Probably trying to do too many things at once!


Jul 2, 2016
Lincoln, Nebraska
Hello Friends,

I have done some reading on TFP in the past, but this year I really dug into it and decided to take the FULL plunge.

My Goals (not necessarily in order)
1. Add salt for feel / skin
2. Add borates (for many reasons)
3. Lower my TA?
4. Increase and maintain my pH
5. Switch to liquid bleach only

Pool temp is currently 91 degrees and will rise much higher in the next few days with 100 degree heat (but we like it really warm due to wind and nighttime swimming).

I just got the TF-100 last week along with the magnetic spinner, pH meter, and LaMotte Borate test strips.

These are my most RECENT readings, after adding several chemicals, discussed below...
FC: 8
CC: 0.5
TC: 8.5
pH: 7.2
TA: 130
CH: 200-275 - I need more practice with this test, but from what I understand, it is irrelevant since I have a vinyl pool and that's just the way our tap water is.
CYA: 46-50 - my husband and I both tested independently 2x today for practice. Our results have been pretty consistent, which makes me feel like I'm doing something right. ;)
Borates: 15

I have always had low pH. After much research, I realized it is from the trichlor pucks. The more I find out what the pool store hasn't told me, or in turn, advised me to do, such as increasing CYA, the more I realize what a fool I was. We have removed the floater from the pool and will probably need to dose with liquid bleach tomorrow with 100 degree heat and swimmers. Since the floater was only removed yesterday, I'm guessing that the chlorine, which is still in my pool from the pucks, is still effecting / lowering my pH?

Borax / MA:
Since I want to raise my pH and add borates to my pool, I decided to add some 20 mule team borax today. Before doing that my pH read ~7.0 and my TA was around 110 (pH and TA tests will discuss this more below). I added 1 1/3 boxes (~80oz by weight) to the pool today. I waited several hours then tested again. pH increased to ~7.5 and this time TA read 130. I then added 3 cups of MA to try to decrease my TA. I'm not sure if it actually worked due to bad testing on my part earlier in the day.

A couple of Side notes:
1. I was originally taught, by none other than the pool store guy, to record the TA as soon as the water turned "red". I learned today, that it is when the color stops changing colors, that I record the number (I had always wondered what "defined" red from person to person, as it always looked pink to me. Continuing to put in drops until the color no longer changes, makes much more sense to me!) Therefore, it is possible that the earlier TA measurement from today may have been higher than I thought...

2. I have a heck of a time differentiating the colors on the pH tests. Is there any drop test that completely changes one color to another the color for pH (like the TA, CH, or FC/CC).

3. Using borax, does anyone know the approximate TA rise, in proportion to pH? And vice versa, using MA, the approximate TA decrease in proportion to pH? I HAD high hopes of raising my pH and borates with Borax and lowering my TA with MA. I'm guessing this is not likely to happen and my best bet would be to balance my TA and pH then just us boric acid to add borates to the pool???

4. Does anyone have any test recommendations for testing borates? I currently have LaMotte test strips, but again, I am having a hard time differentiating and matching the colors. Are there any good drop tests available?

5. After adding borax, MA or any other chemical, how long should I wait before retesting if my pump is running on high?

Finally, what should I adjust my TA to? I have read anywhere from 50-120.
Is it possible to add borax, raising my pH and adding borates, and adding MA to lowering TA and pH, resulting in lower TA, normal pH, and borates in the pool? Or, is it just easier to lower my TA with MA, aerate to raise pH, then when TA and pH are in range, just add boric acid?
- lowering pH ...The only way I know to lower my pH without effecting other chemicals is to aerate. The only aerating process I have readily available is to point the return up creating "ruffles" in the water. Can this be done with the solar cover on, or does the pool need to be open in order to effectively aerate?

Due to a CYA of ~50, I need to keep my FC between 6-8. How does everyone test their chlorine daily when the color match box test only goes up to 5ppm? I assume using liquid bleach, I need to test with the R-0870 and R-0871 and add bleach daily based on the calculator?

Finally, I decided to add 80lbs of salt to the pool today. I read recommended level was 2000ppm, so in order to not overshoot, I started low until I have a test that can measure my salt levels. Again, any suggestions on good tests?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read through everything.

Any and all advice is appreciated.

Thank you!


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
Laughlin, NV
Welcome to the forum!

Lots of things going on here.
First, I would delay adding borates. It really should be after you have a very stable pool water chemistry for a good while. Some say wait a full season to see how things go. Borates help slow your rise in pH but they also make it very difficult to adjust TA and pH in the future.

So, if you do not add borates, relax on the TA. As your pH naturally rises to 8.0, you will add acid to drop it to 7.4 or so. That will drop your TA. No need to focus on the TA as you do not have a concern of calcium scaling.

If you want to know the effects of adding a chemical to your pool, use Effects of Adding Chemicals in PoolMath.

CYA is measured in whole 10's. It is a logarithmic scale. So your CYA from your discussion would be at 50 ppm.

What test kit are you using? You need to have a FAS-DPD test for FC. It can measure to 50 ppm FC. The OTO (color match) is generally not used.

It does not appear you have a SWCG but just wish to add salt? If so, the level is not that important. Just add enough for 1500 ppm and you should not be above 2000 ppm with what is in your pool water already. If you really want a test for salt, get a K-1766.

Hope I covered most of your questions. If I missed any, let me know.

Take care.

- - - Updated - - -

Just read again and you say you have a TF100. Use the FAS-DPD for FC. Read Pool School - FAS-DPD Chlorine Test

Divin Dave

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Oct 2, 2013
Longview, Texas
Hi Lacey,
to follow up on a couple of your topics...

pH test - there isn't a color changing pH test to make it easier to determine the reading. I have the same difficulties at time and I hold my test block against the sky, the ground, something white... LOL.. well you get the picture. The thing is, as long as its in an OK range its ok.

TA - What TA does is buffer the pH. Generally speaking, the lower the TA (to a point), the more stable the pH, and less MA you need to add over a period of time.
This is generally the case, but not always.

All pools are different and have different rates of pH rise. That's why there's a broad range of acceptable TA. So, dont do anythng to the TA right now. Just test your pH as normal over a period of itme, and if you notice it rising somewhat quickly, and having to add MA often (more than once a week). Your pool might be just fine with TA of 130, no way to know, except to keep testing pH, and make a determination of the pH rise rate.

Salt - There isnt a TFP recommendation for salt in a pool which doesn't have a Saltwater Chlorine Generator. Bleach contains a bit of salt in it and pool owners who use bleach often find their pools do have a concentration of it when tested. It's common and expected. If you added some, then there is no harm, but you don't need to. If you want to test for salt, the Taylor K1766 would be it. You won't have any problem with determining the reading like the pH test. The salt test is drastic when it changes colors. Even a color blind person can read this one! :)

CH- you're right. It isnt relative to a Vinyl pool, as long as it isn't crazy high, like well above 600 ppm.

Borate test - the test strips are all thats available to the general public for this test. Since Borates really arent relevant to the actual health of the pool, most people here at TFP just use Pool Math, and add however much it says will get you to X, and call it good.

Wait time - It's recommended to wait 20 to 30 minutes before you test again, after adding a chemical. If you have high circulation, you might can shorten that to 15 minutes. If your circulation is not so high, you might want to wait the full 30 minutes.

- is your friend. It will give you the answer to question 3. At the bottom of pool math is a feature call "EFFECTS OF ADDING". Check it out, it's cool!
It will tell you what will happen if you add 15 ozs of this or 5 lbs of that.

Here are a couple of quick references for you, just in case you don't have them bookmarked already.
Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart
Pool School - Recommended Levels

Hope this helps,


TFP Guide
May 10, 2017
Hays, Kansas
I love the Taylor acid demand test as the 7.8 and 8.0 shades I can't tell apart so I give my pH test a couple of drops of the acid or so demand and try to get it to cycle to the next shade down, then I know if it's 7.8 or 8.0 depending if it took two drops or more


Active member
Apr 24, 2018
King George, Va
I love the Taylor acid demand test as the 7.8 and 8.0 shades I can't tell apart so I give my pH test a couple of drops of the acid or so demand and try to get it to cycle to the next shade down, then I know if it's 7.8 or 8.0 depending if it took two drops or more
Now that's yet another really helpful tip.... I would never have thought of that myself. I'm learning a lot from this site, and from everyone's helpful comments. Thanks to all y'all (I think you know who you are..)!


TFP Guide
May 10, 2017
Hays, Kansas
Having said that it's still unscientific right now, we could probably reference pool school and the acid demand chart to get a better idea


Just use the acid demand test to 7.4 or 7.6 and use the acid demand chart since your pH is 7.8-8.0+ might as well drop it to the 7.5 range


Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
Silicon Valley, CA
I love the Taylor acid demand test as the 7.8 and 8.0 shades I can't tell apart so I give my pH test a couple of drops of the acid or so demand and try to get it to cycle to the next shade down, then I know if it's 7.8 or 8.0 depending if it took two drops or more
I like this approach too. I use the acid dmd test to supplement whenever my reading is above 7.6 since the 7.8 and 8.0 color differentiation is not obvious to me.

I do this pretty regularly, so I've built some confidence. For my pool, if 1 drop acid dmd (R0005 in my case) takes it to the much-easier-to-read 7.4, then I know my original reading was on the lower end of the 7.7-8.0 range. If 1 drop takes it to 7.6, then my original reading was closer to 7.9.

The pH scale isn't linear, so I know I can't make that exact inference, but the relative amount helps me decide the original color. Sometimes I then rerun pH with a fresh sample and my brain is able to decide the color with more confidence. It's sort of like looking at the answer key (acid dmd result) in the back of the book and then having a much better idea how to solve the problem. :)

Of course, I have rising pH & higher CH in a plaster pool, and therefore have to be careful about scaling conditions. That is the main reason I want more precision in my pH reading. If I didn't have these factors, I probably wouldn't obsess as much about every tenth of a point rise in pH.