What is the pH Level?
Let us first understand what pH is! The term pH means the power or potential of hydrogen has which can make a solution acidic or no-acidic. When we say non-acidic we mean alkaline.
Baking soda is substance with alkalinity. When you mix it with any acid, it transforms the pH level. This is the reason why, when you have an upset stomach; it can quickly give you relief!!
The pH level in chemistry is a scale which specifies how acidic or basic a water-based solution is! Acidic solutions show a lower pH, while essential solutions display a higher pH.
The scale ranges from zero to 14. Solutions such as battery acids are highly acidic and fall at zero, and liquid detergents are alkaline and are 14 on the scale of pH. Pure or clean water at room temperature is neither acidic nor basic and shows pH level 7.
So, did it answer your question, “Does Baking Soda Raise or Lower pH?”
What is Baking Soda?
Baking soda is a staple in most homes! This simple chemical compound is most widely used in baking. Sodium Bicarbonate, as baking soda is also known is used in a powder form.
It has a pH level of approximately 8.4. It is a versatile chemical and used for a range of things like baking, cleaning, and deodorizing, etc.
How Does Baking Soda Affect pH Level?
Baking soda, as we told you, is alkaline. It would help if you understood that:
- Neutral solutions have a pH of 7
- pH levels below 7 point towards an acidic solution
- pH levels above 7 indicate an alkaline solution
This is why when you dissolve baking soda in water, it forms an alkaline solution. You have to remember that the current pH levels will influence efficiency of baking soda powder.
If the current levels are below 8.4 or even 7, then you can raise it to more neutral levels. Anyway no one can raise the level of pH above 8.4.
What is Buffering?
Baking soda works uniquely as a buffer. It can maintain a stable pH balance. It can change the more acidic solutions to become basic and, on the other hand, cause essential solutions to become more acidic.
In this way, it can bring both solutions closer to the neutral value of 7 and keeps the solution stable at around 8.1 on the potential of hydrogen scale. This is the reason why using baking soda in different ways to raise the pH level is common and popular.
The fact that it is entirely natural and safe is an added advantage. Let us take a look at some of the areas where it helps by raising the pH level.
Area Where Raising pH Level is Essential!
1. Water Treatment
Drinking water should have a pH between 6.5 and 8.5. Too low, and it can cause damage to the pipes and lead to toxic metals to leach into the water supply and contaminate the water.
Water with pH, which is too high, has an unpleasant taste. When it comes to wastewater treatment, for example, sewage, pH needs to be controlled so that the required chemical reactions will take place and that too efficiently.
Certain microbes are crucial for breaking up the sewage or industrial waste, and this requires the correct pH level.
- By merely adding half a teaspoon of baking soda in a gallon of clean water will do the trick. Mix and shake it thoroughly and ensure it dissolves completely. You get baking soda solutions in large containers that can be used for large amounts of industrial waste.
2. Swimming Pool
Swimming pools should ideally have pH values between 7.2 and 7.8. If the reading is too low, you will find the water will irritate your eyes, nose, and damage your hair.
It may also damage any metal stairs in the pool. On the other hand, if the number is too high, the effectiveness of chlorine will not be enough for keeping the pool clean. It can become infected with various viruses and bacteria.
- Rule of thumb is about one and a half-pound of sodium bicarbonate per 10000 gallons of water. Depending on the size of your pool, you can adjust the amount.
- Check the pH level before deciding the amount of baking soda. It is always a good idea to use less and add more after testing.
- You have to sprinkle it directly into the pool. Don’t dump it in one place and spread it in wide arcs.
3. Agriculture & Soil
The pH level of soil plays an important role when it comes to agriculture and gardening. Soil system is very complex, and its pH level will affect microbes, fungus, nutrients, and many other factors.
If the soil is acidic, minerals can become soluble and release toxic materials, and nutrients like phosphorus can become scarce.
If the soil is alkaline, it can become deficient in many necessary nutrients like zinc, manganese, etc. most plants will thrive when the pH range of soil is approximately between 6 and 7.
Some plants prefer acidic or basic conditions.
- To raise the pH in the soil naturally and organically, adding baking soda is perfect.
- It is gentle on the soil as well as the plants. It also acts as a pest repellent. Depending on the area and pH level, you can spread the right amount of soda powder and then water it.
- Tilling it to mix well in the soil is better. If done rightly, it will start showing results very quickly.
4. Aquaculture & Aquariums
All kinds of aquatic life require the right level of pH in their living areas, which is water. Too low or too high, both can be harmful to fishes and other aquatic animals.
When the pH is low, toxic metals such as aluminum can become soluble and contaminate the water and severely affect the fishes. Low pH can also inhibit growth and reproduction and even lead to death.
High pH values can convert ammonia ions to ammonia, which is highly toxic for fishes. This will also hamper growth and even kill the fishes. The ideal range for most fishes is between 6.5 and 8.5.
- Baking soda is perfect for increasing the alkalinity because it is inexpensive, natural, and organic. It dissolves very fast and is safe for fishes and all other aquatic lives.
- Adding 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons is generally a good ratio. Start with a small and safe amount and slowly increase the amount after testing the pH level.
- Remember to remove the fish from the tank before adding baking soda to water. Now, add the baking soda in a solution form by adding it to little water first.
- Place the fishes back once you find the pH level appropriate.
5. Brewing and Winemaking
The beer and winemaking processes involve microbial activity. The mash pH is going to affect the way several enzymes acts. It should have a pH level between 5.3 and 5.8.
When it comes to wines, the pH of the wine has to be at a low level to prevent bacteria from spoiling the wine. Lower pH will also result in slower maturing, which is good for wine.
More acidic wines are dry and sour. Usually, the pH values for wines fall between 3 and 4. Red wines are sweeter while white wines are drier and have a lower pH value.
- Baking soda for wines is not very common and, other carbonates, like potassium or calcium, are preferred in large scale winemaking.
- However, you can try using baking soda in tiny quantities at home when making a small bath. Some people even put a pinch in their glass while drinking to reduce acidity.
- While brewing baking soda can be added during the mash process to correct the pH level.
After going through the information, you know now that baking soda raises the pH level, and at the same time, it can bring pH level down as well.
What it does is to bring the level close to the neutral level, which is ideal. The reason baking soda is better than many other chemicals
- It is entirely natural and organic.
- It is safe and does not create any health hazards.
- It is inexpensive
- It is readily available.
- It is easy to use
If you are planning to use baking soda for maintaining a good pH level, then first you have to check the pH level. Then, once you work out the quantity of this miracle chemical required, take slightly less than that and use it for the best results.
If you find the information useful, please feel free to share it with others who are also wondering about the efficacy of baking soda. Do write to us if you need more information or if you have any suggestions for us.