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Thread: Such thing as too much borates?

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    Such thing as too much borates?

    My borates are reading 80.

    Should I start using something else to raise Ph?

    Is there an "upper limit?"
    10K IG fiberglass pool, Hayward 24" Sand Filter, 1.5HP Hayward superpump, Heat Pump Heater

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    Re: Such thing as too much borates?

    Good questions, but we don't have real answers for this. The 30-50 ppm Borates recommended range came mostly from what Proteam Supreme and similar products have recommended and is consistent with reasonable pH buffering and a mild algaecidal effect. It is known that this level is also at the edge of having first symptoms in dogs that drink cups to quarts per day (depending on size of dog). Higher borate levels, at what you'd get to in pools (say, 100-150 ppm) are probably not a serious problem, but since we don't really know it's better to be conservative and avoid it.

    If your pool has a tendency to drop in pH, then the easiest way to counteract that is with a higher TA level -- unless your pool is covered since high TA will only help keep pH up if the water is exposed to the air. Are you using an acidic source of chlorine such as Trichlor pucks/tabs? It would be unusual to see the pH drop and need to use Borax when using hypochlorite sources of chlorine (e.g. chlorinating liquid, bleach, Cal-Hypo, lithium hypochlorite).

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Such thing as too much borates?

    The BioGuardĀ® Optimizer Plus instructions recommend borates at 50-80 for baquacil pools, so levels up to 80 should not pose any special risks (except to pets). And even at 80 the pet risk is still minimal with training to not drink pool water.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Such thing as too much borates?

    Thanks.

    Not worried about dogs - I don't have one. I am using bleach (of course!). The Ph lowers because I have been having staining issues and adding ascorbic acid and seqesterant quite a bit. Otherwise, the Ph holds very steady.

    Since the test strip I have only measures up to 80, I diluted the pool water sample 50% with tap water to see what I really have. The tap tested free of borates. Got about the 40 (in between the 30 and 50), so 40 x 2 = 80. So, I think this is fairly accurate.

    Don't want to get it too high since nobody really knows the outcome. So, I guess the only way to raise Ph (without using Borax) is to aerate since I know Ph+ in pool stores also raises TA (I think).
    10K IG fiberglass pool, Hayward 24" Sand Filter, 1.5HP Hayward superpump, Heat Pump Heater

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    Re: Such thing as too much borates?

    Aeration would be a good option as that would raise the pH with no change in TA. Over time, the TA will slowly drop from the combination of acid addition and aeration. One other option is to use pure lye (sodium hydroxide) that you would pre-dissolve in a bucket of pool water. One pound (16 ounces weight) of Borax is equivalent to 1/2 pound (8 ounces weight) of pH Up is equivalent to 3.2 ounces weight of lye so it's pretty concentrated.

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Such thing as too much borates?

    Thanks, Richard. In all my reading here and at PF, I've never seen lye mentioned as an alternative Ph up. Glad I asked and thanks for providing! I would never have guess something as corrosive as lye should be added to a pool, but then again, if m-acid can be added, I guess I'd try it.

    I'm not sure if a local store would carry lye, but there are some places in the internet were you can buy lye at $3.50-$4.00 a lb, which would actually be cheaper than my borax costs me, considering of course, the concentration of lye to borax is 5x.

    I'm assuming lye will add some salt to the pool. No other effects? Do you know if it can safely be stored in a hot shed?
    10K IG fiberglass pool, Hayward 24" Sand Filter, 1.5HP Hayward superpump, Heat Pump Heater

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    Re: Such thing as too much borates?

    You are correct that lye is a very concentrated and is very corrosive and highly reactive, but it's somewhat similar to Muriatic Acid in that way -- perhaps less dangerous then the acid in some respects and more dangerous in others. Anyway, it's not recommended here because Borax is normally fine to use, is easy to get, isn't too expensive, etc.

    Search on the net for soap making websites -- they tend to tell you where you can get pure lye cheaply since it's used in making homemade soap. Wear gloves when handling it. By the way, Drano Crystals are 30-60% sodium hydroxide (the rest is sodium nitrate, sodium chloride and aluminum flakes). Drano is not suitable to use for pools, but I just wanted to give you an idea that it is found in typical households.

    The lye added to the pool will only add to sodium and is analogous to Muriatic Acid that only adds to chloride. If both were added to the pool (obviously not to each other since you never do that with concentrated chemicals) you would just end up with sodium chloride salt (and extra water).

    As for storage, it is recommended to store in a tightly closed container in a cool dry place. Sodium Hydroxide solid is very hygroscopic -- it absorbs moisture from the air. It also rapidly absorbs carbon dioxide from the air forming sodium carbonate so keeping the container tightly sealed is most critical. As for storing in a shed, the higher temperature is mostly a concern for causing the container to bloat and keeping the container sealed is critical. So I suppose it depends on where the pool shed is located -- in Arizona in the summer (110+ F) I wouldn't recommend having it stored there, but in California near the coasts (i.e. 80-90F) it might be OK.

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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