View Full Version : Baking soda turned my pool green

08-10-2007, 07:06 PM
My ph was low (a constant problem), reading below the minimum 7.0 on my Taylor test kit, so I added a box of Borax. This created a little cloudiness in the pool which quickly went away. Having read that this can happen if TA is low I tested for that and showed that it was extremely low at 10. I then decided to raise the TA before trying to raise the ph any higher (it was still at the minimum reading the day after adding the Borax). I used the bleach calculator and it showed that I would need to add 21 pounds of baking soda to get my TA in line. This was confirmed by the numbers on the box of Arm and Hammer.

So, stupidly I now see, I put in all the baking soda at once. My pool has quickly turned a cloudy green color. Anyone know what is going on here?

Not sure if it matter but my CYA is 50 and my chlorine is right around 5.

Looking for any thoughts on why this happened and what I should do to remedy the situation. Thanks a lot.

08-10-2007, 08:08 PM
I think the water just got saturated with adding it all at once . What is your calcium level? If it is high, it could be carbonates falling out of the water. If it doesn't clear up after a few hours add some acid to take the alk and ph back down. Make sure you do just a little at a time and wait 2 hours in between tests. Then you can start to raise them again slowly testing in between additions. You should always do this when adding baking soda or borax.

08-10-2007, 08:18 PM
Thanks for the resonse, your scenario is pretty much what I was hoping to hear. Testing now indicates my TA is at 100, which is where I wanted it so I am hoping that everything will settle down by morning. My ph remains low at this point, but my understanding is that baking soda will not bring the ph up a lot so I was expecting that and will deal with it after I get the water clear again. I am hoping that I won't have to add any acid to bring things down but will do so in the morning if things have not cleared up.

08-10-2007, 08:42 PM
You definitely need to get your ph at least above 7.0. Readings below 7.0 are acidic and can damage your pool.

08-10-2007, 08:47 PM
I know, and I want to raise it as soon as possible. However, if this green is not cleared up by tomorrow it seems as if I will have to lower it first. I am aware that I should have added the baking soda more slowly but am an impatient person and just could not imagine my water responding like this.

Do you think it still makes sense to bring TA and ph down if the water remains cloudy and green (even if the TA is reading 100 as it does now and the ph remains low)?

08-10-2007, 11:38 PM
If your alkalinity only went up to 100, and your ph is low, then I'm not sure that is what turned the water cloudy and green. Do you know what your calcium is? Has the water cleared up at all? I would get the ph above 7, just add borax one cup at a time, testing after 2 hours. In the future you can use Arm and Hammer's washing soda - it will raise both alkalinity and ph at the same time. But for now just use the borax. Post a full set of numbers tomorrow, and we may be able to see what is going on. Sometimes if you have iron or copper in your water, and the ph and alkalinity go up it can react with the chlorine and turn the water green. In this case you would need to add a sequestering agent.

08-11-2007, 06:24 AM
Just tested this morning (the water is still green and cloudy but perhaps a shade lighter). TA was still 100 and ph was still low off the scale (below 7). I did add a cup of Borax. Chlrine was fine at 5 and my kit indicated no calcium hardness (the sample did not turn red after adding the agent so didn't bother to add the other drops to make it turn blue. Should I?). I have no way to test for copper or iron so will take a water sample to the pool store as soon as they open.

Forgot to mention last night that the baking soda does seem to have left a soapy film on top of the water. Not sure if that matters or not.

08-11-2007, 08:41 AM
Just a quick update and then I am off to the pool store. I did add a cup of Borax before I posted this morning. I just re-tested my ph and it is still low but the greenish color appears to be clearing somewhat and the film on top of the water seems to be leaving as well. I am off to get the water tested for metals now.

08-11-2007, 10:55 AM
Did you add an algacide? Sometimes algacides can cause foaming, some also add copper.. Have you had any trouble with minerals in your water before? It sounds like you may have a little bit of metals that the change in chemicals is reacting to. It may just disappear as the chlorine breaks it down. You probably don't have any calcium in the water, which you don't need with a vinyl liner pool. Keep us informed:)

08-11-2007, 11:11 AM
First off, mbar, thanks for staying involved here. I really appreciate it.

Just back from the pool store and all their readings are in line with mineas far as chloring and cya and TA (although they wanted me to take the TA much higher than the 95 they have it at, as they recommend 125-150, but I am not touching that for now). The metal test did return a significant amount of copper, though, 2.5ppm (didn't ask them, but would you guess that is enough to turn hair green? I can't think it is since we have been swimming all summer with no problems and the copper must have been there all along), which they said it very high (I honestly have no idea). So they sold me some Pool Magnet Plus (7 quarts) and a few other things to take care of the copper.

Reading some of the other threads in the metals section I am somewhat confused (not a new state for me these days). It sounds like you cannot actually remove metals from the water but with this stuff they sold me you also use this stuff called Sparkle Up, which seems to claim that it will remove the metals through the filtering system (run for 24 hours after putting this stuff in and then backwash). So, really, I have no idea if this is true or not, but will be pleased to at least get the green gone and do whatever I need to in terms of maintanence does to keep it gone.

Of course, I have to get the chlorine down to 1 or less in order to add the stuff, so won't be able to do so until later today or tonight.

On the good side, I am continuing to bring the ph up and that seems to be helping with this cloudy green stuff too.

As for calcium, is that the same as total hardness? If so I got a reading of 65.

I will let you know how things look after I add the Pool Magnet stuff.

Again, thanks for all the help.

Oops, almost forgot to mention that they wanted to sell me pounds and pounds of stuff to raise TA and ph but I told them I was all set with that. I told the girl this all started when I added the baking soda and she said she had never heard of putting that in the pool.

08-11-2007, 01:43 PM
As the day goes on and I continue to bring my ph up with Borax, my pool water has lost off the green color and is currently a cloudy blue (which is clearing), I am wondering if I even need to add all this Magnet Plus stuff? From what I can find, the metals pretty much only seem to be an issue when they turn your pool green or stain your liner, neither of which has happened to me before this. Given that the pool is no longer green perhaps I can just let the copper sit and deal with it if and when it reappears?

On the fence here, I am pretty sure that the green was caused by some kind of reaction from copper when I put all the baking soda in, but if it goes back to being clear now I am not sure if I need to put these chemicals into the pool. I will certainly know to raise my TA more slowly next time either way.

chem geek
08-11-2007, 03:03 PM
Copper carbonate is blue-green and not very soluble in water (solubility product of 1.4x10^-10) so in a pool with 100 ppm TA, 30 ppm CYA and pH of 7.5, the carbonate is 3.9x10^-6 moles/liter so that means you can have up to 1.4x10^-10/3.9x10^-6 = 3.6x10^-5 moles/liter of copper which is 2.3 ppm.

So you are at the "edge" of precipitating copper carbonate and the addition of the baking soda created a locally high level of carbonate until it more fully dispersed. Basically, if your pool's pH rises, then you will very likely get the blue-green tint again. So I suggest using a metal sequestrant.

Another compound is copper hydroxide which is bluish. It's solubility product is 2.2x10^-20 (other sources say 4.8x10^-20) and the pool water as described above has hydroxide concentration of 5.3x10^-7 moles/liter so theoretically this is even more likely to precipitate, but in practice it looks like it doesn't (for reasons I do not know).


08-11-2007, 03:23 PM
Richard, thanks for the part in bold and where you say 2.3ppm, as moles per liter are well beyond my education level.

I will be adding the sequestrant as soon as my chloring level drops below 1.

Again, thanks for all the help. This place is great, even if I can't convince my other pool owning friends to hop on board (and believe me, we argue about it constantly).

08-11-2007, 03:25 PM
I did have another question, now that I think of it. After I add the sequestrant will future tests still indicate the presence of the copper? I am guessing that it should not or they will want me to treat it every time I get my water tested (although I think I will get my own metal test now).

08-11-2007, 08:42 PM
Pool manet is a sequestering agent. It sounds like you got copper in your water somewhere - I hope not from your heater coils:eek: Your pool has been very acidic, which would keep the copper in suspension. You then added all the baking soda, which caused the copper to precipitate into the water. High ph, alkalinity, calcium added to chlorine could precipitate metals out of suspension. You can add the sequestering agent - you don't have to wait for the chlorine to drop down. You are probably just on the brink of the metals precipitating out, and the sequestering agent will keep them in suspension. All I would do is add the sequestering agent, the chlorine will use some of the sequestering agent up, that's why they want your chlorine down, but not fast enough to do harm - I would think letting your chlorine down will be worse, giving you more of a chance to get algae again. So, add sequestering agent - wait about two hours, then add borax - it will be hard to get the ph up, because the sequestering agent will take your ph down, and use up chlorine- so you will have to test often, taking the ph back up (only to 7.2 for now), and adding bleach to take it back up to 5 each time you test. Your water should clear with your pump running 24/7. You can add the sparkle up - it is just cellulose to coat the top of the filter to filter out small particles - so it will help clear the water. I never heard of anything that really gets metal out once it is in the water, so I don't know if I believe that sparkle up will do it:rolleyes: As long as there is enough sequestering agent in the water, your water will not test possitive for metals. You will have to add sequestering agent any time you see the metals start to precipitate out into the water(not a big deal). I think your water will be blue and clear in no time:cool: Your alkalinity is fine where it is. Keep us informed:)

chem geek
08-11-2007, 09:50 PM
I believe that the metal test won't show the metals if they are sequestered. The metal tests are expensive. The Taylor K-1264 Copper and Iron test is $83.95, though the K-1730 copper test is only $21.05 but only measures to 1.0 ppm. The Taylor K-1738 measures copper up to 3 ppm and is $49.65 so this latter test is probably the one to get, if you get any.

Waterbear might know of better tests and would also know if the metal tests will show sequestered metal.


08-12-2007, 10:26 AM
Again, thanks for the input. My chlorine was down to about 2 or 3 this morning when I tested but after reading your post I put the Magnet stuff in. The water was pretty clear before I put it in except for a film on top (not sure if that is part of the copper reaction or what) so it should look good in no time.

On the plus side, I have been taking ph readings and adding Borax slowly while waiting for the chlorine to drop and had my ph up to 7.2 this morning, so had a good start point before putting in the magnet.

As for where the copper came from, it sounds like I have not been doing my heat pump and favors with my ph and TA but tests earlier this season were fine so the drop is relatively recent (from not testing enough I fully admit, an error that will not be repeated by me), but I do use well water to top off so that could be a source as well.

I had actually looked up the Sparkle Up too, and don't see how it would take any metal out, but seems like an interesting thing to add to the DE once or twice a season to really get the water clean.

Thanks again and I will keep everyone informed of how things go, and I will likely be taking another water sample to the pool store to test after a week or so to see how the copper number comes out.

08-12-2007, 12:10 PM
The water is now clear as ever, I will continue to adjust for ph until I hit 7.2. Again, thanks to all for the help.