PH or Borax

May 12, 2016
Greenville, SC
So, I've been reading and reading etc.. Ive successfully slammed my pool. (After I've already added a ton of bag shock! I know I know, it's a bad thing). I have since drained 1/3 of my pool and then refilled her up. Gotta check the "levels" when I get home tonight.

So, in my reading, I swear I've read that Borax would replace PH Up? But then I've been reading "Borates - Why and How" So now I'm even more confused. Should I be using Borax for PH Up? Just wanna be sure I'm adding the proper things as needed.

From my understanding, normal PH Up also affects the Alkalinity. So, use bleach then Borax (for ph up) and Baking Soda for Alkalinity. Am I right here?

I'm so confused.. :confused::confused:

Thanks in advance!

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Don't get borates and Borax itself confused. You're correct that borax, soda ash and/or aeration can be used to increase pH. Some of those will effect TA more than others, but pH is always the most important to watch. When in doubt, refer to the "Recommended Chemicals" page that is linked below in my signature. :)


TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
Tucson, AZ
pH-UP is basically a more expensive version of washing soda, aka, sodium carbonate. It raises both pH and TA very strongly.

Borax is sodium tetraborate decahydrate. It raises pH strongly but only adds a negligible amount to TA. Even if one borates their pool to the recommended level of 50ppm, the additional TA increase is minor (about 5ppm or so).

Alkalinity Increaser is nothing more than baking soda, aka, sodium bicarbonate. Baking soda increases TA but only increases pH slowly over time and with aeration of the pool water.

If you need to raise pH and your TA is at the right level, then it is best to either aerate the water and bring it up naturally OR add some borax to bring it up a little more quickly. One should only use baking soda or washing soda if the pH were dangerously low and it needed to come up quickly.

As for adding borates, that is a different topic. One should only consider adding borates to 50ppm if they feel it will help with pH rise. Not all pools need borates.


TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
Yes, you are right.

If you use poolmath to calculate a dose and then scroll way down to Effects of Adding Chemicals and plug that in, it will tell you how much the Borax or the pH Up (aka Soda Ash aka washing soda) will add to the TA. Ignore the pH estimate. It won't match what you targeted up above unless your water is within very specific parameters. But the TA addition will be right.

Using Borax then baking soda lets you juggle each parameter individually. The amount of borax you add to raise pH is nowhere close to what you'd need in the Borates article. Don't sweat it. If you already have some pH up that the pool store sold you, and you're not suffering from high TA, use it up and get rid of it.