Muriatic acid, commonly known as hydrochloric acid, is widely used for residential and commercial purposes. It is useful for cleaning-stained ceramic surfaces, polymer processing, swimming pool water disinfection, and balancing pH levels, as well as a myriad of other functions.
When not used correctly, it can be hazardous. Some muriatic acid dangers include skin irritation, eye irritation, respiratory problems, severe chemical burns, and even death.
Using muriatic acid is not to be taken lightly, and many DIYers believe it to be a “last resort” chemical because of how damaging hydrochloric acid can be.
If you are going to be using it in your home or garden, it’s a good idea to know how to neutralize it and how to make the most of your safety gear. This guide will help you out.
Baking soda and water can be sprayed over the muriatic acid to neutralize it if you need a quick remedy. There are, however, other methods that can be effective, as well as information that might be harmful to your health.
In our guide, you can learn more about the uses of muriatic acid, why you need to wear protective gear, and why you should never mix it with other chemicals.
By the end, you’ll have enough information on how to use muriatic safely, and how to neutralize muriatic acid spills to avoid injury or damage to your home, your family, or local natural watercourses. (Learn How To Get Gum Off Shoe)
What To Do After Using Muriatic Acid?
If any muriatic acid splashes onto your skin, immediately wash the affected area in clean, cool water.
However, there is more to it than that, as the acid won’t wait for you to grab the stuff you need for your muriatic acid neutralizer. Here are a few things to be wary of, or at least know before you use muriatic acid.
Muriatic acid is a dangerous material that should not be handled carelessly. It can readily inflict chemical burns and lasting scars if spilled on unprotected skin. In those with sensitive lungs, even inhaling potent gases can cause breathing problems. Here’s how to safely use muriatic acid:
When handling muriatic acid, use full-face protection, full-body protection, a respirator, and gloves. A single spill might be extremely harmful to your skin.
Simply inhaling the fumes from muriatic acid can cause long-term lung difficulties and blindness. You need to ensure you are well-protected while working with this material.
Muriatic acid should never be used undiluted. The pH is too low, and the odors are too powerful. A water-to-acid ratio of 1 to 10 parts is recommended for most tasks. Muriatic acid should never be mixed with other acids.
Never pour muriatic acid into a bucket that isn’t full. First, dilute it with the right amount of water, then add your acid. If you don’t, you risk causing an exothermic reaction that could cause significant injury. To combine your acid, you should only use glass bowls or acid-resistant buckets.
Always have water and neutralizers on hand. In the event of a spill, you can quickly rinse the acid off your body and items in this manner. Spills should be cleaned up right away. It’s difficult to overstate the severity of a muriatic acid spill. It can eat away at your project’s materials as well as inflict irreparable damage on a person.
It also doesn’t take long to accomplish this kind of harm. Because time is of the essence, you must make a point of rushing to neutralize spills as soon as they occur. Use a plastic sprayer to apply muriatic acid. It’s worth noting some plastics may react, so try to get one made from the same materials as the bottle it came in.
Do You Need To Neutralize Muriatic Acid On Concrete?
If the pH is below 6.0, residual acid remains in the concrete pores and must be neutralized.
A neutralizing solution of two pounds of sodium carbonate (aka baking soda) in five gallons of water or a strong ammonia solution will usually neutralize the concrete in one application.
When neutralization of acid occurs, it is coupled with a base to produce salt and water.
Muriatic acid consists of positively charged hydrogen ions and negatively charged chlorine ions.
Positively charged sodium ions and negatively charged hydroxyl ions make up a basic liquid-like caustic soda (sodium hydroxide).
The hydrogen chloride gas and hydroxyl ions combine to make water, while the chlorine and sodium ions combine to produce sodium chloride, and produce salts such as table salt, throughout the reaction.
In the acid, weaker basic substances like baking soda solution (sodium bicarbonate), soda ash (sodium carbonate), and lime (calcium carbonate) decompose into positive sodium and calcium ions and negative carbonate ions. (Learn How To Polish Concrete)
In a fizzing effect with water, hydrogen and carbonate ions combine to produce carbon dioxide gas.
They produce sodium or calcium chloride salt is formed when metal and chloride ions combine.
In layman’s terms, it means neutralizing muriatic acid is possible, yet you need to be incredibly careful.
Because latex gloves dissolve in acid, acid-compatible gloves, such as those made of neoprene or nitrile, should be worn alongside eye and skin protection. Any ignition or flame source should be switched off.
Here you can see how to deal with small or large spills, although you need to wear the above gear regardless of how much hydrochloric acid you’re dealing with.
Baking soda, soda ash, and lime are the safest and most cost-effective ways to neutralize muriatic acid in small or domestic spills.
- Sprinkle the neutralizer slowly around the periphery of the spill and then into the center to reduce any carbon dioxide foaming.
- Cover the spill with an inert material such as dry sand, soil, vermiculite, or another absorbent material and dispose of it in a chemical waste container once it has been neutralized.
- The waste should then be taken to your local recycling center when cleaned up.
Limestone and dolomite (calcium magnesium carbonate) can be used as a neutralizing agent for large-scale muriatic and other acid spills in natural water courses and coal mine water flows.
Both components react with the acid for about 15 minutes, forming salts in a sludge that may be easily handled and removed.
The more powerful of the two reactants is limestone. if you are unsure that any spill has been neutralized, you can add more baking soda to be certain.
One thing you will notice when there is any sort of acid neutralization is that the materials react. From this, there is a highly exothermic reaction, which means it produces a vast amount of heat which would vaporize any water produced.
Any carbon dioxide that is produced in a small neutralization reaction can irritate your eyes and throat, although it will not be in large enough volumes to be lethal.
To minimize heat and carbon dioxide, add the base material slowly and gradually to the muriatic acid.
Does Bleach Neutralize Muriatic Acid?
Yes, bleach is strongly alkaline, so if accidentally mixed with hydrochloric acid, it will go through the chemical reactions, neutralization will take place, yet inhaling muriatic acid and the fumes from the bleach won’t do you any good.
Chlorine fumes are harmful, and the irritating and pungent odor is one reason you never mix muriatic acid with anything, especially bleach.
Can I Pour Muriatic Acid On The Ground?
The acid can cause severe burns, and you need to wash your skin quickly. Besides this, when you add acid to the ground, it can ruin the bacterial balance of drains, septic tanks and storm drain.
White vinegar is a form of diluted acid and will cause a chemical reaction, it can weaken the effects of muriatic acid. It is better to use materials proven to weaken the effects of hydrochloric acid, as you can see below.
You can use sodium bicarbonate for small to medium-sized spills. In most cases, you would use a box of baking soda solution to absorb a typical spill. Because it’s simple to get, it’s also one of the most common neutralizers you’ll see on a construction site.
You’ll find this as the agricultural lime you commonly use in lawn care when dealing with whipworms. Lime (calcium carbonate) is an excellent large-scale muriatic and hydrochloric acid neutralizer in the same way as baking soda.
Dolomite is a stone made of calcium magnesium carbonate, which makes it a great acid neutralizer. (Learn How To Get Sticky Residue Off Plastic)
Caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) is a type of ash. You can also use soda ash as a neutralizer for muriatic acid if you have any remaining from a previous project.
However, it may not be as readily available as lime or baking soda.