Water Balance, Test Kits and Baquacil

Jun 12, 2007
The first year I used Baquacil, I thought I had to use the Baquacil products for the water balance. I bought the ph increaser/decreaser, calcium hardness increaser, etc. However, this year they sold me the generic versions at the pool store and said they were okay to use. So, I am wondering - can I just use Soda Ash or Washing Soda (to raise PH and Alkalinity), Borax (to raise Ph w/out raising alkalinity) and Baking Soda (to raise alkalinity alone)? If so, can you buy calcium chloride (to increase calcium hardness) at the "store" rather than a pool place and could I use it as well?

Secondly, is there a test kit that will test the water balance and my Baquacil chemicals? I hate the test strips and do not trust their accuracy.

Thanks for everyone's help!
Jun 12, 2007
Thank you to Haze for the link to the test kit I need.

Also to Mermaid Queen and others - I understand what you mean about not needing calcium for a vinyl liner. I have read that in other places. However, I just want to be sure I don't need it for the other chemicals to work effectively. I know that Ph and Alkalinity can mess up the effectiveness of my sanitizer, what about the calcium hardness?

I may get a test kit and keep the Ph and Alkalinity in lines with the ingredients discussed in the prior post and then buy the biguanide test kit for my Baquacil Sanitizer levels and forget all the stuff the pool store wants to sell me.

The Mermaid Queen

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Mar 28, 2007
Northern KY
calcium has no real purpose in the water chemistry. It simply keeps your plaster from leaching calcium into your water (remember studying equilibrium in high school chemistry?) The calcium would move from your plaster (high concentration) to your water (low concentration) in attempt to balance things out. Hence you need to keep a relatively equal balance.

There is some discussion about needing calcium if you have a heater, but I don't think you have one...


People tend to forget about the other thing that calcium does. It makes the water 'hard' Hard water will not have as much as a tendency to foam as soft water. In a chlorine pool this probably is not as big a deal since the chlorine will burn off the organics that can cause foaming but in a biguainide pool this might be more important since the organics are not oxidized as completely by the hydrogen peroxide.