PH weirdness question from an experienced grower

Perfect Sun LED

Well-Known Member
So, I stumbled upon something I can't figure out.

When I measure my well water, it is 7.0 ph. However, if I let it sit out for 12 hours or so, then test it again, it is 8.1

What could be in well water that it would buffer to 8.1? What is in well water that makes it 7.0 while in the ground, but once in a bucket, and left in the bucket for 12 hours it raises to 8.1?

Even when I PH down it with PH down, to 6.0, within 24 hours, it raises to 7.8 or 8.1.

This tells me that something in the well water changes when it is underground vs when it is in the open air. Whatever that change is causes the Ph to raise, a lot. And whatever raises it is stronger than Ph down and more stable.

Weird thing is, I never have an issue with my soil or coco ever becoming to alkaline. I do have issues with it becoming too acidic sometimes.
Re: PH weirdness question from an experienced grower.

I have the same problem with my R.O. water.....right out of the machine it's 5.7 add nutes down to 5.3. Leave it sit for the night, up to 6.2. Add ph down to5.6 next day back up to 6.1. Not sure what is causing it.....
Aeration and temperature DO affect PH levels. People who own pools struggle with this sometimes. I would look for some info on pools and see if you can find a chart. I know about a year ago I ran across some stuff on this, I had the same question. I found a chart that gave me amount of oxygen to rising PH levels, but for the life of me I cannot find it. I probably deleted it when I decided that as long as my plant looks healthy I don't care what the PH is. Hope that helps!
The temperature is likely the cause.

You can try placing a frozen water bottle in the water to see if that changes your reading 24 hours later.

This is always more of a problem in the summer for me. It stays stable for about 3-4 days in the winter. in the summer the res needs adjusted every two days minimum.
That sounds like there might be dissolved minerals and/or gasses in your well water. I'd look at getting your water tested by a lab, triple important, given how fracking and pollution could be trickling in, or it could be harmless carbon dioxide, or it could be minerals that could seriously mess you up.

As far as cooking up an excuse, it can be anything from a hottub or swimming pool you're watching the PH of, or just say the water tastes funny and would like to test it. Most labs won't bother asking why you're getting samples of your well water tested.

Some info on what's tested, and links tolabs for water testing:
CDC - Well Testing - Wells - Private Water Systems - Drinking Water - Healthy Water
Oxygen seems like it might be the reason.

I remembered that I keep a bottle of my well water mixed with VF-11 and a bit of liquid seaweed, which I use as a folier spray.

It has for weeks now kept a 6.3PH. I keep the cap screwed on.

Just to be sure I filled up another bottle with vf-11 to 6.5PH. I screwed the cap on and am leaving it in the same room I keep my bucket of water. I have a good feeling the PH will remain stable because it is in a sealed container. I also left some water in a glass in the same room with VF-11. I have a feeling the PH in the glass will raise and the one in the sealed container will remain stable.

I am also curious if vf-11, by itself, in a glass, will keep stable PH.
Oxygen seems like it might be the reason.

I remembered that I keep a bottle of my well water mixed with VF-11 and a bit of liquid seaweed, which I use as a folier spray.

It has for weeks now kept a 6.3PH. I keep the cap screwed on.

Just to be sure I filled up another bottle with vf-11 to 6.5PH. I screwed the cap on and am leaving it in the same room I keep my bucket of water. I have a good feeling the PH will remain stable because it is in a sealed container. I also left some water in a glass in the same room with VF-11. I have a feeling the PH in the glass will raise and the one in the sealed container will remain stable.

I am also curious if vf-11, by itself, in a glass, will keep stable PH.

The issue is, that if you're seeing a PH change in an open container, but not in a closed container, you are looking at some kind of volatile chemical evaporating form your water. If it was dissolved gasses? You'd see a PH change even in a sealed container, unless it was pressurized, since the water can still release the dissolved gasses, but the area might not be enough to affect volitile chemicals, such as fertilizers, pesticides, fracking compounds, or just some natural compounds.

Also, the fact you added some other items to the water, means something in the added materials (VF-11, liquid seaweed) could have stabilized something in the water, or could have buffered the PH without you knowing it.

Because of the spate of a lot of water issues, I'd seriously consider getting your well water tested just to make sure it's not hinkey.

Besides, Oxygen is not an acid or a base, and when dissolved in water, it does not affect Ph. CO2, on the other hand, forms carbonic acid, which we also know as soda water. the carbon in the carbon dioxide crates a weak acid, and fizzy bubbles when enough CO2 is in the water.
So plane water in a closed container, i.e. old plastic milk container, in the same room as the water in a bucket had stable PH of 7.1. The temp in that room remains around 72-78 degrees.

The PH in the closed container, in the same room, with vf-11, remained 6.5

The ph in an open container, in the same room, with vf-11 raised to 7.5 but started at 6.5

The well water is 7.1 and when left in an open container in the same room raises to 8.1.
I'm trying distilled water now. I know distilled water in a closed container keeps it 6.3-6.5 PH, but I want to see if it holds Ph in an open container for distilled water. I have one open container of distilled water in the same room as before 72-78 degrees, and another in the fridge.

PPM of the distilled water is 6.
Hi Derf. perhaps the container you are putting the water in is raising the PH. Try holding your well water in a totally different container and see if it still happens.
Here's the issue. Milk is an acid, average Ph of 6.5. Pure water is a 7. You're seeing a swing ONLY in an open container, even if all other conditions are the same, of a full Ph rank, upwards, from normal to a base, making it 10 times more alkaline in a short time. (a change of 1.0 PH up or down is a factor of 10, so something with a Ph of 4 is 10 times more acid than something that's a 5). This is either a biological reaction, or a chemical one. You can retest on your own, however, I suggest using some dishes that are food grade cleaned, but NOT cleaned there. Clean them at another place, or wash them in clean, distilled water. I'd assume you have mason jars, so I'd suggest taking 4-6 different ones, and test at 33F, and at room temp. Both an open and a closed jar, in light and darkness. If you're seeing the change again, in clean, glass containers, I would strongly urge you to SERIOUSLY get your water tested for contaminants.

The reason why is using deductive reasoning, I follow the chain:

Ph raises on exposure to air, but not in a closed container. If this is happening over and over, regardless of container, then the issue is either something in the air, or something in the water.

Now, given the fact that this Ph change only happens in open containers, and you've not been hacking up bloody lung parts with highly base air, I'll consider the water as the likely carrier.

The current forms of contamination in the US right now are numerous, from natural minerals, to man made pollutants. Looking at the list of contaminants, there's a few I can cross right off. Nitrate contamination is one such, since nitrates will not evaporate, but instead concentrates. Most mineral contamination also can be crossed off, since water evaporates and leaves the minerals behind.

Looking at a list of contaminants, I am seeing one class of contaminants that actually fits the bill easily. VOC's, or Volatile Organic Compounds. These can often evaporate, and leave an acid or base residue behind. or can interact with the air, and form new compounds.

So, if this change keeps happening even with ultra clean glass containers, and only in the open ones, then it's wise to definitely get the water tested. But, here's the good news. If it IS VOC's, then most of them can be cleaned out of your water relatively cheaply, using an activated charcoal filter usually. While this won't get rid of all forms of VOC's, it could solve the issue.

But, once you've run this new home test, if you still find a swing up, just buy some activated charcoal for fishtanks, and add some to the water. If that solves the issue, then look into possibly having a plumber come out, or if you're handy with tools, install a household activated charcoal filter. Granted, if you're on a well, you should be familiar with how to use those filters. But, I would DEFINTELY get the water tested if the results keep up in pure cleaned containers that you're currently getting.
Jimmy -- So, I did test with a clean, glass container. Put well water in it. Ph was 7.1 before I placed it in the dark fridge. After 24 hours, the PH rose to 7.8. I am sure it would have kept rising, but I didn't feel like waiting as fridge was pretty full. So even in a cold, dark fridge, the PH still rose, but slower than in room temperature.

I will run my well water through my charcoal filter and test again in the open. I will also soak it in fish activated charcoal and test that as well in the open.

However, distilled water did one thing I didn't expect.

Distilled water tested has a PH of 6.5 and ppm of 6.

I placed some in a glass container and left it in the open, room temp about 76. Guess what happened? PPM remained 6, as expected, but PH actually went down to 5.8.

Distilled water kept in a closed container remains 6.5.

Distilled water kept in a closed container with 100ppm of PK remained 6.5. The PK is by Ionic and has a PH of 6.6. PPM remained 100.

Distilled water kept in an open container with 100ppm of the same PK remained 6.5 ppm remained 100.

I imagine R/O is the same, so it seems it would be best for stable PH to use R/O water as distilled water is too expensive, even if you have a distiller because they use a good amount of electricity.
You can easily make free distilled water, with materials salvaged from garbage, or just around your home. Here's the materials needed.
1 watertight bucket, no lid needed. Alternatively, you can also line a hole in the dirt with black plastic .
1 non floatable block of something
1 smaller container, also watertight, no lid on it either.
clear plastic sheeting
whatever water you have now
1 small, fairly light stone
If using a bucket, string, rope, or tape
if using a hole in the dirt lined with plastic, several large rocks

Fill a spare bucket with some of your well water. Let it sit for a day or 2, and use this water for purification, to ensure if it is VOC's, it gets out of the water. then, in the bucket or hole you're planning to use, find the center, and place your non floatable platform or brick in the center. once the water's been allowed to volatilize, and put some in the big container. Take your small container, and place it on the top of your platform, and also make sure it's in the exact center. Then, place your clear plastic over the top of your large container, loose, so it can sag. and make sure it droops down to where when you place the light stone in the center, it's hanging above the small container. Leave this rig where the sun can shine as much as possible on it.

What happens is with this airtight seal, the water evaporates, and starts running out of room. But, more water wants to become steam. So, the steam starts collecting on the sides of the bucket, and on the clear plastic sheet. The stuff that collects on the sides of the large container winds up going back in. However, most times, the steam collects more on the clear plastic, and using the slope induced by the rock in the middle. The water droplets wind up flowing down, and drip into the collection cup. Just every so often, check it, and pull the distilled water you just made.

This will also work in the kitchen, using a pot for the large container, and aluminum foil or other heat resistant flexible material, a lot faster than you would see from the sun, but then, you're spending money to make it. But, it's enough to start testing with at least.

Also of note: This is actually a survival technique to make potable (drinkable) water. If you wind up out in the middle of nowhere, such as a plane wreck, any waterproof materials can be substituted, within reason, to make clean drinking water from just about anything, from brackish water, to urine and leaves/plant material.
I know how to create an evaporator water distiller for survival, but that is very impractical to make distilled water for house hold drinking, let alone to water plants.

I calculated how much electricity I would need to use to run my 580w water distiller. If I made 3 gallons of water a day, it would cost me under $4 a month. A lot cheaper than I thought. However, having to make those three gallons of water, one gallon at a time, would get old very quickly, so I am going to purchase an R/O system for under $200 at Home Depot.
I ran my well water through my charcoal filter, then set it out in the open, room temp 76. Ph started at 7.1, and 15 hours later, it is 7.6. It didn't rise as high as the well water when not ran through the filter, but still, enough that I am going to buy an R/O filter system.

I don't see the need to get the water tested as I will be drinking R/O water now, and so will my plants. :)
I was not saying that you should do that all the time, just for a little bit, so you can see if it's the water or not that's causing the problem. some people don't like walking home from the store with 5 gallons in tow, or don't want to spend a ton on bottled water. Most people have all the stuff I listed though, and it's enough for a test run at the least. I'd still let it sit out for a couple days to make sure you don't wind up distilling the other stuff.

But, I'd test that, see if it fixes the issue. If it is the problem, then your issue is water contamination. If that turns out to be the case, it still would be quite wise to get the water tested. Because if that fixes it, then something you don't know is in your water, and if it's doing that to your baby plants, what's it doing to your loved ones and yourself? Just remember, allow the water to sit out for a day or so before trying, since if it is VOC's, all you'll do is make a big glass with water contaminated with VOC's. But, most of the VOC's can be treated or filtered out, to where you won't have that issue.
My plants do fine with the well water. I just don't like that the PH isn't stable.

I bought a $100 filter that filters out VOCs. It doesn't change the PPMs like R/O or distilling water does, but i will see if it at least keeps the PH stable when the water is left in the open air. If so, I might just stick with this filter. If not, then i will get the R/O system. That or distill 5 gallons at a time with my 1 gallon distiller. What a pain that will be.
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