Muriatic acid, commonly known as hydrochloric acid, is widely used for residential and commercial purposes. It is useful for cleaning stained ceramic surfaces, cleaning pools, 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.
So before you start using it, you need to know how to neutralize muriatic acid.
All You Need is a Base (An Alkali) to Neutralize it
You need a base to neutralize the acid and break it down into positively and negatively ions. Some of these bases include;
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- Limestone and dolomite (calcium magnesium carbonate)
- Caustic soda (sodium hydroxide)
- Soda ash (sodium carbonate)
- Lime (calcium carbonate)
You can neutralize muriatic acid using baking soda at a ratio of 1:50. Mix the baking soda with water first before adding acid into it. Pout the acid into the baking soda solution instead of vice versa. This will prevent and acid splash from occurring.
You should wear protective gear such as anticorrosion goggles, a ventilation mask, and thick rubber gloves when neutralizing the acid. Do not use latex gloves as they can dissolve in acid. Look for acid-compatible gloves.
The neutralization process results in a chemical reaction that produces immense amounts of heat and toxic gases. The carbon dioxide produced can irritate your eyes and throat. All ensure you wear protective clothing that will not get corroded by the acid.
Will Vinegar Neutralize Muriatic Acid?
Yes. Since vinegar is a diluted acid, it will react with and neutralize a good portion of the muriatic acid. The effect is the production of chlorine gas, which is pretty dangerous. Make sure you are wearing protective gear when performing the neutralization. You’ll still be better off using a base for the neutralization.
Can I Pour Muriatic Acid on the Ground?
Because of its caustic nature, it is not advisable to pour muriatic acid on the ground. It may leach into the water supply and lead to poisoning of wildlife, aquatic organisms, and people who depend on surrounding aquifers for their water.
If you have to pour it on the ground, make sure you neutralize it first. The best way of getting rid of muriatic acid is to carry the acid in its original container to a hazardous waste facility. Make sure the container is sealed correctly before transporting to avoid any accidents from occurring while in transit.
Another option would be to hire a professional or your local recycling center to handle it or assist you. In case of spills, you should mix it with an alkaline solution before you clean it up. Wait for at least 15 minutes for the neutralizing agent to work. Once the solution starts producing salt-like crystals, it is safe to handle.