Mistake Adding Borates - NEED HELP

May 7, 2016
9
Vancleave, MS
#1
I just realized I did something incredibly stupid and I need help.

My pool is 33k gallon vinyl w/ SWG and sand filter. Test results before the mistake were:

FC: 6
CC: 0
Ph: 7.4
TA: 70
CYA: 70
Salt: 3200
Borates: 15

I used Pool Math with the intention of calculating requirements for bringing my borates to 50. I mistakenly left the pull-down menu on borax when my plan was to use boric acid. So, here's what was added today: 1356oz Boric Acid and 646oz Muriatic Acid. What SHOULD have been added was just 879oz of Boric Acid and no Muriatic Acid.

I haven't tested, but after realizing my mistake I used the "effects calculator" at the bottom of pool math to see what my error likely did to my water. My borates should be 69, my pH 2.37, and my TA zero.

I could really use the advice/recommendations of some of the heavy-hitters here to help me recover asap to keep potential damage to a minimum. I'll followup in the morning with updated test results, but am not sure how to estimate pH given anything below 7 is out of range on my kit.
 

Nursenini

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Sep 22, 2015
2,122
Bixby, Ok
#2
I think you can drain some water to get your borates to 50 and refill to proper water level and add some pH increaser to get your pH to a safe number. Shouldn't be a hard fix but I would do it ASAP.
 

Donldson

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Jun 12, 2009
3,288
NW Ohio
#3
Why are you waiting til morning to test your pH and TA? This needs corrected now. The effects calculator doesn't work correctly for such big changes in pH or TA so you need to measure that yourself. If you get some TA then you can slowly adjust your pH and TA back to something reasonable. If your TA comes in at zero then you want to add 50 ppm worth of baking soda right away and allow that to mix 30-60 minutes. That should also bring your pH up to something where you can begin to adjust it.

I wouldn't worry about the extra borates, it won't really hurt anything.
 
May 7, 2016
9
Vancleave, MS
#4
Why are you waiting til morning to test your pH and TA? This needs corrected now. The effects calculator doesn't work correctly for such big changes in pH or TA so you need to measure that yourself. If you get some TA then you can slowly adjust your pH and TA back to something reasonable. If your TA comes in at zero then you want to add 50 ppm worth of baking soda right away and allow that to mix 30-60 minutes. That should also bring your pH up to something where you can begin to adjust it.

I wouldn't worry about the extra borates, it won't really hurt anything.
I didn’t test right away because I don’t have the chemicals on hand to correct it. Testing in the morning still allows me to have the info when the stores open.


Did you mean baking soda or soda ash? I’ve never used either of these, but comparing the two, wouldn’t baking soda have a fairly negligible affect on pH where soda ash would raise both pH and TA?
 

Donldson

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Jun 12, 2009
3,288
NW Ohio
#6
No, I meant baking soda. When your TA bottoms out your pH crashes. If you use soda ash you will bring them both up but your TA will be far too low still and you will still need to add baking soda, which will cause you to overshoot and require adding even more acid. Fix the TA first, get it in a reasonable range and your pH will rise significantly just from that. Then you can carefully adjust the pH to get back in to range.

Sent from my HTC6545LVW using Tapatalk
 
May 7, 2016
9
Vancleave, MS
#8
Okay, the moment has come. Here are the results:

FC: 5

CC: 0
Ph: 3.5 (HM digital PH-80)
TA: 0 (turned red immediately)
CYA: 50 (this didn't drop as it appears, the 70 number listed in my first test is a typo)
Salt: 3200
Borates: Color match was closer to 80 than 50, so we'll call it 70
Temp: 78

Looks like the Pool Estimates were spot on for what was added.

So...where do I go from here? I did a little further reading on adding baking soda, and while I know everything I read on the internet isn't true, someone stated adding baking soda in water with a pH less than 5.5 will have little to no effect on TA because it converts to carbonic acid when added.

I'm only checking and double checking because whatever I do I'd like to do right and not end up chasing my tail more than needed. Playing around with the pool math "effects of" calculator, adding 50oz of baking soda raises TA 6.8 and pH 0.01. Adding 50oz of soda ash raises TA 11 and pH 0.33. Looking at those numbers, I'm not sure why using soda ash will leave the TA far too low when it seems to raise it more?


 

MPurcell

Well-known member
Feb 17, 2017
105
Dahlonega, Georgia
#9
... I'm not sure why using soda ash will leave the TA far too low when it seems to raise it more?
According to the numbers you posted, baking soda will raise TA 680 PPM for each 1.0 rise in pH and soda ash will raise TA 33 PPM for each 1.0 rise in pH.

However, I'm not sure the numbers are that severe. In my hot tub, raising pH from 7.2 to 7.5 with baking soda raises TA about 20 PPM, or roughly 67 PPM for each 1.0 rise in pH.
 

Donldson

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Jun 12, 2009
3,288
NW Ohio
#10
A direct quote from PoolMath:
Note: pH calculations are not exact. These numbers are only suggestive of the relative magnitude of the pH change you can expect. Small changes, +-0.4, with pH between 7.2-7.8, TA around 80-120, and Borate near zero will be approximately correct. The further you go from those ranges the less these pH changes will correspond to reality.
You are trying to figure out a HUGE change, with pH well out of range, zero TA, and borates well above zero. The numbers it comes up with are essentially useless in your situation.
 

duraleigh

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
31,328
Sebring, Florida
#11
Please take Donldson's advice and add baking soda until you get TA to 50. It works......proven.

I would personally be in a pretty big rush to get pH up into a non dangerous range by getting the TA up first and then taking pH to mid 7's

It's your call, but your pool is in a very corrosive condition and needs, in my mind, immediate attention.
 
May 7, 2016
9
Vancleave, MS
#12
Thank you all. I do understand my pool needs attention, and I'm here because my lurking here last season kept me out of trouble and helped me through my first season of maintaining a pool. I actually did pretty well up until yesterday :)

About the baking soda/carbonic acid thing I mentioned above...is it this conversion/reaction/whatever that's causing the TA to rise? Is there no truth in what I read that baking soda will have zero affect on TA in pH under 5?

Sorry if I'm frustrating anyone. Please know I'm hearing everything you say, but I'm trying to understand the full picture and get my head around everything that needs to be done to get both the TA and pH back where it needs to be. Should I be trying to avoid a situation where my TA is back in range but my pH is still a hair either side of 3? What are my next steps after the TA has been adjusted? If the pool math is incorrect, what increase should I expect to see in pH, and how will I continue to raise it once the TA is as it should be?

EDITED TO ADD: I do have a digital pH meter. I calibrated it this morning and it's measuring current pH at 3.5.
 

Patrick_B

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 7, 2011
14,999
Midland TX
#14
Once you get the TA up, use one of the faster methods of raising pH. You have Soda Ash on hand already right? And already plenty of Borate, so no need for more of that.
 

domct203

Bronze Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 3, 2015
3,959
CT
#15
Playing around with the pool math "effects of" calculator, adding 50oz of baking soda raises TA 6.8 and pH 0.01. Adding 50oz of soda ash raises TA 11 and pH 0.33. Looking at those numbers, I'm not sure why using soda ash will leave the TA far too low when it seems to raise it more?
You are confusing oz with ppm. The advise was to add 50ppm worth of baking soda, or in other words, enough baking soda to add 50ppm to TA. According to pool math, that is approx. 390oz by weight of baking soda.

Why are you waiting til morning to test your pH and TA? This needs corrected now. The effects calculator doesn't work correctly for such big changes in pH or TA so you need to measure that yourself. If you get some TA then you can slowly adjust your pH and TA back to something reasonable. If your TA comes in at zero then you want to add 50 ppm worth of baking soda right away and allow that to mix 30-60 minutes. That should also bring your pH up to something where you can begin to adjust it.

I wouldn't worry about the extra borates, it won't really hurt anything.
 
May 7, 2016
9
Vancleave, MS
#16
I don't have anything on hand at the moment, but will be shopping over lunch.

I'm rereading the chemical section of pool school, and there's this: "PH can be raised in three ways: borax, soda ash, and aeration. Borax is usually the best choice. Borax raises the PH and also raises the TA level just a little. If your TA level is low soda ash will raise both the PH and TA levels. If your TA level is high, aeration is best as it will not raise the TA level at all. However, aeration is rather slow compared to the other two."

I'm assuming borax is out given my borate level of 70. Aeration will be painfully slow coming from a <4 pH. So soda ash seems to be the only choice for raising pH, right? I'm still confused given the bolded text why I wouldn't start with Soda Ash. I know you're not suggesting I raise my TA levels to something considered "high", but I'd really appreciate it if someone could give another go at explaining it. Clearly, it's the unanimous recommendation so I'm planning to go with it...but please help me understand why. The way I'm seeing it, pH is easier to adjust the lower the TA, so why not target it first? Using either carb or bicarb it appears the TA will rise to desired level before pH, and given the greater increase on pH using soda ash I'll have less to do once the TA is in range. No? Won't my TA end up too high (double or more my desired level of 70ppm) if I first bring it to 50ppm with baking soda, then add a fairly considerable amount of soda ash to just get my pH to 7?

For the record, I am aerating using a Polaris Water Stars fountain, but nothing I've experienced with it leads me to believe it will have a significant day-to-day impact.

You are confusing oz with ppm. The advise was to add 50ppm worth of baking soda, or in other words, enough baking soda to add 50ppm to TA. According to pool math, that is approx. 390oz by weight of baking soda.
I wasn't confusing the two. I just randomly (and admittedly, confusingly) picked 50oz to calculate the example.


 

domct203

Bronze Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 3, 2015
3,959
CT
#17
I don't have anything on hand at the moment, but will be shopping over lunch.

I'm rereading the chemical section of pool school, and there's this: "PH can be raised in three ways: borax, soda ash, and aeration. Borax is usually the best choice. Borax raises the PH and also raises the TA level just a little. If your TA level is low soda ash will raise both the PH and TA levels. If your TA level is high, aeration is best as it will not raise the TA level at all. However, aeration is rather slow compared to the other two."

I'm assuming borax is out given my borate level of 70. Aeration will be painfully slow coming from a <4 pH. So soda ash seems to be the only choice for raising pH, right? I'm still confused given the bolded text why I wouldn't start with Soda Ash. I know you're not suggesting I raise my TA levels to something considered "high", but I'd really appreciate it if someone could give another go at explaining it. Clearly, it's the unanimous recommendation so I'm planning to go with it...but please help me understand why. The way I'm seeing it, pH is easier to adjust the lower the TA, so why not target it first? Using either carb or bicarb it appears the TA will rise to desired level before pH, and given the greater increase on pH using soda ash I'll have less to do once the TA is in range. No? Won't my TA end up too high (double or more my desired level of 70ppm) if I first bring it to 50ppm with baking soda, then add a fairly considerable amount of soda ash to just get my pH to 7?

For the record, I am aerating using a Polaris Water Stars fountain, but nothing I've experienced with it leads me to believe it will have a significant day-to-day impact.



I wasn't confusing the two. I just randomly (and admittedly, confusingly) picked 50oz to calculate the example.


pH will begin to rise on it's own when you add the baking soda to raise TA. Exactly how much is a little hard to know when you crash TA & pH. We are trying to go slowly so you don't overshoot pH, which would require acid to lower, which in turn will lower your TA, which will require baking soda, etc, etc, etc.

Or as Donldson put it:
No, I meant baking soda. When your TA bottoms out your pH crashes. If you use soda ash you will bring them both up but your TA will be far too low still and you will still need to add baking soda, which will cause you to overshoot and require adding even more acid. Fix the TA first, get it in a reasonable range and your pH will rise significantly just from that. Then you can carefully adjust the pH to get back in to range.

Sent from my HTC6545LVW using Tapatalk
 

pooldv

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Aug 10, 2012
24,993
DFW, TX
#18
When TA crashes like that, the solution is always to add baking soda. You keep adding baking soda until the TA and pH come back up to normal ranges. In a pool with 0 TA and a pH below 4.5, the minute you add baking soda the pH and TA will rise. This happens because you are creating so much dissolved CO2, it's like opening a can of soda. The bicarbonate will be consumed rapidly, converted to CO2 (with consumption of a proton) and the pH will rise. The TA will not go up as far because it is being consumed. Once the pH gets above 6, the TA will start to increase faster than the pH and the water will start to return to normal. Then one can add a little borax or soda ash as needed.


Edit: one more point, it says if your TA level is low you can use soda ash to raise both pH and TA. That isn't applicable when TA is 0. Yes, you can use borax after you get the TA up above 50, the amount of borax used to raise PH vs the amount of borates added to the pool is negligible. And borates are safe up to 200 ppm.
 
May 7, 2016
9
Vancleave, MS
#19
Thanks everyone for the the added clarification. It made no difference to what was happening in the pool, but it did help me understand what and how things were happening, and why.

Things are much improved, but still not completely out of the woods. I initially added just under 400oz of baking soda which only resulted in TA of 30ppm. I added the remaining 50ish oz from the second bag I bought and am currently sitting at 40ppm. Naturally, I didn't buy a third bag...when will I learn?

Here are the full results from this evening:

FC: 7.5 (I turned my SWG up to about 80% figuring the chlorine would be lost quickly with the TA and pH bottomed out)
CC: 0
Ph: 5.9 (HM digital PH-80; drop test still comes out a bright yellow)
TA: 40
CYA: 50
Salt: 3200
Borates: 70
Temp: 80


Thanks all for the advice. I'll pick up another couple bags of baking soda in the morning and continue bumping up the TA with whatever amount pool math says will get me to 50ppm. I'm running my pump 24/7 to continue aerating and hopefully will be left with only a reasonably manageable pH problem by end of day tomorrow.
 

slinkyra531

Active member
Jun 7, 2013
35
Millville, PA
#20
Get you TA up to where is needs to be and maybe try putting something in that can assist with aeration. I'm thinking of something like an electric leaf blower rigged so only the end sticks in or maybe a small shop vac hooked up to blow air with the hose draped into the water. Those might help with aeration to help get your PH up in the meantime. It may burn up a little shop vac but I would take that chance over how corrosive your pool is right now.