I have a lot of plants that are acid loving and are very sensitive, such as maples.

The tap water in my region comes from the Colorado river and thus has high alkalinity, i.e. high amounts of salts. Adding vinegar doesn't really help because although the water's pH is lowered, it salts still enter the soil and cause the soil substrate to increase in pH.

What are ways I can remedy this?

Some options I've considered:

  1. Adding granular sulfur to the soil. But does the sulfur counteract the salts such as calcium carbonate and remove them from the soil or does the sulfur just balance the pH? I'm worried about adding too many elements to the soil making it unstable
  2. Adding organic material, sphagnum moss, etc. Again, will this issue dissolve and get rid of the salts or will it just counteract the effects of the salts?
  3. Filling a bucket with water and letting it sit outside for a day. I know this rids the water of chlorine and lets the salts settle to the bottom, but not sure if this is that effective if I'm lugging around the bucket and salt just gets mixed in again.

What else can I try?

  • This won't change the pH, to my knowledge, but I read about a study where they discovered that magnetizing water can make plants handle the salt(s) in it more easily. Maybe magnetizing the water and soil might help. Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 22:14
  • @Brōtsyorfuzthrāx, I would seriously doubt that study. While water can be magnetised with very strong fields, it will not retain any magnetism. If it did, I would be a walking disaster area after the number of MRI scans I have had. Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 22:52
  • @RohitGupta I don't recall the study mentioning anything about magnetism retention having anything to do with the perceived result. There could be a lot of explanations (other than magnetism retention) which could have an impact on this. I mean, magnets can cause particles to move, and the mechanical movement itself could cause an effect without requiring any magnetism to remain behind. As to how/why it might cause an effect, I don't claim to know that. The study wasn't conclusive on the hows and whys, I'm pretty sure. Additional explanations besides mechanics are possible. Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 23:10

2 Answers 2


Calcium phosphate is basically insoluble. You can take the pH down with Phosphoric acid (Amazon). That'll leave calcium phosphate as a harmless precipitate. Get a pH meter while you are at it. You don't want to go down much below pH 6.5 Phosphoric acid is relatively benign stuff, for a strong acid.

  • Hmm interesting, that's also very good to know. I assume calcium phosphate is somewhat good for plants since it has calcium and phosphorous, given that microbiomes can break it down...
    – Christian
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 18:43

The most practical way to remove calcium is with an ordinary water softener . It will replace calcium with sodium . I would suggest a water test first as I think river water tends not to have high calcium hardness . Typically well water is the problem for calcium hardness. Rainwater will be low mineral content and soft ; adding rain water to hard water will dilute it.

  • But having salts, especially in higher doses, in the water might not be too good either, right?
    – Christian
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 18:38
  • I live in southern cali, particularly in a location that gets 5-10 inches of rain a year. So collected rain water to use for the entire year is pretty hard. The water we get comes from the colorado river and because it travels so far, a looot of salts get accumulated. The water tests here indicate very high levels of calcium carbonate and other salts.
    – Christian
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 18:39

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