Once again warmer weather has brought out the topic of pool water… and since no one REALLY wants to swim in unhealthy pool water we see NO REASON not to tackle pool water quality questions when they come our way.

AquaChek Test Strips
AquaChek Test Strips

Today’s question came to us from ‘AnThony07’ who asked, “Pool store guys said to fix pH after alkalinity. Why not just fix the problem pH they pointed out?”

Many folks mistake pH for alkalinity and at other times they mistake alkalinity for pH. Do the two have a lot in common? Well, sort of, but they also have enough differences that they both matter and need to get addressed separately and in the correct order.

Simply put,

  • pH – A measure of how acidic or basic a water sample is.

  • Alkalinity – A physical count of the ‘molecules’ that make a sample acidic or basic.

Yes, yes, we know… we oversimplified that by a mile… but for most pool owners that model works quite well.

On a more real-world level, think of it this way: If you walked into a room and wanted to change the overall mood or opinion of the room, would you have better luck exacting change on a room full of people or a room with fewer people in it?

Pool Check 6-in-1 Test Strip
Pool Check 6-in-1 Test Strip

Obviously you could get the change in mood or opinion in the room if it contained fewer people, right? Well the same goes for pool water. A pool with low alkalinity will change pH very easily as a result of outside influence (i.e. addition of acidic rain water, depositing of leaves that give off acids as they decompose, etc.) whereas a pool with the proper amount of alkalinity will take longer to have its pH altered by outside influences.

Conversely, a pool with too much alkalinity could, over time, go out of balance (acidic or basic) and then it would take a whole lot of persuading (i.e. the adding of chemicals) to correct the pH — and a lot of times the pH will shoot from one end of the spectrum to the other after the addition of, for the average pool owner, an unpredictable quantity of pH correction chemicals.

So… Does alkalinity matter, Anthony? You bet it does!

Moral of the story

Before you go WASTING MONEY on chemicals to fix the pH, make sure you have the proper amount of alkalinity in your pool water! If you don’t want to travel to the pool store every time you think your alkalinity may need checking, pool water test strips such as those manufactured by AquaChek or Pool Check work quite well, cost very little and provide fast, accurate results on-the-spot.

Or, for those who want to perform more in-depth testing so they can fine tune their pool water’s quality, pool water testing meter’s such as the eXact Micro 7+ Pool Testing Meter make it possible for the the average pool owner to test for a large number of important pool water characteristics — without the need for complicated mixing, measuring and interpreting of chemical reagents.

eXact Micro 7+ Pool Testing Meter
eXact Micro 7+ Pool Water Testing Meter…
a Pool Testing Meter for the Average Pool Owner