Testing an excel replacement! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-20-2016, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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Testing an excel replacement!

Hello all! I have found that (A) mixing baking soda and vinegar will produce - among other things - CO2, and (B) will also produce sodium acetate, which can also be used as a carbon source. Thus, I have decided to try to use a vinegar/baking soda mix as a seachem prime substitute. Here is what I am doing:
1 - I mix 30ml baking soda with 3/8ths tsp baking soda. This brings the ph of the solution to 6...if I recall correctly that results in all the vinegar decaying into sodium acetate (not 100% sure about this, though...after all, the mixture is still slightly acidic)
2 - I use a pipette to transfer the mixture to test tubes, which I then cap.
3 - I will dose a couple ml a day into my 20 gallon planted tank and see if it is effective

I am sincerely hoping this goes well (PS...the presence of so much baking soda means that this method would not be viable in a softwater tank...even if it is partially/entirely neutralized by the vinegar, it would send the TDS and water hardness shooting up)
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-20-2016, 01:34 AM
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Interesting experiment, I wonder if this could be used in a diy reactor setup. Keep us posted.


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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-20-2016, 04:23 AM
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I found a few references that talk about acetate uptake in terrestrial plants, but nothing with regards to aquatic plants (though it was only a very cursory search).

With regards to your mix, you can easily calculate the molar equivalents to ensure that there is no excess vinegar or baking soda. The fact that it has a pH of 6 indicates that you are likely adding excess acetic acid.

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-21-2016, 02:52 PM
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Have you tried potassium gluconate? I'm going to experiment with that when I have the chance. I bought a bottle of 100% K gluconate powder through amazon.

Sodium glutamate is also widely available.


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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-22-2016, 12:36 PM Thread Starter
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Have you tried potassium gluconate? I'm going to experiment with that when I have the chance. I bought a bottle of 100% K gluconate powder through amazon.

Sodium glutamate is also widely available.
I have tried neither because I did not know that either could be used as a substitue...vinegar and baking soda are both very cheap AND very readily available, at least (never heard of those two compounds)

By the way...how would I tell whether the sodium acetate is producing any results? The tank I am using it in already had thriving low light plants before adding the acetate.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-22-2016, 01:46 PM
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You'd have to set up an experiment, 1 control & 1 with sodium acetate added.

So set up 2 containers with identical plant, nutrients, and light. Only add sodium acetate to one. If that plant grows better, it works. If nothing, then it doesn't work.


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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-28-2016, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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Good news! The sodium acetate mixture is causing my swords in my 20 long to grow markedly faster However, the mixture still retains a considerable amount of CO2 from the reaction (as shown by the sizeable number of bubbles on the bottom), so I am not sure whether the acetate is helping or whether it is purely the CO2. I am adding 4ml a day to the tank.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-29-2016, 11:33 AM
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Wouldn't the CO2 from the reaction be confounding your results? Ideally, your experimental should be solely sodium acetate.

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-29-2016, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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I know...the reason I am not removing the CO2 at this point because obviously the CO2 would be helpful.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 08:39 PM
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I know...the reason I am not removing the CO2 at this point because obviously the CO2 would be helpful.
Then I would inject CO2 on a regular basis, and then solely be adding sodium acetate (and ideally, have a control where nothing is being added).

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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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In other news, I discovered yesterday that KH, ph, and CO2 are directly related...so, using that knowledge, I confirmed that even modest (roughly .25 ml/gallon) amounts of the baking soda/vinegar mix adds a sizeable amount of CO2 to the water (it boosted the CO2 by over 3 ppm ignoring the PH increase from 7 to 7.3 that turned some of the CO2 into carbonates). This is looking like a very viable excel alternative even if the acetate doesn't do anything...
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grah the great View Post
In other news, I discovered yesterday that KH, ph, and CO2 are directly related...so, using that knowledge, I confirmed that even modest (roughly .25 ml/gallon) amounts of the baking soda/vinegar mix adds a sizeable amount of CO2 to the water (it boosted the CO2 by over 3 ppm ignoring the PH increase from 7 to 7.3 that turned some of the CO2 into carbonates). This is looking like a very viable excel alternative even if the acetate doesn't do anything...
No, changing your pH via acid or base doesn't magically increase or decrease CO2.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Not what I meant...I just meant that I discovered that the three are related (so that if there is a certain amount of KH at a given PH, you can infer what the CO2 level is). It appears that increasing the PH causes steadily more of the CO2 to be converted to carbonates, and dropping it causes steadily more of the carbonates to be turned back into CO2. No magical addition or removal of matter here...unless you are deliberately dosing CO2, that is I can only assume this is why hard water plants (Vals, for instance) tend to be much better at using carbonates for a CO2 source than acidic water plants.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 05:07 AM
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Aren't you adding a vinegar soda mixture that alters ph?

The kh , ph , co2 relationship only works on a controlled body of water, no added vinegar.


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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Yes...however, I test the PH before measuring the KH.
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