- How to Make Soil More Alkaline
- How to Test the pH in Concrete
- How to Treat Acidic Soils
- How to Balance the pH in a Pool
- How to Garden With Basic Slag
- What Is a pH Meter Used For?
- The Effect of Concrete on Garden Plants' PH Levels
- How to Test Soil PH With PH Test Strips
- How to Use a Soil pH Meter
- How to Determine the pH of Potting Soil
- How Much Lime to Add to Water to Raise the PH From 7 to 8?
- How to Mix Lime With Soil for Potting Soil
- What Is a pH Level?
- How to Add Acid to Soil
- How to Increase Soil Acidity
- Mixing Directions for Liquid Floramite
- Acid Vs. Base PH Levels in Swimming Pools
The pH level of soil will determine how well plants grow. Because different plants require different pH levels, the desired pH level of a growing area depends on the plants you will grow. High pH levels indicate high alkalinity of soil and low pH levels indicate high acidity levels of soil. You can make soil more alkaline by adding a lime product to the soil at the time you prepare soil for planting.
Work the soil area thoroughly with the garden spade prior to adding the limestone. Cultivate the soil down to a depth of at least 8 inches.
Spread the granular limestone evenly over the soil area. Depending on the size of the soil area, you can spread the limestone by hand or with a broadcast spreader. Strive to spread between 2 and 3 lbs. of granular limestone over each 100 square feet of soil area.
Work the limestone into the soil with the garden spade. Cultivate the soil again down to 8 inches to work the limestone throughout the soil thoroughly.
Water the soil with a garden hose or a sprinkler unless you expect rain. Moisture must contact the lime in the soil to begin the chemical reaction that will raise the alkalinity level of the soil. If you water with the hose or a sprinkler, water to saturate the soil evenly.
Sand a 12-inch section of the concrete floor with an electric sander and 200-grit sandpaper. A very thin layer of concrete, no more than 1/16-inch thick, should be removed from the concrete surface to get rid of any impurities that may affect the test results. You can manually sand the concrete if you do not have access to an electric sander.
Sweep up the concrete dust with a broom or vacuum cleaner.
Hold one end of a pH testing strip against the surface of the sanded concrete.
Drop one drop of distilled water -- which should be included in the test kit -- on the pH test strip. The test strip must be pressed against the concrete to get results.
Compare the color of the test strip to the pH color guide included in your test kit.
Take soil samples from several locations around the site for testing. Dig holes six to nine inches deep, using a shovel. Remove the soil from this depth at each test hole and place it in a bucket. Mix the soil together. Allow it to dry.
Break the soil surface, using the rototiller for small garden areas or a disc cultivator pulled behind a tractor for large field areas. Working the ground before agricultural lime application is important for thoroughly mixing the agent into the soil.
Apply the recommended amounts of lime based upon the soil test results.
Mix the lime into the soil at a depth greater than six inches with the rototiller or disc cultivator. According to Kansas State University, deep incorporation of the liming agent speeds up the neutralization of the acid soil.
Test the soil every two to three years to monitor the acidic soil condition.
Follow the directions in your pH test kit to test the pH level of your pool's water. Test kits are available at any pool supply store and come with a chart to help you determine your water's pH.
Evaluate the results. If the pH level is low (7 or below) you will need to balance the pH by raising it -- this requires the use of soda ash. If the pH is high -- above 8 -- it can be balanced by adding muriatic acid.
Turn on your swimming pool pump.
Add the necessary chemicals according to the current pH level and the volume of your pool. Chemicals normally have detailed instructions -- if they do not, refer to the chart at deh.enr.state.nc.us/ehs/chem.htm.
Allow the water to circulate through the pump for several minutes, effectively dispersing the chemicals through the water. Re-test, using your pH test kit as described in step 1. Repeat step 4 if the pH level is not between the optimum levels of 7.2 and 7.8.
Test your pool's pH every other day and adjust as needed to ensure the pH remains balanced.
Contact your local agricultural extension office to obtain a soil testing kit. Follow the instructions provided with the kit and send the labeled soil back to the extension for analysis. Your results will be returned, including the current pH balance and how much limestone to add to raise the pH.
Fill a drop spreader with the recommended amount of powdered slag and distribute it throughout your garden. For a small garden, you can distribute the slag by hand.
Break up the soil, using the rototiller or garden spade to work the slag 6 inches into the soil.
Retest your soil before planting seeds to ensure the pH is in range.
Chemical Definition of pH
PH is a symbol representing a logarithmic equation applied to a hydrogen ion's reciprocal gram atom per liter concentration.
Though the standard pH scale has been used to measure acidity and alkalinity for a whole century, commercial pH meters were not produced until 1936 (in Denmark). Such pH meters were used in labs but did not become a widely successful product until 2004, with the development of the Beckman pH Meter.
Today, pH meters are used primarily for home-based testing of tap and pool water. In most cases, tap water in developed nations is safe to drink, but accurate pH readings are necessary to ensure safe living environments for aquatic pets (see Resources).
Digital pH meters are preferred over disposable test strips because they are more accurate and can be reused.
Digital meters are much more expensive than single-use test strips. Additionally, meters without rechargeable batteries can rack up additional energy costs over the course of usage.
Soil's pH level is measured on a scale of 1 to 14, where a pH less than 7 is acidic, a pH of 7 is neutral, and a pH greater than 7 is alkaline.
Most plants require soil with a pH near 7, although some (like azaleas and blueberries) prefer a pH closer to 6 and some (like certain crab apples) tolerate alkaline soils up to a pH of 8.
Concrete is a mixture of aggregate (usually pebbles or crushed stone) and cement. The exact composition of the cement varies substantially from one manufacturer to the next, but virtually all contain limestone (calcium carbonate) and lime (calcium oxide).
Effects on Soil
Both calcium carbonate and calcium oxide are slightly soluble in water and both form alkaline solutions when they dissolve. They are therefore capable of raising the pH of soil. Researchers at the University of Florida found that soil near a newly constructed brick wall (in which cement was used as mortar) exhibited a pH above 9, compared to a pH of 5.6 for soil farther away from the wall.
The University of Florida researchers also found that after about 10 months, the soil near the brick wall had fallen back to near neutral. It thus appears that fresh concrete will increase the pH of nearby soil, but the effects are not permanent.
Pour the soil sample in the bowl and add enough distilled water to create a mixture with the consistency of a milkshake. Stir well.
Leave mixture alone for one hour, but add water as needed to retain consistency.
Place a drop of the mixture on a test strip and wait one minute.
Rinse strip with distilled water.
Match test strip color with the accompanying color chart.
Water the soil.
Remove the top two inches of the soil.
Stick the probe four to five inches into the soil. Twist the probe around a bit to ensure that it has sufficient contact with the soil.
Leave the meter in the soil for at least 60 seconds.
Read the meter. In analog models, an indicator will point to the specific pH of your soil. Digital pH meters will display a number indicating the pH of your soil.
Remove a handful of the potting soil from the pot and place it into a small bowl or container. Four inches of soil will do, says Mark Highland of Organic Mechanic Soil.
Add four parts water to one part soil until it is a dark, murky mixture.
Pour a portion of the liquid into the container that came with the pH test kit (available at nursuries and hardware stores) and add the chemicals. Put the lid on and shake the container until the liquid changes color. Compare the color to chart provided with the testing kit to get your pH results.
To raise the soil's pH level one point, gardeners should add 4 lbs. of lime per 100 square feet of soil. Gardeners can multiply this amount by how many points they need to raise their soil's pH level.
Test the pH level of your soil with a pH meter. If the pH is already high, you don't want to add any lime to the soil.
Figure out how much lime you need to add to your soil to raise the pH level to the appropriate level. See chart in the first resource.
Mix the lime with the soil and water the soil until it is moist.
Check the pH level of the soil to verify it is now in the appropriate range. If the pH is still too low, add a little more lime. If the pH went too high, lower it with sulfur.
Monitor the pH of the soil periodically to ensure it stays in the correct range. Continue to add lime as necessary if the pH level falls too low.
In 1909, the pH scale was proposed by the Danish scientist P. L. Sörenson. Up until then, describing the acidity of a solution was tedious and difficult.
Acids and Bases
An acid produces hydronium ions (H+) when dissolved in water, while a base produces hydroxide (OH-) ions when dissolved in water.
The pH Scale
The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14. Acids have a pH less than 7, while bases have a pH greater than 7.
Any time the pH of a solution is moved closer to 7, it is being neutralized. To raise pH, add a base; to lower pH, add an acid.
Litmus paper is used to obtain a crude measure of pH. Filter paper is treated with a dye that changes color, depending on pH; blue litmus paper turns red in an acid, and red litmus paper turns blue in a base.
For accurate pH measurements, a pH meter is better than pH test paper.
Place a small amount of soil from the area where you plan to garden in the test tube of a test kit, following kit instructions.
Add several drops of the acid-measuring solution, as per the instructions on the test kit. Shake the test tube and let it sit for an hour or so, depending on the instructions.
Compare the color of the solution in the test tube with the color chart, and find the color that best matches. The pH next to the color on the chart is the pH of your sample.
Look at the pH requirement range for the plants that you plan to put into the soil. Subtract the current pH of the soil from the lowest number of the range. This will determine the number of pH points that need to be added.
Determine whether the soil is sandy, as opposed to loamy, clay, or peat-heavy.
For each pH point in your calculation measure out 1.2 ounces of rock sulfur per square yard if the soil is sandy. If the soil is loamy, clay or peat-heavy, measure 3.6 ounces per square yard.
Mix the sulfur thoroughly with the soil. You can then plant anytime and rest assured that your plants are in soil with the correct pH.
Test the moist soil with a pH testing kit.
Calculate the difference in the current pH level and the desired pH level. For example, if the tested soil pH is 8 and the desired pH is 6, the difference is 2.
Measure the gardening area. Calculate the square footage of the area.
Apply sulfur powder to the top of the soil area to reduce the pH in one-point increments. Use 10 pounds of sulfur powder per 1,000 square feet for sandy soil. Use an additional 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet for medium-grade soil and 10 additional pounds for heavy clay soils.
Rake the area with a garden rake to work the powder into the topsoil.
Lightly mist the area with water, if the soil is dry.
Retest the soil pH in 2 weeks. Repeat process until obtaining the desired soil acidity level.
Pour one gallon of water into a clean bucket. Dip a pH test strip into the water to test the pH level. Your goal is to achieve a pH level between 5.5 to 6.5. Apply a pH solution that adjusts the pH of the water, if necessary. The solutions are know as "pH up" or "pH down" solutions. Re-test the pH of the water to make sure it has a 5.5 to 6.5 pH level.
Pour 1/2 gallon of pH-adjusted water into the spray tank. Add 1/2 tbsp. of Floramite to the spray tank. Tighten the nozzle onto the spray tank and shake the contents to dissolve the Floramite.
Fill the tank with the remaining 1/2 gallon of pH-adjusted water. Shake the mixture to ensure that the Floramite and water combine. Spray the mixture onto plants.
The pH scale measures the amount of Hydrogen atoms (H+) contained in a substance. A higher concentration of Hydrogen atoms indicates an acidic substance, while a lower number of atoms indicates a basic substance. The scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH measurement of 7 is considered a neutral substance. Water, and most of the body's internal environment has a pH level of slightly above 7.
The optimum range for a swimming pool's pH should be between 7.4 and 7.6. This level allows the best environment for other chemicals to work properly. Adding these chemicals, such as chlorine or calcium carbonate, can alter the pH of the water.
Chlorine and acidic rain water have the potential to lower swimming pool pH to below 7. The addition of calcium carbonate, or soda ash, will raise the pH. For a 10,000 gallon pool, 2 pounds of soda ash can be added at a time. After each treatment, check the pH.
Adding too much soda ash, or other carbonate chemicals will raise the pH to a basic level. To lower the pH levels, an acid can be added to the water. The most common is hydrocholoric acid. Use extreme caution when dealing with this acid. Add the acid in the deepest part of the pool away from walls and liners.
Damage can occur if a neutral pH is not maintained in a swimming pool. Acidic conditions cause corrosion and depletion of chlorine, while basic conditions cause cloudy water and eye irritation in swimmers. Monitoring the pH of your pool daily will prevent any undesirable changes to acidic or basic levels.