Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sodium Bicarbonate

Okay, consider this a lesson learned. It all comes down to the packaging when a consumer is purchasing a commodity. In this case the commodity is sodium bicarbonate.

Last week the motor to the pool was finally repaired and I was able to get to work at bring the pool under control. In the 3 weeks it took for it to be fixed, the water had turned a decidedly fluorescent green, as you can see in this picture!

After testing the water, I found it measured very low on alkalinity, about 30 ppm when it should be over 120-150 ppm. I think the oak leaves must raise the acidity a lot because this happens every spring! Anyway, I guestimated I needed about 40 pounds of "alkalinity up" product to bring it up to the proper level. Having 10-11 pounds on hand, I visited Lowes and bought another 24 pounds. It sold in 12# boxes and averaged out to about $1.16/pound.

Knowing I could buy it in larger quantities than 12#, I called the local pool supply store. The largest they had was 10# and it averaged $1.60/pound. Yikes, it's going up!

But what is the "alkalinity up" product? It's just plain old sodium bicarbonate. Otherwise known as baking soda, like that Arm & Hammer box you put into the fridge. And how much does that cost at the grocery store? For a 1# Arm & Hammer is was $0.69, and if I went with the store brand it was just $0.59 a pound.

What this lesson for me really proves is that when a product is intended to be used on a pool (this also applies to boat owners), the price is automatically doubled. And the marketing and packaging is everything in pricing for a commodity. Meantime, next year I'll purchase it at the local super market!


Victor's child said...

What I heard from a pool guy was that the 'pool' sodium bicarbonate has additives so it dissolves faster. I'm cheap enough that I just use the plain stuff and it seems to dissolve fast enough for my purposes.

I've not bothered to read the label enough to know if what the pool guy said was correct or just to get me to buy the stuff so...

Michael said...

Well, considering that the label says that the container is 100% sodium bicarb - I would say that there are no additives!

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, the cheap grocery store solution is finer with less impurities because its food grade. Should be better quality AND disolve FASTER, lol.