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 own 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.

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 for making 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.


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

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 2The 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



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



  • 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.


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 resulting in an increase .………………………………………………………… Read more


JimGalloway Author/Editor


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