Baking Soda or Soda Ash?

In Tech Talk by Steve Donohoe3 Comments

When we discuss pool water balance in our CPO classes (as we did this past Thursday and Friday in Anaheim, March 10-11, 2011),  I make a statement like:  “In our industry, we add Sodium Bicarbonate  (baking soda) to raise the Total Alkalinity.”

In our CPO Handbook (on page 360), the “Chemistry Adjustment Guide”  indicates that it will take 1.4 pounds of BiCarb to raise the TA 10 ppm in a 10,000 gallon pool.  It also shows that it only takes 14 ounces of Sodium Carbonate (Soda Ash) to raise the TA the same amount in the same size pool  (Click Here to see a similar Adjustment Guide).

SO… I ask the question:  “If it takes 14 ounces of  Soda Ash to do the same job as 1.4 pounds of Bicarb — then why not just use Soda Ash?”    The class is usually silent without an answer.  But this time — a couple of pool guys knew the answer:

It’s because the pH of soda ash is about 11.4.  If you use soda ash to raise the TA,  the pH of the water will also go up — way too much (not good).   But when you use baking soda (a pH of 8.3) to raise the TA — the pH will not go over 8.3.  In fact, if the pH of pool water is over 8.3 — adding baking soda will actually LOWER the pH.  Here’s an adjustment  guide for pH and TA from our friends at onBalance.

Pictured here is our old friend from Thousand Palms — Steve Little, the Owner/CEO of Hire Standards, standing next to Shelly Miller, PoolCorp’s Western Region Marketing Manager.

Steve Little of Hire Standards and Shelly Miller of PoolCorp,

We met Steve back in May, 2009 on one of our road trips to visit PoolCorp stores and leave our CPO class schedules.  We talked to him then about attending one of our CPO classes — and he FINALLY slowed down long enough to attend our class in Anaheim (two years later!).

Steve Little is an inventive business entrepreneur with a heart towards outstanding pool service and continuing education in water chemistry, pool equipment repair, and new/emerging industry trends.  He has grown his Hire Standards company with lots determination, hard work, acute business acumen and superb salesmanship …AND he’s also a pretty good guy.

We appreciate all your positive feedback and excitement about our CPO classes, Steve.  And we are ready to head your direction to train the rest of your 50+ crew of supervisors and pool technicians.

Shelly Miller offices at the Superior-Anaheim building and helped Steve and his company with a few very large marketing campaigns 2 or 3 years ago.  His trip to Anaheim gave them a little opportunity to visit and catch up on ideas and business trends after the test on Friday.

Thanks, again, Shelly, for helping us monitor availability of our classroom space upstairs — AND we’re glad we actually got to talk to you this time, ourselves (Elise and I miss seeing you).

And thanks to all the A/R-Collection staff at Superior-Anaheim for the great welcome and awesome hospitality for us: Debbie, Elizabeth, Neoma, Joshua  —  as well as all the rest of the crew there at corporate headquarters…..we couldn’t do our classes without YOU!


  1. I was getting so confused,thank you for helping ME to understand about the baking soda,thank u so much

  2. Very helpful! Our local pool added sodaash and it created cloudy water with a ph way too high. I will be sure to check that they use bicarb in the future.

  3. I just love how pool stores push you to buy soda ash without one word about baking soda .

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