View Full Version : Homemade 2-part recipe (B-Ionic ....)

10/07/2005, 02:52 PM
Below is a link to Randy Holmes-Farly's 2-part homemade recipe.


This is a great recipe that I have been using for about 2 months. It has keep my ca and alk levels around 450 and 180 ppm respectively. The only problem so far is the availability of Dowflake. Since I couldn't get Dowflake in Pueblo, I started researching other calcium chloride ice melters, and found two readily available locally. They are Excel (I use this) ice melter, and Preston Heat Driveway melter.

Below is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the two products.

Excel Ice Melter (Scotwood Industries, Inc.)

Calcium Chloride_________________93% Min
Alkali Chlorides___________________5% Max
Magnesium_____________________.02% Max
Other impurities_________________.20% Max

[B]Prestone Heat Driveway Ice Melter (Dow)

Calcium Chloride__________________90-97%
Sodium Chloride____________________1-2%
Potassium Chloride__________________2-3%
Strontium Chloride___________________0-1%

I called Scotwood industries and was told that Excel is 94-97% pure. I also called Dow and was told that Prestone is 90-92% pure.

You can purchase Excel at Sams club for about $17 for 50 lbs, and you can buy Prestone Heat just about anywhere (Home Depot, Walmart, Autozone...) in a gallon jug.

This is a great way to save money when adding the 2-part system, and we have Randy Holmes-Farley to thank for coming up with this recipe.

PS. If you one of the two ice melters above, you should mix it at 82% of Randy recipe using Dowflake.


Leopard Wrasse
10/08/2005, 10:43 AM
Thanks Todd,

might try this myself.

10/10/2005, 11:58 AM
Sweet! Thanks Todd!

10/15/2005, 05:34 PM
Here's the cost:

- Excel pure (94% CaCl2) calcium carbonate ice melt: 50# - $16.50 (Sam's Club)
- Arm & Hammer baking soda (for alkalinity mixture): 12# bag - $12.88 (Sam's Club)
- Epsom Salts: 4# - $2.00 (anywhere)

Quantity of each mixture produced:

Mixtures for low (<8.3) pH:
CaCl2 - 54 gallons
Alk mixture - 11 gallons
Magnesium mixture - 1 gallon

High pH (>8.3) mixtures for CaCl2 and Alk are diluted to 50% of the concentrations above. Magnesium sulfate mixture does not change.

Total cost for the mixtures above: $32
CaCl2 mixture is $0.30 per gallon plus RO/DI water cost
Alkalinity mixture is $1.09 per gallon plus RO/DI water cost

Cost for one gallon each of the two B-Ionic (Calcium and Alkalinity) mixtures: about $33

The only question is--Does it work as well as B Ionic?


10/16/2005, 11:06 AM
Dan, do you know where Bi-ionic is made? They make it in a facility that makes stains and varnish. This recipe will work fine.

10/17/2005, 08:24 AM
My point was that there are other contaminants in the Execl CaCl2, and I don't know if the same contaminants, at the same levels, are in the B-Ionic.

Not sure what it has to do with what else is produced in the factory. I buy gas at Safeway--it doesn't mean my gas is contaminated with ice cream. :)

10/21/2005, 09:50 AM
I have bought Dowflake at a place in Denver The name of the company is Rio Grande Co. The address is 201 Santa Fe (2nd and Santa Fe), and the phone number is 303-825-2211.

10/21/2005, 01:41 PM
Sam's Club has a ton of it. 50 pound buckets for $17. if you have a membership, it's the place to go. I like Excel because you have a bucket to use when you're done.

10/25/2005, 11:15 AM
You will have to make a s*** load of calcium to be able to use that bucket. HAHA

10/25/2005, 01:20 PM
I should see how much I can dissolve into a gallon of water. It would last forever, and I could use proportionately smaller doses. If not, I'll use it on the driveway and deck--an alternative use I discovered.

10/25/2005, 01:33 PM
Oops. I gave the wrong price for baking soda at Sam's. It's $4.88 for 12 pounds, not $12.88. That means the baking soda will make 11 gallons of alk mixture for $0.44 per gallon, not including the cost of the RO/DI water.

12/23/2005, 06:15 PM
Okay, I'm bumping this back to page 1... I'm tired of searching for it. :)

12/23/2005, 09:44 PM
Why not save the web page to your hard drive as an HTML file? You'll have it forever that way.

12/26/2005, 08:17 PM
Who is using this recipe? I have been using for almost 5 months now with better growth and happier corals. Has anyone had any negative results? On my 180 I am using 90ml per evening.

12/26/2005, 08:49 PM
i just use the pickling lime for my kalk, have enough calcium in the tank with the cc substrate.

12/27/2005, 08:51 AM
Just used the Mg recipe to bring my Dad's levels up. He's been using Kalk for the last 6 months, but nothing for Mg levels. Checked them last week and they were at 900! Mixed up the epsom salt mix and used 1/2 a gallon, now his levels are right at 1320. He's using some B-Ionic, but we'll probably start mixing our own once it runs out. :)

01/06/2006, 09:23 AM
I'm using the 2-part now. My coralline is going berserk.

01/06/2006, 03:43 PM
Todd, do you use a dosing pump with yours? I took your advice and added one to my tank, what a piece of cake! Everything right now is perfectly balanced and I don't even have to worry about my Ph being affected!

01/06/2006, 03:56 PM
I haven't got one yet, but plan to in the future. What kind did you get. Is it a dual setup or do you have two singles? I will see it at the meeting anyway.

01/06/2006, 07:56 PM
It's a 2 channel, got it on ebay. The model is the Ensign II and so far, it's my favorite piece of equipment!

01/08/2006, 03:42 PM
How much was it?

01/09/2006, 09:28 AM
I was looking at the ensign II myself. How far does it pump? They have refurbished units for $139. I may have ot get one.

01/09/2006, 09:47 AM
The guy that sell them for 139 sells them on ebay as well and I picked mine up for a Buy Now of 99 plus 10 for shipping. I don't recall how far it pumps since I have mine right next to my sump, but I'm sure he's got the details on his ebay ads. Try shooting him a message, he's slow to respond, but his ebay handle is tanksalot.

01/09/2006, 11:18 AM
Did you need anything else to make it work--sensors for pH, Ca, Alk?

01/09/2006, 11:47 AM
No, it runs 24/7 and just doses based on what you set the pump to run at. 1 unit/hr will dose .3ml/hr or 7.2ml per day. It will pump up to 295 units/hr which is 2,124 ml or 2.124 L per day.

01/12/2006, 09:57 AM
I was at Seascape yesterday and got into a discussion with Sage about the recipe. Naturally, she said that it's dangerous. Then I noticed she sells calcium chloride pellets identical to the ones in Excel ice melt. I'm fairly sure the Excel is from the same source as the CaCl2 she's selling. there are only two sources in the country. LOL. I'm using the 2-part recipe twice a week and my chemistry is great.

01/12/2006, 07:22 PM
People will say things are dangerous without actually knowing anything about it, especially if they have a negative interest in the item in question. I know it is safe just from the large amount of research I have done. I use 120 ml of each part every day, and my corals are growing like crazy. If it was dangerous I would have seen something in the last four months other than growth.

01/12/2006, 09:05 PM
I agree to an extent. TRhere are people out there who will try home recipes without knowing the purity of the ingredients or the effects of overdosing. Those are the people who don't test their water. Those are also the people who are surprised when they crash their tank.

She has another reason to put down those recipes--if she said they work, she'd lose business.

01/12/2006, 09:06 PM
Racer, what are your water parameters now that you're using the baking soda and calcium chloride recipes?

01/17/2006, 08:06 PM
ALk-8-9 dkh

01/17/2006, 10:43 PM
Have you figured the changes you get with each dose?

01/18/2006, 11:48 AM
No, once I found the amount to make it stable, I just continue with that dose. For my tank that is 120ml per day.

02/07/2006, 12:52 AM

Incase you didn't read it, an update to the 2-part additive article.

02/07/2006, 08:57 AM
Thank you for the thread. I just got through reading it and will soon try the improved 3rd part.

03/23/2006, 02:06 PM
Well, it's been at least 2 months and the 2-part (plus Mg supplement) recipe is working well. My Ca and Alk are looking great and so are my corals. All of my SPS are looking healthy and actually growing. I had 2 monti frags that were about 1/4" across grow to about 1" x 2" in 2 months.

06/01/2006, 03:51 PM
I am bumping this to the top for those who havn't read it. The Haj was looking for the recipe, so I hope this helps.

06/01/2006, 05:08 PM
who is using the magnesium part?

06/01/2006, 05:14 PM
I am. I think Racer69 is too. It's a no-brainer. After you use a gallon of each of the Ca and Alk mixes you dunp in a certain amount of the Mg solution.

06/01/2006, 05:36 PM
I've used part three for a long time. Works great.

06/02/2006, 07:52 AM
Dan is right, I add about a 1/3 of a gal of mag for every gallon of 2 part used.

06/02/2006, 08:52 AM
Todd, I'm only adding 2 1/2 cups per the recipe. You're reef is actually consuming that much more than the recipe calls for?
BTW, where did you get the test kid for your Mg testing?

06/02/2006, 01:35 PM
My mag test kit is a Salifert that I got from Pet Paradise here in Pueblo. And yes I do use about 1/3 gal, maybe 1/4 gal.

06/02/2006, 02:48 PM
How much is the kit?

06/02/2006, 03:43 PM
I think it was about $19. You can get them cheaper on Ebay, just make sure the experation date hasn't passed.

06/07/2006, 02:19 PM
You must be using a different Ebay. They start at $19 PLUS shipping there (except for one source in Portugal--$17 plus roughly $3). I guess I need to find a local source.

06/07/2006, 03:13 PM
Same Ebay, last year, haven't needed one since. $17 plus $3 s$h is not a bad price, besides nothing in this hobby is cheap and if it is, it is often junk.

06/07/2006, 04:02 PM
I was wondering if it would be past the expiration date by the time it arrives from Portugal, LOL.

06/12/2006, 09:42 AM
Alright guys, ran out of B-Ionic so I mixed up my batch last night... Set my dosing pump for 6 units per hour (1.8mL) Stay tuned for the results. :)

1.5 cups CaCl2 (Excel compliments of Todd) 1 gallon mix
1.5 cups Arm & Hammer (baked for 1hr) Baking Soda 1 gallon mix

06/13/2006, 11:23 AM
Eric, you will need to use roughly 3x the amount compared to B-Ionic. This is an estimate, but seems to be fairly accurate. I think you will like it.

06/13/2006, 11:35 AM
Woah! Guess I better up that to 12... I thought 6 up from 4 would be enough... Guess not. :) Thanks Todd!

06/14/2006, 07:31 AM
Just check your levels about once a week and make adjustments from there.

07/16/2006, 05:32 PM
Can someone who is using this formula tell me where I can get Magnesium chloride hexahydrate this time of year? I looked at my Home Depot but couldn't locate the MeltSnow Product (maybe because it is in the middle of summer now?)

I don't think I'll have trouble finding the other ingredients, and before I drive all over town, I was wondering if anyone knew definitively where I can get the Magnesium ingredient.



07/16/2006, 05:51 PM
Are you confusing calcium chloride (snowmelt) with magnesium chloride (also snowmelt)? It is extremely unlikely that you'll find pure mag chloride snowmelt in Colorado.

If you come to the next club meeting I may have a few pounds of 94-97% CaCl for trade. I use Excel snowmelt from Sam's, which is only available during winter months. A single 5 gallon bucket is only about $17, and will make about 54 gallons of calcium solution.

If you still want MgCl6(H2O), it's available on the Internet. Your problem will be in acquiring small amounts.

07/16/2006, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the reply, but I am able to buy Dow Flake (for the Calcium part) and Baking Soda is also easy to find (For the alkalinity). I'm having trouble finding the Magnesium part. What are others using for Magnesium?



07/16/2006, 07:20 PM
Epsom salts at any drug store...

07/16/2006, 07:22 PM
Yup, Epsom salts. Follow the recipe closely when dosing.

07/16/2006, 09:25 PM
I'm sorry, but I think I'm still missing an ingredient, am I not?

From http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-02/rhf/index.php

"The magnesium portion again gives us two options, with Part 3A being preferred from an aquarium chemistry standpoint. Pick one and follow the same dosing directions regardless of which version you select."

3A: "Dissolve Epsom salts (3 cups) and magnesium chloride hexahydrate (5 cups) in enough purified freshwater to make 1 gallon total volume. "

I know where to get epsom salts, but is there a local source for the magnesium chloride hexahydrate?

Or is recipe 3B where epsom salt is the only ingredient sufficient?

Just trying to find the best solution.


07/16/2006, 09:30 PM
Since MgCl is so hard to find, you should use 3B. I don't know of anyone locally who is using 3A. Maybe if we can find a good source we can have a group buy.

As he says in his article, "At this time magnesium chloride hexahydrate from the Dead Sea Works is the only such product that I recommend, but others may be acceptable. Choosing other unknown brands may be fine, or not. I've not tested them for purity."

He does list possible sources though:
"Magnesium chloride hexahydrate made by the Dead Sea Works is sold at many home stores, including Home Depot, often labeled as MAG Flake. It may be repackaged as Meltsnow:
It may also be available from these stores:

07/17/2006, 10:46 AM
I just did some checking and Harveysalt has both Dow Flakes and Mag Flakes for $16/each for 50 pounds. The deal killer is shipping though, at $40 per bag.

I'm going to keep looking for a local source.

07/17/2006, 10:57 AM

Have you guys seen this site? Both parts shipped to your door. Don't know how much shipping would be to Col?

07/17/2006, 11:01 AM
You can get Dowflake at the Rio Grande Co. The address is 201 Santa Fe (2nd and Santa Fe), and the phone number is 303-825-2211. I went up on July 3rd and bought two 50 pound bags...$17.00 apiece.

07/17/2006, 12:00 PM
Hmm. Recipe 1, 3A calls for 5 cups of MgCl per gallon of mix. 2.5 cups of Mg solution will supplement 6 gallons (6.4 actually) each of the Alk and Ca solutions. Without knowing how many pounds of Mg flake equals a cup, you can't know how much Mg flake you'll need. My guess is that their 4 pound bags equals 2 1/2 or 5 cups, since they've apparently repackaged it to accomodate the Holmes-Farley recipe.

I suggest using the "contact us" feature on the Buckeye web page to ask the question. $12 for 8 pounds seems like price gouging to me though. It's just ice melt. You may be able to get it locally in Oct/Nov. You can probably find the manufacturer's web page, contact them, and see who sells it in CO.

I found a Denver source on Thomasnet:
B & B Blending, Inc.
5285 Fox St., Unit B
Denver, CO 80216

07/17/2006, 12:16 PM
In case you missed it, Randy has a new article that deals specifically with the Magnesium component. It is here:


Also, I located a source for Mag Flakes:

Prestige IceMelt
701 1/2 1/2 N Main St
Brighton, CO 80601 - 1555
(303) 659-5700

They make it to Denver on a weekly basis, so they are going to add a bag of Mag Flakes on their next delivery. $25 delivered, not a bad deal. I'll let you know how the product looks when I receive it (probably some time tomorrow).

Any one up North could pick it up from their shop for $20/bag.


07/17/2006, 12:41 PM
How big is the bag? What brand? I could go for a 50 pound bag for that price if you plan to come to our meeting in Castle Rock this weekend. I'd pay you then.

PM me

07/17/2006, 03:26 PM
It is for a 50# bag. I may go ahead and order an extra bag. I probably won't make it to the meeting, but maybe one of your members will make it to Denver metro and I can meet.

Oh and it is Dead Sea Works Brand.



07/17/2006, 04:35 PM
I work at Great West Life at Orchard and I-25 in greenwood Village. I could meet someone half way and take it down to the Springs. Let me know.


07/18/2006, 08:08 AM
I hit a deer yesterday morning, so it looks like I may not make it to the Castle Rock meeting unless I can catch a ride. The next time I come to Denver will be on the 10th to pick up my folks at he airport. Any ideas?

07/18/2006, 09:51 AM
Ok, I think this will work. I added one bag to my order and they plan on delivery some time tomorrow evening. I can take one bag with me to one of my businesses at Dayton and Arapahoe in Greenwood Village and meet Cliff to take down to the Springs.

Cliff does that work for you and can you somehow meet Crit21 in the Springs?

07/18/2006, 11:24 AM
Sure. Just let me know when. I'm in Denver Monday-Friday ~8a.m. until ~5p.m. Anytime between then is good for me.

07/18/2006, 12:11 PM
ReefJerk, you rule. Thanks!

07/18/2006, 12:20 PM
And, thank you for the info

07/18/2006, 01:35 PM
I can pay you Saturday If I can get a ride to the meeting. My car is wearing a deer at the moment.

07/19/2006, 06:24 PM
Ok, I have the Magnesium now. It is in a 50# white bag with purple and blue lettering. The name on the bag is Absoulte Zero Melt Down. The ingredients say that it is 100% Magnesium Chloride Hexahydrate manufactured for Envirotech Services Inc. in Greeley, Colorado. The company I purchased the bags from said that Envirotech buys the salt from Dead Sea Works and puts their own name on it.

Anyway, I have an extra bag if you want it Crit, please confirm that you want me to deliver it to ReefJerk.

Also, ReefJerk can you PM me your phone number so that if Crit wants the bag, I can get ahold of you and meet you tomorrow or Thursday?

07/19/2006, 07:14 PM
Zen, Yes I do! Thanks! $25, right?

07/19/2006, 07:18 PM
Yes $25. I'll meet up with ReefJerk tomorrow or Thursday.

07/19/2006, 09:51 PM
I'll send you a PM with my number.


07/20/2006, 07:10 AM
Zen, it would be great if you could make it to the Castle Rock meeting anyway. I'd give you some frags that would do well under your PCs. What kind of PCs are you using?

07/20/2006, 10:23 AM
Well for some free frags and a chance to win a clam, I will be there! I have 260 Watts of PC's but I'm about ready to upgrade to a larger tank and will go with T-5's or Metal Halide then.

So if you have any SPS frags, I'm looking for those now, I picked up a Green Slimer and an Orange Cap at the Denver Swap.

ReefJerk, thanks for volunteering to take the Magnesium to Crit, but I will bring it with me on Saturday.

Thanks, and I'll see you all in Castle Rock.


07/20/2006, 11:06 AM

07/20/2006, 03:56 PM
Ok, now that I have all my ingredients and my test kits, I am ready to start dosing.

I used the calculator found here:


I have a total volume of 75 gallons.

My calcium is low at 300ppm, and my Alk is currently at 8.3.

So using the calculator it tells me I should add 39 fl oz of Randy's Recipe 1 Calcium. It is my understanding that Randy's recipe is always dosed together, so I should add 39 fl oz of Randy's Recipe 1 Alkalinity at the same time so that my alkalinity doesn't change?

I will dose over a series of several days to avoid shocking the system but wanted to check that I understood things correctly.

Then for every gallon of the two part I dose, I will add 2 1/2 cups of the Magnesium solution?


07/20/2006, 05:25 PM
No you only dose in equal parts once equalibrium is reached. You only want to dose the Ca part to raise your Ca levels. Once they are where you want them, you add both parts in equal amounts to maintain them there.

07/20/2006, 05:58 PM
And yes on the magnesium question. Every time you finish a gallon of Ca and a gallon of Alk you add 2 1/2 cups of the Mg solution.

07/20/2006, 09:42 PM
Zen, add the recipe 1 calcium according to the calculator, and recheck your levels after a couple of hours. If they are where you want them, start dosing equal parts. With the 3 part system, you can adjust one or the other without causing a problem. You should also try and get a mag kit so you can see how much you need to dose, as you should never add anything to your tank without being able to test for it. Then after you get that level where you want it follow the 1 gallon to 2 1/2 cups. This is not a very scientific measurement, but it does seem to work out about right.

09/15/2006, 08:54 PM
Bump for new people at meeting.

09/15/2006, 10:54 PM
Hello all well i have been doing reefs for a while now but i am new to the homemade stuff. So i made all the stuff last knight my mom thought i was building a Meth lab with the baking soda in the oven and epson salt on the table but anyway....... Last night i did this

1= mixed 2.5 cups of Dowflak to 1 gallon of RO/DI water.. Shake very well until i heard no noise.

2= mixed 2.5 cups of baking soda after cooking at 350^ for 1hour and 10 min. mixed that with 1 gallon of water got very hot but then stoped.

3= mixed 4 cups of epson salt to 64 oz of water shook very well.

Now the question is this if my readings are this what do i do and how often

CA- 330
Mag 1250

115 gallon tank How much cal and mag do i need to use.

09/16/2006, 10:49 AM
This is a calculator that will help you achieve your desired results.


With the homemade recipe, you can raise one without effecting the other. After you have reached your desired levels, you will start dosing equal parts. You will want to monitor your levels regularly until you are able to use the same amounts each day.

This is an improved recipe that shows a guideline for different types of reefs.



09/17/2006, 01:33 PM
Correction on the 2 part mix. It should be 2 1/4 cup of baked Baking Soda.