Muriatic Acid Dangers

Used for cleaning masonry, muriatic acid must be handled with care.

Burns

A dilute form of hydrochloric acid, it can liberate both hydrogen and chlorine gases. Hydrogen is flammable and chlorine is highly toxic. Before using it, dilute further with water, adding the acid to a measured amount of water, never the other way around. Take steps to protect nearby metalwork and plants. When you're finished, dispose of the unused acid by carefully neutralizing it with gardening lime or taking it to a hazardous waste handler.

Highly concentrated muriatic acid can burn skin and other body tissues. Always wear protective clothing, gloves and eye wear when handling it.

Dilution

When diluting muriatic acid with water, don't add water to acid. The mixture may erupt, spraying you with acid. Instead, always add acid to water.

Metals

Muriatic acid can corrode and weaken metals. When cleaning with it, protect any nearby structural metalwork with plastic.

Vapors

The mist and vapors from muriatic acid are also hazardous. If you use it, make sure there's plenty of ventilation. Avoid using it on days when the wind can carry it.

Chlorine Gas

If you find an old, half-filled bottle of muriatic acid, don't open it. The chlorine in the acid will, over time, evaporate from the liquid into the empty space. Chlorine gas is reactive and toxic. Take the bottle to a hazardous waste handler.

About the Author

Chicago native J.T. Barett has a Bachelor of Science in physics from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing since 1991. He has contributed to "Foresight Update," a nanotechnology newsletter from the Foresight Institute. He also contributed to the book, "Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on Global Abundance."