Water Chemistry

The most common misconception about water maintenance is only worrying about your sanitizer. There are other balancers in your water, such as Alkalinity, Ph and Calcium Hardness. These need to be adjusted in order for your sanitizer to work effectively. All of the balancers correlate. Properly balanced water creates an environment that optimizes the disinfection process. Properly balanced water also protects your components from chemical corrosion, and increases the life and performance of your equipment.

Ideal Range

Alkalinity is the basis, or the “Anchor” to water chemistry. Alkalinity keeps your Ph where it needs to be. A.A.A.Always Adjust Alkalinity first, especially before your Ph. If your Alkalinity is within range, your Ph should follow.

Low Alkalinity will cause etching and corrosion on pool / spa surfaces. It can also cause a green, blue, or rust color tint in the water caused by unbalanced water pulling metals from your heat exchanger, pump and other equipment.

High Alkalinity lowers the effectiveness of the sanitizer. High Alkalinity also causes cloudy water.

Ph has the most impact on properly balanced water. Ph is the acidity of the water. The lower the ph, the more acidic the water is. The higher the Ph, the more Alkaline or Basic the water is. You should always adjust the alkalinity before Ph. When alkaline is adjusted, the Ph should be also.

When the Ph is low, the water is more corrosive. Corrosive water will cause etching on pool and spa surfaces. Since it has an effect on surfaces, imagine the effect it has on your skin. When warm acidic water gets into your pores, you may develop discomfort, bumps or a rash, especially where the bathing suit rubs on your skin most.

The natural Ph of your eye is 7.5. Have you ever experienced discomfort when water gets in your eyes? Or experience a terrible chemical smell that burns to breathe? That also is caused by low Ph.

High Ph slows down the effectiveness of your sanitizer. Low Ph results in cloudy water as well, and increases the rate of scaling.

Calcium Hardness is the softness/hardness of the water.

Have you ever gotten out of the water and feel like your hands and skin are dry? That’s caused by low calcium. Calcium is not only a bather comfort concern. When you have low calcium, the water will pull it from the walls of gunnite, plaster or cement pools. Have you ever seen a liner so brittle it crinkles or a plastic jet break? Calcium also affects the plastics in your equipment. Low calcium becomes even more aggressive with low Ph and Alkalinity.

High Calcium can cause scaling. Scaling harbors bacteria, dirt, oils, lotions and make up. Do you ever start up your hot tub, and notice a water ring right away? Calcium builds up in your plumbing and hold on to organics. You can always use an enzyme product such as Spa Purge by Natural Chemistry to eliminate all build up in your lines.

Unfortunately, there is no way to adjust high calcium. The only way to reduce High Calcium is to add water, or to drain and refill. Some people try to use a Scale Free or some type of sequestrian agent, but there is no chemical that rids minerals, such as Metals or Calcium, from the water.   For those who use Well Water, fill water can be passed through a softener (the Hayward Bobby) to reduce Calcium Hardness.

We’ve been asked if there is a one step chemical that automatically adjusts these balancers. Unfortunately, water balance is affected by many factors, such as:

  • User Waste
  • Disinfectants
  • Source Water
  • Air Born Debris
  • Water Balance Chemicals
  • Aeration
  • Evaporation
  • Temperature


The use of Borates or a Ph Steady/Buffer can help slow the Ph and Alkalinity fluctuations. We recommend coming in with a water sample and speaking with one of our Certified Water Professionals before trying to use any buffers. We can recommend the buffer that works best for your water.

Most water testing strips are “wide range” test strips, and the color charts are hard to decipher. We make balancing your water as simple as possible. We recommend bringing in a water sample when you first fill, and once every two weeks to eliminate all of the Balancing Confusion. Don’t worry; we don’t leave the math up to you. We will tell you exactly how much to add.

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