Does salt change the ph?

Submitted by KB on 12/10/04 at 10:47 PM. ( )

I did the orange search button, but didn't find anything about this, so here goes: The ph in my tanks is higher than it used to be. I have used the same products and formulas for several years, and the ph has been quite consistent. THis fall I am no longer able to get the same brand of stock salt that I've always used before, and had to switch to Morton salt...same plain "stock salt". Plain tap water still tests at 6 to 7 ph, I'm still using the same acid brand, same tan, but I'm having to add acid to my pickle about 4 times more often than ever before, and my tanning mix starts out at least one number higher than before, so that I have to add acid to bring it down before tanning. I've had periods before when the ph fluctuated occasionally, but this is much more extreme. The only common denominators are the water and the salt. It's not a big deal, but I'm very curious to know the reason for the change. Any wisdom for me?

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This response submitted by scanman on 12/10/04 at 11:00 PM. ( )

Salt itself does not change pH. pH has to do with hydrogen. Sometimes chemicals are added to salt to keep it from clumping up, but generally this isn't significant. I would check your pickle chemicals,or maybe soap residue on your hide or even possibly your water.


This response submitted by Glen Conley on 12/10/04 at 11:09 PM. ( )

what state are you in? Tap water at a pH of 6? Does it still test that low after aeration?

Who skins in your shop?

This response submitted by Bruce Rittel on 12/11/04 at 7:26 AM. ( )

Something has certainly changed. PHs do not fluctuate that much without something influencing them. Who skins your mounts? You - or someone else in your shop? Do they use Borax to soak up the liquids as they skin - or flesh? If they do - tell them to use sawdust instead - it's inert and wont change your PH like Borax.

We skin our own animals

This response submitted by KB on 12/11/04 at 10:52 AM. ( )

and we've never used borax, or received anything from a customer with it. I haven't tested the tap water after it sits for a while. I just tested it (this time) out of the tap. Is that what you mean by aerated?

We are in Utah. I thought maybe something had changed in the oxalic acid, because we started on a new bag this fall, but the tan is higher too, before any capes are added. In the acid tank, it still takes the same amount to reach 1.5 in a new mix, but it doesn't stabilize after a couple of days like it used to.

Is 6 or 7 low for tap water?

I always clean my tanks well, (no soap residue), and have two tanks going at once: 300 gal. with thick elk capes, and 100 gal. with deer and antelope capes. The deer tank has required more acid than usual, too, and those capes aren't thick like the elk.

And Bruce, we're sloppier than you are. We just let all the blood and stuff drip on the floor and hose it off later. It's an old truck shop with cement floors and bay doors. Thanks for all your help. I don't understand all the chemistry like you and Glen do, but I'm trying to learn what I can.


This response submitted by Glen on 12/11/04 at 1:52 PM. ( )

water provides universal standards, freezing point, boiling point in degrees, and a pH of 7 as neutral, as would be found in PURE water.

By aeration, you can simply pour water back and forth from glass to glass to eliminate dissolved caron dioxide as a gas. The carbon dioxide can screw with some test results.

A pH of 6 is definitely on the acid side, and I would have to be suspicious of the water source IF it truly is a pH of 6. "Something" has to be added of an acidic nature to get that low a number.

I would check what ever it is you are using for your pH readings first, and see if you are getting correct readings.

If you are on a municipal water source, the water company is required by federal law to keep water analysis on file, and available to those who ask for a report. If the company does not have copies, then they are to be available through the county board of health. It's simple enough to make a phone call and ask for pH readings from either one. You can then use that for at least one comparable in checking your testing equipment.

What will typically screw with your acids, as far as flucuations, will be on the other side of the 7, such as 7.8 to 8.4 variations that will be found in a good part of the midwest. Those higher pHs are typically the result of dissolved calcium carbonate in the water.

The oxalic acid would react with the calcium carbonate to produce calcium oxalate, actually something similar to when you react the oxalic acid with baking soda producing sodium oxalate, which in either case, the acid is neutralized.

Thank you

This response submitted by KB on 12/11/04 at 2:31 PM. ( )

for helping me out. Right now I'm using ph paper. I've had two ph meters in the past, and found such a wide range of readings when comparing both of the meters and the papers (3 different brands) that I gave up on them and kept using the ph papers that seemed the best. My tans come out great (after several years of frustrating experimenting!), so I haven't had any reason to change anything lately.

I will contact the water company for their analysis info, and experiment a little with readings after aeration. It's so wonderful to have you guys here on this forum to learn from. I appreciate it very much!

Good post

This response submitted by cur on 12/11/04 at 3:32 PM. ( )

I've nothing to add, but that was one of the better exchanges I've seen on this hy'ar forum. Like the others said, if your chemical types and suppliers haven't changed, might be in the agua. Usually water borned purifiers like chlorine, flouride and the like will evaporate out of tap water in 24 hours or so. I have used the Morton's salt you mentioned with no problems. You didn't get those ph papers from a home pregnancy test kit, did ya? Thought not....end report.

Thankfully, I'm too old for that!

This response submitted by KB on 12/11/04 at 5:35 PM. ( )

Well, not physically maybe, but we're fixed and the youngest is 14, and we're very happy about that.

I'm working over my ph meter, but I don't know if it's been sitting too long. My ph paper is from Germany; can't think of the name right now. I'll call about the water Monday, and experiment a little more, and if I discover anything, I'll post it on a new post. Thanks so much to all of you "brains" for taking care of the rest of us.


This response submitted by Glen on 12/11/04 at 6:25 PM. ( )

Aquarium Pharmaceuticals has a number of different water test kits, that are pretty darn accurate.

I have always used their freshwater pH test for a standard to check papers against.

Their general & carbonate hardness kit, sold as GH & KH Test, is another handy one to have to watch for carbonate fluctuations.

Their website address:

Thanks Glen,

This response submitted by KB on 12/11/04 at 11:03 PM. ( )

I just asked my son, who has several fresh and salt water fish tanks, and he has both of those kits, so tomorrow we'll test the ph papers, etc. Thanks so much.

Prussate of Soda

This response submitted by - on 12/12/04 at 2:49 PM. ( )

It's in the salt.
Specifically it's in table salts and Morton is a table salt distributor/mfg.
Will it change the pH and why hasn't anyone addressed it here for this guy?
He says he changed salt and this seems to me to be the problem?

What is Prussate of Soda?

This response submitted by KB on 12/12/04 at 8:38 PM. ( )

And what does it do? These are 50 lb. bags of stock salt, even though they are the Morton brand.

I tested the water with the aquarium kit, and my ph meter, and both came to 7.5 ph. The water hardness kit, if we got the "orange/red" color right, tested at least 12.

(By the way, I'm not a guy.)

KB, I like you better already,

This response submitted by Glen on 12/12/04 at 10:57 PM. ( )

now that I know you're not a guy. Damsel in distress, we'll never be able to get rid of cur now.

The 7.5 pH is much more believable, that would be closer to putting things into the national "norm". The hardness kit I was referring to would would also have a chart for converting the number of drops of indicator required to parts per million, ppm.

At a 7.5 pH I would have to suspicion ppm of general hardness to be about 500 ppm +or-. No big deal. Wouldn't be enough carbonates present to "use up" much of your acid.

Next questions:
Ambient temperatures, have they been higher than what you been experiencing in the past?

Are you taking the capes out of the pickle for shaving, and then returning to the pickle to get the upward spike?

Are you making a saturated acid solution by dissolving the acid in water, and then adjusting pH, or are you just adding crystals to the water until you get the pH you are looking for?

Ambient temperatures same as past years,

This response submitted by KB on 12/12/04 at 11:32 PM. ( )

We expect the spike after shaving, that's normal. When I first mix the tank, I dissolve the acid and salt before adding capes, and it still takes the same amount of acid to reach 1.5 in the beginning. As I add acid in the following days, however, I just pull out most of the capes and add the crystals and stir. Should I be doing it differently?

Personal opinion from afar,

This response submitted by Glen on 12/13/04 at 12:10 AM. ( )

it is starting to sound as if maybe your pickling process is going a little faster than what you may be accustomed to. I would have to suspicion your "missing acid" is now in the skin fibres.

I need to catch some sleep, and get back with you on this thread tomorrow. In the meantime, have the skins been looking white quicker than what you have been accustomed to?

I Don't think so

This response submitted by KB on 12/13/04 at 12:31 AM. ( )

but then those elk capes have so much brown dirt residue stuck to the skin that it would be hard to tell, and after they're shaved they're always white.

Tomorrow I'll call the water agency and ask some questions. I wish I understood all this chemistry better. The only other thing I can think of that is different this year than any other is that we had a very rainy fall, more rain than anyone here can ever remember in a season. Is the calcium carbonate you mentioned earlier something that would wash into the groundwater in greater quantities from heavy rains, and the treatment plant would not remove it?


This response submitted by Glen on 12/13/04 at 8:36 AM. ( )

I think you just answered the question, and caught me in the act of being guilty of assuming. I "assume" everyone cleans capes and skins before putting them into a pickle.

Your thinking on the carbonates was heading in the right direction, but testing the pH of your water alone was enough of an indicator to me that the tap water wasn't the problem.

Mineral carbonate compounds are going to come from an earth source. It takes very little mineral carbonates present to shoot a pH and general hardness what looks like "way up there", but bear in mind, we are actually dealing in parts per million measures.

The animals bedding on muddy ground have apparently supplied a greater
and more concentrated source than what you would ever be getting through in your tap water.

The dirt is "using up" your acids.

Other than the amount of acid required, is the quality of your end results the same?

The Quality is great

This response submitted by KB on 12/13/04 at 9:49 AM. ( )

My husband gets great stretch from the tanned capes, and they're soft and stretchy to the touch.

We usually get lots of very muddy elk, but by the time they go through the rehydration and are spun in the commercial washing machine, most of it is usually washed out. I used to put them through a wash cycle between rehydration and pickle (with a little Dawn), but I quit because it was extra work, and it didn't seem to make that much difference. If that's what is doing it, then it would be worth my time just to save money on acid! I'm still going to call the water agency when they open today, just to check things. Thanks so much for all your help!

The official pH from the water treatment plant is 7.4

This response submitted by KB on 12/13/04 at 12:54 PM. ( )

And the hardness is only 110-120 ppm. They consider that medium.

Another point to consider....

This response submitted by cyclone on 12/22/04 at 9:35 AM. ( )

Don't elk wallow? i.e. roll around in their own urine during mating season? Urine breaks down as amonia and will raise the pH of your pickles. Another good reason to wash during rehydration.

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