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Baking Soda in the Aquarium

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NaH2O

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Since this discussion was started on another thread. I thought it would be a good idea to continue it in its own place. It was brought up that Baking Soda would not maintain the desired effects for alkalinity.

WaterDogs said:
Hello Don,

I am curious as to why you using baking soda? That has been known to be a very short term alk fix as in losing its effectiveness sometimes overnight thus not being recommended.

Dwaine
This was a response on baking soda:

cwcross said:
baking soda or washing soda are fine and are basically just what alkalinity is. Alkalinity in salt water is a mixture of Carbonate and bi-carbonate. Baking Soda and Washing soda are quite pure forms of these materials. Also they will convert in to one another to reach equilibrium in the presence of CO2 and Water so it doesn't really mater which one you use, excepting you have to use more of one than the other and the initial pH effects are different. Comercial brands are Alk adjustment are one of the two above or a mixture that is buffered. When adding either of the soda's to a tank with animals though, it should just be added slowly and watch the pH until you see how things (like the pH, your alk and your animals) react. Generally 1 tsp of baking soda would change 50 gallons of water about 0.4 milliequivelants/L or 1 dKH

I am really interested in whether or not commercial baking soda would work for a long term effect. Why wouldn't it? Would an analytical grade material work better? If so, how is it different?

Thanks
 

Scooterman

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I'm also interested, I'm no chemist but would think the effectiveness would be the same as any other buffer that works for any given time period, eventually they may all break down but at what point does that occur?
 

DonW

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I'm sure there may be a few impurities, but on the other hand they may be good ones. As far as strength goes I do use more AH per gallon than the kent stuff, but the price is right. For the most part people arent using it to maintain there system anyways. I buffer the fresh mix and some times top off then let the ca reactor take it from there.
So if the short term thing were true it would be no big deal. I did use the diy two part for two months as a test, it did just fine dosing daily.
I'm sure the msds is online somewhere if someone needs to know just what the impurities are.

Don
 

MikeS

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I think most commercial baking sodas are pretty pure..

I've been using it for awhile. The only concern I've come across looking at info on this subject is the sodium itself, ie what happens to it...

I'm no chemist either...is the sodium in the sodium bicarbonate any cause for concern?

Mike
 

Craig Manoukian

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Great question Nikki! I am very interested in this feedback although my Ph and Alk are very stable up 'til now, knock on wood. :D
 

Ed Hahn

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CW,
I love it when people with experience share their formulas..It makes it simple for me. Thanks for sharing your experience and making it easier on the rest of us. I never used A&H Baking soda. I was afraid to use baking soda because of overdosing. I am not afraid anymore..Thanks CW for the lesson.

from CW earlier...Generally 1 tsp of baking soda would change 50 gallons of water about 0.4 milliequivelants/L or 1 dKH
 

CarlaW

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I have been using baking soda and washing soda as a buffer in my 300 since close to day 1. My alk. has settled at around 3.00 and my Ph is between 8.1 and 8.3 thruout the day. Kevin turned me on to this and it seems to be working :D
 

Angelscrx

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So am I to assume that using Arm and Hammer baking soda at 1 Teaspoon per 50 gallons will keep your alkalinity at 3.0 and PH at 8.1-8.3? My alkalinity test uses low, normal, and high so where does 3.0 sit? Thanks
 

CarlaW

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OOPS!!!!! Should have clarified that. I use the buffer in a 6-1 ratio, 6 BS to 1 WS. I Just mix it up in 2 quarts of RO/DI in the morning about 4, times a week.
 

MikeS

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Angelscrx said:
So am I to assume that using Arm and Hammer baking soda at 1 Teaspoon per 50 gallons will keep your alkalinity at 3.0 and PH at 8.1-8.3?
No....that means that adding 1 tsp. of baking soda to 50 gallons of water will raise the alkalinity by .4 meq/L. So if your 50 gallon tank is at 2.0 meq/L alkalinity, adding 1 tsp. will raise your alk. to 2.4 meq/L. If your tank is 100 gallons, adding 1 tsp. will raise it to 2.2 meq/L., ect....

As for the pH...a lot of other factors come into play there. Alkalinity is a measurement of a solutions ability to resist a negative (acid) shift in pH. The addition of the buffer may temporarily raise (or even lower) the pH, but it helps the stability of the pH.

Angelscrx said:
My alkalinity test uses low, normal, and high so where does 3.0 sit? Thanks
I'd get a kit that meausres alkalinity in dKH, meq/L, or ppm....low, normal and high are pretty vauge and subjective...

Angelscrx said:
Also is this daily dose, weekly dose, or when water changes only?
That all depends on your tank. When I use CaCl2, for example, I find I need to add baking soda daily.


MikeS
 

MikeS

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Funny you should ask... :lol:

http://www.reeffrontiers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3998

I have a thread related to that going....

I use it primarily to boost my calcium as it drops off after using kalk, but after discussing it with the others in that thread, I think my calcium and alk may not have been as far off as I thought based on my SG...

I used it when my calcium dropped below 350...I'd add 2 tsp/1 gal RO water and drip that mixture into my 55 daily, until I got around 400 ppm Ca., adding baking soda as needed to try to keep my alk above 2.5 meq/L. Then I'd go back to the vinager boosted kalk.

MikeS
 

cwcross

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Ok, been busy today...where to start. First I think that reedman made a good point to waterdog's comment, although maybe somewhat bluntly. I think waterdog made a statement that he wanted clarity on. However, that statement was based on heresay and not on evidence. I think it perfectly appropriate to question unfounded statements. One of the primary rules of debate..."recognize statements of rational proof from those of persuasion".

However, to the implicit question. Will Alk boosted with A&H last longer than the fancy stuff bought at the LFS? A very good question. A few points first:

1.) Alk chemistry (even in an aquarium) is really not very complicated in the grand scheme of all chemistry. One does not need to be an aquarium Guru to understand it from a chemical perspective. A chemist maybe who spends some time to understand, but nothing more.

2.) I have learned a lot myself from reading Farley's articles. They are well referenced and it is obvious that he spent much more time than I in looking into it. However, that is the basis of science. We don't need to re-invent the wheel all the time. That is why we quote references. The articles seem sound and the chemistry is largely correct, accounting for a lay audience.

3.) Somebody made another excellent point. I personally am not selling anything here. I do it for fun in my spare time because I enjoy aquariums, learning from others, debate and teaching what I know to those that are interested.

4.) Why aren't the ingredients of the LFS bought Alk booster not on the label? Simple, because the formulation is not patentable and the manufacturer seeks to protect his work by trade secret. A perfectly legal and legitimate position. They would seek to protect it mainly because, unfortunately (for them), the ingredients are made of common household or easily available ingredients that any of us could throw together in a matter of minutes if we knew how!

5.) Statistical certainty.... I don't believe anything anyone tells me (especially about aquariums) if they say something to the effect of: "I did so and so to my aquarium and I saw this, so it must be true". Effect does not imply cause! Only by using detailed experimentation, grounded in sound science with appropriate controls can one unravel complicated phenomenon. Then many repititions must be done to prove the hypothesis with statistical certainty. For instance, we hear that "boosting alk with A&H doesn't last as long as with store bought stuff" (and I am not picking on anybody, we are all guilty of doing such things and the question, or statement that implies it in this case, is a very good one and I myself can't offer any proof one way or the other). We can immediatly ask? How did you time it? Was the temperature the same in each case? Did anything else vary during the comparison? How closely in time did you measure the LFS stuff trail and the A&H trial? How many times did you repeat the trails? What were the average times of each and their standard deviations? Were the two times different at the 95% confidence interval? and so on.... Point is that almost certainly all these questions can't be answered. This is the problem with aquarium science. It makes for costly and time consuming experiments that most people don't have the occasion, budget or reason to perform. Thus we are left with a bunch of voodoo and heresay.

So now...enough of my philosophical rambling. What do I believe we are really concerened with.

1.) Q: Is the high price of commerical Alk boosing formulations worth the extra money we pay for them if we can use pickling lime and baking soda (A&H).

A: IMHO...NO!

2.) Q: Will using these off the shelf ingredients hurt my animals?

A: IMHO...NO!

Let me quote a link I found helpful in my studies:

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-04/rhf/feature/index.htm

Ok, now to paraphrase... A & H is basically bicarbonate of soda with some carbonate of soda (aka a mixture of sodium bicarbonate with a little sodium carbonate).

Commercial alk booster is most likely A&H mixed with a little borate. Both are bases and contribute to total ALK.

Borate is a stronger buffer than is A&H but will not be consumed to the animals at near the rate, if at all. Let's imagine two not very realistic but extreme cases. Let's assume borate is not consumed by our aquarium at all but that carbonate is. Now lets imagine our Alk booster is 100% borate. We adjust our ALK with pure borate and watch the alk change over time. Since it isn't really consumed, the alk won't change very fast, if any at all. Now the other case. Lets adjust ALK with 100% A&H...it will change as the corals deposit calcium carbonate. If we use a commercial mixture of these two we have an intermediate case... Thus it is possible and maybe even likely (remember, I have no proof of this but it makes sense) that a commercial brand does maintain ALK slightly longer than A&H. However, does it matter...No, probably not because the corals need ALK and not borate. If anything I would guess that we are better off to use pure A&H and not commerical brands because over time we don't want our borate to get unbalanced and make up to much of our ALK. Borate on the other hand will prevent the pH from changing, INITIALLY, as quickly so it perhaps more error tolerant if we aren't careful people when adding it. Of course if one does timely water changes, the borate won't get very unbalanced anyway so it really doesn't matter either way. I personally don't want to pay 15 or 20 bucks when I can pay 2 or 3 for the same thing effectively.

Hope this helps...Good questions and responses. Is there anything I can clear up specifically?..I tried to cover a lot of ground here and am not sure I got everything.

Sincerely...Collin
 

cwcross

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Oh, yea...about the sodium. The largest part of sea salt is sodium chloride. Thus sodium is no problem...C
 

cwcross

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Yes, any salt, including the A&H and pickling lime will cause a rise in salinity. This what is meant by "balance". Salinity is really just the total sum of all salts in the water. If we add things that contain one thing at a faster rate than another and keep salinity the same then the relative proportions of things will change with respect to our intial values. That is why I think it is better to add the simplest things we can, and stick to only what is really needed, Ca and Carbonate, to our aquariums. Sodium won't really matter because it is largely a spectator and is present in such large quatities it is hard to get very far out of balance and wouldn't matter anyway. It is the trace elements that are more important...Hope this helps...C
 
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