New acidification system

bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)May 7, 2012

After years of closely monitoring how much water I give my BB to prevent chlorosis due to our high PH 7 water I finally have thrown in the towel. It was ok when I had less plants but now up to 142 BB plants in 5 different beds and it was just getting hard to juggle.

Bought a 300 gallon tank ($25) to use a reservoir and a SS shallow well pump and pressure tank that sit on top of the 300 gallon tank. The pump delivers 950 gph at 30-50 psi. Ran a new 1" water line around the pool cage and plumbed in the fittings for the BB beds.

Went out and bought a 5 gallon container of sulfuric acid and I was surprised that it took 4 cups of 32% sulfuric acid to counteract the carbonates in my water. Not taking the water down too acidic just enough to lower the PH to 5 from 7 and neutralize the carbonates.

With a dedicated 1" fill line for the tank it takes 19 minutes to fill and 55 minutes to empty to the micro spray heads. Bought a timer you turn and can set it to anything from 6 minutes to 60 minutes and it shuts the pump off automatically. Ran it through it's paces yesterday and today and am pretty pleased. It has the same pressure as the house water so the heads all work great. At 4 cups per tank the acid is not going to last long so will either buy a 15 gallon or a 55 gallon drum of 93% sulfuric which will last me a lifetime.

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


How are you measuring the water pH? Do you think this is a lot cheaper than a rainwater collection system? How much do you need to water and what time of the year? Probably not during the rainy season?

I'll be interested in hearing how this works.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 7:42PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


With PH 1-14 test strips. I added a cup of acid at a time and the PH did not change until the carbonates were burnt up. I know you used or still use the acid, any advice or problems you ran in to?

I would guess it is cheaper to use the acid. I did consider the rainwater collection as I could get as many of those 300 gallon totes as I wanted and at just $25 each they are quite a bargain. The problem with the rainwater collection is how much storage I would need. The BB start growing here in February and our reliable rains don't start until June so that is 5 months and that is also when the plants fruit. As you know it is warm here and we have sandy soil so I water twice a week an hour each time which is 1" of water per application. To water all of my plants takes 3 full tanks of water so 900 gallons X 2 a week so 1800 gallons a week. I would have to have a minimum of 3 weeks storage and that would take 18 300 gallon tanks. 18 X $25 per tank = $450 and still would need the pump.

In the summer I may water once every 2-3 weeks if we have a dry spell. Our rains are reliable in the summer, fall and early winter.

The acid cost me $32 for 5 gallons for the 32%. I can get a 55 gallon drum of the 93% for $220.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 8:16PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Thanks that helps a lot. I've been thinking about going to 1500 or 3000 gal rainwater system but it would be expensive. Might be wrong but as I remember a 3000 gal system would cost about $2000. And we've only had 2 inches rain since Sept 2010!!!

I dilute the 32% battery acid 10:1 right off for safety sake. Then 900ml of that acidifies 60 gal well water. So that's 90 ml of 32% per 60 gal or 450 ml per 300 gal. 450 ml is what, about 2 cups? Half what you are using, I think.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 8:46PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

Bamboo after all these years you just now thought of tank system?? Just kidding:-)

Maybe you should invest in a good Ph meter? I used to use an Oakton for my hydro system and it was spot on.

Feels good to finally be the MASTER of your water huh?? hehehe

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 10:09PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


Wow 2" since September 2010? Yikes. We got almost 2 inches today but that is our first rain in a month.

The way I understand it and you are more up on the technical aspects than I and I could have the same PH water but I could take even 4 times the acid to alter the PH than you. It just has to do more with the level of carbonates in the water than the PH.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 10:32PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


It will be nice to be able to water as much as I want to and not have to worry about it. Far as the meter it should be the same amount of acid every time.....

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 11:00PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Exactly and I don't know what pH my well water tests. It doesn't really matter. All that counts is getting the acid level correct. I would think the well water should be pretty stable as to carbonate level from year to year. But I suppose the current drought could have an effect.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 11:03PM
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93% sulfuric acid is pretty nasty stuff and very hazardous to handle. I'd recommend 73% phosphoric acid as an alternative that is much less hazardous. I use it by the gallon to remove rust from auto parts. It won't burn your hands and only hurts if you have a cut. Nice thing is it is also a plant nutrient.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:01AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


Actually you can take straight 32% or 93% sulfuric acid and pour it on your dry hands and it won't do anything, same as the phosphoric. Like you said if you have a cut you will know it though. In lab situations techs don't as a rule where gloves when dispensing highly concentrated acids as being gloveless is safer. The reason is if you are wearing gloves moisture is trapped against your skin and if the glove had a hole in it or you spilled acid on the cuff of the glove that would be very very bad.

That is why acid is so dangerous to your eyes....your eye is moist and the acid is violently reactive to water. The reactive fumes are also very bad for your lungs. People get the idea from movies I guess that if acid hits you it will immediately burn you to the bone and that is just not right.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 7:55AM
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This is my new/old toy.A lady was selling it,whose mother had a couple greenhouses.I paid $65,plus it needed one inexpensive part.I've calculated the fertilizer ratio and still need to play around with the acid part,but that's what toys are for.:) Brady

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:55PM
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