How to Use Muriatic Acid Safely (and Where You Should)
While there seem to be cleaning products formulated for every type of stain, mess, or grime you can think of, some people – for a variety of reasons – prefer to take a chemistry class approach to household cleaning, working directly with the acids and bases used to make these products.
Regular Lifehacker readers may be familiar with our coverage of cleaning with household substances, including the vinegar, lemons and lemon juice, borax, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. And maybe you added citric acid into your cleaning routine and were impressed with the potent potency of this low level acid, and are now looking to take the next step and move on to something more difficult. Something like muriatic acid.
But before you buy a gallon of it online or at your local hardware store, there are a few important things to know about how and when to use this highly toxic chemical, and how to do it safely. Here’s what you need to know.
What is muriatic acid?
Muriatic acid is a little weaker hydrochloric acid form it’s still caustic enough to burn your skin and clothing, and corrode some types of metals and plastics. For these reasons, as well as the fact that inhaling hydrochloric acid can irritate the lining of the lungs and nasal passages, it is usually used as a last resort, when no other substance obtains use.
How to use muriatic acid safely
Before we get into the different uses for muriatic acid, we’re going to talk about how to work with the strong chemical without causing major (or minor) harm to yourself, or to anything or anyone. ‘another. Like any cleaning or household product, carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow the safety instructions provided.
We must warn you: there is a parcel of safety rules and precautions to be taken before using hydrochloric acid, therefore it is especially important to read the label. Here are some examples:
- Use hydrochloric acid only in extremely well ventilated areas.
- Carry protective gear, including acid protection goggles, dual cartridge respirator, face shield, acid-resistant rubber gloves, rubber boots, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
- Always dilute muriatic acid with water, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. To do this, pour the water into a plastic bucket (never metal) and gradually add the acid (the acid never comes in first).
- Only never dilute muriatic acid with water (never other substances).
- Always keep baking soda, garden lime, and a source of water on hand when working with muriatic acid so that you can quickly neutralize this, if necessary.
Uses of muriatic acid
That said, there are times when hydrochloric acid is the best option for a particular job and is worth using, provided the person using it knows how to do it safely. These tasks include:
- Preparation of brick, concrete or stone to be painted.
- Get rid of mildew on basement walls (while visibly improving their appearance).
- Cleaning and adjustment of pH levels in swimming pools.
When you’re done with hydrochloric acid, call your local recycling center or fire department to find out how best to dispose of it (it doesn’t go in your household garbage and shouldn’t be thrown away anywhere).