20 Mule Team added in the right amout brought the PH right into line.

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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    I concur that the several products to raise pH cause confusion.

    Back in the day, when we didn't complicate things so much, we suggested 20 Mule Team Borax to raise pH and it worked. It always will. It's readily available as well.

    I am hopeful we can reevaluate some of the more confusing information we offer as advice.

    It is difficult for many newbies to get a quick grasp of the basic priniciples we teach when they are hit with too much information.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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  3. Back To Top    #3
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    Soda ash or washing soda, what is commonly sold as pH increaser, is really only useful if you need to raise pH AND TA quickly and that really only happens when you are using trichlor or dichlor. We do have people that use these products and some are very successful with them because the rate at which they add CYA pretty much equals the rate they lose it from backwashing and splashout and they probably have a very short swim season and dilute the pool water during each winterization and opening. For this reason it I feel it should be included.
    As far as BBB goes it soda ash really has no use unless one is acid washing their pool or screws up and adds too much acid by accident since it will take care of the problem much faster than having to raise the pH with borax and then raise the TA with baking soda!

    People, especially newbies, are going to make mistakes. We can only do so much handholding. It is from our mistakes that we truly learn. I will bet that the OP now has a MUCH BETTER understanding of what to use to raise pH or TA that they might never have had if they had not made this mistake!

    As far as it goes 'back in the day' (and I assume you mean PF) there was just as much confusion. It was over there that the whole CYA in a sock started and got carried over here and it was over their that the confusion on lowering TA was never really explained that has finally been explained here in as clear terms as something as technical can be explained!

    Back in the day we did not have the pool calculator and told people that a gallons of 6% bleach will raise 10k gallons about 6 ppm and to do the math or we used bleachcalc.

    Bleachcalc is certainly less intimidating for a newbie than the Pool Calculator, IMHO, since it only looks at one calculation at a time instead of hitting the pool owner with everything at once but even that had a steep learning curve and it has some well documented bugs.
    My 2 cents!

  4. Back To Top    #4
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbarr64
    I realized I should be using Borates (Boraxo) for the PH.
    Before you make another blunder, Boraxo is a hand soap and NOT what you want to put in your pool. 20 Mule Team Borax (which is one of the ingredients IN Boraxo) IS!

  5. Back To Top    #5
    Guest

    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    Typo. Twenty Mule team with tetraborates.

  6. Back To Top    #6
    AnnaK's Avatar
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    I'm all for keeping it simple. That, after all, IS what BBB is all about.

    We tell people, not only people in this community but also friends and neighbors, that the ingredients for BBB are readily available at the local grocery store. For BBB, that's eminently true but where at the grocery store do I find soda ash? What is soda ash, anyway, and where do you get it? My grocery store doesn't have anything called 'washing soda' or 'soda ash'.

    I have a nice grip on my pool's chemistry using bleach, baking soda (rarely), and borax (20 Mule team) but I will admit to some slight intimidation when PoolCalc tells me to add soda ash or washing soda.

    PoolCalc is a great tool, made even more so when I realized I don't have to be connected to the Internet to use it. Out here in the Holler our connections are often more miss than hit
    — AnnaK —

    12,000 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    I've never seen washing soda around here either but I did find it last week or so at a different grocery store. I said AH HAAA! That's what you look like and where I can find you if I need you!
    I'd bet you my bikini you'll never get TFP water from a pool store!

    24' Sharkline Venture De Filter

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaK
    I'm all for keeping it simple. That, after all, IS what BBB is all about.

    We tell people, not only people in this community but also friends and neighbors, that the ingredients for BBB are readily available at the local grocery store. For BBB, that's eminently true but where at the grocery store do I find soda ash? What is soda ash, anyway, and where do you get it? My grocery store doesn't have anything called 'washing soda' or 'soda ash'.

    I have a nice grip on my pool's chemistry using bleach, baking soda (rarely), and borax (20 Mule team) but I will admit to some slight intimidation when PoolCalc tells me to add soda ash or washing soda.

    PoolCalc is a great tool, made even more so when I realized I don't have to be connected to the Internet to use it. Out here in the Holler our connections are often more miss than hit
    http://www.thelaundrybasket.com/Our_...shing_sod.html

    Borax and Baking Soda together will work to accomplish the same thing as Soda Ash. I agree KISS!

    Borax is probably a lot easier to find anyway. Soda Ash is called for in certain situations when both PH and TA are really low, but again, Borax and Baking soda can be used too.

    What's that phrase 6 to one, half-dozen to the other....
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
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  9. Back To Top    #9
    AnnaK's Avatar
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    I know we can find washing soda on the Web but not everybody has Internet access. In my view, it sort of defeats the get-it-at-the-grocery-store method of easy pool water maintenance when we recommend a product that isn't readily available to everyone.

    As to the soda ash, it's sodium carbonate, the same as washing soda. PoolCalc says "add x amount of washing soda or soda ash" which has always sounded to me like "add one or the other" - until I looked them up and learned they're the same thing. Maybe we need to change the syntax in PoolCalc to read: "Add x amount of washing soda (soda ash)" ?

    When new people come here overwhelmed by this huge new task of keeping up their pools we send them to Pool School. The articles are great, they truly are, but a new owner with a green tinge to her water can't possibly absorb all of that information quickly enough to cope with her water. She'll pick up on the PoolCalc right away and tries it out only to learn she needs washing soda OR soda ash. Two more things to buy? And where at the Safeway or Kroger's is it?

    I really do not mean to belabor this, but I do think we might be heading in a direction that overly complicates things and sends people right back to the pool stores where they can buy pH Up and Down and Alkalinity Increaser - chemicals with names that make sense to new pool owners. The section on Recommended Pool Chemicals in Pool School does define what commercial products contain soda ash, for instance, or where to buy muriatic acid but nearly all new questions we get have just a hint of hysteria, and who can blame the people? It's scary when the builder goes away after having dumped magic powders in the water and now the water is green.

    Perhaps we could have a very short sticky right below "Read this First" which says just a little about our philosophy of pool maintenance (a couple of sentences) and then gives a short list of supplies. "Here is what you'll need: laundry bleach, baking soda, 20 Mule Team Borax" with a strong suggestion that they read the first six articles in Pool School to become familiar with the terminology we use. It might also be useful if the Pool Chemicals article included the pool store names of the chemicals we recommend. It's easier to understand a new concept when we can draw mental lines to things we already know.

    I hijacked this thread, didn't I?
    — AnnaK —

    12,000 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

  10. Back To Top    #10
    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    I totally agree with you Anna. Hopefully things will get simpler, as time passes and we grow larger, we need to appeal to the masses and not overwhelm and scare folk off.

    A simple step by step guide for new pool owners, newly filled pools... etc.

    (I only posted the link so people could see a pic.) I've not seen the product in stores by me either.

    I think also too we have new members who go out and buy stuff without testing first, ending up with a bunch of Borax and Baking Soda they don't need cause their tap water PH/TA are fine or too high. LOL

    Sometimes some of us can give TMI and scare newbs away. I know I'm guilty of it from time to time. I'll confess I was totally confused by the whole "which product is better" to raise PH until just this past April. Now thanks to Evan, I have a "cheat sheet".

    I'll let someone else decide if our discussions were a hijack worthy enough for splitting off....
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

  11. Back To Top    #11
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    However, in those situations where washing soda is really the best choice you would need a LOT more borax and baking soda th achieve the same effect. (You would need double the borax AND about 1 1/4 the amount of baking soda to achieve approx the same pH and TA rise)
    Granted it's a special case but it is often a case we see with a newbie who has come her and has been using trichlor and not testing (AND very probably has a container of pH up on hand.)
    Even borax is not needed that often for pH control. If someone is using bleach or has a SWG then it is more likely that pH will rise instead of drop (unless they keep the pool covered too much). As far as availability. I have found it in three different grocery stores right in the Laundry aisle and I can remember many threads in the past where people were having trouble finding borax in the grocery store.
    Is there a right answer? I don't know. Will special cases come up where it is better to be flexible to achieve the desired results? Most definitely. (Look at the number of people on here who use trichlor in a modified BBB. It'a all about UNDERSTANDING what the chemicals do and knowing when to use them. Should we expect a beginner to be able to grasp these fine points? I think not but does that mean we should ignore them and pretend they don't exist? I will let all of you answer that one but that would not really be educating about swimming pool care for those that WANT to learn the advanced stuff, IMHO. (And I can remember when some of our very advanced members that do understand these fine points were newbies that were just learning!)

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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaK
    I'm all for keeping it simple......
    PoolCalc is a great tool, made even more so when I realized I don't have to be connected to the Internet to use it. Out here in the Holler our connections are often more miss than hit
    Anna - I've always connected to the internet to use PoolCalc. How did you add it to your desktop so internet access wasn't necessary?
    Thanks
    15x30 IG vinyl liner pool, pool cage
    Hayward S-220T high rate sand filter and Hayward super pump w/1hp motor
    Hayward SwimPure Plus SWG
    Polaris 380 cleaner and booster pump

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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    The system we have going is so simple and functional that we soon become 'Advanced beginners' (just had to throw that in ) and quickly forget that we were all new to pools at one time. Once we reach that point we begin to sling jargon and acronyms and yes, TMI, or we get overly brief by sending people to Pool School without addressing their immediate needs right then. That can be enormously frustrating to an already frustrated owner.

    Sure, it does work both ways. We get the same questions over and over again and you just want to bang your head against a wall. The SEARCH function works well; in addition, chances are there's a current thread running on 'green water' or 'pump quit' just two or three posts down. We, too, get frustrated. Didn't we just answer how to pour bleach or whether to brush earlier this day?

    BUT!

    We offer this forum as a medium of assistance. We're kind of the ER for sick pools and it's a natural consequence that the new questions will nearly always be about the same things. We can't afford to shove folks off by sending them to Pool School. We need to practice triage, help them manage the immediate problem, then recommend the most pertinent article(s) in Pool School.

    PS is an incredibly valuable resource. Every single time I read an article there I find myself muttering, "I didn't know that!" with light bulbs going off and pennies dropping. I'm concerned that PS is too much to take in and that, by sending them there in answer to their initial questions, what happens in reality is that they'll go to the pool store. Where they'll buy a ton of stuff, dump it in their pools, then come back with more questions . . . and THEN we can suggest they start at the beginning, read Pool School.

    Gawd! Not only will I get my head soaked in an algae pond for hijacking but I fear I'm not doing a very good job of explaining my point.
    — AnnaK —

    12,000 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

  14. Back To Top    #14
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaK
    As to the soda ash, it's sodium carbonate, the same as washing soda. PoolCalc says "add x amount of washing soda or soda ash" which has always sounded to me like "add one or the other" - until I looked them up and learned they're the same thing. Maybe we need to change the syntax in PoolCalc to read: "Add x amount of washing soda (soda ash)" ?
    IMHO, the pool calculator is a bit overwhelmng for a newbie but then again, before we had it and we all recommended BleachCalc newbies even had problems using that. I once suggested that we recommend BleachCalc for newbies over the Pool Calculator, which was better for someone who "had their feet wet", (I believe it was in the Moderator area) and I was quickly voted down. IMHO, to present all that info at once is a lot to someone who is only trying to figure out how much bleach to add to shock their pool or how much CYA they need to add. I agree that the info we present should be broken down into a beginners area with the basics of BBB (with perhaps the modifications needed if they have a SWG, which have become more more common since even the start of this forum) but also present the advanced info for those that are ready and have a desire to learn it.
    Like wise. I find the current chlorine/CYA chart a bit cumbersome and think Ben Powell had it right when he presented a simple chart with a range of acceptable values for different CYA levels. Likewise, this whole keep shocking until there is less than 1ppm FC loss overnight is a bit of overkill in most cases. Just keep shocking until the pool is no longer green and then shock for one more day will handle the problem in the very vast majority of cases and is much easier and since we know that most people are not going to be testing and adding chlorine hourly how about suggesting adding some polyquat 60 also so the algae does not start growing back as quickly between shockings?

  15. Back To Top    #15
    AnnaK's Avatar
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    Quote Originally Posted by jagfan
    Anna - I've always connected to the internet to use PoolCalc. How did you add it to your desktop so internet access wasn't necessary?
    Thanks
    I bookmarked it. I open FireFox, click on the bookmarked tab, and it opens and runs.
    — AnnaK —

    12,000 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

  16. Back To Top    #16
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaK

    Gawd! Not only will I get my head soaked in an algae pond for hijacking but I fear I'm not doing a very good job of explaining my point.
    Anna,
    I believe we are on the same page here! I have seen this trend happen over the years in this forum. I keep saying that it is not necessary to micromanage a pool and that we don't need to be as precise as everyone tries to be but I think a lot of people just don't get it. When this forum was trying to come up with their recommened levels it was a process that was like having teeth pulled and I was often on the side of dissent until I explained n detail the reasons for my choices. It's fine to want to simplify things but what a plaster pool needs is NOt what a vinyl pool needs is not what a fiberglass pool needs and if someone is going to stick with trichlor because it is workable for them do we ignore the fact that they need to keep their TA higher and that washing soda is the best choice for them in many cases?
    It's not an easy thing to figure out but you are right that we lose site of the fact that people come here and are completely lost and then they get hit with CSI and chlorine/CYA relationships and different shock levels for CC and mustard and persistent CC from ammonia from bacterial degredation of CYA. I know all that would make ME put my tail in between my legs and run!

  17. Back To Top    #17
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    It sounds as if some sort of "Pool Triage Wizzard" is needed.
    Perhaps by selectively linking articles...

    Example:

    If your water is green, click here... that would load a page that asks "Do you have a TF1000 test kit?, if not, do you have strips?
    If the response is "strips", what is your current CL/PH/TA readings?
    And so forth....
    Almost like an automated self help center.

    -Ken-
    20'x40' / 30,000 Gal / In Ground / Vinyl
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    Jandy Lite2 400k BTU Propane Heater / Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    TF-100 Test Kit / BBB
    Creator of SimplePool (BBB Friendly Android App) http://www.simplepool.net

  18. Back To Top    #18
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaK
    Quote Originally Posted by jagfan
    Anna - I've always connected to the internet to use PoolCalc. How did you add it to your desktop so internet access wasn't necessary?
    Thanks
    I bookmarked it. I open FireFox, click on the bookmarked tab, and it opens and runs.
    Actually you have to click "file" in Firefox and then "Save Page As".
    It will save an HTML file and a folder
    If you click on the HTML file Pool Calculator will run offline

    In IE you want to save it as a web archive (opens in IE only) or as a "web page, complete" (open in any browser).

  19. Back To Top    #19
    AnnaK's Avatar
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    I never could get BleachCalc to run on my Mac.

    And yes, I agree the shocking-until-it-holds and the related testing-every-hour is probably a bit much. Back to K.I.S.S. Run your pump 24/7, brush the bottom even though you can't see it, start out with some large jugs of Clorox Ultra, give it a few days. Ok, maybe that's too simple but we can taylor the response to the poster's specific question. A green tinge doesn't require pea soup pond treatment. The advice we give about shocking is valid but it may also be intimidating.

    As is our approach to test kits. Are the two we recommend the best available? Yes, without a doubt. But what people have are strips and little Walmart test kits. I did for the first three years. My pool survived my ignorance. My first exposure to online pool help was Ben's PF. If the response I got then had been 'those strips are trash, throw them away, spend $70-some on a decent test kit' with the implication that 'we can't help you until you buy one' I would not have been back.

    Strips are inaccurate, yes, but if that's all they have then let's first send them to the pool store to have their water tested via titration, suggest they don't buy anything but come back and post the numbers, help them with their crisis and then suggest a better test kit to take control over their pool's destiny.

    Oh, and while I'm on a roll . . .

    I would like us to be a little more specific when we talk about adding bleach. We say "Add a large jug" or "add a bottle of Clorox" - which may lead to misunderstandings. I buy large jugs but not the HUGE jugs, see what I mean? Someone the other day wrote that she had added 2 quarts of bleach. That was specific information. When we advise people we might specify the 128 oz size or 'add 48 oz' or 8 cups or whatever.

    Sigh. There I go, getting anal, sheesh.
    — AnnaK —

    12,000 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

  20. Back To Top    #20
    AnnaK's Avatar
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    Re: Confusion to share with all.

    Quote Originally Posted by waterbear
    Actually you have to click "file" in Firefox and then "Save Page As".

    Yeah, what he said! I just realized that my access to the offline calculator is a saved HTML file.
    — AnnaK —

    12,000 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

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