The "correct" or "best" order to add chemicals to start up saltwater pool?

MrFantastic74

Member
Jul 12, 2018
5
Burnaby
I have a vinyl above ground pool with saltwater generator and skimmer that I start from scratch each summer. The pool is stored over winter. I usually have trouble balancing chemical levels at startup, but last year I had a relatively easy time with the following order:

1) Salt - get salinity to correct level first by adding salt directly to the water and mixing
2) turn on SWG, get pool to 1-3 ppm free chlorine
3) add CYA via a pool sock in the skimmer to the appropriate level
4) add baking soda via the sock in the skimmer to adjust alkalinity to the right level
5) add borax via the sock in the skimmer to adjust borates to the right level
6) adjust pH. For me, I always end up adding muriatic acid to lower pH, because the baking soda has raised pH quite a bit. Add directly to the pool and mix.

As it takes a long time for some of the chemicals to dissolve, I run the pump and filter constantly. I run the SWG only as needed to maintain chlorine.

Does this method seem logical?

Some info I've read suggest a different order, e.g. adding salt last and running SWG only after everything else is balanced, but this means adding chlorine, which I do not like to do.

Should I add borates last? It makes sense in a way, but I find pH is the most difficult thing to get right, so I opt for adding acid last.

Is adding both borax and baking soda logical? I've seen conflicting strategies here, as both have similar functions.

Thank you!
 
Last edited:

MrFantastic74

Member
Jul 12, 2018
5
Burnaby
I have no comment on order of operations… only questioning why you’re adding both baking soda and muriatic acid?
Fair question. After constantly struggling with having to adjust pH throughout the season, I discovered that adjusting alkalinity first helped alleviate that problem. Although alkalinity and high pH go hand in hand, they are not the same thing; alkalinity, within the appropriate range, can act as a pH buffer that helps prevent pH swings. We have very soft water here and alkalinity is zero or negligible, so I have to bring alkalinity up first before I can adjust pH.
 
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