Muriatic acid, also referred to hydrochloric acid, sounds like a dangerous chemical and, actually, it may be. However, you will be surprised to learn that it is a common substance used in different industries around the globe. Around 20 million tons of this chemical are produced worldwide every year, and you may even find it in your home. In case this happens, you need to remember that this is a dangerous substance which must be handled with care.
Hydrochloric acid is highly corrosive and its concentrated form usually releases an acidic mist that is quite dangerous. If this mist or the acid itself comes into contact with your eyes, internal organs, or skin, the damage is often irreversible – may even lead to death.
To avoid these situations, you need to know how to dispose of muriatic acid safely and thus I want to give you a step by step guide of how to go about it. These safety tips and tricks will help you deal with this toxic chemical appropriately and safely, whether you come across it in your workplace or at your home.
Things You Wiall Require
To perform this task safely and effectively, you will require the following things:
- Muriatic or hydrochloric acid
- Baking soda
- Chemical resistant clothing
- Safety goggles
- Safety mask
- Safety gloves
- Ventilated area
Step By Step Instructions
Here are the easy steps that you should follow whenever you want to dispose of hydrochloric acid:
1. Protect Yourself
As we said before, hydrochloric acid is highly corrosive and its concentrated form usually releases an acidic mist that is quite dangerous. This mist is known as hydrogen chloride vapor.
Therefore, you need to protect yourself when disposing of this chemical. As you will see from our next four steps (2 to 5), you need to protect your legs and arms with a lab coat or any other long-sleeved cloth when disposing of concentrated solution.
2. Put on Chemical Resistant Clothing
Due to its highly corrosive nature, this acid reacts chemically with ordinary clothes, leading to damage to your clothes and even your skin.
To avoid this, you need to wear a special chemical resistant garment made of Butyl rubber or Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is also a good idea to wear a lab coat or apron over this clothing for additional protection.
3. Put on Safety Goggles and a Mask
The fumes of this substance are also very dangerous. If you breathe in these fumes, you might end up damaging your organ linings and respiratory tract. Always put on a safety mask over your face when disposing of this chemical. The state of North Carolina recommends that you wear at least an 8 inches face shield when disposing of muriatic acid with a pH of less than 3.0.
The face mask will not only protect you from inhaling these fumes but also protect you from unwanted reactions with other substances or materials. In addition, you will need to wear safety goggles with side shields to protect your eyes from any fluid that might splash into them.
4. Put on Gloves
Always put on gloves made of rubber or neoprene, although Butyl rubber and PVC might also be effective. Wear sneakers made of the same fabrics. In the case of any chemical reactions or spills, these materials will prevent any damage from muriatic acid. Furthermore, ensure that your pants cover your sneakers to avoid leaving any part of your skin exposed.
5. Look for a Ventilated Area
When deposing off hydrochloric acid, also be in a room or an area with plenty of ventilation. This will not only prevent fume buildup but also reduce the level of toxins you inhale.
6. Be Away from Children and Pets
Pets and young children that come in contact with this acid might be ruthlessly injured. Accidental ingestion of hydrochloric acid may even result in death and slight contact with their eyes may lead to blindness. When disposing of muriatic acid, never leave it lying around in an easy to reach place – especially for children and pets.
7. Be Away from Heat or Metals
Although not flammable, muriatic acid usually reacts with metal or heat to produce very dangerous and flammable hydrogen gas. It also emits toxic substance in fire conditions.
8. Prepare a Base Mix
So far, we have looked at the safety measures that you need to take when disposing of hydrochloric acid. The next steps, beginning with Pre-treatment, look at how you will dispose of this chemical.
Step 8 involves preparing a base solution to negate your acid. Here, you will need to mix one lb. box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) with lots of water. Ensure that you leave some of the soda visible at the base. Carefully and slowly add in your acid. Wait for the resulting reaction to stop – most likely fizzing. Add in more baking soda if the acid doesn’t stop fizzing.
Hydrochloric acid is combined with sodium bicarbonate to form salt water and carbon dioxide.
NaHCO3 + HCl = NaCl + H2O + CO2
Here is a video that shows muriatic acid being neutralized with baking soda.
Things to Remember
- This is effervescent and exothermic, mix slowly and carefully, adding sodium to the acid NOT acid to sodium.
- Additionally, ensure that the acid is in a wide-mouth bottle or container.
9. Pre-Treating Empty Containers and Used Aliquots
Neutralize used aliquots and empty muriatic acid containers using a solution of 90 percent water and 10 percent baking soda. For containers, add the mix until it is approximately 25 percent filled. Stir or agitate the content in the container. For a container with a lid, this is best realized by tightly securing the lid and then shaking the solution. Continue adding the solution until the reaction between sodium and the acid has reached completion – until effervescence stops. In addition, labels on all empty supply containers need to be fully obliterated or removed.
10. Dispose of Safely
The neutralized solution (from step 8 and 9), supply containers, and contaminated absorbent material may be disposed of as follows:
- You may wash the remains from an empty container (washing) down your sewer system in the ratio of 1:50; washing: water.
- You may use the empty container for other purposes.
- If you used reagent bottles as well as other lab containers like beakers, you should ensure that you rinse them with water, dry them, and then store them for later use.
In addition, small amounts of diluted muriatic acid might be flushed down your sink with large amount of water. However, state law may forbid this act. For instance, the Massachusetts Department of Environment Protect argues that you cannot dispose of hydrochloric acid down your drain or in your trash unless it is totally neutralized. The only way to determine which is the best way to dispose of this product is to contact your local state for guidance.
Here is a video that shows how you should dispose of muriatic acid.
Things to Remember
- Never pour concentrated hydrochloric acid directly into lakes or ponds or down your drains. It might change the pH of the water and even harm aquatic life.
- Talking of aquatic life, some people argue that you may clean seashells with muriatic acid. Yes, this chemical will remove the film from your seashells but will also consume this shell in the process.
- Hydrochloric acid might also seriously eat away your plumbing system.
- As opposed to disposing of this acid by yourself, you may consider transporting it to a waste management plant. Contact the concerned authority to see if they will carry it for you.
Proper Care for Muriatic Acid Exposure
Depending on the level of concentration of the acid you are disposing of, accidental exposure might occur as eye contact, skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion of acidic vapors. Each of these exposures might pose serious problems to your health and you should be treated immediately.
- Eye contact – if muriatic acid mists or acid get into your eyes, immediately wash or flush with lots of water for about 15 minutes. Then see medical attention.
- Skin contact – if it comes into contact with a skin, immediately wash with lots of water for about 15 minutes and remove all your clothing. In the case of a more serious contact, use a disinfectant soap, anti-bacterial cream, and water. Then seek medical attention.
- Inhalation – if you inhale muriatic acid mists or vapors, seek fresh air and see your doctor immediately.
- Ingestion – if swallowed, seek medical attention and don’t induce vomiting.
Here is a video that shows how you should treat your eye in case of this acid get into your eye.
Muriatic acid should be kept and disposed of in a cool, well-ventilated, and dry area away from any source of moisture. In addition, disposing of this acid away from incompatible substances such as organic material, oxidizing agents, alkalis, and metals. This product has the tendency to corrode metals. Also, keep its containers tightly locked and in safe places – away from children and pets.
Finally, whether you come across muriatic acid in concentrated forms or in dilute forms at your workplace or home use respectively, safety is very vital when disposing of this toxic substance. I hope you have really learned a lot about this acid and now you know how to dispose of muriatic acid.
For more info about hydrochloric acid safety and disposal, contact your local authority and don’t forget to leave your comment in our comment box. Additionally, feel free to share the article with your friends on Facebook and other social media.