How To Neutralize Muriatic Acid

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Muriatic acid is one of those chemicals that sounds scary but can easily be a DIY fan’s best friend. This acid is regularly used to etch glass, prep masonry for paint, restore surface appearances in basements, and fight mildew. However, it’s a pretty strong chemical that can easily cause burns and damage if left as a spill. That’s why knowing how to neutralize it is so important.

Mix ½ cup of baking soda with 1-2 quarts of water and spray the muriatic acid to neutralize it. You can also neutralize muriatic acid with agricultural lime. Always use a 1:10 muriatic acid to water the mixture so that the acid is not too strong and difficult to neutralize.

Using muriatic acid is no joke, and many DIYers believe it to be a “last resort” chemical because of how damaging it 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.

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What Is Muriatic Acid Used For?

Muriatic acid is a powerful acid that is most commonly used in restoring and working with masonry. Since it’s known for being able to strip layers off of the stone, it’s regularly used in etching, basement restoration, neutralizing alkalinity in masonry, driveway gate restoration, as well as masonry restoration. This acid is also a very useful mold killer, so if you have a basement in need of serious mold remediation, muriatic acid is a usable tool.

If you own a pool, the chances are that you’ve also bought a container of muriatic acid. It’s regularly used to balance the pH levels in collections and can also be used to restore in-ground pool floors to their former glory. Much like other projects, muriatic acid is usually a chemical left as a final option if other chemicals aren’t available.

Should I Use Muriatic Acid For My Projects?

In most cases, muriatic acid is a great tool to have. The problem is, you need to dilute it, and it can be potentially dangerous. That’s why most people try to avoid using it whenever they can and view it as a “last option” type of deal. If you do use it, it’s essential to do it safely.

How To Use Muriatic Acid Safely

Muriatic acid is not a substance that should be taken lightly. If spilled on bare skin, it can easily cause chemical burns and permanent scarring. Even inhaling concentrated fumes can cause breathing problems in those who have sensitive lungs. Here’s how to use muriatic acid safely:

  • Wear full-face protection, full-body protection, a respirator, and gloves when handling muriatic acid. A single spill can be devastating to the skin. Muriatic acid also can cause long-term breathing problems as well as blindness, just from the fumes alone. You owe it to yourself to make sure that you’re heavily protected while working with this stuff.
  • Never use undiluted muriatic acid. The pH is too low, and the fumes are too strong to handle. Most projects call for a 1 to 10 part water-to-acid ratio. On a similar note, never mix muriatic acid with other acids.
  • Never pour your muriatic acid into an empty bucket. Fill it with the proper amount of water to dilute it first, then pour your acid in. Otherwise, you run the risk of sparking an exothermic reaction that could cause serious injury. You should only use glass bowls or acid-resistant buckets to mix your acid in.
  • Keep water and neutralizers nearby at all times. This way, you can clean the acid off your body and items quickly in the event of a spill.
  • Neutralize spills immediately. It’s hard to emphasize exactly how dangerous a muriatic acid spill can be. Along with eating away the materials in your project, it also can cause permanent damage to a person. It doesn’t take long to cause this damage, either. Since time is an issue, you need to make a point of rushing to neutralize spills as they happen.
  • Spray muriatic acid with a plastic sprayer. It’s worth noting that the plastic will most likely start dissolving during your time using it. So, you may need multiple sprayers for a single job.
  • Always store your acid in the container that it came in. Most containers will not be able to handle the acidity and will thereby cause a spill or corrode.

How To Neutralize Muriatic Acid

In the simplest sense of the word, muriatic acid is like most other acids. In order to neutralize it, you will need to use a base to get rid of the extra hydrogen ions. The question is, which bases work with muriatic acid, and how can you avoid making something dangerous while neutralizing it?

Many acids require specialty chemicals to neutralize them, but not this one. The fantastic thing about this acid is that you can use reasonably common ingredients to neutralize it safely. The most popular ones include:

  • Baking Soda. Baking soda is excellent for small to medium-sized spills. A box of the stuff is enough to absorb a typical small spill. Since this is a relatively easy item to get your hands on, it’s also one of the most common neutralizers to find on work sites.
  • Lime. No, not the fruit, the agricultural lime that’s used in lawn care, often to get whipworms out of your yard. Lime is a tremendous large-scale neutralizer for muriatic acid spills, especially if you’re outdoors.
  • Dolomite. Dolomite is a stone known for being composed of calcium magnesium carbonate sands that make it an excellent neutralizer for almost any acid. This includes muriatic acid.
  • Limestone. Much like the standard gardening lime that you might find being used as a neutralizer, natural limestone can also work to quell the acidic punch of muriatic sprays.
  • Soda Ash. If you have extra soda ash leftover from a past project, you can also use that as a neutralizer for muriatic acid. That said, many people don’t have soda ash on hand, so if you can’t find this, it’s okay to use lime or baking soda.

How To Use Neutralizers With Muriatic Acid

Once you have a neutralizer, you are going to need to know how to use them to reduce the impact of the acid. The answer is simple: just sprinkle it on top of the spill or on top of the area that needs to be neutralized. In some cases, muriatic acid that needs to be lightly balanced can also be quelled using water with a mix of baking soda.

The less diluted muriatic acid is, the more likely it is that you’ll need to apply a neutralizer directly to the spill. When in doubt, check out the notes people have for the project that you’re doing or just stick to using a neutralizer directly on the spill.

How To Dispose Of Muriatic Acid

First things first, when you go to dispose of any muriatic acid, you will need to protect yourself. Muriatic acid is highly corrosive and damaging to the skin. Make sure that you first have the necessary tools to do this, such as:

  • The acid
  • Safety gloves
  • Safety mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Clothing to resist chemicals
  • A well-ventilated area
  • Water
  • Baking Soda

Step 1: Wear Protection

The very first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you are 100% protected. You’ll also need to ensure you’re wearing your gear the correct way. You will need to cover any exposed skin and also wear a mask, goggles, and gloves. The mask is to keep the vapor from reaching your lungs.

The clothing you wear needs to be chemical-resistant. It’s not necessary to go buy actual chemical-resistant clothes, but you’ll need to wear something over your clothing.

Step 2: Find A Well Ventilated Area

You will need to find a ventilated area that’s away from any children or pets, as well as heat or metals. If you do this outside, make sure you do it when it’s not windy out, and keep your animals in the children inside. If they want to watch, they can watch from a closed window. Otherwise, if you’re teaching your children how to do this, they need to also be in full gear and shouldn’t touch the acid.

Step 3: Prepare The Mixture

You will need one pound of baking soda, and you’ll have to mix that with lots of water. However, a good amount of baking soda should still be on the bottom. Then, slowly pour the acid in. If the acid doesn’t stop fizzing, you will need to add some more baking soda.

Step 4: Wash The Containers Down Your Septic

Small amounts of acid can be washed in your sink; however, you should clean the remainder down your drain directly into your septic or sewer line. Make sure you use a 1:50 ratio of washing to water. It’s essential to do this even if you’re throwing the containers away.

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Our Final Take

While muriatic acid can be an incredibly useful tool, the truth is that it’s a chemical that needs to be handled with extreme care. Most projects will never call for it to be used undiluted, and that’s primarily because it’s such a powerful acid. If you are going to use it for any project, no matter what it is, you need to follow the correct safety procedures involving muriatic acid. When you’re using muriatic acid, make sure to keep some neutralizers nearby.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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