What is pH?

Understanding pH and Its Relationship with Sodium Bisulfate

Sodium bisulfate is used to lower pH, but what is pH? And why is a lower pH better in certain circumstances?

pH is a measure of how acidic or basic a water-based solution is. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. A pH that is less than 7 is acidic while a pH greater than 7 is basic.

The measurement of pH is the act of defining how much free hydrogen ions or hydroxyl ions exist in the water: more free hydrogen ions equal an acidic solution while more hydroxyl ions equal a basic solution.

Why pH is important?

pH is important because it can control the environment, the behavior of chemicals and microbial activity, and how available some nutrients are.

For example, the pH of soil will affect the growth of fungus and roots, the availability of nutrients, and microbial activity. When soil is acidic (low pH), some minerals become soluble and release toxic metals into the environment, while others become less available.

Generally, plants tend to perform best when soil is between 6.0 and 7.0. If outside of the target pH range, pH can be shifted by adding materials, such as lime, sodium bisulfate or others.

Want more details on pH?

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pH of Water

The pH of drinking water is critically important. If water pH is too low, the acidity of the water can degrade pipes and cause toxic metals to leech into the water supply. Water with a pH that is too high does not taste good and can lower the effectiveness of chlorine when used as a disinfectant – potentially introducing harmful water conditions.

Swimming Pool Water pH

For most consumers, the most widely known topic surrounding pH is swimming pool water. When water pH becomes too high, it can limit the effectiveness of the chlorine disinfectant making the water susceptible to algae growth and more likely to create an environment suitable for bacteria.

pH and How It Affects Food

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While many consumers don’t readily think about pH and how it affects the food industry, it is critical to food safety. pH is measured to test for food quality, manage microbial activity, prolong shelf life and affect taste.

pH, Water Quality and Geographic Variation

Water pH can vary drastically across the country and is often a hot topic due to its influence on water quality. Remember, extremely high or extremely low pH can cause a host of problems:

Low pH

Low pH can dissolve metals and corrode pipes

High pH

High pH can create a bitter taste and leave deposits in pipes and appliances

Know Your pH

Even if you know the pH of water nearby, it’s important to test it as many variables can affect it, including pollution introduced from human activity

The Relationship Between pH and Alkalinity

Alkalinity acts as a buffer to water pH and works to keep pH levels from fluctuating drastically. Total alkalinity and pH are so closely related that it’s nearly impossible to lower alkalinity without also lowering pH.

An alkalinity measurement tells you the number of carbonates in the water. The pH will only drop after all those carbonates are bound, so the higher the alkalinity, the more sodium bisulfate you’ll need.

The pH Experts

While pH can be a complicated topic, the team at Jones-Hamilton Co. are the foremost experts on the topic and can help you understand its role in various commercial applications from food processing and animal feed to poultry litter and dairy cow ammonia control.

Explore all the applications where sodium bisulfate can make an impact, the products we offer to support those applications, and contact us to order a safe, effective acidifier.

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