Swimming pool pH Buffer or otherwise know as Sodium Bicarbonate, Alkalinity Up, Buffer is used to increase pH levels in swimming pool water and help stabilize pH from bouncing up or down erratically, hence the name buffer.
Pool buffer also has the effect of making the water softer and smoother.
The ideal ppm level for pH Buffer in swimming pools is between 80 ppm and 140 ppm, ideally 120 ppm is the optimum level to be at for a swimming pool.
If the alkalinity is to high or too low outside of the preferred ppm range the effect is generally aligned with either pH being to high or pH being to low.
If pH levels are to high such as 7.8 or higher or lower than 7.3 then certain effects will happen:
- Sore eyes or Red eyes may be encountered ( our eyes are pH neutral )
- Chlorine’s effectiveness is minimized as the chlorine molecules loose their ability to effectively attack bacteria and algae in the pool, they essentially become neutral if the pH is too high. The chlorine test may show chlorine in the water, but it will be ineffective so best to keep pH at a 7.3 level.
- Itchiness on skin
- Pool walls can become etched and pebblecrete or lining affected.
- Staining on pool walls
- Pool equipment may become pitted on surfaces.
You also do not want your pH to be too acidic, which is less than 7.3 on the pH scale as essentially the same symptoms as above will occur plus greater skin irritability.
Putting in too much acid will reduce pH and also too much pH Buffer will reduce pH. You have to balance the both of them together.
You can also use pH Buffer or Sodium Bi Carbonate for a few other uses such as washing clothes with hard water as it softens the water and food grade Sodium Bi Carbonate is said to be good for you as well. I would advocate not eating Pool Buffer or BiCarb only food grade versions.