Muriatic Acid : Uses, Safety, Disposal & More!
Muriatic acid has many uses around your home. It’s powerful stuff that can fight mold and mildew and even combat rust. But it’s also toxic and comes with a myriad of health risks to be aware of. You can pick this chemical up super cheap, but you want to make sure that you understand all the risks associated with its use.
There’s no doubt that muriatic acid is useful stuff. But there are some safety precautions you must take prior to using it. After all, this stuff can corrode metals and melt plastics. Misuse can result in damage to your property or person, while proper use can provide a wide range of benefits. In this article, we’re going to discuss the various ways you might use muriatic, as well as how to remain safe while doing so.
What is Muriatic Acid Used For?
Muriatic acid is an impure and diluted form of hydrochloric acid. It’s used in a variety of ways, some of which are quite surprising. For example, you might not realize that this powerful product is sometimes used as a food additive. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s also used to dissolve rocks for producing oil. Doesn’t sound like something we should be in a hurry to eat!
But muriatic acid has a much more diverse list of uses than just those two examples. You can use this acid for many things, including:
- Processing leather
- Household cleaning
- Controlling the pH of water, food, or drugs
- Purifying table salt
- Neutralizing masonry alkalinity for paint
- Removing efflorescence from masonry
- Removing rust from stainless steel
- Maintaining a swimming pool
- Balancing the pH in a swimming pool
- Killing mold and mildew
As you can see, this is some versatile stuff. But it should be noted that in most situations, muriatic acid is not recommended as the first resort. In fact, it’s generally the last product we’d recommend for most uses. It can be dangerous to work with. You don’t want to get it on your hands or even breathe in the fumes. So, if another viable option exists, it’s usually best to use muriatic acid as a last resort.
Because this chemical is so powerful, you’ll need to take some serious precautions when working with it. Misuse can result in major health concerns, not to mention the damage it can easily and quickly cause to property. Make sure to review this list of safety precautions before you ever use muriatic acid. More importantly, be certain to implement each of these safety rules to ensure that you don’t have any dangerous or costly mishaps.
- Don’t let the muriatic acid come in contact with your skin. Make sure to cover any exposed skin when working with it.
- You don’t want to breathe in the fumes that muriatic acid emits, so always wear a respirator when using muriatic acid.
- Don’t use muriatic acid without diluting it. Usually, it’s mixed down to 10 parts water for every one-part acid.
- When pouring your dilution, be very careful. Pour slowly and avoid any splashes. Most importantly, never pour the water into the acid; only pour the acid into the water. If you pour the water into the acid, it will create an exothermic reaction, which can cause the acid to be expelled from the container directly at you.
- Don’t ever mix muriatic acid with other acids.
- When pouring muriatic acid, never pour it into an empty container. Pour in your water first, then add the acid.
- Ensure that any container you use muriatic acid in is either made of glass or acid-resistant plastic.
- When working with muriatic acid, always keep baking soda nearby, mixed with water in a spray bottle. If a spill occurs, the baking soda and water solution will neutralize the acid.
- Keep a hose on hand when using muriatic acid so you can quickly rinse an area if a spill or splashing occurs.
How to Store Muriatic Acid
Because muriatic acid is so strong, you have to take extra precautions when storing it. This acid can eat through many materials, which means storing it in the wrong container can have disastrous consequences.
As a general rule, you should only store muriatic acid in the container it came in. Even if you have another container you think is safe, you should leave the acid in the container it came in. And besides, you should never pour muriatic acid into an empty container.
It’s best to store muriatic acid somewhere outside. A garage or a separate workshop are both good places to store it, but you don’t want to store it inside your home in case vapors happen to escape or a leak occurs.
Remember, the vapors leaking from the bottle of muriatic acid can cause nearby items to corrode. If you have metal in the same cabinet, for instance, it can quickly begin to rust. If that happens to be an aerosol can, you might be setting yourself up for a very volatile situation in the future.
We’ve discussed the storage of muriatic acid, but what should you do when it’s time to dispose of the remaining acid? You can’t just throw this stuff away. You could create some serious problems.
Every state has its own rules for the safe disposal of chemicals like muriatic acid. Sometimes, these rules can be different within cities in the same state. So, to learn the rules in your jurisdiction, you’re going to need to contact your local recycling center. They should be able to tell you exactly what steps to take to dispose of any leftover muriatic acid in the safest way possible.
Muriatic acid is very versatile stuff that has a wide range of potential uses. On the other hand, it’s also a toxic chemical that can have some adverse effects if you’re not careful with it. Always be responsible and take great care to follow all of the precautions we’ve laid out in this article when you’re working with muriatic acid. Store it safely, and if you must dispose of it, contact your local recycling center for specific instructions on how to do so safely.
Featured Image Credit: Vitalii Vodolazskyi, Shutterstock