Alkaline water issues

Any of you that have alkaline water have a way to raise the pH? Last season I added Sulfuric acid
to a 40 gallon barrel of water but I’m hesitant to repeat that because of the very caustic nature of the acid. I’m vacillating between sodium bisulfate, white vinegar, or muriatic acid. Does anybody have any experience with either of these or anything else for that matter. R/O is out of the question in as much as it would cost a small fortune for an R/O system to provide the amount of water I need. Thanks.

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Having kept aquariums for many years i have a little experience with this. If you have alkaline water you have high ph and adding acid might lower it. I assume this is what you are trying to achieve. The ease or difficulty of changing pH depends on the KH -carbonate hardness (also called total alkalinity) of your water. If your water has high KH it acts as a pH buffer and will be difficult to lower pH without R/O or distilling. Sometimes water has a high pH with low KH, and this is easier to change. You can pick up a simple to use KH kit at the pet store to find out where your water is. Water with low KH can be changed by adding acid, I do not know how this will affect your plants. You could try collecting rainwater.

Thank you sunspot. Yes total alkalinity is very high. But I was able to affect the pH last year with the sulfuric acid without any harm to my plants. I just need to know specifically is any of those acids that I have listed, especially sodium disullfate, are harmful to my plants. From what I’ve read and pretty confident that vinegar woodwork but I’d sure like to hear from somebody who has use either of these compounds. Thanks again for your reply.

My water is high-generally in the 8-9 range. If I’m remembering correctly Ryan recommends a 6.5. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a really cheap and easy fix to this. Adding acid to your water is likely the best way to bring that PH down. Personally I purchase PH Down from a hydroponic store, or Amazon. One of the most professional ways to tackle this issue is by purchasing a Dosatron which mixes a precise amount of acid with water. A Dosatron also has the advantage of being able to use a hose length of over 50 ft unlike some of the other products i’ve seen. Unfortunately, they are not cheap. They have excellent customer service and will walk you through everything you’ll need.

Thank you for your response Jeremiah. I should’ve probably explain that my system is pretty basic. I’ve only been doing this for a little better than a year and only have seven trees, all in the development stage. Oh, wait. I forgot my latest addition that I received in the mail; a nicely developing maple in the pre-bonsai stage. My watering system consists of a 40 gal. plastic garbage barrel that I rigged with a spigot at the bottom. Last year I was successful in keeping the pH down by adding a few drips of the sulfuric acid. However, Consistency was sacrificed because I didn’t measure. Plus, I was always nervous that I would spill it on something, or worse, myself. After doing a lot of reading on Google I’ve decided to go with a pH decreaser for spas, the active ingredient of which is sodium bisulfate. I was originally hesitant because it contains sodium but I’ve only put in 1 teaspoon for the 40 gallons. I sincerely doubt that’s enough sodium to make a difference. I’ll keep testing the water and appraising you all of the results, in case anybody might be interested. Thanks again. Love this foum.

Be very cautious using all those different acids. You can kill a tree instantly if you use the wrong acid or too much.

My water is a PH of 7.5 to 8 out of the tap. For a while I used General Hydroponics PH down to lower my PH. They also have PH up. Don’t use this stuff without a PH test kit or meter. Otherwise it’s a shot in the dark.

Recently I have installed a PH injection system so it’s 6.5 out of the hose. I’m still fine tuning it.

Pay the money for the PH down, you can find it at the indoor garden store depending where you live. Otherwise order it online. You don’t need much. So it last a while.

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Another really cheap way to do this is to put peat moss in a nylon stocking in your barrel. I used to use this method for Discus fish. You will have to experiment with getting the right amount. It lowers pH and KH.

Thanks Sunnie. I used straw in a pond I once had. I think the volume of water overwhelm the size of the straw mat but, you know, it’s worth a try. I’ll go to my nearest Ace Hardware and buy one and try It out. I intend to get back to this forum after I try a few alternatives and discuss the results. Thanks again.
And look at you Josh. That’s what I love about This forum. Like how you even posted a picture that I believe you took just for that purpose just to make sure I know what to look for. Awesome! Thank you all!

Hi, the pH of my water straight from the hose is around 8-9. To bring it down to about 6.5, I use a siphon system which injects acidic water into the hose at a ratio of 1:16. Specifically, the siphon draws acidic water (muriatic acid mixed with water) from a bucket and mixes it in the hose as you water. To lower the pH of the water in the bucket, I have used vinegar and muriatic acid. Muriatic acid works better than vinegar because vinegar will cause the pH to go back up if you let the water sit for more than a day in the bucket. Michael Hagedorn had written a useful blog post about topic a while ago. See picture below of my setup.

Good answer…!
Did you have a name and brand for the siphon setup?
Maybe where you acquired it?
Ryan mentioned this in the QA session (9/19?).
I’m not too sure of the bio-takeup of the acetate ion ftom viniger, the HCl adjusted water would NOT cause any grief to the TREES. I WOULD put the pre- diluted acid/water into a closed top 5g plastic bottle, though… even dilute HCl is pretty nasty on a kid… or animal.
Safety-- always SLOWLY pour ACID INTO WATER when mixing. It will react and splatter if you go too quick. Safety glasses and tossable nitrile gloves, too!

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The model I have is the “Hozon Brass Siphon Mixer”. I bought it at Lee Valley, in Ottawa. Good point about the safety measures! I am planning to move the setup into the greenhouse for the winter, where the acid/water will be stored in 20 gallon container with a closed top. One question: why pouring water into the acid is better/safer? I always pour the acid into the water, since I find that this is the only -practical- way I can fine tune the acid/water ratio into the bucket (add a little more acid, more alkaline water, etc. until I get the right pH out of the hose).

I was always taught to slowly add the acid to the water. Dilution of most concentrated acids is a highly exothermic reaction (releases heat). Adding the acid to the water distributes the heat in a large volume of water and if the temperature gets high enough to locally boil it gives off steam and perhaps some dilute acid splatters. Adding the water to the acid results in the heat being concentrated in a smaller volume of acid so it will typically heat up faster and any splatters will be of a more concentrated acid.

It is also important to start with cold or at least cool water and pay attention to the temperature of the mixture. This is absolutely critical when diluting very concentrated acids by a small amount - for example 50% water and 50% acid. It is less critical for our typical horticultural uses where we start with a less concentrated acid and often dilute by a factor of 20:1 or even higher. If for some reason you need a hot acid solution dilute the acid and then heat it. Do not start with hot water.

BTW the same precautions apply to diluting concentrated bases such as lye (caustic soda).

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Great word Marty. Thank you.

Ph down, use a ph meter. Super simple and efficient. If you have a high Tds as well. The ph might creep back up over a few days. So check it regularly. I wouldn’t use Spa acids.

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Hi. Just wanted to share my journey in adjusting my own PH for my water. I use a brass siphon and a 5 gallon bucket for my setup and only a 25ft hose (small backyard). I’ve been experimenting with pH down, vinegar and now trying citric acid. My water straight out of the hose is about 8.5-9. Using the above solutions, I’ve managed to get it down to 6.2-6.5. The ph down tends to have something white and filmy grow in the bucket after a week or so (maybe someone knows what that is). The vinegar does tend to raise back up after a day slightly when I fill my large watering pot. Just started testing the citric acid but seems to be working pretty good so far.

I found this article helpful. Take a look.

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Thanks all for the ideas and the link. The recent podcast from the Telperion folks talked about the water they have has a pH of 4.9 (!) and the trees sure seem happy. When I was out there, Chris told me that just changing the pH toward more acid could be helpful in my trees’ health. While I don’t plan on going for 4.9, I am working on a system to correct my well water ( hope it will help with the lime discoloration/deposits on my pots as well) .

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