pH up or pH down using commonly found household chemical

richardwkfJune 23, 2004


Any good suggestion for helping

pH up or pH down using commonly found household chemical and it is effective


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Baking soda will work well for PH up. I don't know of any common household items for PH down (there probably are some though). Don't let anyone tell you that vinegar will work because it won't. Sulfuric Acid is sold as swimming pool acid and it is REAL cheap. I bought 2 gallons at a grocery store for 4 dollars and that is enough to get me through 3 lifetimes of hydroponic growing.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 11:31AM
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KanakaNui(8b N.Central FL)

I use Miracle-Gro to drop the pH in my solution.It get it's N from Urea, as opposed to Nitrates. So, it's more acid than my hydro-fert.My hydro solution is pretty close to proper pH, but a little basic.I end up only using a Tbsp to get 20gallons "spot-on".

Gotta watch your EC a little bit,but I like the fact that I'm dropping pH with plant food instead of just another chemical.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2004 at 9:21AM
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I'de just like to thank everybody here for your posts. I,ve learned a WHOLE lot from reading on this site. It's been quite a learning curve, but I'm starting to get the hang of it.

KanakaNui; Your reply to this post helped me a lot. The miracile grow works like a charm to lower the PH. Actually it works a little to good, meaning that this stuff builds up in the hydro and the last time I changed out my nutes I did'nt have to add any at all. Now my PH is somewhere around 5. The flowers are'nt taking it to good. I must have added to much, but that info was really good stuff.
I need PH up! for the first time.

jdog006; You wrote about baking soda for PH up. You did'nt get into it, but only to say it works. I just put a 1/2 tee spoon into 20 gallons and I'll be checking out the levels.
I'll let you know how that works out.
Again thanks to everybody here.
Happy Holiday's! Joe

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 11:47AM
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Has anyone used a solution made from coffee grounds to lower pH? I'm guessing it's like lemon juice, not too effective beyond a day or two.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2004 at 12:19AM
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mkirkwag(Puget Sound)

As I mentioned in the other coffee grounds post, used coffee grounds are almost neutral pH. If you wanted to change your pH with coffee, you'd need to use fresh grounds or beans.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 4:12PM
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Goldcroft(Dorset, UK)

Lemon juice (teaspoon a gallon) is recommended for lowering PH.

Always thought that Miracle Gro was not recommended for hydro.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 8:16AM
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Well so much for the coffee grounds idea. I used lemon jucice to lower my pH and it works for a couple of days then returns back up. Currently I'm using 'Bumper Down' a phosphoric acid based pH reducer that works quite well.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2005 at 1:10AM
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wampuscat(z9 fl)

pepperbox..get away from the MG..the N is of the wrong kind..You say your ph is 5.0 ..that will lock up all of your uptake ...go to 5-11-26 and use phospheric acid to lower the ph..strive for 6.0


    Bookmark   January 21, 2005 at 8:08PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

pH Up - sodium hydroxide (Red devil Lye)
pH Down - sulfuric acid (battery acid) be sure to dilute before using.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 7:16PM
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KanakaNui(8b N.Central FL)


There's nothing wrong with using MG to drop the pH in your nutrient solution.Yes, it's the "wrong" kind of Nitrogen.But this is exactly why the pH goes down. It won't hurt your plants if you can keep the pH where it needs to be for your plants.

Remember, the MG is only an additive to your hydro nutes-used to adjust pH downward.

Works for me. I grow great tomatoes,peppers, basil, recao,etc in a standard hydro fertilizer with epsom salt and Cal Nitrate as proscribed.

My well water here in N.C.FL is a little hard so I use Urea based MG to drop the pH to acceptable levels for the crops I'm growing.Took a little time to dial it in for what I need.But it does work.

You won't break anything using MG to drop the pH in your nutes. I find it cheaper and easier to get than phosphoric acid because my wife buys it to fert her housplants.There is always a little blue stuff to steal.It also seems to do a better job (I use less ) than using lemon juice.

pH up I haven't had to deal with a replacement as our water is hard.

I got the idea from the linked website.Check out Kim's FAQ and Rants links for more info on using MG in hydro.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kim W.'s hydro site

    Bookmark   January 25, 2005 at 4:41PM
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Using ammonium to decrease the Ph does work, but its effects on food substances are not always known. The following abstract regarding tomatoes & nitrogen form does say increasing the ammonium did work to decrease the pH but also increased the chance for blossom end rot.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2005 at 10:38AM
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KanakaNui(8b N.Central FL)

I'm not a member of actahort so I didn't read the entire abstract. Were there other consequences/considerations?

In my own (extremely limited sampling) I've not had problems with blossom-end rot growing tomatoes this way. The one time I had blossom-end rot was with a (single) tomato start I grabbed as an after thought at the hardware store. I had assumed it was related to cultivar, rather than my cultural practices as my other tomatoes didn't have this problem.My well water does have plenty of Ca so maybe it was compensating.

I've not noticed problems with my other produce using MG to drop pH. I'm not a terribly experienced hydro grower-I've adjusted pH using MG pretty much since the beginning of my hydro gardening and have been pleasantly surprised with my produce.Perhaps if I wasn't so cheap, I'd see better results using recommended chems/ferts to feed my plants.

I still feel if you're going to drop pH with stuff easily available or around the house, you will be better served with the blue stuff, than with vinegar or lemon juice.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2005 at 8:17AM
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You do not need to be a member of ActaHort to read the abstract. The Sams club or equivalent of Miracle Grow, recommended by the above site is not water soluble  it forms a white precipitate when mixed. It also contains the insoluble form of nitrogen (ammonia) compared to the soluble nitrate form.

The purpose of adjusting the pH is to help make the nutrients available for absorption by the plant. A good quality of Phosphoric acid intended for hydroponics is usually recommended. Other substances can interact with nutrients in solution or contain other substances that interact with nutrients rendering them unavailable for absorption. This can result in a deficiency, & can defeat the purpose of pH adjustment. It can also affect the quality of the crop.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 12:08AM
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KanakaNui(8b N.Central FL)

Well, the cheapness that urges me to use MG as opposed to good quality phosphoric acid, prevents me from spending 13 bux or 10 Euros to read the article.When you read the article, did it mention any other problems besides increased incidence of BER?

I did find another abstract which suggests using ammonium in the concentrations I am suggesting (just to pH, proboably In fact 10% NH4/N resulted in higher marketable yeild after 8 days.

In my own garden I have grown nice tomatoes and other produce using just this method.It's not a production environment, but I'm able to keep pH in the proper range for good nutrient uptake using common household materials (MG).And I'm able to enjoy fresh home-grown produce,even tomatos w/out BER.

Sorry to hijack this thread.

Back on track, MG can be used as an additive to lower pH in a home hydroponic nute solution.You can still grow good produce.You can avoid a trip to the hydro store to buy expensive pHDown if you have MG in your garage.

Here is a link that might be useful: another actahort abstract

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 7:11AM
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I am currently using a passive hydro set up growing Cherokee purple tomatoes, Ocho Rio Scotch Bonnet Peppers. I think I will try the MG method for a little bit and see how it does, I will also try the Phospheric acid to see how it works also. I'll post up my results. I do not have an EC Meter yet so which should I try first and what are the application rates?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 9:24AM
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to all of the above - GH products and their website do all calculations for perfect growth in all phases - in a pinch the lemon juice and baking soda work - spend a couple of extra bucks and get a small bottle of ph up and ph down to keep handy

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 1:07AM
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Vinegar - for PH Down

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 6:36AM
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I don't recommend Miracle Grow for anything involving hydroponics. It's nitrogen is derived from ammonia nitrate and urea and it lacks Calcium and Magnesium and there's no way of knowing how much Sulfer is in it. It's simply not formulated for hydroponic use as Ph down or a nutrient. It's designed for soil applications.
Although lemon juice or vinegar can be used with limited success I recommend Sulfuric acid. It's readily available at most auto parts stores as Electrolyte or Battery Fluid (contains 33% sulfuric acid). I reduce it 9 parts distilled or R.O. water to one part Electrolyte for a solution resembling approximately 3-4% Sulfuric acid. It should take somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10Ml. per gallon to get you from 8.0 Ph down to 6.0 Ph. I have used vinegar in the past, but it takes at least twice as much and doesn't hold the Ph as long, requiring more frequent adjustments.
Good Luck;

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 1:55AM
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Phosphorus acid. Not a big secret in large production ag (soilless and traditional) but a big enough secret in the home gardener world. Often stabilized with potassium hydroxide or manganese, phosphorous acid (phosphite ion) is packaged around pH 3.
The nutrient value, fungicidal activity and increase in overall plant health are exceptional. I worry that sulfuric acid can create sulfur burn, is rough to work with, and how much sulfur do you want your plants to take up? Anyone done tissue testing after using these different pH lower products?
Citric acid is food grade and considered organic but other than the CHO does not provide other plant nutrients.
Give the phosphorous, not phosphoric acid a try.
PS not the phosphite labeled fungicides, they will cost much more and sometimes have adjuvants added that are not helpful for soilless growing.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 12:29PM
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Good info on this page

This post was edited by SAHero on Thu, Jul 3, 14 at 12:24

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 12:21PM
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