Why is My pH Always High in My Saltwater Pool

There are a few differences between standard Chlorine freshwater swimming pools and Saltwater pools that use a Salt Generator that produces its chlorine through the process of Electrolysis using salt to feed the generator. Many folks have made the switch to saltwater pools but one difference is higher “sitting” pH. Why is my ph always high in my saltwater pool?

The reason why saltwater pools usually have elevated pH levels is that the generation of chlorine with the electrolysis process tends to create byproducts like Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye and caustic soda that have a very high pH, Sodium Hydroxide has a 13 pH and is extremely high, or basic.

It is a good idea to be sure to test your saltwater pools’ pH levels more than normally would with a freshwater pool and see where they are at. This will be the only way you can tell what you need to do next. Whether you need to treat your saltwater pool or not.


Maintaining the delicate balance of a saltwater pool can be a navigational challenge, with pool owners often finding the pH scale tipping too high. But what causes this common issue? In this article, we dive into the science behind pH levels in saltwater pools, exploring the factors that lead to increased pH and providing tips for proper pool maintenance. Understanding these elements is crucial for a safe and enjoyable swimming environment. Let’s uncover the reasons behind your pool’s persistent high pH and how to expertly manage it.

Why is My pH Always High in My Saltwater Pool

There is very little difference between a saltwater pool and a chlorine freshwater swimming pool when it comes to pH and how the pool depends on the pH for balance and disinfection. The standard ideal range of pH in a saltwater pool is 7.4 to 7.6

salt water pool, chlorine generator, salt water chlorine generator, salt chlorine, electrolysis, saltwater electrolysis, salt poolThe only way in which the pH differs in a saltwater pool is that saltwater pools are prone to constantly rising pH levels. This is a byproduct of the method used to produce chlorine. It’s something that needs to be lowered regularly. So pH needs to be monitored more closely in saltwater pools.

One reason saltwater has a higher pH is that saltwater pools use a generator to make their own chlorine. It’s done by a process in which saltwater pools generate chlorine that results in creating byproducts with very high pH.

In order to create chlorine from salt, saltwater pools use saltwater chlorine generators (SWG) which convert water and salt (sodium chloride) into chlorine and sodium hydroxide(Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye and caustic soda) The process is called electrolysis.

Electrolysis generates chlorine from sodium chloride (salt). This process involves electricity. The byproducts of this electrolysis are what lead to scale formation: heat and a very high pH substance called sodium hydroxide. Sodium Hydroxide has a 13 pH is extremely high, or basic.

Unfortunately, in the process where salt is converted into chlorine, the generator also produces a byproduct of hydrogen gas that bubbles on the surface of your pool water. This bubbling releases carbon dioxide(acidic) from the pool water. This produces a higher pH than in freshwater pools where chlorine is added to pool water.

To bring down pH, use a made-for-pools chemical additive called pH reducer (or pH minus). The main active ingredients in pH reducers are either muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate (also called dry acid). Reducers are readily available at pool supply stores, home improvement centers, and online.

Combatting High PH Levels in Your Salt Water Pool

Dealing with consistently high pH levels in your saltwater pool can be a perplexing issue. Swimming pools, especially those of the saltwater variety, require careful monitoring to maintain the ideal pH levels for safe and comfortable use.

When the pH level in your pool becomes always high, it indicates an alkaline environment that can lead to scaling and discomfort for swimmers. One common contributor to an increase in the pH of water pools is the natural aeration process, such as water splashing and pool equipment operation, which can drive pH levels upward.

Here’s a short list of actions you can take to combat high pH levels in your saltwater pool:

  1. Acid Addition: Use muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate to lower the pH level. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper dosage.
  2. Aeration: Increase the water’s exposure to air to facilitate natural pH reduction. This can be achieved through water features like fountains or by running the pool pump and allowing water to splash.
  3. Check Alkalinity: High alkalinity can contribute to high pH. Make sure your alkalinity levels are within the recommended range (80-120 ppm) and adjust if necessary.
  4. Use pH-Lowering Products: Consider using pH-lowering products specifically designed for saltwater pools. These products are formulated to adjust pH without affecting other water parameters.
  5. Regular Testing: Monitor your pool’s pH levels regularly using a reliable test kit. This helps you catch imbalances early and take corrective action promptly.
  6. Balance Calcium Hardness: Ensure that calcium hardness is within the recommended range (200-400 ppm). Low calcium hardness can contribute to pH fluctuations.
  7. Consult a Professional: If you’re unsure about the appropriate actions to take, seek advice from a pool professional or water chemistry expert.

Remember, maintaining proper water balance is essential for the overall health of your saltwater pool. Dealing with consistently high pH levels in your saltwater pool can be a perplexing issue. Swimming pools, especially those of the saltwater variety, require careful monitoring to maintain the ideal pH levels for safe and comfortable use.

What are the Signs of High pH in a Pool?

Once the pH moves too high 7.8+ you’ll hear complaints about irritated skin, stinging eyes, dry skin, & sticky feelings from swimmers. You’ll notice that the H2O has become hazy/cloudy losing its appeal to those who use the pool, finally, test the pH of the pool H2O for a higher ………………………….. Read more

Understanding How Salt in Pools Increases the PH Level

Managing a saltwater pool requires a nuanced understanding of the factors that influence the pH level. It’s crucial to recognize that salt itself is a key player in this delicate balancing act. When salt is added to water pool environments, it undergoes a process that naturally increases the pH. This can be problematic, as a high pH level is not ideal for swimmers and can lead to scaling on pool surfaces. The reason behind this increase lies in the chemistry of saltwater pool systems.

The introduction of salt into a pool through a saltwater chlorination system can contribute to an increase in pH levels. This is because the electrolysis process in salt chlorinators produces sodium hydroxide, which is a base and tends to raise the pH. As salt is broken down, it releases hydroxide ions, leading to a gradual upward shift in pH levels. Regular monitoring and adjustment of pH, along with other water parameters, are crucial for maintaining a balanced and healthy saltwater pool.

As salt—sodium chloride—is converted to chlorine, a byproduct is created, which raises the pH. This escalation can occur even in the absence of other common pH influencers, making it a persistent issue for pool owners. To maintain the correct water chemistry, regular testing and adjustments are necessary.

Adding salt to a saltwater pool doesn’t just enhance the swimming experience; it alters the pH balance, requiring careful monitoring to ensure the water remains safe and comfortable. Combatting the tendency of the pH level to surge is a fundamental aspect of saltwater pool maintenance and demands both understanding and action on the part of the pool owner.

The Relationship Between Chlorine Generation and High PH in Saltwater Pools

The process of chlorine generation in saltwater pools can influence pH levels due to the formation of sodium hydroxide as a byproduct. The electrolysis that occurs in salt chlorinators produces hydroxide ions, contributing to an increase in pH. Therefore, saltwater pool owners should be vigilant in monitoring and managing pH levels to ensure the effectiveness of chlorine generation and maintain optimal water balance.

Many saltwater pool owners frequently encounter the issue of persistently high pH levels, which can be perplexing and challenging to manage. The high pH level in a saltwater pool is often directly tied to the process of chlorine generation. As the pool system converts salt into chlorine for sanitizing the water, it also increases the pH. This is a common phenomenon in swimming pools employing saltwater technologies. To maintain the pH levels within the ideal range, regular monitoring of the water chemistry is essential.

High pH can lead to a less effective disinfection process, and it can negatively impact the swimming experience by causing skin and eye irritation. Understanding the pH level in your swimming pool is critical for ensuring both the longevity of the pool equipment and the health and comfort of swimmers.

Adjusting the pH in water pools involves the addition of chemicals to neutralize the high pH or the use of a pH de-creaser explicitly designed for saltwater pools. If the pH in the pool continues to be a problem, it may also indicate the need for recalibration of the chlorine generator or even changes in the water source. Adhering to proper saltwater pool maintenance is pivotal for preserving the delicate balance of the pH in the water and providing an enjoyable and safe swimming environment.

Why Your PH Is Rising: The Role of Sodium Hydroxide in Salt Water Pool Chemistry

If you’re dealing with a consistently high pH in your saltwater pool, understanding the chemistry behind it is crucial. The pH level in your pool should remain balanced for optimal swimming conditions, but oftentimes, pool owners notice a tendency for the pH levels to creep up. This phenomenon can be attributed to the production of sodium hydroxide, which is a byproduct of the saltwater chlorination process. When your pool’s saltwater system generates chlorine to sanitize the water, hydroxide ions are released, causing the pH to increase.

The rising pH in saltwater pools can be attributed to the presence of sodium hydroxide, a byproduct of the electrolysis process used for chlorine generation. As the saltwater chlorinator operates, it produces hydroxide ions, causing an increase in the pool’s pH levels over time. Regular monitoring and adjustments are essential to counteract the influence of sodium hydroxide and maintain the desired pH balance in saltwater pool chemistry.

In your swimming pool, these increasing pH levels can lead to a host of issues, from scaling to discomfort for swimmers. Therefore, managing the pH in your pool isn’t just about adding chemicals; it’s about understanding how these levels fluctuate. In saltwater pools, the interaction between chlorine production and hydroxide presence is a delicate dance that requires attention.

When you’re aware of the role sodium hydroxide plays in your saltwater pool, you’re better equipped to address why the pH levels are rising and how to combat these increases to maintain your pool’s health and the comfort of those who enjoy it.

How to Lower pH in Saltwater Pools

Now that you understand why Saltwater pools normally run a higher pH you need to know how to bring it down to a standard ideal operating range that will compliment the chlorine created by the Salt Generator. What you add is similar to freshwater pools:

  • Muriatic acid is powerful it’s used to etch concrete- Muriatic acid is a form of hydrochloric acid, which has a pH of about 1 to 2. The only difference between hydrochloric acid and muriatic acid is purity. The most commonly found in stores is 15.7% or 31.45%. and often contains impurities you need to be careful when adding the chemical to your pool.

It comes in liquid form, so you need to protect yourself from accidental spills and splashes. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for safe handling, applying, and storing of muriatic acid. A one-gallon bottle is about $45.00

  • Sodium bisulfate comes as dry granules and is considered easier to add and safer to handle than muriatic acid. Nevertheless, it should be handled carefully. Protect eyes and skin, and wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling any dust from the granules. A 25-pound bucket costs about $50.

To quickly reduce the pH level in a saltwater pool, add 35-60 fl. oz of muriatic acid per 10,000 gals of water to reduce alkalinity by 10 ppm. Or add approx 3 oz of sodium bisulfate per 10,000 gals of water to reduce pH by 0.1.

What Causes High pH in Pools?

  • Sudden rise in water temperature
  • Water features that take water out of the pool aerating it
  • Release of Carbon Dioxide(CO2)
  • Swimmers using sunblock or lotions
  • Liquid bleach, such as Clorox has a pH level of around 11-13
  • New pool surface and walls leaching in H2O
  •  Off-gassing  .……………………………………………………………………….. Read more
How is this for a DIY aerator? | Trouble Free Pool
Saltwater Pool Aeration (Outgassing) for pH control 

Troubleshooting High PH in Your Saltwater Swimming Pool

Your pool’s pH is a crucial factor for maintaining a healthy, safe swimming environment. When your pH is always high, it’s important to troubleshoot the root causes that can tip the balance. High pH level in a saltwater pool is often a result of the natural process where chlorine generation leads to a release of sodium hydroxide, which pushes the pH higher.

  1. Test pH Regularly: Use a reliable pool test kit to monitor pH levels regularly, and take action if it goes above the recommended range (7.2-7.8).
  2. Add Acid: Introduce muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate in controlled amounts to lower the pH. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper dosage.
  3. Balance Alkalinity: High alkalinity can contribute to high pH.  Adjust alkalinity levels within the recommended range (80-120 ppm) using alkalinity increaser or de-creaser as needed.
  4. Aerate the Water: Increase aeration by running water features or the pool pump to enhance the outgassing of carbon dioxide, which can help lower pH naturally.
  5. Use pH-Lowering Products: Consider specialized pH-lowering products designed for saltwater pools to adjust pH without affecting other chemical levels significantly.
  1. Check Calcium Hardness: Ensure calcium hardness is within the recommended range (200-400 ppm) as low levels can contribute to pH instability.
  2. Monitor Total Dissolved Solids (TDS): High TDS can impact pH readings. If TDS is high, partial water replacement may be necessary.
  3. Consult a Professional: If the problem persists or if you are unsure about the appropriate actions, seek advice from a pool professional or water chemistry expert.
  4. Maintain Proper Water Circulation: Ensure good water circulation to prevent localized imbalances and promote uniform distribution of chemicals.
  5. Follow Manufacturer Guidelines: Adhere to the recommendations provided by the salt chlorinator and other chemical product manufacturers for optimal performance.

Regular maintenance and prompt corrective actions will help you keep your saltwater pool’s pH levels in check for a comfortable and safe swimming environment. The pool chemistry at play is delicate, where water with higher pH can affect the effectiveness of chlorine and overall water quality. Understanding how salt in pools increases the pH level can guide you toward the necessary adjustments in your pool maintenance routine. Whether it’s tweaking the salt-to-water ratio, managing the chlorine generator settings, or diligent testing of pH levels, each step helps in bringing your pH down.

So if you’re wondering, “Why is my pH always high in the pool,” start by checking factors that contribute to raising the pH, as the pH can climb due to factors such as natural aeration and swimmer load. Don’t let high pH levels disrupt your refreshing dip; keep your pool’s water balanced for an optimal saltwater swimming experience.

Strategies to Lower the PH Level in Saltwater Pools

Maintaining a balanced PH level in your saltwater pool is crucial for the comfort of swimmers and the longevity of pool components. With a consistently high pH, you’re likely seeking effective strategies to lower the pH in your pool to ensure a safe swimming environment. The first step is understanding the importance of pH balance in your saltwater pool, as it influences the efficiency of chlorine sanitization.

Here’s a short list of strategies to lower the pH level in saltwater pools:

  1. Muriatic Acid or Sodium Bisulfate: Add these pH-lowering chemicals in controlled amounts based on the pool size and current pH level.
  2. Aeration: Increase water exposure to air through features like fountains or running the pool pump to enhance the natural outgassing of carbon dioxide.
  3. pH-Lowering Products: Use specialized pH de-creasers designed for saltwater pools to adjust pH without impacting other water parameters significantly.
  4. Check and Adjust Alkalinity: Ensure alkalinity is within the recommended range (80-120 ppm) and make adjustments if necessary, as high alkalinity can contribute to high pH.
  5. Regular Testing: Monitor pH levels frequently using a reliable test kit to catch imbalances early and take corrective action promptly.
  6. Consult with Professionals: Seek advice from pool professionals or water chemistry experts for guidance on appropriate actions and quantities for your specific pool conditions.

These strategies, when applied appropriately, can help maintain a balanced pH level in your saltwater pool for optimal water quality and comfort.

One common method to reduce high pH is to add muriatic acid to your swimming pool. This acid interacts with the water, neutralizing the basic elements and lowering the pH. Moreover, it’s essential to routinely check your pool’s pH and to add acid as needed to maintain the ideal range. It’s also beneficial to explore the role of aeration in your pool, as it can inadvertently increase pH levels. Adjusting the aeration process can thus be a strategic move to manage your pool’s chemistry.

Regular monitoring and maintenance are key to preventing the pH from becoming too high. When it comes to your saltwater pool, these strategies to lower the pH level should be a part of your routine pool care to keep your water sparkling and swimmer-friendly.

Preventive Measures for Maintaining Balanced PH Levels in Your Pool

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Maintaining balanced pH levels in your saltwater pool is essential for ensuring the health and longevity of both the swimming pool and the swimmers. Water chemistry is a delicate balance, and preventive measures are key to managing the pH in your saltwater pool. Firstly, routine maintenance checks of the water pool’s pH should be conducted, as consistent monitoring will alert you when the pH is high.

To prevent pH imbalances in your pool, establish a routine of regular water testing using a reliable kit to monitor pH levels. Maintain alkalinity within the recommended range (80-120 ppm), as proper alkalinity acts as a buffer, helping to stabilize pH. Additionally, ensure your pool’s water circulation is effective, preventing localized chemical imbalances and promoting uniform distribution of pH-adjusting chemicals.

Adjusting chemical use is also a crucial preventive step; be sure to verify that salt levels are appropriate, as salt balance directly impacts chlorine generation, which can raise the pH. Additionally, incorporating a pH buffer can help stabilize the pH levels.

Regular cleaning of your pool is another important preventive measure, as organic materials and debris can contribute to fluctuating pH levels. An often-overlooked factor is the role of sodium hydroxide—a byproduct of saltwater chlorination—which can cause the pH to rise increasingly if not managed.

To counter this, ensure your saltwater pool maintenance includes a periodic check and recalibration of your pool’s chlorinator. Lastly, implementing strategies to manage the accumulation of hard water—which carries minerals that can increase the pH—is a proactive approach to keeping the water balanced. Taking these preventive measures seriously can save you from the hassles of constant troubleshooting and provide a serene and safe swimming environment.

How to Raise pH in Saltwater Pool?

  • Baking soda-sodium bicarbonate is naturally alkaline, pH of 8. When you add baking soda to your pool H2O, you will raise pH & the alkalinity
  • Soda ash/sodium carbonate- 6oz. will increase pH by 0.2 per 10,000 gals.
  • Aeration-When H2O is aerated, it outgassing CO2 from H2O increasing.………………………………………………………… Read more

JimGalloway Author/Editor


Atlas Scientific-How to Lower pH in a Salt Pool


Also known as “dry acid”, sodium bisulfate is a fine powder commonly used to lower the pH in pools. Sodium bisulfate is typically preferred over muriatic acid due to its safer use and ease of storage. However, as it is a powder, you should avoid using it on very windy days. The pH level of sodium bisulfate is 1.2-1.3.
Here are common causes of an alkaline pool: Algae can raise the pH. Adding strong liquid chlorine, calcium, or lithium hypochlorite chlorine may raise it. Suddenly heating the water, whether from a pool heater or a string of sunny days, could up the pH.

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