How to Raise PH in Pool

By Shiloh McGinley

January 30, 2024

How to Raise PH In Pool

How to Raise PH In Pool

How To Raise PH In Pool: As you no doubt know, maintaining a swimming pool is more about clearing out debris and filtrations. Whether you, as a novice pool owner, like it or not, there’s a fair amount of science that’s involved to make sure that water is safe for you and your loved ones to swim in.

Don’t worry though, you don’t need a science degree to maintain your pool. You simply need to know what chemicals are present in your pool and how to keep a balance between them. One level that needs to be accurately maintained is the pH level. When your pH levels are off, the water can cause irritation to those swimming in it and can even damage parts of the pool. 

In this article, we’ll go over what pH is, what causes it to be either high or low, and the inexpensive way you can raise the pH level of your pool.


Chances are, you’ve likely heard of pH before but have to know what it means and why it’s important. Simply put, pH stands for “ “potential hydrogen,” or a substance’s ability to attract hydrogen ions. It measures how acidic or alkaline your water is.

pH is usually measured using a scale of 0-14, 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most basic. pH by itself is not a bad thing. The water needs a little acidity in order to be tolerable to human beings. You only need to make sure that the pH level in your pool is as optimal as possible. If the water is too acidic, it can cause damage to your pool and some pretty serious irritation to your eyes and skin. But if it’s too basic, it can cause scaling and murky water which can damage the surface and equipment.

According to most experts, the ideal level of pH for any pool is 7.2-7.6, with 7.4 being perfect.


Keeping the right pH levels in your pool is important for numerous reasons. The mains ones are:

  • Low pH levels irritate the body. Lower pH levels can mean your water is getting to be acidic. This means swimming in it can cause irritation to your eyes and skin. It can also irritate the mucous membranes in your nasal cavity. This is because acidic water naturally strips your body of its natural oils, leaving it dry, cracked, and flaky. 
  • Low pH levels can corrode your pool equipment. When the water is more acidic than recommended, it can cause harm to the pool itself. Any metals found in the pool’s surface, filtration, and pump systems will corrode faster as a result. This, in turn, can lead you to spend even more money than you ought to on replacing them.  Low pH also causes pool liners to become brittle and crack. Keeping pH levels balanced is actually an investment in health and safety and saves you money in the long run.
  • Unbalanced pH levels can render chlorine useless. Adding chlorine to your pool is important since it's the chemical responsible for killing germs and bacteria. Unbalanced pH levels, whether high or low, can inhibit the effectiveness of chlorine and render it usually, no matter how much more you add.
  • High pH levels can cause water to be cloudy. Although a murky pool isn’t unsafe to swim in, nobody wants to swim in a pool that isn’t crystal clear. If your pool is murky or cloudy in appearance, it might mean your pH and alkaline levels are off.


There could be many reasons why the pH levels of your pool are off. As is often the case, the reason for low pH is a combination of many contributing factors. 

Firstly, rain and storms can cause low pH levels. Rainwater has a pH of 5 – 5.5, so it is naturally acidic. A substantial amount of rainfall can alter the pH of pool water to become more acidic. Dirt and debris blown into your pool by the wind can also cause pH levels to lower. 

Another possible culprit is overuse. A human’s natural body fluid and oil can dissolve into the water when swimming. And yes, a human still sweats even when underwater. It might be common to find the pH level of your pool to be low after a pool party has occurred.

Though less common but still likely is the multiple pool cleaning products that you might be using. Some, whether they advertise it or not, might do more harm than good to your pool. 

Lastly, there might be a chance that your pool water is already acidic, to begin with. A quick call to the water company can inform you of the pH level of their water after treatment. This means you might need fewer chemicals than previously thought. 

Luckily, there’s a fairly easy DIY solution to lower pH levels. It’s relatively inexpensive and will take up less than an hour of your time. No fancy chemicals or solutions are needed here.

Fixing pH level in 5 easy steps:

The solution for a low pH level is something you might already have in your kitchen cabinet. All you need to raise the pH levels in your pool is sodium carbonate (soda ash) or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). In a nutshell, all you have to do is add either one of these substances to your pool in small increments until your pool’s pH levels are between 7.2 and 7.8.

Let’s go on a more in-depth explanation of the steps!

Step 1: Test your pool

Swimming Pool Chemical Testing

This is highly important. Sometimes pool owners would simply add the soda ash or baking soda before testing first. This would lead them to have murky pool water and, as stated above, negate the effectiveness of pool chlorine. 

You can test your pool’s alkalinity and pH level using testing strips or a swimming pool testing kit. Both are relatively easy to use and inexpensive to acquire. They also come with instructions on how to use them so simply follow these to get as accurate a result as possible.

Step 2: Calculate the amount of water in your pool

You need to know how many gallons of water are in your pool beforehand to know how much baking soda or soda ash to use. If you have no idea, you’re sadly going to use some math. 

You can use the formula below for rectangular pools:

  • length x width x depth x 7.5 
  • For round pools: 
  • diameter x diameter x depth x 5.9

If your pool has more than one depth, use the average depth between the deepest and the shallowest parts.

Step 3: Measure your chemicals

Measure The Chemicals In Your Swimming Pool

Now that you have an estimate of how many gallons of water there are in your pool, you can accurately measure how much baking soda or soda ash you’re going to need. Note that sodium carbonate (soda ash) is the most common chemical used to raise pH and can also improve the total alkalinity in pools. For the examples below, let’s assume we’re using soda ash.

To know how much soda ash you need, use this formula:

(points needed to raise/2) x 6 oz = amount of soda ash to add

It takes about 6 ounces of soda ash for every .2 pH points you need to raise 10,000 gallons of water.

For example, let’s say the pH in your pool measured 7.0 and you have a 20,000-gallon pool. 

In order to raise the pH level to 7.2, you would start out by adding 12 ounces of soda ash. 

This is, of course, a rough estimate and you might need to add a little more should your retest of the water afterward show that the pH level is still low.

Do not exceed two pounds per 10,000 gallons of water though. You can easily overdo this part and be left with water that has a high pH level, and be forced to lower your PH level to get things right. 

Step 4: Mixing and pouring

In a 5-gallon bucket, add clean water and your measured soda ash together. Mix them well to ensure they’re well incorporated. 

Then, pour the mixture around the parameter of your pool starting from the deepest end. The pool’s pump should be turned on for this part to ensure that the soda ash is evenly distributed throughout the pool.

Step 5: Retest your pool

After a few hours, you can take another test of the water to see if it had the desired effect. If not, all a little more as needed using the formulas stated above.

The same rules apply to baking soda if you decide to use that instead.

Bottom Line…

And that was all you needed to know about pH levels and how to raise them. Though it’s a bit of exact science, it's not too difficult to do.

Make it a habit to test your water at least once a week and perform the steps laid out here if you find the levels below the ideal range.

Doing so will definitely give you water worthy of diving into!

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Shiloh McGinley

About the author

Shiloh McGinley has been in and around swimming pools her whole life. She's seen a lot of products come and go, and she wants to share with you the best products that really work!

Shiloh is passionate about helping people stay safe in the water, and she loves educating others on how to choose the right pool products.

When she's not working, Shiloh enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and swimming - of course!

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