Muriatic acid (also known as hydrochloric acid) is a powerful multipurpose substance. In fact, it is the same naturally produced bodily acid that works in the stomach during digestion.
However, outside of the body it exists in dangerous concentrations. With this substance, safety is a major concern, as it emits strong fumes that can burn the lungs if inhaled. It can also burn your skin.
It is important that while working with this chemical you make sure to put on safety equipment such as masks, gloves, and thick clothing. It is also advised that you use the acid in a well ventilated room.
Like many acid cleaners, muriatic acid can be used around the house to get rid of tough stains and molds, so long as it is done safely. Keeping safety warnings in mind, the substance can be quite useful in a number of areas. Here are just six of the different uses for hydrochloric acid.
1. Industrial Uses
This chemical is involved in many industrial processes such as the production of paper, detergent, plastics, and more. It is also used in the manufacturing of food additives, gelatin, and other types of food products. Although this might not be useful information for homeowners to put to use, it is useful for certain business owners to know for production purposes and for people generally to be aware of.
2. Removing Metal Stains
While muriatic acid is not a recommended solution for the daily cleaning of metals, it can be used to treat stains on metal. However, because it is such a strong acidic solution, it should be an option of last resort when other safer alternatives fail.
Hydrochloric acid can clean brass, copper, iron, and other metals, but you have to dilute it by adding 9 parts of water to 1 part of the chemical. Since the acid is an extremely powerful cleaning agent, you should not use it directly on metal. You'll want to apply it to a sponge or rag first, then wipe down the metal.
3. Cleaning Brickwork
A 10-percent solution of HCl is a good cleaning agent for brickwork. Typically bricks become stained due to mold growth, formation of mineral deposits, and contamination.
It is important to prepare the solution properly, as the acid cannot be directly applied to the brickwork. A solutions of 9 parts water to 1 part acid applied to a rag or sponge can be applied to the brick to scrub away any imperfections.
4. Cleaning Pools
Pools can be cleaned with the help of detergents and scrubs, but some of the staining is not easy to remove. You can treat dark stains that adhere to the grout in between the tiles with muriatic acid.
When using the product for pool cleaning, make sure you do not apply it directly. The same 10-percent solution mentioned previously should do the trick. Alternatively, you can follow the chemical manufacturer’s recommended mixing procedure.
5. Neutralizing Alkalinity in Masonry
Alkalinity in masonry causes problems when applying paint or sealers. It prevents the coating material from properly adhering to the surface, therefore requiring neutralizing procedures. To neutralize the alkalinity, you have to apply muriatic acid solution to the entire surface before applying the coat. This will help the coating material bond with the surface.
6. General Cleaning Purposes
This chemical can easily clear away stains on bathroom and kitchen tiles as well as on grout and drains. The chemical comes handy for cleaning clogged drain pipes. When the toilet bowl gets too dirty, regular cleaning products such as detergent cannot get rid of the stains as easily as hydrochloric acid. However, it is important not to forget that muriatic acid should only be used as a last resort when alternative methods fail.
Uses for Muriatic Acid FAQ
Where not to use muriatic acid?
Muriatic acid can be used as a strong household chemical to tackle a number of tasks, but it's not suitable for all materials. Muriatic acid is corrosive to metal surfaces and plastics.
This acid is also corrosive to human skin and dangerous to work with, so you should exercise extreme caution.
Will muriatic acid damage PVC pipes?
Muriatic acid can be corrosive to metal but it will not damage PVC pipes. PVC, polyvinyl chloride, is a humanmade type of hard plastic.
Can you put muriatic acid down a clogged drain?
Muriatic acid will not harm PVC pipe, which is commonly used for drain lines. However, this does not mean it's a good idea to pour this acid down the drain in order to dissolve a clog.
Professional plumbers do not use chemicals to get rid of clogs in drains. They use tools, in particular a plumber's snake, in order to push the drains out of the pipe.
You should never pour chemicals, not even chemical drain cleaners, into your pipes even if the chemicals will not do any damage. Chemicals like this can get into the groundwater and into sewage systems, which is bad for animals and plant health, not to mention human health.
Will muriatic acid hurt metal?
Metal can be damaged by muriatic acid. The acid is highly corrosive to many types of metal and can literally eat through the metal.
Muriatic acid is used on metal because it can get rid of rust. But this should only be done as a last resort and even then, with extreme caution because the acid will dissolve the metal as easily as it dissolves the rust.
Can I pour muriatic acid into the ground?
Muriatic acid should not be poured into the ground for disposal purposes, as this will harm the soil. The acid could get into the groundwater and cause damage to many plants and animals.
You also cannot dump the acid into a storm drain. This is against the law because the water could end up in streams and rivers and do a great deal of harm to wildlife.