10 Muriatic Acid Safety Tips

A small bottle labeled "HCL" for hydrochloric acid.

Muriatic acid, commonly known as hydrochloric acid, is used in many ways like cleaning, manufacturing, and rust removal applications. It is mostly used in industrial settings, but some homeowners also use it around the house, albeit diluted. Muriatic acid is highly corrosive and can cause severe problems if it comes in contact with skin or is inhaled, so it is very important to take adequate precautions and wear protective equipment when you handle this substance. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind.

1. Wear Chemical Resistant Clothing

Muriatic acid is highly corrosive and can react chemically with normal clothing, resulting in damage to the clothing and also your skin. To prevent this, you must wear special chemical resistant clothing made of Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or Butyl rubber. It is also advised to wear an apron over your clothing for extra protection.

2. Wear a Safety Mask and Goggles

The fumes of muriatic acid are also dangerous. If you inhale these fumes, you may end up damaging your respiratory tract and organ linings. Always wear a safety mask over your face when working with this substance. In addition to preventing fume inhalation, a safety mask will also protect you from unexpected reactions with other materials.

You will also need to use chemical safety goggles with side shields to prevent any fluid from splashing into your eyes.

3. Use Gloves

Always wear gloves of neoprene or rubber, although PVC and Butyl rubber would also be more than enough. Use shoes made of the same materials. In case of spills or chemical reactions, these materials will resist damage from hydrochloric acid. Also ensure that your pants are over the shoes so that there is no skin left exposed.

4. Always Work in a Ventilated Place

Always work in a place that has plenty of ventilation. This will prevent fume buildup and reduce the amount of toxins you assimilate.

5. Do Not Mix With Other Liquids Without First Checking

Muriatic acid may react explosively with other chemicals and liquids, even water in some cases. Such reactions may produce toxic fumes, smoke, and heat. Avoid mixing this substance with other materials if you are unsure of the result.

Most cleaning applications actually require hydrochloric acid to be diluted with water for your own safety as well as for the health of whatever it is you're cleaning. In order to do this, always pour the acid into the water as opposed to the other way around. This will avoid creating any dangerous reactions.

6. Keep It Away From Metals and Heat

Although not flammable itself, hydrochloric acid can react with metals to produce a very flammable, and dangerous, hydrogen gas. It can also emit toxic fumes in fire conditions.

7. Keep It Away From Children

Young children and pets that come in contact with muriatic acid can be severely injured. Accidental ingestion of muriatic acid can even lead to death, and contact with the eyes may cause blindness. Never leave muriatic acid lying around in an easily accessible place.

8. Get Prompt Medical Attention if Needed

If muriatic acid makes contact with the skin, eyes, or is accidentally ingested, it can lead to serious problems. In such cases, contact a doctor immediately.

In the case of skin or eye contact, the affected area must be promptly washed with water for at least 15 minutes while medical personnel is called. If ingested, do not induce vomiting. Wash the person's mouth with water and give them a glass of water or milk while getting into contact with the nearest hospital immediately.

If a person has difficulty breathing after inhaling the fumes, he must be moved outdoors and given urgent medical attention.

9. Follow Safe Storage Measures

Store muriatic acid in a tight, securely closed container, and keep it locked in a cool, dark, dry, and well-ventilated area. Also make sure the container is clearly labeled and that it is not kept near known incompatible materials.

10. Dispose of It Safely

Never pour undiluted muriatic acid directly down drains or into ponds or lakes. It can alter the pH of the water and harm aquatic life. It can also seriously corrode your plumbing. Muriatic acid is considered a hazardous material and must be disposed of in accordance with local regulations.

In case of spills, cautiously add water while avoiding splashes or spattering. Then, use soda, ash, or lime to neutralize the diluted acid. You can afterward absorb the neutralized fluid with something like vermiculite, and place it in something suitable for disposal. Following clean-up, wipe the area with water to be rid of any residue.